Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top Chef Season 5 Finale Recap


Do not continue reading if you don’t want to know who wins!!!

Okay, now that that is out of the way – let’s talk about the Top Chef Season 5 Finale! It all started last week with a challenge I really enjoyed. Fabio, Hosea, Carla, and Stefan traveled to New Orleans where they were greeted by Padma, Tom, and special guest Emeril Lagasse! Then, in true Top Chef fashion, the freshly eliminated Jamie, Jeff, and Leah magically appear. Oh and weren’t we all so thrilled to see whiny, needy, clingy Leah once again? Not so much. I swear that girl had an excuse for everything. If she made a mistake it was never “Oh, okay, good to know”, it was always this whiny “Oh really? Okay well see I didn’t know that so I just did the only thing I knew how to do because I didn’t want to risk messing it up….” Blah. I’m over her. Anyways, so then the past contestants had a quickfire challenge to see who would be rejoining the competition. They had one hour to cook a dish using crawfish with Emeril as a judge – talk about pressure! I was hoping for Jamie but Jeff managed to walk away with the win and get back in the game. Once again, see ya Leah!

And next, we move on to the real challenge in this episode, which I loved. I think I actually liked this more than the actual finale. Jeff, Hosea, Carla, Fabio and Stefan were catering a Masquerade Ball for Mardi Gras. They had to make two appetizers, one of which had to be Creole, and then also a signature cocktail. I thought this was great and really let them showcase their creativity. I also like it when the contestants get to interact with ‘real people’ instead of the judges because I feel like the judges can be overly critical at times and the ‘real people’ just like what tastes good and aren’t as worried about technique, etc.

I thought everyone’s food looked great, especially Carla’s. In order for Jeff to move on to the real finale, he had to win this challenge. So the winner of this challenge not only got to move on to the finale, they also won a Toyota Venza! (I know I wouldn’t have any idea what this car was if they did not advertise it during every commercial break…) Once they got back to judge’s table I really thought Jeff was going to win. Emeril seemed to really enjoy his food and had great things to say. They were just really taken with Carla though and she got the win – and the car! They had to eliminate one more person also and in the end it came down to “Team Europe”, Stefan and Fabio. As I was watching I was sure they were going to send cocky Stefan home but they sent poor sweet funny Fabio home instead! He was so determined and had such a good attitude through the whole competition. I was really sad to see him pack his knives and go.

So on to the finale! Side note: I feel like this may have been the worst Top Chef Finale EVER. I felt like the whole episode was so rushed, they didn’t show much of their prep work or planning out of their menus, and the judges hardly showed any commentary on the food itself. I was ready for more Rocco DiSpirito! Come on! AND, whatever happened to the part of the finale episodes when the talk to the contestants about what they’ve been doing since other episodes of the show finished taping? I seem to remember them going to people’s homes and talking to them about the recipes they’d been practicing, discussing offers they’d gotten, etc. And haven’t they been able to bring special ingredients back to the finale in past seasons also? None of that this time – I’m not sure what was going on.

Here’s a little more Rocco for you though, just for fun. Oh how I heart him! And really how could you not? LOOK at him!!!!

And now on to the finale. Tom and Padma greet the remaining contestants, Hosea, Carla and Fabio, and Tom announces their final challenge. “Cook us the best three course meal of your life.” He is quick to add that they can use any protein they like and that their three course meal is not required to have a dessert. Everyone seems excited about the challenge. Nothing weird has been thrown in; they can finally just relax, cook a normal meal and showcase their talent. Then a surprise! Out of a dark tunnel, appear three shadowy figures. They get closer and closer and we see that its Marcel from Season 2, Casey from Season 3 and Richard from Season 4! The Season 5 contestants draw knives to see what order they will get to choose who they work with. Hosea gets to go first and chooses Richard. Then Stefan is up and in a move that I thought would be lucky for Carla, he chooses Marcel which means that Carla gets to work with Casey. I was so excited because I really liked Casey in Season 3. This is shaping up great.

They have 2 hours to prep that night and then 3 hours to cook the following day. They get into the kitchen and get to work. Carla already has a plan for some of the things she would like to do and then unfortunately Casey talks her into come changes. Carla has never used the sous vide method of cooking but Casey thinks it would be great for the ‘meat and potatoes’ course Carla has planned so they go with that. Then Casey also talks her into a blue cheese soufflé – I’m not getting a good feeling about this Carla! Go with your gut – don’t listen to Casey!

Everyone is busy busy in the kitchen and the 2 hours seem to fly by. When they arrive back in the kitchen the next day Tom is waiting for them with another twist. They now have to add an appetizer to their 3 course meal and they must use one of the proteins on the table in front of him: alligator, red fish, or crab. They draw knives to see who picks first – its Hosea. And in another twist, Hosea not only gets to pick his protein, he also gets to assign the other 2 to Carla and Stefan. Hosea picks red fish, gives Carla the crab and sticks it to Stefan by giving him the alligator.

Moving on. I thought Hosea’s appetizer looked amazing! I would have totally ordered that if I’d been in a restaurant. Stefan and Carla both did soups which I thought was really odd for an appetizer that was assigned to them as ‘something that could be passed’. So you know this isnt’ something people are going to be sitting down to eat, they’re going to grab it off a tray. That situation doesn’t really call for soup to me but they both did it and they’re on this show and I certainly am not so maybe there’s something there. Everyone seemed to really be impressed with all of the appetizers and things were off to a good start.

Side note: Did anyone else notice the additional guest at the party? Otherwise knows as Gail’s b00bs! Hel-lo! What was going on with that dress???? And where was Emeril in this episode? I was hoping he’d stick around for both parts of the finale.

For the first course, it seemed that Carla had it in the bag. Unfortunately Casey’s idea for the meat ruined her second course and no one really liked it. The third course was interesting because Hosea did venison instead of a dessert of any kind. Carla chose to do a cheese course but accidentally curdled her blue cheese soufflé and was unable to serve it and Stefan made a banana lollipop and some ice cream. Not very impressive.

Once they are at Judges’ Table it is clear that Carla is not going to be the winner. They hardly even talk about her food at all, she is quickly dismissed from conversation and they begin comparing Stefan and Hosea. They do note that it didn’t really seem like some of the dishes Carla made were her normal style and wondered what was going on. Um, Casey was the problem there! The judges decide that Stefan’s dessert just wasn’t that special, and they didn’t really care for his watery fish first course either so the winner is……..Hosea!

I was honestly shocked. I felt like surely it would have been Carla until Casey got in the way and ruined it for her. And I really liked Casey before this! I felt like Hosea was always kind of under the radar this season. He only won a few challenges here and there, always just seemed to skate by. I guess he did something right in this finale though! I also felt like this finale was more rushed than others have been. I wish they would have given them a little more time in the kitchen so they could really produce something they were comfortable with and proud of.

I think the reunion next week will be really interesting. I really hope Hosea and Leah are not dating in real life!

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I know some really odd information about Rocco D. but I'm too embarrassed to say! It might change your opinion of him forever...eek