Wow - we're down to the final four on Bravo Tv's Top Chef!!!! Whether you consider yourself a foodie, food snob, culinary artist, chef, culinary aficionado, food critic, or whatever other label you have deemed worthy of smacking on yourself, we all tuned in last night as five got narrowed down to the final four.
First off, let me say that there were no surprises as to who did NOT get asked to pack their knives. Stefan is a darn creative chef who does know the business, but his attitude and cockiness have to be toned down. Now I know that many chefs have the attitude and mouth to go with it, but jeez, get over yourself Stefan!
The Quick Fire Challenge was one I'm personally glad I didn't have to do-eggs. Throw in Wylie Dufresne, king of molecular gastronomy, telling the final five to cook the perfect egg. Carla won this challenge by taking the simple path and pulled inspiration from Dr. Seuss by preparing green eggs. She stated she doesn't really get into all that molecular cooking and I totally agree with her. I have been elated this season since I haven't had to watch every dish have some sort of foam on it, which by the way, reminds me of stuff cleaned out of a tracheotomy-not appetizing at all!
Stefan took second place with his poached egg in brioche and panna cotta with mango puree and looked like he had just been stabbed when Carla took top honors. Once again, Stefan did an awesome job but his cockiness got the best of him. The bottom two were Fabio and Hosea. Although Fabio did produce a decent dish, Wylie felt it didn't quite measure up to breakfast fare with his egg dessert. Hosea also missed the mark with a Japanese inspired egg trio that Wylie did not feel flowed together well. Leah was in the middle with her less than impressive "greasy" potato ravioli.
On to the "Last Supper" elimination challenge. Did anyone else besides myself find it to be rather, well, cheesy for lack of a more appropriate word? The soft lighting and the long table with judges only on the one side and ends? Did I miss the painting of the Last Supper in the background somewhere? The contestants each chose a knife with well-known chefs that just coincidentally seemed to have much in common with each other. Stefan pulled Marcus Samuelsson who both just happen to be Scandinavian; Fabio pulled Lidia Bastianich whose speciality is Italian; Hosea just happens to get Susan Ungaro who wants seafood; Carla, who is trained classical French pulls , you got it, Jacques Pepin; and Leah cooks for Wylie.
Surprisingly, all of the last supper requests seem to be quite simple. Simple can be quite tricky when one is used to cooking a certain way and trying to impress with difficult executions. Leah prepares what should be a cooking basic, eggs Benedict, but manages to second guess herself and produces an undercooked egg with runny hollandaise sauce.
Stefan also should have been able to cook fish with his eyes closed but manages to overcook the salmon. His attempt at spinach prepared two different ways also falls short as the judges have a hard time distinguishing between the two.
Hosea, trying to put his own spin on shrimp scampi and tomatoes Provencal, also falls flat. The judges seem to think he would have been better off sticking true to the dish.
Carla, elated that she is preparing squab and peas, receives rave reviews, especially for the peas of all things! You can't help but be pulling for this quirky chef. She is always trying to motivate the other chefs and truly seems to care for them. Carla started the competition slowly, but by keeping it simple she has surpassed some of the now dismissed stronger contestants.
And Fabio. This competition would certainly not be as entertaining without his charm and use of words. I'm almost positive after breaking his finger Wednesday night during the prep for the final elimination challenge that he won over some viewers while at the same time offended others. I'm sure that he will be quoted as saying "this is Top Chef, not Top P****" for at least a few weeks. His roast chicken hit a home run with the judges though his salad was demoted to airline food. Fabio won this challenge by evoking memories of his grandmother and channeling her expertise into preparing this dish.
Although I was hoping that Stefan would be sent packing for his less than palatable dinner, I was glad to see Leah finally go. She has been holding onto a lifeline for several weeks and has finally met her fate. The final four are off to New Orleans for what is sure to be an interesting show.