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The Top Chef Miami finale is upon us and we're going to weigh in with some thoughts. There will be spoilers, but they'll be after the jump.

Top Chef has entered The Survivor zone - Padma Lakshmi is in Chicago, locale of the next Top Chef season, for the live finale. Does that mean Dale has a hometown advantage? We'll see!

The three finalists, Dale (of the last mohawk standing), Hung (hyper and arrogant) and Casey (could totally play Jennifer Aniston's sister in a movie), are waking up to a new morning in Aspen. They're all very excited to be there, and Casey says she's having trouble catching her breath because of the high altitude. They all gather for breakfast, only to find a Top Chef notecard - with lift tickets inside. Off to the mountain!

At the top of the mountain are Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, in front of a bounty of food against a gorgeous vista of the mountain. They are at the Aspen Mountain Club, where Padma says that membership costs $100,000. The challenge: Create a three course meal - as Tom says, "The best meal of your life" - in which everyone's food will be brought out at the same time (as in, all three first courses will be served at once). The three get to pick ingredients from the spread and plan their menu. Hung decides to go Asian and picks a first course of raw hamachi, second course of a Vietnamese fusion dish, and third course is a duck. Casey considers the elevation and decides on a first course of foie gras, second course of prawns, and third of pork belly. Dale decides on his menu after considering the other chefs' menus - first course of foie gras, second course of lobster with gnocchi, and a third course of Colorado lamb.

After Tom collects their menus, they choose knives, Hung gets 1, Casey 2, and Dale 3, and Padma says the numbers correspond with sous chefs and that the sous chefs will be arriving by gondola. The contestants turn to each other is slight horror. Hung mutters "Micah, Howie, or Clay," guessing which of the "weak" cheftestants will be joining them.

...the first sous-chef to walk off the gondola is Rocco DiSpirito. Hung freaks out and is so excited. Next is Michelle Bernstein, an interesting coincidence for Casey. And the third and final sous chef is Todd English, in his all-black outfit. The finalists are thrilled - Dale points out that Todd has a ton of restaurant and is "fucking good." We agree - we think Dale was luckiest in getting Todd.

Back to the Chicago life finale audience- for some reason, Marcel is sitting amongst Hung's supporters. We wonder if they know each other in Las Vegas, as they both book there.

In the kitchen, the chefs and sous chefs are getting ready. Hung is talking a mile a minute with Rocco about what he wants to do (we can't understate how excited Hung was - "Chef Rocco understands where I'm coming from"). Rocco nods and later confesses to the camera that he doesn't know everything that Hung is telling him, but he'll just push forward. Casey rattles off her ideas to Michelle Bernstein, who rolls with them, but then voices some concern about the pork belly idea. Dale and Todd get along well and Dale happily assigns him chopping tasks and making a lobster broth: "He was basically my prep bitch."

Hung mentions how he read on Anthony Bourdain's blog that Bourdain would like to see a cook-off between him and Rocco. Rocco jokes that they should open up a restaurant together so Tony can't figure out who's cooking. Heh. And Todd compliments Dale's selection of flavors.

Cooking at high altitudes is very difficult. The chefs can't get a boil going. Dale's gnocchi is gummy - it's madness. As the prep time dwindles down, everyone works hard. Michelle says that Casey seems more confident after the shaky first hour and says she'll feel bad if things don't work out for Casey. Aw.

Now, second day, two hours until service - no sous chef, so the chefs are very focused. Dale even says, "Hi, guys," to his lobsters. Hung decides to use the portable burners for cooking, to get good flame. The chefs run around continuing their prepping and cooking (Dale is mixing something that looks horrible!). Then Tom comes in to check in with the chefs. Dale explains his problems with the gnocchi, but then lists many ingredients that impress Tom. Casey mentions she's making pork belly and Tom asks if it was braised the day before and how she'll cook it. Hmm, foreshadowing? And when Tom gets the rundown from Hung, Hung says Tom always seems to think Hung is nuts. Well, Hung, you did mention "ocean-scented rice."

Tom calls the chefs to gather round. Uh oh. They go outside, much to Dale's dismay. There's a knife block and Tom says they must prepare a fourth course. Totally reminiscent of Project Runway's 13th look! Dale says, "I wanted to punch [Tom] in the face." Anyway, he brings out their help: Howie, Sara and CJ. CJ looks pissy, like he thinks he should have been a finalist. Tough broccoli rabe!

They draw knives and Hung gets Sara (much to his relief), Casey gets Howie and Dale picks CJ. Knowing the bad rap on Howie, Casey bright sides that he is a hard worker and that she needs another set of hands. Howie seems willing to help out.

For the special fourth course, Hung decides to do a dessert - a chocolate cake with raspberries. Dale decides on scallop with parsley and grapes and CJ is happy to make the dish. Casey first picks lamb but then decides to go with beef for her fourth and last course. Everyone works until suddenly it's twelve minutes to go and Casey is freaking out and seems most frazzled. They all work on getting their dishes ready and plated.

