Sep 26, 2007

Top Chef 3: The Final Three

Oh, my, talk about being blindsided! Dale not only won the elimination challenge, he kicked ass with the huckleberry/blackberry sauce for his elk. Not only is Dale going to the finals, but he outperformed Brian. That truly surprised me.

Casey's Elk looked awfully raw and the judges did not like her cauliflower puree, but she is going on. Her Quickfire Challenge win was well-deserved, and it placed her in a position of strength for the Elimination Challenges
Hung, our kitchen precisionist, talked the most eloquently about what it meant to be a chef. Let's hope he is able to rise to the occasion next week and put both heart and soul into the final challenge.

And that leads us to the other huge surprise: Three chefs will be competing in the finals. My oh my oh my. I couldn't have been more wrong in my previous post than if I tried. I was certain Dale would leave and that only two chefs would make it to the finale.


ArtfulSub said...

Boring. Stupid. A disgrace. Hung's monkey could have designed a better episode.

becca said...

It did feel like the competition went back to the old format but the judging was fair and cooking elk did not seem easy. I am happy with the final free.

Big Fella said...

Brian's going home did not surprise me in the least. In my view he has never been anything more than a one trick pony, and not even good at the one trick. To claim that trout is not considered "seafood" is a lame excuse for a poor performance, from someone who was touted as an expert with fish.

Touting him as "Executive Chef" at Oceanaire in San Diego is Bravo promotional bullshit. Oceanaire is nothing but a national chain. Brian is just a corporate drone, using the company recipes. He lived up to his surname: Malarky.

Speaking of Malarky, Hung's little speach about what motivates him, was also malarky. Casey and Dale did come through as having a lot of heart and passion. Hung, as has been noted by many of the judges is a good technician, and he probably gets that from the training he has received where he works, but he has a lot of maturing to do before I would consider him a "Top Chef", but I do believe in time, he will succeed.

Big Fella said...

One more thought: Dale, please contact Phil Spector and ask him to loan you one of his wigs. The Mohawk is really getting old.

RVA Foodie said...

Good developments all around and a great guest judge. Contestants showed some true colors and it seems like we're starting to get some clarity about these three. When they asked Hung where is his connection to native cuisine, it felt like deja vu from the Next Food Network Star. Hung is constantly trying "Jagg it up" with his speed precision. But, where is the soul? We're seeing his drive and his ability, but not necessarily any unique gifts. In fact, I feel that way about all three of them. But, I'm becoming sort of a Top Chef stick-in-the-mud at this point.

Branch Water said...

The episode ranks among my favorites for the season. It provided new insight into the chefs' personalities as people, an angle that seemed absent in more recent episodes. Plus, I'm a sucker for the outdoor challenges.

It's evident that Hung is all technique and not much imagination, heart or soul. Getting so excited about replicating someone else's dish and his comment, "What do cowboys eat, baked beans, baked beans, baked beans?" confirm that. We know from his language (and constant bragging) that he's got skills, but that just makes him a good lackey. He can sous vide a chicken, but can he create a unique menu or signature flavors?

Dale proved to be an interesting, funny individual in the last episode. True, he's a little goofy, but he's also a genuine, down-to-earth kind of guy. I think his approach to cooking is thoughtful. Sauces are a strength, so he uses them. He asks questions, tastes his food, and throws it away when it's bad. His comments, "It looked like a big green turd," and, "I don't know what cowboys eat although I've slept with a few," are humorous and humanize him. (But really, Dale. Maybe you should talk to your tricks, cook'em breakfast or something.)If he has recently experienced turmoil in his personal life, I'm glad that he is using the show to find himself as an individual and a chef.

Because of the show's emphasis on Hung's technical approach to food, I don't think he'll win. I'm still betting on Casey.

Marius said...

This particular episode was interesting. I wouldn't say it's my favorite, but, as others have noted, in this episode we got know a little bit more about the remaining chefs. The final should be very interesting. Again, I have no clue what to expect.

Ms. Place said...

I agree branch water, I don't think Hung will win. He talks about cooking with soul, but it all about technique when you watch him. (I still like his speech about how much cooking and food mean to him and his family - perfect example of wishing for what you don't have); I have to disagree slightly with RVA foodie in that I think, like Marius, that the last two episodes have shown how well these chefs can cook - Bravo has failed to demonstrate their abilities; and Big Fella did you notice that Dale and Brian seemed to use the same hair product this time around? Art, I rather liked the episode, if only for the beautiful scenery.

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed the episode a great deal.

One real way to gauge the chefs is by giving them all the same ingredient(s) to prepare. Both quick fire and elimination did that.

Do you recall the quick fire that produced Hung's "Smurf Village"? That challenge really had a lot to do with the luck the contstants had by the isle they got.

While cooking on tree stumps was at first a bit stupid to me, it did show, if not in a far-fetched way, what each chef can do in the face of an unexpected environment. Any chef who has to go "on site" to prepare for an event will encounter unfamiliar and less than perfect cooking situations. And, uneven stumps aside, this challenge was equitable.

Same goes for the elimination challenge. Just as with the past episode, the contestants were given an ingredient. The cut they chose, the preparation they used, and the accompaniments they used were all up to them. But ultimately, it really came down to how well they understood the protein and how to prepare it, given the cut they chose.

Vis a vis.

In this challenge, Dale was brilliant. He treated the elk for what it was... game. He drew on what he knew to be his strength... his sauces. And he was able to recoup when his tart failed by creating another dish.

I love all three contestants. Each for different reasons. I think each could be "Top Chef".

Big Fella said...

Ms. Place-

I dunno if it's mousse or what they are using, in my day we used Butch Wax, either way, that look is so-o-o 1957, just with the hair a little longer.