Recap: Top Chef DC Finale, And The Winner Is...
Another year, another city, another Top Chef finale! The competition was fierce as the final three contestants cooked their hearts out for the judges in Singapore. Who won the title of Top Chef, and who just went home empty handed? It's all ahead in this week's recap!
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
No rest for the weary! Immediately after the last challenge ended, Padma called the final three contestants back to announce their final challenge. They were told to simply "create a four-course meal of the most amazing foods they've ever cooked in their lives." Oh, is that all?
The first course had to be a vegetable, the second course fish, the third course meat, and the fourth course dessert. Tom Colicchio said he and Eric Ripert would be getting up early the next morning to choose their meats, and noted "monkey was in season." And if you thought Ed looked panicked by that statement, you should have seen the monkey.
Since this was such a daunting task, the finalists got to utilize previous Top Chef winners as their sous chefs. As usual, the pairings were determined via a knife pull. Ed got season two winner Ilan Hall, Angelo got season three winner Hung Huynh, and Kevin got his old friend, and season six winner, Michael Voltaggio.
When they got back to the hotel, Angelo started complaining that he didn't feel well. He was pretty out of it, so he decided to go to bed early while the other guys sat around the kitchen table drinking cheap beer and high-fiving each other. Ah yes. It was 11th grade all over again.
The next morning, Angelo was looking and feeling even worse. He had severe stomach pains, and was up all night vomiting. I actually felt bad for the guy because he was in such rough shape. In fact, a doctor stopped by to examine him, and gave him only a 20% chance of being able to be a douchebag to the waitstaff the next day. The horror!
Hung, Angelo's sous chef, had it just as bad. The poor guy had to do all the shopping and prep work himself, while Angelo mumbled instructions to him over the phone. Hung took it like a champ. I don't think many people would have been as patient or accommodating, so props to the guy for that.
In other news, Ed thought Angelo was being a huge baby for not sucking it up and joining them. Voltaggio, on the other hand, was busy scrutinizing prices like he was filming an episode of Money Saving Meals. "These are $1.45, and those are only $.38," he exclaimed while rifling through some onions. "They're cheaper. I don't know how they'll taste, though." Oh Michael. Sandra Lee would have been so proud.
After the grocery store, the guys started their prep work. Everyone was mad because Hung purchased the only foie gras, and didn't share it with anyone. Meanwhile, Angelo was back home getting a gigantic needle stuck in his bum. This time, the doctor gave him a "3% chance" of the antibiotic shot making him healthy enough to compete the next day. Coincidentally, that's also the percentage of Top Chef fans who will be sticking around to watch Top Chef: Just Desserts after the finale.
Wouldn't you know it? It's a Top Chef miracle! Later that night, Angelo started feeling better and the doctor cleared him to cook the next day. He finally emerged from bed, wearing a sparkly low-cut v-neck t-shirt and baggy white capri pants which may, or may not, have been from Joan Rivers' newest "can we talk" collection on QVC.
The tasters for the finale included David Chang, Susan Feniger, Tom Colicchio, Dana Cowin, Eric Ripert, Padma, Gail, and several other heavy hitters in the food industry. Overall, they were incredibly impressed by what they were served. Here were some of the highlights—and lowlights:
Kevin's frozen Singapore sling dessert was one of their favorites. It was refreshing, unique, delicious, and Ripert loved the "coconut surprise" at the bottom. The judges also loved Kevin's roasted duck breast with duck dumpling, caramelized bok choy, and coriander sauce. His duck was cooked perfectly.
Ed's sticky toffee date pudding with fleur de sel creme chantilly was one of the least successful dishes of the night. It was boring, underwhelming, and average. David Chang even said it was "like a fuck you." That's one way of putting it. The other is: "what the hell were you thinking, Ed? You're preparing dessert for the Top Chef finale, not for Saturday night Pictionary with your girlfriend and her parents."
During judging, Colicchio questioned Ed about preparing such a boring dessert, and Ed said he served it because he didn't want to screw up a more complicated dish. I'll take "things not to say to people who are judging you" for $500, please, Alex.
The judges also really hated Angelo's sauteed duck breast and foie gras with marshmallow and tart cherry shooter. Angelo said the shooter was supposed to be a palate cleanser, but in reality it was thick and gloopy and Padma said it "coated every corner of her mouth." And not in a good way.
And The Winner Is...
With very little fanfare, Padma whispered: "Kevin... you are Top Chef." He looked shocked, and mumbled: "I am?!" Yes, Kevin, you are! Congratulations!
While Ed and Angelo were busy worrying about beating each other, Kevin remained focused on the food and delivered the most solid, balanced menu. And let's face it: having Michael Voltaggio as a sous chef probably didn't hurt, either.
But then again, many of us already KNEW Kevin was the winner because of Bravo's epic screw-up earlier in the day. A few hours before the finale aired, Bravo updated their website to include a video clip from next week's reunion show. In that video clip, Andy Cohen congratulated Kevin on winning this season of Top Chef. Way to go, Bravo! Thanks for ruining the modicum of anticipation this season finale had going for it!
So there you have it! What did you think of the finale, Serious Eaters? Did the right man win?