Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"I am?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I would like to start this final recap by stating that it is a RARE occasion when my favorite competitor on a reality show manages to win. I suppose that's a reflection on me. I just don't know how to pick 'em...MOST OF THE TIME.

Opening Scenes:
After a reel featuring Angelo's greatest hits, Kevin's teddy-bear like furies, and Ed's inexplicable sweating, we're transplanted immediately back to Singapore. Ed gloats while the others bid Kelly adieu. The chefs are called back to judge's table, though Ed acts as though there must be some mistake. As they stare at the ominous knife block that now hides a bit of Padma and Gail, they hear the details of the final challenge: a four-course meal that is to be the most amazing, incredible dinner of their lives. Always love hearing that description!

It isn't entirely up to them, as Padma and Tom begin to bring the hammer down by specifying what each course will be.

First course: veggie
Second course: fish, purchased at the crack of dawn at the Singapore market by Tom and my darling cherished Eric Ripert
Third course: meat
Fourth course: of course, dessert!

Padma informs the chef that additional help has been flown in, and I am not at all surprised to see Mike Voltaggio, Hung, and Ilan being ushered through the greenery. Everyone wants Mike, and pretty much no one wants Ilan. I don't know why, even though there is a skeezy quality about him that I find shamefully appealing. Ed draws his knife, while Kevin picks Mike and Angelo is luckily paired with Hung.

I say luckily because the moment the chefs arrive back at the hotel, Angelo is struck with the Singaporean version of Montezuma's revenge. He is basically incapacitated the next morning, leaving Hung to do all of his shopping. Kevin expresses remorse about his illness, while Ed cheerfully downs his orange juice and secretly relishes the fact that he might not have to worry about his greatest competition.

Dr. Gary Chee comes to check on Angelo and pretends to diagnose what is obviously Montezuma's revenge. I do feel for the greasy-haired, uber-talented chef. At least he's got Hung.

The next morning, Tom meets the chefs in the kitchen and gives them the 411 about Angelo's participation for the day. Eric Ripert shows off the absolutely beeyooteeful rouget (red mullet), cuttlefish, cockles, and slipper lobsters that were purchased at the morning market. Tom passes around pork belly and a nice whole duck. Officially, the fish course is the rouget and the meat course is the duck, but the rest of the proteins have to be incorporated somehow.

Shopping goes well for everyone but Ed and Ilan. They are not having an especially collaborative relationship, though I feel that Ilan is giving fairly good advice about not going overboard. Hung calmly listens to Angelo's weakened voice and speeds about the store picking up duck and fois gras for a marshmallow. How Angelo envisioned that after puking all night is beyond me. Props, buddy!

Hung continues to be fierce in the kitchen, swiping the entire amount of fois gras available and refusing to share. Kevin and Mike knew each other previously, so they work together seamlessly. Kevin is making a terrine (yikes!) for his first dish, but a very cool-sounding cuttlefish noodle for his second dish. Ed continues to be arrogant and obnoxious, teasing Hung and bossing Ilan around. Yes, we all know what happened when Carla allowed Casey to take over two seasons ago! Not going to happen to you, Ed!

*Side note: Dr. Chee returns to the hotel room to give Angelo a miracle shot in the buttocks. Just thought you'd like to know.

The day of the finale arrives. Ed spends a little extra time on his 'do while adorable Kevin sips his morning coffee. Angelo is fully clothed and on top of the covers, but is clearly not 100%. He's looking rough. It helps that he finds his black journal on his desk and is able to spend a few minutes crafting some new diagrams.

He's back to his old bossy self in the kitchen, but is clearly grateful for the incredible amount of work Hung completed in preparation for the final dinner. Ed continues to terrorize Ilan and remains unappreciative. Kevin and Mike are like the textbook definition of chef and sous-chef working together.

First course goes out with much fanfare. The room is full of foodies and culinary hot shots, as usual. It's quite difficult to figure out which are the weaker dishes, because for the most part, they seem to get good reviews. Same goes with second dish, though it does seem that Kevin's cuttlefish and Angelo's memorable seafood broth have a leg up on Ed. Protein course, always a biggie, also seems quite successful, with the exception of Angelo's strange sour cherry shooter. The judges loved Kevin's caramelized bok choy and duck ravioli and adored Ed's stuffed duck neck.

That troubling course, the infamous dessert, arrives. Angelo's icy "Thai Jewel" and Ed's sticky toffee pudding appear to fall slightly below Kevin's Singapore Sling 2010, a delicious-sounding mixture of Singapore Sling components frozen on top of coconut panna cotta and tropical fruits.

Like the previous episode, it came down to the little details in the end. Ed was praised for his duck course but criticized for a lackluster dessert. Angelo's broth was wonderful, but the cherry shooter accompanying his duck was little short of disgusting. Kevin was nailed for the plain terrine, but his duck dish and dessert were spectacular.

Though the editing was typically tricky, it apparently wasn't all that difficult for the judges to come to a decision (I've been reading Tom's blog, stalkerish fan that I am). The winner of Top Chef: Hail to the Chef?


Finally, I picked a winner! And a likable one at that! Congrats, Kevin, on a well-deserved win.

Don't feel sorry for Angelo, folks. To my great pleasure and excitement, I recently learned that he and seventeen other former contestants will be returning to New York for Top Chef: All Stars! I LOVE All-Stars seasons! Of course, I've already picked my favorite, Tre from Season 3, ousted all too soon after a dreadful showing at Restaurant Wars. For those of you who have followed this season, you'll be happy to learn that Tiffany will also be returning for a second shot at winning.

I aspire to recap All-Stars in a much more timely manner! Can't wait!

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