Cheers to the Top Chef Final Four!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I must say, last night's Top Chef was one of my favorites this season. It was all about going back to the basics and judging on skill and simplicity. None of this, what can you make all ingredients from a gas station (a la Season 1), make an amuse bouche from vending machine foods (from Season 2) or the debacle of a Quickfire requiring chefs to shop from one aisle in the grocery store with only $10 to their name.

The Quickfire challenge was about recreating a classic in a real kitchen with real ingredients and real equipment (put that hot plate away!). I was really glad to see that Hung won this and I was actually really glad to see that he didn't share how he prepared the potato-wrapped sea bass with the other kids. Even though it may have been arrogant to the other contestants in the moment, they must have looked back on this episode and thought to themselves, if I were in the same spot, would I share what I did? After all, it's a competition with only one winner.

Moving on to the Elimination Challenge, it was interesting to see that they didn't go all out like the did in Season 1 by giving the cheftestants black truffle and wine or asking them to create an upscale 5-course tasting menu (Season 2). For this Elimination Challenge going into the Aspen finale, the cheftestants were asked to create a fabulous dish using 3 simple, everyday ingredients - chicken, potatoes, and onions.

This was one of the few episodes this season where I could clearly see who the top contenders were and who actually deserved to go home. From the start, we could see that Hung and Casey's concepts were right on to just create classic dishes the old school deans from the French Culinary Institute could enjoy. The fact that Hung is classically trained made him a top choice to win.

Casey also had an edge up by recreating a favorite dish from her childhood that her French grandmother always made. I believe that these were the types of dishes that the judges were looking for. They didn't want complicated food that you had to interpret, like Dale's duet of chicken. They weren't looking for regional specialties like Sara's Jamaican inspired dish or Brian's Shepard's Pie. Even if it tasted amazing as Brian's dish was although it looked like a pile of you-know-what, it didn't represent classic, simple food. Hung and Casey delivered on this and Hung came out as the ultimate winner and I'm glad.

I can't wait to see what these guys are up against in the Aspen finale, but you bet your ass that I'm going to have something to say about it. Who do you think will go head-to-head as the final two? Vote on my featured poll now!


Anonymous said...

"Bet your ass" huh?!!! Oh BET! Wanna bet?! EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!