Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Top Chef 5 Live Blogging: The Finale, Part II

Yes, culinary sports fans, we have reached the end of the long, tiring journey that is Top Chef 5. Someone pointed out towards the first episode back in October or November (I'm not keeping track anymore) that only once has the person who won the first challenge not gone on to win for the season (that was Tre from Season 3; Hung was the eventual winner, but even he was a runner-up for that first episode). Could Carla be the first true come-from-behind chef to kick some serious Euro-Douche ass? Most people who took my unscientific poll seem to think so: Carla is favored over Stefan, 80% to 20%.

Nobody voted for Hosea.

Personally, I think it'll be Hosea in 2nd, Stefan runner-up - only because he's becoming super-sloppy in his arrogance - and Carla as the winner. So the one with the hair wins. Besides, we've never had a bald winner before!

10:01 Apparently, Stefan doesn't even think of Carla as a competitor. It's all him vs Hosea in his mind.

10:03 Man, it's like a sea of Picards.

10:04 So the final challenge: cook a three-course meal of whatever the hell you want, dessert optional, at Commander's Palace, one of THE most famous restaurants in N'awlins.

WTF - Casey, Richie and Marcel from the past three season!? THESE guys are the sous-chefs!

10:05 And the teams are Hosea and Rich from S4, Stefan and Marcel from S2, and Carla and Casey from S3. Fun fun fun!

10:06 Yup, Stefan is a prick.

10:07 Um, Rich? Hosea isn't going to win. [UPDATE, 11:11 - Yes, I am going to eat my hat.]

At least tonight's episode isn't 75 minutes long.

10:13 DOUBLE DRINK for the break-between-commercials. I should've had a DRINK for every time Carla's eyes bug out, but I'd be drunk before the Judges' Table.

Just for the sake of completeness, the Top Chef 5 Drinking Game Rules, one final time:

Drink once if:

* anyone makes a face while eating something
* Tom makes a face in the kitchen, for any reason (hat tip: Dan at THG)
* any shameless plugs are made (drink more and you'll be drunk before the quickfire is over)
* Stefan is arrogant in his Stefanish way
* any good looking male contestant is shirtless or female contestant is scantilly clad at anytime (you do realize this is happening often now)
* Fabio mentions something about being Italian (including everyone else not being Italian)
* New judge Toby says something "pithy and bitchy" about how bad one of the dishes happens to be.

Drink twice if:

* anyone cries for any reason, especially after packing his or her knives and going
* Hosea and Leah's "no-mance" is shoved down our throats.

Drink thrice if:

* any mention is made of Team Rainbow. Now that its sole member, Jamie, is left, mentions will be few and far between.

Take two shots/swigs if:

* your guess for who is going home is wrong!

Drain the glass:

* if any competitor bitches about how "wrong" or "stupid" the judges are.
* when Top Chef 5 comes back as a "break between commercials. It's one of those things that happens every episode, so be prepared to drink up.
* if we can hear actual sloppy wet kissing when Hosea and Leah are being "not romantically involved."

10:17 Aah, look at all that beautiful food. Those Gulf Coast blues aren't as good as our Chesapeake Bay ones, but they're good enough. Better than Dungeness, which is also a good crab.

10:18 Can we go to the flow chart for that King Cake thing?

So for this fourth course, Hosea, who is "King for a Day," gets to assign the seafood to everybody. Hosea chooses redfish for himself (natch), while he gives the blue crabs to Carla (being from DC, she'd better know how to cook a blue crab) and the alligator to Stefan (heheheheheh). I've had alligator once or twice. Not easy to find here.

10:20 So Carla goes Asian with the crabs. I would've done some sort of Maryland/Louisiana style crab cake.

Hosea probably won't win, but his food still looks good. I hate to agree with Stefan, but yes, a three-course meal does indeed need a dessert. Carla does a traditional French-style three-course meal.

10:22 Oh, the sous-chefs are in black!

10:23 So Marcel isn't impressed with some of Stefan's techniques.

10:30 Sorry, bathroom break. Did Fabio say something Italian?

They like - I mean like - Carla's crab thing. Very intense crab flavor. I missed the guys' hors d'oeuvres.

10:31 And now a whole mess o' guest judges. Fabio is among them, as are Gail and Toby.

10:31 And now, the first courses...

Mmmm, tempura crunchy bits!

Words I'm hearing:

Carla: "special" "I would order [it] again."

