Hung Wins Top Chef 3!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

This was the most exciting finale of Top Chef to date! It was great to see that my pick for the winner, Hung, was still in it and I couldn't wait to see what twists were going to unfold this time around. I was definitely on pins and needles as Heidi Klum from Project Runway would say (I can't wait to start watching that next!).

For the first twist, all three chefs were to create 3 dishes and they were going to be served head-to-head. In past seasons, the finalists served their dishes individually in separate restaurants. With this turn of events, the cheftestants' dishes would be judged against their competitions. How nerve-racking that must be!

After that announcement, the judges gave the finalists 30 minutes to look at the abundance of ingredients that were laid out for them and prepare their menu. It was fun to watch them bite into different vegetables and taste everything they could because we didn't really see that in Season 2 in Hawaii.

Finally, time is up and now it's time to reveal the sous chefs, as most of us watching predicted when we saw the knife block. I mentioned to my boyfriend that if Hung got to choose first that he'd have a better chance of winning because we all know that not all of the previous cheftestants would want to work with him. Boy were we wrong! Here comes the biggest twist of the evening.

Yes, Hung choose Knife 1 but that didn't mean that he got first pick of sous chef from the pool of past cheftestants. It actually meant that Hung's sous chef would be coming out of door number one! And out walks celebrity chefs Rocco Dispirito, Michelle Bernstein for Casey, and Todd English for Dale who were there to help them cook on Day 1 out of 2 only. Talk about great help! This was a twist that was surely going to make this finale fun to watch - great idea Top Chef producers!

As they all march in to start Day 1 of prep and cooking, Hung's menu consisted of raw hamachi fish and "chips" to start, prawns for his second dish and sous vide duck for his final course. Casey opted to prepare scallop and foie gras, prawns for her second course as well with a rice cake and a pork belly dish. Finally, Dale's menu gave the diners a foie gras mousse, butter poached lobster, and Colorado rack of lamb. It was interesting to watch the celebrity chefs prep for the finalists. It was clear, even on TV, that they all wanted to give some sort of advice, but they just couldn't do it. All they could do was offer the best help they could and it was great to see that none of the cheftestants held back when it came to ordering around chefs they really respect.

While the finalists were busy working away getting their dishes ready for the judges on Day 2, Chef Tom walks in with another twist. They were asked to make a fourth dish and would get the help of another sous chef - now, it's actually one of their former competitors. I was really glad to see that Hung chose to make a dessert of molten chocolate cake and raspberries. I know the judges always say that they don't judge on this and why make something you're not comfortable with, etc. But I knew this decision would give Hung and edge up and make his menu memorable IF he could pull it off. Casey and Dale, however, chose to make another savory dish - lamb and scallop, respectively.

It's judging time! At the table were the standard panel of judges, Chef Tom, Gail, Padma and Ted Allen, as well as the celebrity sous chefs, and the last guy asked to pack up his knives and go, Brian (last twist of the night, folks!). The best dishes of the evening were (1st course) Hung's raw hamachi fish and potato 'chips'. That's one for Hung! The second course belonged to Dale's surprise dish, the scallop which Ted Allen declared was his favorite dish throughout the entire competition. Although I might add that the judges liked Hung's prawn dish as well, although it lacked a bit of seasoning.

Third course was handed over to Hung once again for his sous vide duck which Todd English declared with good enough for three Michelin stars. Even I was shocked when those words were uttered since that's one of the highest achievements a chef can get! And finally, fourth course went hands down to Dale's rack of lamb. But again, the judges noted that Hung's chocolate cake was very good. It just wasn't original and it kind of didn't go with the other dishes that he made. So that's two dishes for Hung and two for Dale. I'm sure as you know at this point, Casey really isn't in the running to win but she was still a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.

And now it's time to turn the cameras over to the Chicago live finale to announce the winner - Congratulations Hung! I'm really glad they didn't drag it out and make it longer than it had to be (aside from one commercial break). Chef Tom gave them all great praise - you should have seen the look on Dale's face when Chef Tom told him that his rack of lamb was a wonderful dish and that it should be one that he carries with him forever. Even more amusing was Hung's reaction when he was told that his duck was of 3 Michelin star status! G'bye Top Chef, for now, until the next season - I can't wait to "watch what happens".


Anonymous said...

Way to go Hung! You made your momma, aunties, cousins, uncles, cousin's cousins, and family from the village proud! Can’t wait to see what he’s gonna do w/ the $100k.