Thursday, February 26, 2009
Previously on Top Chef...
New Orleans! We all think Carla is going to win! Arrivederci, Fabio!
-At one point during tonight's episode, Stefan CLEARLY said the word "twat" (in reference to Hosea) and it went unbleeped which just totally blows my mind. What the hell are the censors doing over at Bravo? Seriously dudes... either bleep all the naughty words or bleep none of them; when you let one in, it freaks us out and that's really distracting.
-Also, Hosea is a twat. More on that later.
Going to do things a little differently with this recap... the LAST Top Chef recap, mind you, and I know you're all just sobbing uncontrollably like a war widow over that fact. Tonight wasn't a traditional show, as is always the case with each season's finale, thus the recap must change to follow suite.
The challenge is this... to earn the title, Top Chef, you must prepare a three course meal; the three course meal of your life. In other, less !!!DRAMATIC!!! words... it's just a reality show, after all... you have to cook three course that kick the other chef's three courses dead-on in the nuts. That's really all there is to it...
Well, okay, given the nature of the beast, there is one final twist: The chefs each have to make a small appetizer with a New Orleans-centric protein; alligator, redfish, or blue crab. Who gets what is decided, in typically convoluted fashion, by having each contestant choose a third of traditional Mardi Gras King Cake. They eat it, hoping to not choke on the (again) traditional golden baby trinket that lurks inside one of the pieces. Whomever has the trinket, gets to NOT ONLY choose their appetizer protein, but also chooses the proteins for the remaining contestants.
Hosea ends up with the cake-dwelling baby and choose redfish for himself, crab for Carla, and alligator for Stefan because he thinks it will fuck him up.
Oh, and ALSO... the contestants each get to work with a "mystery" sous-chef. In past seasons it's been recently axed contestants and/or heavy-hitters from the restaurant world (Eric Ripert comes to mind). THIS season, however, it's the three also-rans from the past three seasons... i.e. the people who came in second. That seems to me a shot of bad mojo, but whatever.
In Hosea and Stefan's case, it doesn't really matter... their sous-chefs help them out just fine and it's terribly undramatic (for the record, Hosea ends up with last season' Richard, while Stefan gets the wrongly-hated 2nd season's Marcel).
Carla, on the other hand, follows her assigned sous-chef right off a fucking cliff. She gets Casey, who is best remembered for SPECTACULARLY flaming out during season three's finale... if memory serves, she didn't produce a single dish that the judges liked... and the pairing is an unmitigated disaster.
So now we know the terms, now we know the players... here's how it all shook out.
Carla - Simply put, Carla completely screwed herself right out of winning. Her first two dishes... a crab soup appetizer and a red snapper with grilled clam... were entirely her design, start to finish, and were much loved by the judges. HOWEVER, on her final two dishes, she allowed herself to be talked out of her original ideas by her sous-chef; instead of cooking her meat in a way with which she was comfortable, Casey urged her to try sous-vide cooking... a funky modern technique that Carla had never done before. AND THEN, for the final dish, Casey talked Carla out of doing the planned-for bleu cheese tart; instead convincing her that a souffle was the way to go. Both dishes were terrible; the meat tough and unpleasant on the former, the souffle burned and curdled on the latter (the souffle was so bad, it wasn't even given to the judges). By not making the food she'd been making... the food, it should be pointed out, that has been loved by everyone... she went down hard. And I guess, in the end, it's for the best... if you're going to be a so-called Top Chef, it shouldn't be so easy for a complete stranger to talk you out of your own ideas.
Stefan - Continuing the problems he had last week, Stefan went into this challenge assuming that the title was in the bag, arrogance just dripping off him like he'd been standing in the rain. Due to that, and due to it generally seeming like he just didn't give a shit, his dishes were all over the map. He started out with an alligator soup that proved his ability work well on the fly with funky ingredients. Then me made a fancy-looking fish carpaccio that... due to the fact that fish was frozen when cut... was totally watered down by serving time (ice melts; a fundamental principle). THEN he made a roasted squab dish that everyone agreed was the best dish of the night, period. All he had to do was close it out well and the lousy carpaccio could be overlooked; the title would be his. Instead, he made a dessert. Here's where the arrogance comes in... he looked around, saw that no one else was making a dessert (safer to stick with what you know), so he figured, "Well shit... if I put out anything that's even vaguely dessert-esque, I'll win for having the balls to do so." So he basically made ice cream three ways and every single judge thought it was boring times a million. Even if no one else is doing it, half-assed is still half-assed.
So that means your new Top Chef is...
Hosea - That's right. He won. By cooking amazing food? Not really. As with the entire season, he cooked food that was good enough to get by, then he sealed the deal by flat-out getting lucky (and not just with Leah)... his fellow finalists took themselves out of the running. During the deliberations, you can tell that they're trying to find a way... any way... to give the title to Stefan. He's the winningest chef in the show's history, after all, and he's CLEARLY Hosea's better. However, the rules state that a contestant must be judged on a case-by-case basis as opposed to cumulatively, and... on this particular night, in this particular case... Hosea's dishes were the most solid of the night. Again, not spectacular, not terribly wow-worthy... he even had a dish (his second course, a sashimi thing) that was generally DISLIKED by the judges. But everything else was steady enough to earn him the title.
So I guess all of that was just a long-winded way of saying that, really, Hosea didn't win Top Chef. The reality of the situation is that Stefan and Carla lost. Hosea was just there to catch the fumble.
And there you have it. As anti-climactic a season finale as this show has ever seen. Sad, really. Oh well, there's always next year.