Hosea: "didn't pop in the mouth" "a little salt would've gone a long way"

Stefan: "almost watery" "I liked Stefan's dish"

Take home (from Toby): the men's dishes are perfectly executed, but a bit bland. Carla's is special.

10:34 The second course is out...

Words I'm hearing:

Carla: "tough" "the lady can make a sauce" "the last thing I expected her to produce" "not a hundred grand dish"

Stefan: "squab was cooked so beautifully" "a good sense of Stefan"

Hosea: "well done" "I'm tired of eating foie gras" (that one from Rocco diSpirito)

Take home: the mirror opposite of the first course.

10:36 So now Stefan is criticizing others for going the easy route? Pot, meet kettle...

Oooooh, and now I think Carla's just gone from front-runner to runner-up. She forgot to take the little cheese souffles out of the oven!

And it's dessert vs cheese and fruit vs deer!

What I'm hearing:

Carla: "I'm sort of relieved to know why this plate looks how it looks"

Stefan: "And now we're finishing with chocolate" "best dish of the series" "eh" "dated in presentation"

Hosea: "Venison was perfectly cooked" "I really enjoyed the venison" "That ees a-the last theeng you want to give it to us"

Fabio thinks the best meal was brought out by Hosea. Long haired cheffy guy counters, saying deer was a safe way out for Hosea.

10:40 Carla is not feeling confident. Honestly, I thought we'd see more foams from Stefan's team. Just sayin'.


10:43 Dan, dude, I didn't know you were live blogging this! Goes to show that I haven't been keeping up with anyone's blogs lately :( Check it out at Hungover

10:44 And now for Judges' Table:

Carla: first course was good... meat & potatoes = rather polite and stuffy dish... Casey made a lot of suggestions... What about the cheese course? Oh darn, I was distracted!

Hosea: Oh, THAT'S where the foam was!... I love raw fish... Blackberry added nothing to the venison dish... Toby: mate, choose the bloody dessert!...

Stefan: well executed alligator appetizer... first course was watered down... AND bland... squab was wonderful... parsnip was sweet and tart... Stefan, why finish with a dessert? (Geez, can't these people make up their MINDS!?)

10:48 So they think they should all win because their food is delicious. Tears = DRINK!!!

10:50 Yup, Carla is now out of the running, as I feared. Bummer...

Hosea's food was quite thoughtful, but they seem really impressed with Stefan's experience. His menu was best structured anyway. Despite the pedestrian dessert and bland first course.

Hosea's food was a nice progression. Toby said Hosea's venison was the best, AND Gail would've been really satisfied with this meal.

Damn, I predicted Carla-Stefan-Hosea. Now I'm thinking it's Hosea-Stefan-Carla. I'm checking out what Dan thinks...

10:54 Hmmm, maybe I should see this octuple-Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire...

10:56 NOOOOOO! Not another supermodel series!

10:58 Whoa, it WAS Hosea! Dude - YOU'RE in shock! What about us? What about Stefan?

10:59 And DRINK for Carla crying.


It was disappointing to see Carla mess up, but after that cheese thing, it was pretty much a given. Buggy Eye Woman was going to go. Well, I'll have to look up her restaurant in DC, if she has one.

And a final Finnish farewell to Jamie's favorite Euro Douche. Stefan did surprise me in that he lost, and he didn't. He did because he was so good in the first half of the season or so. He didn't because his own cockiness and arrogance made him lazy. So really, it isn't that much of a surprise that he lost.

But this was a surprise.

Hosea takes it. I would have bet money that he was not going to win. Apparently, so did the people who voted in my poll. But he was the sleeper. He snuck up on everybody and just took it all! Now does this vindicate S4 runner-up Richard Blais? Meh. Anyway, congrats to Hosea. I will now eat my hat.

Live-blogging this latest season was tiring but enjoyable. Thank God that The Next Food Network Star 5 doesn't start until this summer...


Dan said...

Hey John... live blogging over at THG, too.

Nanc Twop said...

* I need another commercial - I'm out of beverages!

And geez, I started to whine as soon as I heard Carla say she was going to do a sous vide when she'd never done one before - aaarrgghh!

Oh Carla, didn't you ever watch the previous seasons?...

theminx said...

I'm disappointed. :(

Carla doesn't have a restaurant in DC - she has a catering business. And now she doesn't have the 100K to open a restaurant, either.