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Live-Blogging Top Chef Season 4 Finale, Part 1 June 5, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
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9:59 – Blogging from LA this week. Previously on Top Chef…Spike was finally, FINALLY eliminated. Unfortunately, that means that Lisa was not, so she & the three legitimate contenders—Richard, Antonia & Stephanie—are heading to Puerto Rico. If you squint, you can finally see the end of this endless season.

10:00 – Padma tells us all about the fabulous product placement prizes up for grabs, plus the title of Top Chef, which, as far as I know, hasn’t meant just a whole lot so far. How many times in this episode do you think the concept of the first female Top Chef gets brought up? I’m putting the over/under at 6.

10:02 – The chefs arrive in Puerto Rico, including Lisa who has cut off all her hair. They go meet up with Padma, who introduces guest judge Wilo Benet, who Richard tell us is a famous Puerto Rican chef. The Quickfire is to make two fritters using plantains.

10:04 – Nothing happens in the food frenzy, so I’m going to skip that since once again, I don’t have DVR. Wilo asks a few more questions during tasting than some of the previous guest judges, but doesn’t really give away anything. After everyone serves, he says Antonia’s fell flat & Richard’s raw plantains were too raw. He loved Stephanie’s tostones & the size of her portions. Also liked Lisa’s tostones, but her portion size isn’t as good, so Stephanie wins. She’s thrilled because, as she’s been pointing out, she hasn’t won a Quickfire before. It’s pretty cute. Wilo invites the chefs to a little party before the elimination challenge.

10:10 – At the party, Richard refuses to dance. The music becomes ominous as we see the chefs have fun, while they each interview in voice-over, their desire to win. Luckily, because I was confused about that.

10:12 – A thought about the Bravo A-List Awards that I’m not going to watch: who is going to go to that thing. Seriously, if you’re a celebrity & you don’t have a show on Bravo, why, exactly, would you go & voluntarily subject yourself to two hours of Kathy Griffin?

10:15 – Padma & Tom C tell the chefs that the next night, there will be a garden party, where a bunch of chefs will be there to judge them. The elimination challenge is to use a pig to make two entrees. And here comes the “help,” in the form of eliminated chefs Dale, Nikki, Spike & Andrew. As the Quickfire winner, Stephanie gets to pick the sous chefs for everyone. Nice! Stephanie picks Dale for herself (as she mentions that they’ve known each other for 10 years & get along), Spike for Richard, Nikki for Antonia & Andrew for Lisa. Everyone is awkward, thinking about the Andrew/Lisa elimination showdown.

10:18 – The chefs & sous chefs discuss the dishes before the sous chefs go off to the market. Lisa is going Puerto Rican, which Richard & I agree is a bad idea, since you get judged most harshly on the native cuisine.

10:20 – At the market, it’s the return of Ridiculous Andrew, as he struggles with the non-English speaking market people. Dale tells us black plantains look rotten, but are actually delicious. That’s actually a helpful tip. Thanks, Dale!

10:21 – Back in the kitchen, everyone gets hacking away at the pigs. Richard decides to do a traditional drink at the last minute & calls Spike to get it. I sense a red flag.

10:23 – The sous chefs get back to the kitchen with a gazillion pounds of food. Lisa immediately starts yelling at Andrew. You see? This is why I think it’s BS all the crap she said about Dale this season. She’s the worst attitude out of everyone. Seriously, how did she make it into the top 4?

10:24 – The next morning, Dale realizes that he left pork bellies out on the counter overnight. Stephanie refuses to use them. In interview, Dale says he won’t forgive himself if he gets Stephanie eliminated because of this. Aww. Stephanie decides they can pull together a third dish with the leftover meat. They brainstorm together & eventually decide on a crispy skin salad. Stephanie says she’s actually kind of excited about the dish. Just watch, it’s going to turn out to be the best dish out of the bunch.

10:32 – The chefs move outside with 30 minutes to go. Everyone reiterates that one mistake will get you sent home. Time runs out & people start showing up. Stephanie serves and the salad goes over well. Wilo likes her inventive pancakes. It seems like Stephanie will be okay. She & I are pleased.

10:36 – Richard gets a “nice job” from Tom C. He also feels okay. Lisa doesn’t get much of anything from the judges. Antonia’s sweet pepper salad has a bunch of colors & looks nice. Everything else looks kind of brown though. She doesn’t get much of an indication either. We also get some interviews with guests, who seem, on the most part, fat & happy.

10:43 – The chefs head into the Puerto Rican version of the backroom while the judges talk. Stephanie’s salad gets a shout-out, along with one of the Richard’s dishes. Antonia & Lisa are clearly the weaker showings. Padma goes to get Stephanie & Richard.

10:44 – Tom C says he liked that Richard made simple dishes, unlike last week, when Tom didn’t like his simple dishes. Stephanie said she loved working with Dale, because they bounced ideas off each other. Her salad gets more praise. Richard is the winner! He gets a freaking car! In completely unrelated news, this program is being brought to you by Corolla.

10:44 – You know what? Richard’s been strong all season, but he’s been, for the most part, quietly strong. I think it’s partly because he’s kind of juxtaposed with Dale & even with Hung last season, who was clearly the most talented chef, but knew it & said it often. I guess I wasn’t really even thinking about it, but Richard should totally win this puppy.

10:47 – Antonia & Lisa trudge out. Tom asks why Lisa decided to go Latin, when she’s made it very clear she specializes in Asian. She says she doesn’t really, only she totally does! And she’s said it all season! At no point did she indicate that she does Latin. Also, her tostones kind of sucked & her plantaines were way too sweet. Antonia admits to undercooked beans & says she kind of likes them that way. The judges note that all her dishes kind of run together. Lisa & Antonia are dismissed.

10:49 – Judging. The same issues with Lisa’s tostones & the way her dishes worked together come up. They say Antonia’s dishes were the least sophisticated of all of them & they don’t get how she could purposely undercook her beans. Uh oh… This is sounding suspiciously like the judges are about to make the wrong decision.

10:55 – Lisa gets a whopping 91% of the text vote for who the audience thinks should go. I hope we’re right!

10:56 – Tom C’s self esteem destruction speech, for the second-to-last time! Antonia’s beans were her fatal flaw & Lisa’s table just didn’t have the crowds, which was telling. Antonia, please pack your knives & go! AWW! Oh no!! That sucks.

10:57 – I can’t believe Lisa is in the final 3. Antonia cries in interview & it’s really, really sad. She talks about her daughter. Awww!

10:58 – Antonia hugs everyone & leaves. Here’s the thing. It’s the freaking finale. Shouldn’t body-of-work at least play somewhat of a role here? It seemed to me that Antonia’s & Lisa’s dishes were equally bad. So, to me, the thing about how Lisa’s table drew the least people combined with Antonia’s overall superior body-of-work should mean that Antonia should have stayed. Which makes me think Lisa got it because otherwise, it would have been 3 plain vanilla contestants in the final 3. Touche, producers.

10:59 – Lisa interviews that it’s not a popularity contest & people liked her dishes so Richard & Stephanie, who clearly don’t agree with the decision, should just congratulate her. First of all, no, people DIDN’T like your dishes, Lisa. Weren’t you listening during Tom C’s self esteem, destruction speech? Secondly, no one has to congratulate you…you haven’t won anything. And if this show wants to keep its credibility, you won’t.

11:00 – Next time on Top Chef…this is it! One of you is Top Chef. Not you, Lisa.

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