Top Chef Finale: Mullets Never Looked So Good

It’s the finale of Top Chef: DC and Fidel Gastro has the recap.

On the other side of the globe, Smoove Kenny is lamenting his duos and trios while Bravo TV leverages the jetlag to call the final three cheftestants immediately back to judges’ table after last week’s elimination.  I suppose with Top Chef: Just Desserts right around the corner, filming needs to wrap up post haste.  The challenge?  Same as it ever was: cook the meal of your life, but this time around, it’s four courses instead of three, and less free-form than previous seasons.  The first course is a vegetable.  Ripper’s back from his “assignment” (best judge-at-large ever), and he and Tom get to pick the proteins for courses two and three, a fish and a meat, respectively, and the fourth course must be a dessert.  The final three will be sous-ted up with previous Top Chefs Ilan, Hung, and the snarky Voltaggio brother.  Ed and Kevin are quite partial to Mike V, Ed being a fatter and less-tattooed version of him, and Kevin being pals with him from past gigs.  Angelo’s all Hung, making poor Ilan un-sous-table for any of them.  Knives are drawn and we get a sense that this thing’s scripted when Angelo gets Hung, then falls mysteriously ill, creating a season’s worth of drama in 20 minutes of a single episode.  Hung is left to shop and prep on his own, while Ilan and Fatter Ilan hem and haw over corn veloute.  Kevin and Volteezy don’t seem to have many issues, but it ain’t over ‘til Trailer Park Tracey sings, so we’ll keep the champagne on ice for the time being.

After a shot in the ass that has only a 3% chance of working, Angelo bounces back from his fake illness, and the final hours of these three as cheftestants commences.  In the dining room, some serious culinary firepower, including David Chang and Paul Bartolotta, get down to the business of eating and judging.  The first courses get a lukewarm reception.  Kevin’s eggplant, zucchini & roasted red pepper terrine lacked “umph,” and the noodles in Angelo’s char siu bao pork belly dish needed work.  Ed’s deep fryer strategy must have worked again here, because I don’t remember any comments about his fried cockles and corn veloute.

The next course, a fish dish that required red mullet to be the central component, saw Kevin pan-searing it, Ed barely using it, and Angelo sautéing it.  Of the three, Angelo’s was the favorite.  One diner—his name flashed off the screen too quickly—even said that Angelo’s bouilliabaisse was the “dish you’ll remember.”  On the other hand, Ed’s bacon-wrapped slipper lobster & char-grilled cuttlefish not only failed to feature red mullet, but was deemed to be a bit scatterbrained.  Kevin’s pan-seared mullet with cuttlefish “noodles” was thought to be creative. Again, my memory fails me, and I don’t recall any memorable comments about this dish.  All Kevin bias aside (and there’s a lot), it did look pretty tasty.

At this point, it’s really neck and neck and neck.  Speaking of which, Ed’s next course features a neck.  Colicchio picked duck for the cheftestants, and Ed decides to commit duocide with duck two ways, a braised and stuffed neck, and a roasted duck breast.  The diners were stoked about Ed’s technical skills, but they were more stoked about Kevin’s perfectly roasted duck with duck dumplings.  Angelo’s third course, a sautéed duck breast with foie gras, a marshmallow, and a tart cherry shooter, was confusing and sort of crappy.  Ripper thought it was bizarre, which sounds even worse when pronounced with a French accent.

Dessert is now the only thing that stands between these three and the coveted title of Top Chef.  Kevin knocks it out of the park with what he calls a “Singapore Sling 2010.”  It was proclaimed a national dessert by one of the diners and loved by the judges.  Not much was said about Angelo’s shaved ice and coconut milk dessert, but Ed’s sticky toffee pudding was the laughingstock of diners and judges alike.  David Chang referred to it as a “f*ck you,” and everybody agreed that this was Ed’s juvenile response to being told what to cook.  Tom’s penchant for Ed’s salty cream was not shared by the others, and Ed’s final dish was more death knell than denouement, giving him less of a chance at winning than Angelo’s shot in the ass making him better.  But Angelo did bounce back, so let’s do what Bravo tells us to do and watch what happens. With five minutes left before the premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts, the deliberation is brief.  The judges declare a clear winner, and with no need to belabor the drama, pseudo-local Kevin is pronounced the winner of season 7 just like Foobooz predicted.  In the final moments, my ignorant ass learns that Kevin is African-American and not Puerto Rican, making him—his words, not mine—Top Chef’s own Barack Obama.  After a slow start, he proved beyond any doubt that he was indeed a Top Chef, and we locals look forward to seeing what he does with the $125,000.   Until next season (if Foobooz will have me), enjoy the rest of the Top Chef wannabe cooking shows on TV.

Buen provecho.

Top Chef DC [Official Site]