Although she may not win tonight, Carla is the clear audience favorite, earning 65% of the popular vote. With no separation between Stefan and Carla, Padma anticlimactically names Hosea the winner. He was far from my favorite, but he was easily the best performer tonight, so he fully deserved his victory. So that's that; season five has come to a close. It was one of my favorite seasons so far, and I hope whoever's reading this enjoyed it too. Maybe I'll be back next season!
At judges' table, the judges reiterate their dinner comments about Carla's dishes, praising her first two and coming down on the others. It seems that Carla might have listened to Casey a little too much tonight, spoiling her chance at victory. Hosea's only misstep tonight was a mediocre second dish, but his other three wowed the judges, which may be enough to propel him to victory. Like Carla, Stefan's comments are a bit of a mixed bag, with a popular alligator soup and the judges' favorite dish of the night in his squab. His carpaccio and dessert, however, aren't as impressive. Following the evaluations, Stefan reveals a bit of a heart beneath his stone cold exterior, comforting a clearly distraught Carla, who the judges declare out of the running. Tonight, I think that Hosea was more consistent that Stefan, and he should come away the winner. Padma sneaks in her best comment in weeks, offering "it was pedestrian, at best," when commenting on Stefan's dessert.
Understandably, there seem to be nerves all around in the kitchen, and they only increase for Hosea when he sees the line-up of judges tonight, including Rocco DiSpirito, Hubert Keller, and our very own Fabio. All three appetizers seem to go over well, with Hosea possibly earning top marks for his blackened red fish. Two of the first dishes include raw fish, Hosea's and Stefan's, and two include fennel, Carla's and Hosea's. Carla definitely wins this round, as the judges express minor qualms with both of the male contestants' dishes. If she took round one, Carla loses the second course battle, as her reworked meat and potatoes falls flat, while Stefan's squab and Hosea's scallop soar. Prior to the third round, Carla overcooks her blue cheese souflees, what could prove to be a fatal error, forcing her to send out an incomplete plate. Again, Hosea seems to be number one in the final round with his venison, with Stefan's dessert platter and Carla's apple tart following, in that order. At this point, Hosea looks like the front runner, but the judges have made some strange choices this season, so I wouldn't say anything is definitive just yet.
So that was an super-sized commercial break (7 minutes), and this isn't even a super-sized episode! Tom surprises the chefs by unveiling three traditional New Orleans ingredients, crab, red fish, and alligator, and telling the chefs that they'll each have to prepare an additional appetizer with one of the ingredients. They each grab a slice of king cake, and Hosea finds the lucky baby, meaning that he chooses his ingredient (red fish) and assigns the other two, giving Carla the crab and Stefan the alligator, surprise, surprise. The kitchen preparation is definitely hectic, but thankfully, no major drama goes down, meaning that the outcome will be all about the food tonight.
It's finally here! Tonight the Top Chef judges will crown one of the final three, Stefan, Hosea, and Carla. the season five winner. The season recap highlights the exciting season that most recently saw the departure of Fabio. Before we get into the action, I just want to align myself with Carla, as I have all season. Not only has she cooked consistently delicious food, but she has also been a delight on screen, charming, funny, and sincere. Pre-challenge, there's definitely some bad blood brewing between Stefan and Hosea, which could allow Carla to slip right through to the win, but anything could happen tonight. Tom and Padma present the challenge: cook a three course meal of the chef's choice at the famous Commander's Palace restaurant for a table of twelve distinguished food experts. Each chef will get the aid of a finalist from a previous season as a sous-chef, so Hosea gets Richard, Stefan takes Marcel, and Carla is paired with Casey. The prep at the Audobon tea room is chaotic from the start, as Hosea and Stefan battle for foie gras.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009