Top Chef: The Last Chance

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Wow – see that table of chefs right there? That’s quite a collection of famous chefs, and this was one hell of a great elimination challenge. I originally thought this episode was going to somehow relate to Valentine’s Day but leave it to Top Chef to redeem some of their poor elimination decisions with this very classy and classic “Last Supper” challenge. From roast chicken to eggs benedict, each contestant had to cook a dish chosen by one of the famous chefs above as the last meal they would ever want to eat. I love this concept, not to mention, the judges made a rational elimination too!

We really like the concept of Last Supper around here. Knowing what someone would want to eat for their final meal tells a lot about a chef, a foodie, or just anyone, but more importantly this question was also the inspiration for the Monthly Mouthful!

With renowned chefs like Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianach and Wylie Dufresne, this episode was also about proper execution. While the tasks might have seemed simple – cook an egg, roast a chicken, sear some salmon – the judges were looking for mastery of the classics, a set of skills no chef should go to the finale without.

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So we’re down to the final four: Hosea, Carla, Fabio and Stefan. But the elimination was a close call! As soon as they pointed out that Stefan’s salmon was overcooked, I honestly thought he was going home. I vowed to myself that I would stop writing these blogs so that everyone I start rooting for would stop getting kicked off. So thank g-d I didn’t have to do that.

I think for once the judges looked at the entire season rather than this one meal. I’ll admit that Stefan seemed to have commit a worse culinary crime in this episode than Leah did (overcooked salmon versus thin hollandaise sauce..hmm…).  But obviously, I’m happy with their decision because  Stefan definitely deserves to be in the final four.

I will say though that you should never be too confident about making anything because you are probably just going to jinx yourself. All of the contestants (except Carla I would say) overjoyed in the fact that their dishes sounded easy, but they should have known not to celebrate until they actually cooked them. Stefan especially, thought he had this challenge and a ticket to the finals in the bag.

But in the end, a runny eggs benedict sent Leah home. And now that she is gone, I will try to be more tasteful when I talk about her. You see, my problem with Leah as a chef was not that she isn’t a good chef but that she never seemed to care  much about the competition. Whenever she cooked, she would lways talks about her dish like it’s just something she’s doing to get through the day and the challenge. Her heart just wasn’t it. I mean, she gave up on a quickfire for goodness sake! Now, frankly, she has actually done a pretty darn good job for not really caring, but, her presence in the final 5 would have been so much more justifiable if she did.

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And I’m not the only one who thinks that way, she admits it too! She wasn’t that upset to go home and she even told Bravo TV that her ‘head wasn’t in the game.’

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But unlike Leah, Fabio’s head is certainly in the game, and well, so is his finger. He literally gave his finger to win this challenge and from the judges’ praise of his chicken dish, it sounds like he deserved the win.

Here’s a question: Would you have allowed Fabio some extra assistance given his broken finger/hand?

I guess the bigger question here is: Does someone else lending a hand still make the final product your dish? Had they given him help, the dish would have still been Fabio’s flavor palette and Fabio’s conception. He could have coached a helper through peeling the potatoes, etc. I guess I just felt so bad for him having to peel those potatoes with a finger that just broke!

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Competing with Fabio’s chicken was Carla’s squab and peas. Carla is really taking her simplistic approach and running with it and it’s clearly working to her advantage. I have to say, her peas did look impressive, especially after I had just watched an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats all about peas. It sounds like fresh tasting peas are hard to come by but she seems to really know how to pick them.

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After a season of ups and downs, I think Carla has a good shot at the final three because she really listens to the challenges. Take this episode’s quickfire for example – Wylie Dufresne says to cook an egg dish. Sure he’s known for his molecular gastronomic work at WD-40, but at no point did he say “make me something using molecular gastronomy.” So Carla just made some green eggs and ham – a playful, well executed dish – and won. So I think we can all learn a lesson here – keep it simple!

On a total sidenote, my mom and I watch Jacques Pepin‘s cooking show on WTTW and we love it! His dishes always sound so good, and they’re simple too. I highly recommend the show :)

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EPISODE 12 RECAP:

Official Episode Title: The Last Supper

Guest Judges: Wylie Dufresne and Jacques Pepin

Challenges:  Quickfire – Prepare an egg dish for Wylie Dufresne.

Elimination – Cook the last supper request of one of 5 famous chefs.

Winner: Fabio Eliminated: Leah

Chefs Remaining:  Carla, Fabio, Hosea, and Stefan

For a list of ALL the Top Chef episode recaps on Chew on That blog, click here.

Photos courtesy of BravoTv.com.

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  • http://savory.tv Heidi / Savory Tv

    I’m with you on the lack of Leah love! I think attitude is a large part of the game, and hers was lacking both enthusiasm and character. Nice recap!

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