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Live-Blogging Top Chef Season 4 Finale, Part 2 June 12, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Apologies for the late posting, I actually missed last night’s finale premiere because I was having dinner in downtown Dallas at Craft at the W Hotel, which is, incidentally, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant. In case you were wondering, it’s a great dining experience. I highly recommend it.

1.) Previously on Top Chef, we started with waaaay too many chefs. Stephanie is awesome & consistently so. Richard likes doing crazy experimental techniques, not unlike certain other runner-ups we know. Lisa is the most negative human being on the planet, not to mention not a very good chef. Antonia is a single mom. And also? Eliminated. That’s right, somehow Lisa has made the final 3. And she’s angry that Richard & Stephanie & America doesn’t respect her. Shut up, Lisa.

2.) We open back in Puerto Rico, where the finalists—& Lisa—talk about how it’s all come down to this. Stephanie gives us our first mention of the first-female-Top-Chef concept. Richard tells us he can’t believe Lisa is still here. We can’t believe it either, Richard. But maybe if you & Stephanie were a little more interesting, the producers wouldn’t have to live this lie.

3.) The chefs go meet Tom C & Padma, who are with three other chefs—April Bloomfield, Dan Barber & Eric Ripert. The challenge is simple: creative a four course meal progressing from fish to poultry to red meat to dessert. Dessert is part of this puppy? Uh oh. The chefs interview their mind-boggling ignorance of dessert while trying to not to appear panicked. Seriously? You go on Top Chef & you don’t learn one stupid cake recipe? Have y’all seen this show?

4.) Predictably, Dan, April & Eric are the sous chefs. They each have a selection of proteins & seafood. Padma tells the chefs that the chef with the most elimination wins gets to choose first, which, of course, immediately eliminates Lisa. However, Richard & Stephanie are tied with 4 each, so they have to draw knives. Steph draws #1, so she obviously picks Eric Ripert. Richard takes Dan & Lisa pretends to be delighted to be stuck with April.

5.) In the kitchen, the chefs & sous chefs begin prep. The celebrity chefs interview their initial thoughts, which seem to indicate that Richard doesn’t know what the hell he is doing. Steph hilariously hovers over Eric Ripert’s fish filets. Richard tells us the chefs were allowed to bring one item from home & his—surprise!—is liquid nitrogen. Did he see Marcel in Season 2? He pours out the nitrogen & the celebrity chefs are all curious & kind of impressed. Richard is thinking about doing some kind of tobasco ice cream. Eric Ripert comes over to get a closer look & Richard realizes in interview that he’s shown Ripert something he hasn’t seen before. Richard & I think that’s kind awesome.

6.) Lisa & April are inexplicably getting along. Stephanie is a little freaked out by this. As the chefs finish up their prep for the first day, Richard tells Dan he needs the night to conceptualize. He hasn’t figured out what he’s doing yet. Ooooh, red flag. Oh no, Richard! Get it together! Bravo is sure to show all the chefs telling their celebrity sous chefs they will see them tomorrow.

7.) The day of reckoning is here & the chefs arrive in the kitchen to find nobody there, especially not their sous chefs. Can you sense what’s about to happen here? Tom C comes in & tells the chefs the celebrities are totally taking the day off. They’re on their own for the most important meal they’ll cook in their lives. …No pressure!

8.) The chefs all scurry around & interview only mild panic & surprise. They explain their menus & it seems like Richard has figured stuff out, including banana scallops for dessert (along with the completely disgusting sounding “bacon ice cream”), which of course we’ve seen from him before.

9.) Tom C comes back for consultations. He asks for Richard’s menu to which Richard replies that it’s a little abstract. There is an awkward pause during which Tom C realizes no more details are coming & perhaps Richard doesn’t have things figured out after all. He moves on to Stephanie, who is praying for her ricotta cake. Tom makes a statement that she’s obviously done this dish before & she says once. There is a hilarious shot of the smile rapidly fading from Tom’s face. He clearly can’t believe the chefs don’t know desserts either. Lisa seems unconcerned about the timing. Tom is minorly concerned that she seems so unconcerned.

