Note: We're always giggling at what Jillian over at Food Network Humor, has to say about Ina, Paula, Rachael, Giada, Guy, and the gang. We asked her to share her predictably hilarious food television commentary for last night's Top Chef finale. Take it away, Jillian!
Is it just me, or did this seem like the longest season of Top Chef ever?
I feel like I've been watching it since the Clinton administration! In any event, tonight's finale pitted the lovable, talented Kevin Gillespie against the robotic Voltaggio brothers, who may quite possibly be distant relatives of Vicki from Small Wonder.
The episode opened with the guys eating breakfast in their hotel room. They all looked terribly bored, so either they were preoccupied with the upcoming challenge, or someone popped Gosford Park into the DVD player. You decide. Bryan spent his time wondering what Jennifer was up to, while Michael spent several seconds tenderly stroking a bagel.
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD]
For the final challenge, Bryan, Kevin, and Michael each had to prepare a three-course meal with a twist. The first course had to be made up of secret ingredients held inside a mystery box. The second course would be chef's choice, and the third course had to be a dessert.
Tom reminded the finalists that the "meal could make their career," which left the guys looking more frightened than Britney Spears after being asked by Barbara Walters to complete a word problem.
Suddenly and without warning, all of the previously eliminated contestants emerged from behind a large bush. I have to say, it was nice to see Mattin's red bandana again, but what the heck was up with Robin's accessories? Last I checked, friends don't let friends wear hoop earrings big enough to fit comfortably around John Goodman's neck.
Next, the finalist drew knives to determine who their sous chefs would be. Michael got Jesse and Eli, Bryan got Ashley and Jennifer, and Kevin got Ash and Preeti. Kevin was really disappointed with his selections, and actually looked more upset than I did after shelling out $11 to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Poor guy.
Cut to the kitchen at Cyrus, where the mystery box of ingredients was waiting for them. Honestly, the term "mystery ingredients" was fairly accurate, because the crate looked like it was filled with random stuff that just washed up on Long Island Sound:
The box actually contained Pacific rockfish, dungeness crab, kabocha squash, meyer lemon, matsutake mushrooms, and anise hyssop—ingredients that one might consider difficult to incorporate into a single dish. So difficult, in fact, that the chefs spent several seconds staring blankly into the box, looking more clueless than the Backstreet Boys in a room full of instruments.
The guys had three hours to prep their three courses, which was just enough time for Kevin to become infuriated by Preeti's apparent inability to use a knife. Once they got back to the hotel, there was a knock on the door.
No, it wasn't the postman. And no, he didn't ring twice.
It was—their mothers! It was actually really endearing to see them interacting with their sons, and the photo they flashed of a younger Kevin, sans beard, was a nice surprise as well.
Every season of Top Chef has a twist, and this year, the finalists had to add a last-minute fourth course to their final menu. This surprise dish would be dedicated to their moms, and it had to be an homage to a favorite childhood memory.
It was a nice idea in theory, but to be honest, the guys needed that additional stress like they needed front row tickets to a Yanni concert.
Bryan: Tuna noodle casserole for his first course. His third course was a venison saddle with vegetables, and his dessert was a chocolate caramel coulant with butternut squash ice cream.
Michael: His first course was broccoli reinvented. His third course was a fennel scented squab, and his dessert was a white chocolate dulce de leche cheesecake.
Kevin: Chicken and fixin's Sunday supper for the first course. His third course was a slow roasted pork belly, and his dessert was a roasted banana chocolate bacon mousse with peanut bacon brittle.
While talking about the venison in his third course, Bryan took the opportunity to tell us that he's a hunter who doesn't hunt for sport, but to "get more in tune with his ingredients." Likely story, but couldn't he just read a book like the rest of us?
After Michael, Kevin, and Bryan prepared their dishes, they were introduced to their judging panel, conveniently made up of every chef in a 200-mile radius. And just in case that wasn't enough pressure, their mothers were also there to taste their first course.
Padma politely asked the mothers for forgiveness in case the judges had any negative comments about their sons' dishes. Mrs. Voltaggio cunningly replied, "Tom, I live in Vegas. I know where to find you." Tom forced a smile that Tyra Banks herself would have been proud of, but he looked sort of terrified at the same time.
Lock your doors, Tom. Lock your doors. And I'm sorry, but you're not America's Next Top Model.
Oh, wait. Wrong show.
Overall, the judges weren't really feeling Kevin's dishes, and they got far too much pleasure out of criticizing one single mushroom that he didn't cook properly.
They crucified Bryan for not using enough seasoning, and called Michael out on his overcooked, dry cake. On a positive note, they loved Bryan's venison, and raved about Michael's squab. At this point, it's still anyone's title, folks.
Padma asked each of the final three why they felt they should be Top Chef. Michael snidely replied, "I just don't want Bryan to be Top Chef." The judges laughed, but I found it a bit tacky. Come on. It's your brother, not some guy who just stole your parking space at the mall.
Suddenly, things got really serious. I'm talking "scary music and dramatic lighting" serious. Padma slowly turned her gaze away from her pregnant stomach and toward the finalists standing before her, and after an unnecessarily long silence, said, "One of you will be Top Chef."
Well thank you for stating that for us dim folk, Captain Obvious. What's next? Gonna shock us all with the knowledge that Dick Clark is old?
Padma took another deep breath, and said, "Kevin.....you are not top chef." And just like that, Kevin's dreams went crashing to the floor faster than Whitney Houston's career after marrying Bobby Brown.
Kevin exited gracefully, and the stage was set for the sibling rivalry showdown that Bravo spent the last four months setting us up for. Move over, Sylvester Stallone. This is a real cliffhanger. Who's it gonna be? Bryan? Or Michael? And why can't I stop staring at this photo?
After a well-timed commercial break, Padma revealed that the winner of Top Chef Season Six is... MICHAEL VOLTAGGIO! And just like that, the man with the face that's usually more stone cold than Steve Austin's shed a tear. He hugged his brother Bryan, who understandably looked like he had just been run over by a truck.
And now for Michael's poignant, parting reality TV words: "It was worth it and I'd do it again. It got me in touch with who I am as a person, and who I am as a cook, and for that I'll always appreciate my time on Top Chef."
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever Michael. I'm still worried about poor Bryan. I wonder how he's holding up?
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