Editor’s Note: I didn’t use any silly puns in the headline today because I don’t want to give anything away, in case you haven’t caught the finale yet. That said, this is a recap, so, you know, it says who wins. If you haven’t watched yet, don’t read on if you don’t want to know.
OK, so my fav part of the Top Chef finale is that Frank Bruni penned a lengthy rant in Wednesday’s NYT about how all these celeb chefs (Collichio, Bourdian, etc…) get the big bucks to appear on Top Chef and similar shows, but never even have to cook anything anymore. Then, in the finale, they actually made the the big guys get in the kitchen, awarding each of the cheftestants a big name sous chef.
Hung got Rocco, Dale got the ubiquitous Todd English and Casey was paired with that lady who looks like Sandra Bernhrardt. The catch was that none of these guys got to offer any advice, and they were only there for the prep part, just to chop garlic, boil water, and allow Dale to say “Todd English is my bitch.”
There weren’t any dumb cowboy or airplane themes for the finale – just pretty basic orders: make the best damn meal you can. The only trip-up was that with an hour left, Collichio came in and told the cheftestants they had to make one extra course, and their sous chefs this time would be the losers from earlier episodes.
Dale lucked out and got underrated CJ – who made a great-looking grape and scallop dish for him. Hung was surprisingly happy when he drew cheesy Sara, and Casey put on a brave face when she got doughboy Howie, although she must have known at that moment it was all over for her.
I thought Casey’s cinnamon scented scallops and foie gras with apple and celery looked delicious but the judges weren’t wowed by anything she made. Casey really just didn’t bring her A-game and the judges made it clear early on that we would not, after all, be seeing our first Top Chef with breasts.
Dale was inconsistent as usual, but was lifted by a very original rack of lamb with deconstructed ratatouille. Hung, meanwhile,was the only one who made four good dishes and especially wowed the judges with his sous vide duck with truffle scented broth, even throwing in a cool foam that he must have learned from his buddy
So it came down to Hung v. Dale. At the awkward live finale, Padma shouted over the crowd, threw out some Seacrest-esque commercial break teasers, and even tried to steal Heidi’s ‘pins and needles’ catchphrase.
I have to give the show credit – despite being far less of a fan favorite than Dale or Casey, the judges went with Hung, shockingly (for a reality show, anyway) making their final decision based on talent.