10.) Richard tells us he has scratched the tobasco ice cream & is only using the liquid nitrogen on his bacon ice cream. He says again that it’s not just about the show of using nitrogen, it’s that it actually makes the ice cream better. Hey, question. What are Lisa & Stephanie’s secret ingredients? Probably not as exciting as nitrogen, huh.

11.) Stephanie is still concerned about her cake, which looks decent enough. Lisa yells at her to have some self-confidence for once & stop playing down her dishes because every time she does that, she wins. Yeah, Lisa, that’s the point. We want her to win, remember? Lisa interviews that Stephanie’s weakness is her own self-doubt & that she, Lisa, doesn’t have doubt & that her dishes reflect her. So your dishes are angry & bitter & anti-social?

12.) The judges arrive in a lovely dining room, including Eric, Dan & April. The chefs all interview that this is it. Time runs out.

13.) The text vote this week is predictably “who should be Top Chef?” This should be interesting. Also? Do y’all see that Project Runway Season 5 is almost here? YES!!

14.) The chefs come out into the dining room. Padma introduces the judges, including the founder of Zagat surveys. Cool! Ted, Gail & Tom C are also there. The chefs talk about their menus, then head back to the kitchen for final plating.

15.) Lisa, who is still uncharacteristically calm, presents her first dish, grilled prawns with chili sauce. Stephanie’s is a seared red snapper with an asparagus salad on top. Her dish is served in what appears to be tea cups. Richard is serving scallops with mango & pineapple vinegar. Richard’s dish goes over alright. The judges like the flavor, although one judge thinks it’s a little too complicated. Dan, who was Richard’s sous chef, says that it is strikingly unfamiliar, but it’s hard to tell if that’s a good thing or not. April likes the texture of Lisa’s dish, but one of the judges thinks the sauce was too strong. Ripert likes the delicateness of Stephanie’s dish & the judges seem to agree hers was the best of the three.

16.) Second course. Lisa is serving a soup with dumplings. Stephanie is doing seared quail over lobster ravioli. Her portions seem larger than we usually see on this show. I mean, I know there’s an art about portions, but don’t you hate how the more expensive the meal, the smaller the portions? WTG, Steph. Richard’s dish is a guinea hen & foie gras. There are bubbles on the top. The judges like texture & that the foie gras was perfectly cooked. Lisa’s soup goes over extremely well. Gail Simmons says she could have a whole bowl & be completely satisfied. They also like Stephanie’s quail dish, which has an egg on it. What is it about putting an egg on a dish that makes it instantly more delicious-looking? However, Tom C & Gail both hate the leeks, which are undercooked & irrelevant. Well.

17.) Third course. Lisa’s is beef with cucumber salad & garlic chips. Stephanie’s is lamb with mushrooms. It looks delicious, I won’t lie. I’m getting hungry. Richard’s is pickled radishes, mirin brother & pork belly. The radishes look very pretty, even though I hate them. Ripert & some of the other judges don’t like Richard’s pork belly dish. It’s under-seasoned. I am not feeling so hot about Richard. Lisa’s beef is not tender enough & the sauce is too sweet. Everyone looooves Stephanie’s dish. The judges are surprised by how well the pistachios & olives in the dish work. Ripert points out that it’s the first dish they’ve loved.

18.) Dessert. Lisa’s dish is black thai rice pudding with like a bunch of crap in it. Stephanie’s ricotta cake turned out looking pretty nice. There’s fruit & crème on top. And then, there’s Richard’s liquid nitrogen bacon ice cream & banana scallops. Surprisingly, the judges really like Lisa’s dish. They like the playfulness of Richard’s dish, although they don’t say much else. Stephanie’s cake is proclaimed “okay.”

19.) Judges’ Table. Padma, Tom, Ted & Gail were on the whole part pleased. The chefs show up, looking very serious. Tom asks Richard about the scallops. He says he was going for an explosion of flavor. Tom says they all thought it was under-seasoned. Richard is surprised. Tom keeps asking about “intention.” He says Lisa’s first dish was extremely hot, which is odd for a first course. This isn’t the first time Lisa’s overdone the spiciness. Ted does like her potato chips though. The judges all like Stephanie’s dish & salad.

