Three Finalists for Top Chef This Season!

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm so sad that next week will be the last week I get to watch Top Chef - until next season that is. But, I'm SO excited that we get to see three chefs cook for the finale. And, I'm even more excited that the chef everyone loves to hate, Hung, is still in the running! Woo hoo!

Let's recap: the Final Four finally make it to Aspen and are challenged with a Quickfire almost right away. They hop onboard a hot-air balloon and make their way to a remote area along a river - strange. I must say that this challenge was pretty out there and it was fun to watch the cheftestants try to make a gourmet trout dish with a portable burner on a couple of tree stumps. However, I think that Anthony Bourdain was absolutely right in his BravoTV blog when he said that this challenge was a waste of such a talented and well-respected judge in Eric Ripert, known famously for specializing in seafood. It must suck to eat such wonderful food, seafood no less, and then have to judge campfire cuisine.

Everyone looked to be struggling except for Hung, who actually finished 6 minutes early. WTF?! If I knew that a piece of fish was going to sit on a plate for 6 minutes before Padma and Eric were to taste it, I'd probably start over. Cold fish isn't pleasant and I'm surprised they didn't mention it during judging. And with so much time left over, you think he could have remembered the lemon? I love Hung, he's my favorite to win, but even I couldn't stop laughing.

Brian didn't fare too well, with his underseasoned salad with trout and neither did Dale; the spices in his dish completely missed the mark. That leaves Casey to be the winner of the Quickfire. I don't care what anyone says, I think that she's the one Hung needs to beat and if she does win, I'd be happy (don't tell my boyfriend that - wink!).

On to the Elimination Challenge: Since Casey won, she had the advantage of using any of the special ingredients she was allowed to bring from home for the finale. Surprisingly (and it may just be me because I didn't realize), her self-proclaimed style of cuisine is pan-Asian. Perfect for a final match up with Hung who's originally from Vietnam. But, Casey opted not to use her special ingredients as she thought they'd be more appropriate for something else since the protein of choice for this challenge to feed cowboys and girls was... elk.

I think they all did pretty good with the ingredient at hand, considering that most of them never cooked with elk before expect for Casey. Being from Texas, Casey was already familiar with elk. And even though she prepared hers extremely rare, her smoky tomato sauce saved her from elimination.

Hung was recognized by the judges as being the best technical chef - technically. He prepared the elk perfectly and his flavors were good but restrained. However, because if this, the judges claimed that his food had no soul and that he wasn't cooking from his Vietnamese roots. He pleaded with the panel that if he made it to the final, that Hung's true flavors would come out. And I rooted for Hung to make it through so that I, too, could see what he had to offer.

Dale admitted something to us this week that we didn't know about him. Before he made it onto Top Chef, he hadn't really cooked for over a year. His restaurant closed down and he was trying to find who he was as a chef from this competition. Could've fooled me since he was one of my favorites from earlier on. He really nailed it on the head and knew that if he made a great sauce, that it would be a home run for him. And indeed he did. Congratulations on your win, Dale!

And finally, we have Brian. As you probably know, Brian was the lone chef who had to pack his knives and go. Although I'm sure his elk dish was very good, it suffered from too many ingredients which left us to think that he was trying to hard. Overdoing your food with too many ingredients is never good. The way the producers edited the show, it appeared that it took him forever to describe his dish to Padma. Even Gail proclaimed that it took him 25 minutes to convey elk with bourbon, balsamic, garlic, cherries, sage, and on and on and on, proved to be harmful to his chances in continuing on in the competition. And alas, we have to say goodbye to Brian.

Now, who will be the Top Chef next week? Three finalists will prove to be extremely difficult for the judges to decide on and you bet I'll be right there with the rest of America to find out!