The judges convene: Padma, Tom, Gail Simmons, Ted Allen, plus the celebrity sous chefs Michelle Bernstien, Todd English and Rocco Dispirito AND recent cast-off cheftestant Brian "With the Best Last Name" Malarkey.

Hung is cute - when he sees Casey's appetizer and says "Ooh, nice combo!" The first course comes out. Everyone loves Hung's version of fish and chips: Raw hamachi, fried fingerling potatoes, tomato vinagrette. Dales foie gras mousse (with a ton of raw and exotic-sounding raw vegetables) is well received but they find it a little rich and heavy. Casey's foie gras and cinnamon-scented scallop pairing is conceptually good, but some roe on the dish leaves Tom unhappy.

Second course: Casey moans, "Why are these plates so small?" and Dale and Hung yell for servers. Sara thoughtfully reminds servers to make sure the dishes are wiped. Everyone falls in love with Dale's scallop on top of purslane, fennel and grape and all are very impressed. Hung's dish is a prawn with coconut foam, cucumber salad and the "ocean-scented rice" is "so close" and needs a little more acidity. Casey's dish is a prawn in a lobster stock with lots of other stuff- it looks overstuffed, sort of like a bouillabaisse. Michelle thinks she's trying very hard, but there are too many things and fish roe again! Ouch.

Third course. The judges love Hung's sous-vide duck with ragout of chanterelles. Todd English says, "Three-star Michelin." Michelle says she's jealous. Dale's buttered poached lobster and raw sweet corn with gnocchi in a curry jus is a letdown - heavy, flat, and Tom cough-laughs, "This is terrible." Casey's pork belly with a roasted peach - pork is way overcooked, but the peach is perfect.

Final course: Dale's lamb (poached in duck fat!) with a deconstructed ratatouille is enjoyed by everyone. Casey redeems herself with a sirloin with potatoes and mushrooms. And Hung is the only one with a dessert, but it's a molten chocolate cake - well-executed but doesn't fit with his menu and doesn't blow anyone away. Cutaway to the live audience - Marcel is in the front row and is sitting with his legs way wide apart.

Side note: Cannot wait for the new season of Project Runway beginning November 14.

The finalists argue their meals in front of the judges. Dale says he's happy he was able to cook as himself. Casey is happy with her dishes, but would like to change some things. Hung talks about using his instincts on the spur of the moment. And so begin the critiques. The judges shower praise on Dale's scallop and lamb dishes (Tom says the lamb was a triumph and should be on Dale's menu for the rest of his life), but slam his lobster dish.

Casey admits she was rattled and says some she didn't have some items at hand, such as leeks which Tom argues were available. The judges tell her most of her dishes were problematic, and Casey says that Howie wasn't competent - Gail basically says "You're the chef, though" - and Casey says she had to deal with fourth dish - Tom says everyone had that constraint.

Hung says he had a great time cooking. Tom says the raw hamachi needed more acidity. Gail says that second course's rice was too bland. Tom tells Hung Todd said the duck was three-star Michelin and Dale generously says, "That dish was amazing." Tom suggests Hung carry that recipe around, too. The judges are puzzled why a chocolate cake for the meal of a lifetime. Hung argues that for him desserts are more difficult, so it was a risk.

Judges' deliberations: The judges think that Hung's first course and third course were best, while Dale won the second and fourth courses. Sorry, Casey! Tom points out that Hung's three dishes were very strong and his dessert, though boring, was good, and he'd eat all four dishes again. Whereas he'd never want to eat Dale's lobster. But Gail argues that though he was inconsistent, at least Dale was adventurous and was trying to expand his horizons. In the back room, the three finalists console each other with the fact they worked hard.

Padma calls them back - and then we cut to Chicago for the finale, where the judges are wearing the same outfits they were wearing in Aspen. Did Bravo pay for dry-cleaning? The finalists come out to the cheers of audience members.

The judges thank the finalists for their hard work and spirit of competition. Tom asks them what they think of the show, now that they've seen it. Dale is happy, since he cooked his heart out and says that they're all winners. Casey, as sort of loosey-goosey as ever, "accepts" that this wasn't her challenge and says he told Hung and Dale that she had been kicking their ass for a while - to big laughs. Hung says he's nervous and that they're all great chefs.

Tom tells Casey what she knows - she's a fierce competitor but not winning; still she's a great chef. He tells Dale that he's glad he found his inner chef and that his menu was wonderful and his cooking is full of confidence. Hung is told that he came in a great technician and married it with passion. Tom leaves the Top Chef winner announcement to Padma... who says "Congratulations...HUNG! You're our Top Chef!"

A lot of crying and bounding around and hugs between the finalists and judges. Padma sticks a microphone in front of Hung, who says "I'm so excited. I worked so hard to get here and to prove myself. I had so much support for America. I'm speechless, but you'll be hearing more from me later." America - not all bad!

What did you think of the finale? Did Hung deserve to win? Or did Casey or Dale?