20.) Second course. Richard says he maybe didn’t need the foie gras. The judges think it was too much. Everyone liked Lisa’s soup & hated Stephanie’s use of leeks.

21.) Third course. Richard’s pork belly wasn’t crispy enough. The judges still don’t like Lisa’s sauce & loved the creativeness of Stephanie’s dish.

22.) Dessert. Padma points out that Richard has used the banana scallops before, but the judges did like the dish. They also liked Lisa’s dish, but had issues with Stephanie’s cake. Specifically, Tom didn’t like the banana cream. Final words. Stephanie says Dale told her not to second-guess herself & she thinks that that’s what happened on the dessert. Lisa doesn’t say anything interesting & even if she did, what Richard says next would overshadow it.

23.) Richard says he’ll admit it…he choked. Whoa! Everyone is shocked. Richard thought he over-thought & didn’t do as well as he thought he should. Even if that’s true, why would you say that? Meanwhile, the ongoing text vote comes up. Stephanie is at 58% while Lisa is at 3. Heh.

24.) The chefs are dismissed. Back at judges’ table, Gail says she’s shocked at what Richard said. She says that he knows & wanted them to know he could have done better. Tom C says everyone had mis-steps & wants to do a polls of each course. First course: Ted liked Lisa’s, but everyone agrees they liked Stephanie’s best. They like Lisa’s soup the best for the second dish. Again, everyone loves Stephanie’s lamb dish for the third course. And the judges all like both Richard’s & Lisa’s desserts. They actually liked the bacon ice cream, which I now really want to try because I’m sorry, it sounds disgusting. Hilariously, while the other judges say they didn’t care much for Stephanie’s dessert, Gail proclaims, “Yes, I agree that Stephanie’s dish SUCKED…” Hee! The judges thought maybe her other dishes made up for the dessert.

25.) The judges have a preference. Interestingly, my brother just asked me if they’re really going to make a decision based on just this challenge. I think not…I think most of the time, body-of-work does come into play for the championship, which is why there is no way Lisa can win.

26.) Text vote finals: Lisa managed to wrangle one more percent out of the audience. She ends up with 4%, Richard 36% & Stephanie 60%. That seems about right.

27.) Someone is about to win a bunch of product placement prizes…& the title of Top Chef. Tom C’s self esteem destruction speech is pre-empted again this week by a rare display of compliments. He says they chose the winner based on which meal they’d like to go back & have again. Interesting. That suggests it is mostly about this challenge. Congratulations…Stephanie! YAY!!

28.) Stephanie interviews that her life is about to change. Lisa interviews that she actually thought she had a shot. That’s very silly of you, Lisa. No, really, after seeing Jeffrey win Project Runway before, nothing would surprise me in a reality show anymore. But let’s be real, Lisa, you’re no Top Chef. Richard also interviews disappointment & it’s sad. We see him talking to Dale, who is all spiffed out in a black vest & intellectual-looking glasses. When did the former contestants arrive on the scene?

29.) Seriously, I’m really glad Stephanie won. It really puts my faith back into a show like this. It’s a lot like Christian winning Project Runway, if you want your show to have credibility, you have to give it to someone who deserves it, & almost as importantly, to someone America doesn’t hate. Stephanie did have the best showing in this challenge & showed her class & character not freaking out at Dale during last week’s pork disaster. It’s always nice to see someone win who you can root for. Congrats, Stephanie, you’ll move on to bigger & better things.

30.) Next week on Top Chef, reunion show, which I deeply appreciate didn’t get sandwiched before the finale, so therefore I can ignore it properly.


1. Andrea - June 20, 2008

Am I the only person who thinks that Ted and Gail should go find other professions, and that Top Chef should be judged by people that are actually capable? Tom is wonderful, and Padma is just nice to have around because she is good at hosting the show. Ted.. no one heard of him before Queer Eye, no one missed him when it was gone and Gail enjoys whining. I myself wont be watching the show until they replace both of them, and if they don’t.. I’ll come here and get the info on the show.. saves me the irritation. Good writeup.. thanks.

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