Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas – The Winner Is Revealed In The BEST Top Chef Episode EVER!

Part One – The Chefs Cook

WHY was it so good? Because it was about the food; it was about the chefs’ food philosophies stated with surprising elegance; AND, as an added bonus, the chefs’ moms made appearances. How great is that?!! PLUS there were the inevitable twists and turns and an outcome that was anything but foregone. All in all, an absolutely irresistible combination.

We see Bryan, Michael and Kevin chatting over breakfast. Michael says it stinks that Jennifer got eliminated and not Bryan. I suppose he thinks he’s being funny. He mentions (to us) that Bryan has NEVER won a Quickfire Challenge. Bryan says to us that he’s looking forward to the last challenge and that it will be a lot of fun. Bryan is happy (despite his straight-faced monotone) that he and his brother both made the finals.

They arrive at Rutherford Hill Winery and see Padma and Tom. Padma is positively glowing and really glorious looking.

Tom tells them that their last Elimination Challenge will be to cook a 3 course meal. The first course is to cook from a box of mystery ingredients, which will be the same for each chef. The second course is to cook anything they want from what they find in the kitchen and the third course must be a dessert.

They’ll be serving their meal at Cyrus. Padma says they’ll be getting some help. Out walks ALL of this season’s contestants. Jennifer is carrying the knife block. They get to draw knives for 2 helpers each, one for prep and one for the actual meal.

Kevin draws Preeti. He’s VERY unhappy with that choice and Ashley (the guy); Bryan gets Jennifer (he’s lucky) and Ashley (the girl); Michael gets Jessie (who’s she?) and Eli.

Do you really think the producers would have allowed Robin to be chosen as a sous chef? Don’t you think that Jennifer’s name was on more than one of those knives and then between each take there was a bit of an adjustment?

Kevin is having a really hard time with Preeti and wastes a lot of time being po’ed.

The chefs go to the kitchen at Cyrus to look at the mystery box with Pacific Rockfish, Dungeness Crab, Matsutake Mushrooms, Meyer Lemons, Kabocha Squash and Anise Hyssop.

I’M impressed that they knew what everything was. And how much do you think the folks from the Kabocha Squash Council had to pay to get their ingredient included?

They have 3 hours to prep and Kevin is spending way too much time being worried about Preeti. He says she is doing 2 of the items on his 20 item prep list. The others are okay with their sous chefs.

Michael says he takes more risks than Bryan. Bryan tells us, “I wouldn’t say I’m playing it safe, I’d say I’m playing it smart.”

Back at the hotel the next morning, they work out who’s going to work where in the kitchen. Bryan is supremely organized with pictures of how he’s going to plate each dish. Michael says he has no idea what to do with the box of mystery ingredients.

Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door. Uh-oh, what could this be?

In walks Kevin’s mom and Bryan and Michael’s mom.

Kevin’s mom is a ballsy Southern broad, who’s not afraid to speak her mind.

The brothers’ mom is sweet, typical mom-type. She says something about how her boys are each other’s best friends. Huh?!! That’s not exactly how it’s seemed all these weeks, but mothers are often delusional about their kids.

They get a bit of visiting time before the moms get to button up their boys’ chefs jackets and send them on their way.

“Be the real you, be the real Kevin,” Kevin’s mom tells him, when he says how strong the brothers are. He tells us he’s going to fight to the very last dish.

They are greeted at Cyrus by Tom, who adds a twist. They have to add a first course, dedicated to their mom and inspired by a childhood favorite. Hmm, interesting.

What would your dish be? Mine would definitely include Comstock Cherry Pie Filling, which my mother served as a vegetable next to chicken covered with diluted Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and accompanied by Minute Rice. I promise you my mother was a superb cook, she just got swept away by some odd choices every now and then. I don’t care, I love cherry pie filling, JUST NOT IN A PIE.

I cannot believe that they have only 3 more hours to do all four courses. How can that be enough time?

Bryan reminds us that his parents were divorced and his mom worked. (Didn’t they also say they lived with their dad later on?) His dish will pay tribute to her tuna noodle casserole, which he says had a lot of texture.

Sorry to digress again, but that reminds me of when my brother threatened to break my mother’s Pyrex loaf pan. He thought if he did, then she’d never make meat loaf again. I SWEAR my mother was a great cook, but I do think her meatloaf could have used some help.

Interestingly, we learn that Michael was a picky eater and he hated broccoli. He makes the challenge about taking something that he didn’t like and transforming it into something special.

Michael also says that it wasn’t that his mother made the greatest food in the world, but they always had dinner together and “she always made sure it was there”. Kind of sweet.

Kevin tells us that he got into MIT, but decided to go to culinary school instead. His first course is inspired by a “Sunday supper”.

Bryan wants to make sure not to dry out the fish in his mystery box course.

Michael says he created his mystery box dish on the way to the kitchen.

I like what he says next: “What I want to achieve with this dish is…a scavenger hunt of flavor. Every time they take a bite, they’re going to find something else that’s like, Wow, where did that come from?”

Kevin is worried about the tough mushroom in HIS mystery box dish, but he’s happy with Ashley (the guy) as his sous chef.

Michael thinks that, at first glance, the judges won’t think his main course of squab looks like his type of dish, but then “when they get into it, they’ll find (him) in there.”

Kevin's dish of pork belly sounds like a mere mortal could cook it, until you get to his final ingredient of Caramelized Ham Jus. His food is definitely more homey than the brothers’. I hope that’s enough to impress the judges. He says pork is his thing, that’s his “jam”.

Using venison in his main course, Bryan mentions that he hunts “not for sport, but to be more in tune with (his) ingredients”. Jamie Oliver would love him.

For dessert, Kevin is excited that he’s mixing bacon with chocolate. Is this a case of too much bacon? Some people feel enough with the bacon already. I haven’t eaten that much of it every which way, so it doesn’t bother me, but I’m thinking Kevin may appear a bit too one note to take the top prize today.

Bryan says he’s really excited to make a dessert, “because to be a chef, you should be able to.” He sounds about as animated as a toll booth attendant on the New Jersey Turnpike, but I guess that a high decibel level for him.

His dessert does sound like a stunning combination with the fig sorbet and cheesecake. I think he’s got it clenched, if he doesn’t screw up anything.

They plate the first courses. They’re all pretty happy.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Do you think Mom was delusional or were the producers trying to make the sibling rivalry between the brothers worse than it really is? I vote the latter, even though I find Michael almost as unbearably unkind as that other arrogant douchbag that was thrown off a few episodes ago.

Sue said...

Hey Rach,
It was probably a bit of both. Moms never want to think the worse of their little princes.

There were so many arrogant nitwits, I can't remember which one you're talking about...Oh, Mike I. Yeah, he was painful and Michael WAS a jerk all season.