So I can’t believe that this season is coming to an end. Going in I really like Richard and Stephanie. But the idea of the first female Top Chef sounds exciting! I don’t know how Lisa stuck it out this long but…
As the finalists walk up to Padma and Tom we see 3 expert chefs. The final challenge is a 4 course meal with a traditional progression (Fish, poultry, red meat and dessert). Each expert chef has a selection of protein. Since Stephanie and Richard have a tie on elimination challenge win they draw to see who will pick an expert chef (and their protein) first. The chef will be the finalist’s sous chef. Dinner will be a black tie affair, head to head, for 9 diners. They have 3 hours on the first day and 4 hours day of in prep time.
Lisa: Sous Chef: April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig
Proteins:Oysters, Prawns, Crab, Mahi-Mahi, Chicken, Squab, Pancetta, Sweetbreads, Beef Tongue, Wagyu Strip Steak, Ostrich Steak
Stephanie: Sous Chef: Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin
Proteins: Snapper, Hamachi, Caviar, Clams, Lobster, Veal Tenderloin, Chorizo, Rack of Lamb, Quail, Quail Eggs, Bacon
Richard: Sous Chef: Dan Barber of Blue Hill
Proteins: Scallops, Halibut, Calamari, Abalone, Duck, Foie Gras, Guinea Hen, Prosciutto, Pork Belly, Venison, Rabbit
Lisa is of course going with an Asian theme and her sous chef is not familiar with that. Richard’s theme is his journey so there will be classical and cutting edge techniques. Stephanie is trying to show off her style with balanced flavor combinations. Each finalist was allowed one special ingredient. Richard’s was liquid nitrogen. He was making a Tabasco ice cream and it was cool. As a science dork, I love anything done with liquid Nitrogen. The expert chefs were all thinking it was cool and new to them. As day one prep comes to an end Richard still isn’t sure what he is doing. He is just trying to prep what he thinks he needs.
So here we are on the final day and Tom comes in to say that the sous chefs will not be in to work today. Tom says that they wanted to make sure the chefs live or die by their own hand. The girls don’t seem real happy about dessert and aren’t happy about being judged about it. I think that it is only reasonable, it is a major component of food and cooking. Stephanie is not happy with how her cake came out. Lisa is shockingly chilled. And then we serve….
Lisa: Grilled Prawns, Tom Kha Gai Soup and Dumplings, Wagyu Beed, Thai Rice Pudding
Stephanie: Red Snapper, Quail with Lobster Ravioli & Quail Eggs, Lamb Medallions, Ricotta Pouncake
Richard:Scallops, Guinea Hen and Foie Gras and Eggs, Pork Belly, Banana Scallop & Bacon Ice Cream
Out comes the first course. One of the chefs said that Richard should simplify to be perfect. Another chef said Lisa was to spicy. Stephanie’s was a big hit and someone said the best of the 3. Eric Pipert said that Richard’s flavors got muddled. Many liked Lisa’s soup and Ted thought Stephanie needed more lobster. Gail and Tom hated Stephanie’s leeks and thought they were irrelevant and under-cooked. Then we got to 3rd course. Richard’s was a bit of a disappointment to all. They thought the sauce on Lisa’s was to sweet and April thought her beef was tough. Eric said that Stephanie’s flavor combo was completely new with the olive and pistachio. Everyone loved Stephanie’s. Tom said that Richard’s needed work and Lisa’s was pedestrian. Then comes the dreaded dessert. Lisa’s dessert seemed to go over all well but it had to grow on some. Stephanie’s was fine but nothing special. Richard’s was whimsical.
Tom thought that Richard’s 1st course was bland. Everyone loved Lisa’s soup. Richard said he was afraid of losing the integrity of the pork belly if he had got it crispy. Ted and Tom liked the new way to do pistachios. Tom thought Stephanie’s cake was ok but that the banana creme was a miss. Each chef gave a bid for them winning except Richard. He said he choked by over thinking and it wasn’t his top performance. Then the judges deliberate and you get to hear what they really think. It seemed really tortured for them to actually come up with an overall preference.
Stephanie won!!! She seemed completely shocked and blown away!! Now have I missed the reunion show? It usually happens before the finale but I haven’t seen a commercial and my Tivo hasn’t picked it up. Does anyone know?