Top Chef – Recap & Review – Finale Part I

photo: bravo

photo: bravo

Top Chef
Finale Part I

Original Air Date: Feb 20, 2013

Ryan O – Staff Writer
ryano@thetwocentscorp.com

This is it! Almost! Brooke and Sheldon and whoever won Last Chance Kitchen! Which I won’t spoil here!

Brooke, Sheldon, and the third chef have to cook in Tom’s restaurant for a dinner service. One of them won’t make it to the head-to-head showdown that will the second part of the finale.

After the dinner in the Governor’s mansion in Alaska, Sheldon and Brooke celebrate being the Top Two, which they acknowledge is really the Top Three since the winner of Last Chance Kitchen is waiting for them.

We visit Maui two weeks before the finale, which Sheldon tells us is six months after Alaska. Wow. that’s a really, really long time. He’s says he had the opportunity to work at some high-end restaurants recently. We watch him cook during a dinner rush. Later, we see him grilling for family at the beach and we meet his wife and kids.

One week before the finale in Los Angeles, we see Brooke at home. Brooke’s little boy is very cute. We see her make a pig-ear salad for her restaurant. Brooke tells her husband she thinks she’ll be battling Kristen in the finale.

As expected, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen is Kristen. I’m a big fan of Lizzie but I’m glad Kristen won. She deserves to be in the finale.

Elimination Challenge

Each chef will be responsible for an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert at Tom’s restaurant, Craft. They have three hours.

Brooke isn’t sure what she wants to do for her entree. Sheldon is going to do something with spot prawns for his appetizer and then quail for his entree, which Brooke points out is out of comfort zone. Sheldon says he wants to show the judges that he can do different things. Kristen is planning on some brussel sprouts and duck for an appetizer, doing a veloute for an entree, and a chocolate dessert

Brooke starts to panic a bit and things to start to go a little wrong. Sheldon and Kristen aren’t sure about dessert since they don’t make it often. Wait a minute. You had six months to prepare and you didn’t work on a couple of desserts? That can’t be right.

Along with Padma, the judges are Emeril, Hugh, John Besh, and Martin Yan.

Here’s what they made.

Appetizers.

Sheldon: Sashimi spot prawn, court bouillon, radish and Asian herbs

Emeril says his prawn was perfectly cooked. John Besh says it’s a difficult dish to pull off. I’m not sure if he thinks Sheldon pulled it off.

Kristen: Chestnut veloute (a rich soup), duck rillette and brussel sprouts.

Hugh thought the duck rillette was fine but it need something with it. John Besh a touch of acid with it would’ve done wonders.

Brooke: Crispy veal sweetbread salad with kumquat, beets, and mustard

Padma loves the intensity of the flavors in the salad. Hugh thinks she should’ve cleaned the sweetbreads a bit more and cut them a bit thicker.

Entrees

Kristen: Seared ahi tuna with veal, mustard au jus and meyer lemon puree

Padma says the lemon curd was a little too harsh for her. John Besh says he got one bite (of what, I’m not sure) that was a bit salty.

Brooke: Braised short ribs, Parmesan sauce, nettle puree, and squash dumplings

Martin Yan says Brooke’s dish is perfectly cooked and everything complements everything else. Hugh says the Parmesan sauce was great and mixed well with the rib’s aus jus. Emeril loved the nettle.

Sheldon: Roasted quail, pine nut puree, gram masala, and tangerine

Hugh says the pine nuts were okay but not his favorite. Hugh says it’s not Sheldon and he wants the old Sheldon. Emeril agrees. Aww, that’s tough. I understand the idea that he wants to show range. I suppose if it had come out better, the judges would be more accepting of the new direction.

Desserts

Brooke: Brown butter cake, whipped goat cheese, and blackberry sauce

John can’t believe how good it is. Martin Yan loves the balance and the texture.

Kristen: Curry Chocolate with Cashews

Padma likes the chocolate and curry together. Hugh isn’t so sure. He thinks it’s not a great idea and calls it a really basic dessert.

Sheldon: White chocolate mousse with apple and fennel

Padma loves the apple and fennel together. John says the raw fennel overpowered everything else in the dish. Martin says the sweetness was good but the fresh fennel was distracting since it was such a big chunk.

Judges Table

Sheldon gets praise for his appetizer. Tom liked the quail except for the pine nuts. He didn’t roast them. Emeril says there wasn’t anything wrong with old Sheldon. Tom says using raw fennel made it an incomplete dish. Padma asks if he came prepared with a dessert. Sheldon says he has a dessert for the next round. DUDE! Oh, no!

Tom liked Kristen’s soup. Hugh thought it was a bit one-note. In regards to the tuna entree, Kristen says she tried to make things simpler as compared to Restaurant Wars, when she was eliminated. Emeril says the lemon was bitter. Kristen says she was going for bitter. Tom says that bitterness and the celery puree didn’t really work. Kristen wasn’t happy at all with her dessert. Emeril still liked the flavors.

Brooke’s sweetbreads were crispy and delicious according to Tom, who liked the bright note the kumquat added. Emeril liked everything about the short ribs. Padma liked the Parmesan sauce so much, she was ready to dip some of Kristen’s tuna in it. Hugh thought the cake was moist and the berries were great. Tom thought it wasn’t a restaurant dessert.

The chefs leave.

Tom commends Sheldon for trying to push his limits. Hugh says Sheldon’s usual flavor profile has benefitted him so much through this point.

Hugh says Kristen’s skills are amazing. Tom thought her first two courses were really good but her dessert, not so much.

Tom thought Brooke’s first two courses were terrific. He thought she lacked focus that night. Hugh thought the dessert was really good if less nuanced than the other two.

At this point, I’m pretty sure the finale will be Brooke (who would appear to be the winner of the challenge) vs. Kristen.

The chefs return.

Padma tells Sheldon to pack his knives.

It seems like Sheldon might’ve gotten into his own head a little bit. I get trying to show you can do more but he was doing so well with what he did well. That said, I’m not sure it would’ve been enough to beat Kristen or Brooke.

Last Chance Kitchen

HAHAHA, no, just kidding. No more LCK.

What did you find to be tasty in this episode? Did you think anything was overdone? Give us your Two Cents below!

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2 Responses to Top Chef – Recap & Review – Finale Part I

  1. Scheddar says:

    Glad Kristen is back and that she and Brooke are in the finale, guaranteeing a much needed, and much more deserved, women’s winner. Loved Sheldon all season, but towards the last few episodes he’s started to give off a douchey undertone, to me, so I’m happy with the final 2. Kristen for the win!

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