Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Finale Part 2

We've made it through yet another season of Top Chef, and by now everyone who reads this blog surely knows what happened and who took home the big prize. But, still, the bloggers need their say...

Cliffieland on what's in the box: "One of the three dishes must use all of the ingredients in this mystery box. (I would make a joke about the movie Seven here. But I’ve never seen it. … But I know what’s in the box. Which is probably why I’ve never seen it. … Moving on.)"

Jordan Baker is happy with the outcome: "I did not for a second, not even up until the very last, not even when Padma said his name (especially after that epic fake out with Kevin, which they’ve NEVER DONE BEFORE), think that Michael was going to win. And I had no idea just how badly I wanted him to win until he did."

Minx Eats on helpers: "Then Padma tells the cheftestants they will have help, and from the surrounding vineyard emerge the first 437 eliminated chefs, from Jen Z to Jen C. Jen C. is carrying the knife block, the sight of which causes Michael to say that there are a couple of names he could pull that would make him slit his own throat."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Kevin's attitude: "We haven't seen Kevin get angry about anything all season – Justine guesses his having to prep 18 of the 20 things was the tipping point. Liz thinks Kevin's just sore he didn't get to work with his bromance Eli."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on the strength of the final three: "While it’s easy to argue that these three were groomed from the outset by producers based on their manifold archetypal value — tall good-looking blonde dudes! vicious sibling rivalries! jolly Southern gentlemen! pork fetishes! tattoos! beards! — you can’t knock the numbers: This threesome combined to win 12 of the 13 elimination challenges this season. No joke."

It Happened Last Night on the actual surprises: "Not usual: 1) The chefs' moms were on hand to say hello and eat their boys' food. Bravo totally got a 2-fer for the Voltaggios. 2) Dessert required!"

Starcasm on reactions to the moms: "Kevin: “I opened the door and it was my mom!” (Hugs mom) 'I just couldn’t be happier! To see the person that inspired me throughout my life at this moment…it just couldn’t be better!' Voltaggio Brothers: 'Mother present. Compute. Hug mother. Pat back. Talk about childhood. Reboot. Process menu for tomorrow.'"

Christenam on, well, yep: "In an interview Kevin says he lost half of his prep time due to being angry. It seems that Kevin is going to be this season's Richard Blais or Casey Thompson and choke."

TV Watch on the ending: "In the end, the judges’ tough decision came down to the two brothers after the panel determined that Kevin was an outstanding chef who simply had an off night. Their pick of Michael over Bryan was an emotional one, Colicchio told the brothers, but the Voltaggios vowed that they’d rather be up against each other than any other chef out there."

Showtracker on why Michael was the right choice: "He also told us incessantly that his food was bold, risky and surprising. He was right. I'd even add that his food was more bold, risky and surprising than anyone else in "Top Chef" history. (Only Richard Blais might have been even more of a mad scientist in the kitchen.) "

Speakeasy (WSJ) on the twist: "Just when they’ve started to relax, there’s a twist. In honor of their mothers, the finalists now have to create a fourth dish, inspired by their favorite childhood food memory. Great, thanks a lot, Moms."

Slashfood on the big questions: "By now, we know "Top Chef" is all about tough questions: 'Are you proud of what you cooked?' 'Who was really responsible for the disgusting part of your dish?' 'Why in God's name did you serve me raw lamb?' But last night, we got the toughest one yet: 'Which son do you like better?... C'mon, you can tell us -- we're just 10 people who are about to critique both of them into oblivion!'"

Fork in the Road (Village Voice) on the desserts: "And finally, thank god, finally, it was time for dessert. Stephen Starr called foul on Kevin's decision to use bacon in his toasted banana with chocolate bacon mousse and peanut bacon brittle (so first quarter 2009!), and everyone agreed that Michael's vulcanized-looking chocolate caramel coulant with butternut squash ice cream and butternut brulee was a wee bit overcooked. Bryan's dulce de leche cheesecake with fig sorbet was the big winner: Gail looked like she was about to climb right out of her dress."

TV Squad on the mom course: "I love the idea of having the chefs create a first course that reminds them of childhood memories, especially since we got such good stories out of it. Kevin's mom loves fried chicken skin! Brian was inspired by the texture in his mother's simple dishes, while Michael was a picky eater who 'hated everything.' I guess he got past that."

Max the Girl on Preeti: "Can we just establish something upfront? Preeti sucks. If there’s one thing I love about chefs, even mediocre chefs, it’s their knifework. It might take me 5 minutes to cut a tomato, but it will take a good chef 15 seconds flat. It takes Preeti an hour and 12 minutes. I timed her once."

Reality TV World with Toby's words on Kevin: "'I thought Kevin's dish was again disappointing and -- don't get me wrong, I think he's on the fast-track to becoming a culinary superstar -- but he had a bad night,' said Toby."

Videogum on what we all want: "If there is one thing you can say about this season finale (I'm sure there is only one thing, this is probably the last sentence of this recap), there is no one to root against. For probably the first time in Top Chef history, everyone in the finale is a chef performing at the top of his tattoos game. Each of them brings a different quality to the kitchen, and it would be great if all of them could win. Just kidding. TEAR EACH OTHER TO SHREDS. I'm not here to watch people make friends."

Omnivore on history repeating itself: "'Top Chef' has a history of choosing two types of characters for the win. Save for maybe season four’s Stephanie whose soft spoken personality and consistent cooking were endearing, the winners have all fallen into two categories: boring (ie, Hosea) or villain (ie, Hung). While I don’t think that personality has much to do with the final decision – I’ll give 'Top Chef' a little more credit than that – it is frustrating to see Michael and his surly personality win over two equally talented chefs whose egos are a little less overbearing."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) toasts everyone: "Here’s to you, Michael Voltaggio. Now, will you please be nice to your brother? And here’s to you, Bryan Voltaggio. And Kevin Gillespie! Jen! Other Jen with the seitan! Eli! Hector! Pin-mouth girl! Maligned Robin who is not Eli’s mom! Pretti of Google! Eve from Planet Michigan! Ron of the tropical fish piles! Ash and Ashley, boy and girl! Monsieur Mattin who cornered the market on kerchiefs! Various other cooks I no longer recall!"

Limecrete with more on history: "I can appreciate a meritorious winner, but it's nice when the victor also has an enjoyable personality, and in six seasons of this show, that has happened twice. Not exactly the best track record, in that regard."

Procrastiblog on the lesson future cheftestants should take away: "I think the lesson of Kevin’s two part finale experience is that Top Chef is not the place for slow-cooked meats. It seems to me that you rarely get the time you need in an elimination challenge to properly cook a brisket or a pork belly (though, Shyamalan twist, Michael won with a pork belly back in the Thunderbirds episode)."

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