Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Chef - 12.9.09

Finale time!  Sorry I'm late.

Red Beard knows that he has the best record going in, but knows that the Voltaggios have a lot of talent.  Bryan has a lot of talent, and Michael is incredibly creative.  It is a great final three.

They met Padma and Tom.

For the first course of their meal, they have to use the same ingredients, which will come to them in a box, Chopped Style.  Their second course is a free-for-all of any ingredient in the kitchen, and the last course MUST be a dessert.

Enter the possible sous-chefs!

Each finalist will get two sous-chefs - one to cook with them that day, and one to cook with them the day of the final cook-off.

Red Beard drew Preeti, Bryan drew Jennifer, Michael drew Jessie.  In the next round, Red Beard drew Ash, Bryan drew Ashley, and Michael drew Eli.  Red Beard was jealous of the sous chefs his competitors drew.

In the mystery box were pacific rockfish, dungeness crab, kabocha squash, meyer lemon, matsutake mushrooms and anise hysop.  Wow. That's some box.

Red Beard set Preeti to cut the vegetables for him, and she was having troubles with that even.  Rough.  The prep seemed to go better for the Voltaggio brothers than for Red Beard.

And later?  Red Beard was mad at himself for getting upset about the prep work.  They all planned out where they would work and plate in the kitchen.  Michael still had no idea about his mystery box course.

And then there was a knock at the door.

They thought it would be some terrible curve ball.

Instead, it was their mothers.  And Bravo saved on air fare, because they only had to buy two plane tickets.  Of course, their mother was also a reminder that they are brothers, and they have to keep their competitive edge.

At the restaurant, Tom met them, and threw them that curve ball, and told them that they have to do a fourth dish - one dedicated to their mom and a childhood memory.

Bryan decided to do a play on tuna noodle casserole.  Michael decided to do broccoli reinvented. Red Beard got into MIT and didn't go because he was going to be a chef.  Wow.  He is doing Southern Fried Chicken Skin with fixin's.  Interesting.

Red Beard is putting bacon in his dessert, and said he should get an award from the Bacon Council.  I love him.

Plating time!

First courses are out.  The moms are dining with the judges.  Padma told the moms that they have to be forgiven for saying critical things, because it is their jobs after all.

They have an incredible group of diners, including high profile restraunteurs.  The moms are staying for the first dish.

Red Beard made a Southern Fried Chicken Skin, liquid squash casserole, and fresh tomatoes.

Bryan made a sardine, german butterball potato, heirloom tomato, and toasted bread crumbs.

Michael made a cream of dehydrated broccoli with spot prawn.

The judges loved the squash in Red Beard's dish.  Toby loved the sardines and bread, but Gail wanted some acidity.  The prawns were undercooked for some judges, and Donatella liked the broccoli, and his mom admitted that he hated everything as a child.

The Voltaggio mom refused to say which dish she preferred.  Smart woman.

Then the moms were off.

Time for the mystery box course.

Red Beard made a pacific rockfish, roasted squash, crab broth and roasted matsutake mushroom.

Bryan made Rockfish sous vide, kabocha squash with curry and meyer lemon.

Michael made a dashi-glazed rockfish, sweet & sour crab with squash and meyer lemon salad.  His plate was beautiful.

Red Beard's broth was the star, but his mushroom was tough.  The judges wanted some more seasoning in Bryan's dish, but Gail thought it was the safest.  One of the judges called it a blind date you don't want to go on.  Michael was the clear winner of that round.

Third Course

Red Beard made a slow roasted pork belly with brussell sprouts, broccoli, and caramelized ham jus.

Bryan made a venison saddle with puree of sunchokes and orange juniper sauce.

Michael made a fennel scented squab breast, pistachio cassoulet, and textures of mushrooms.

Bryan finally seasoned something well.  Michael's squab was good, but his mushrooms were called gimmicky.  Red Beard's pork was not cooked long enough for some chefs.

Chaos in the kitchen!  Michael's molds were filled too high by Eli, and then Michael overcooked them.  Oops.

Dessert Coarse

Red Beard made a roasted banana, toasted peanut with chocolate bacon mousse, and bacon brittle.

Bryan made a dulche de leche cheesecake with sheep's milk, with fig sorbet and poached pear and basil.

Michael made a chocolate caramel coulant (that's a lava cake to you and me), butternut squash brulee and butternut ice cream and candied pumpkin seeds.

Red Beard's dessert got mixed reviews, and while Michael's pumpkin seeds were good, the cake probably sat too long and some of the caramel reabsorbed into the cake.  Bryan's dessert seemed to go over best, and the fig sorbet was called "heavenly."

Final Judge's Table

Toby told Bryan that he did well, but wasn't particularly bold.  Tom told him that his venison was the best dish he served of the night.

Padma loved Red Beard's first dish.  Toby was disappointed in the pork, and Tom wanted a roasted piece of pork with the belly. 

Michael did the best with the mystery box matsutake, and his boldness was applauded.  Tom loved how it kept revealing different flavors.  Michael did admit that his cake was overcooked, and Gail told him it was almost a great dessert.

Bryan said he deserves to be Top Chef because he has expressed his cuisine through everything he's made.  Michael said he wants to be Top Chef because he doesn't want Bryan to win.  That's funny.  Kevin loves the comforting and uniting power of food.

Now, the judges deliberate.

Highs and lows on everyone, and Toby thinks that Red Beard had an off night.  It looks like it's between the Voltaggio brothers.  In the end, it was not going to be Red Beard.  I am so sad - because I loved him - but I think he really did not have a good night.  Can we just blame Preeti?  At least for part of it?

At least his mom was there to comfort him.

Though he was a jerk for most of the season, Michael brought home the win.  Bryan is still a nicer person (as shown by editing).  Their mom was there to both congratulate and comfort.

Good season, though I wish Red Beard or Bryan had won.

What do you think?

No comments: