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Top Chef: New York, Finale Recap – The Final Battle of the Bald Men and Their Hairy Sous Chef


Besh thinks that Carla has something special going on with her flavors. Tom liked the idea and Branford did too. Ti says it reminded her of her first French fish dish. She also thinks Hosea’s “didn’t pop.” Fabio thinks that it was missing seasoning, and Gail concurs that it needed salt. Tom thinks that Finn’s salmon overpowered the halibut and that it was watery due to the whole freezing thing. Mullet liked it. Toby considered both Finn’s and Hosea’s to be perfectly executed but bland, while Carla’s showed real personality. Branford thinks it is cool listening to chefs (and Toby) talk since they talk just like musicians.

Second Course
Finn – Pan Seared Squab, Braised Cabbage, Schupfnudeln, Foie Gras (I guess he managed to find some) and Grape Jus.

Carla – she calls it “comfort food, rethought and redefined” – Sous-Vide New York Strip Steak with Seared Potato Rod and Merlot Sauce.

Hosea – Seared Scallop (Jamie shout out!) with Foie Gras on Pain Perdu, Apple Preserves and Foie Gras Foam (Marcel shout out!) and Candy Pecans.

May I say that these second courses sound amazing?

Gail asks if anyone else is finding Carla’s sirloin to be tough. Tom says that sous-vide can make that happen. Ti says that Carla makes a lovely sauce. Tom can’t get past that sous-vide and says that it was not Carla’s style. Toby agrees that it was the last thing he expected to see. More surprising than schupfnudeln would have been? Besh thought it “lost the soul” that her last dish had. Fabio didn’t see this coming from Carla either.

Besh says that few American chefs can cook a game bird as well as Finn did. Nice compliment. Gail says the squab was cooked beautifully and she loved the cabbage. She gets a good sense of who Finn is with this dish.

However, Gail says that she can’t stop eating Hosea’s. Just an aside, I have a hard time listening to anything Gail is saying because she is basically falling out of her dress. Not for nothing, I am just saying. She thinks the pain perdu adds a great sweetness and butteriness that complements the foie gras and scallop. Padma nods with her mouth full. Rocco is tired of foie gras and Gail subtly mocks him with a headshake. Awesome. Branford says he agrees with everything said. Tom asks if that includes Rocco’s foie gras comment. Not a chance, “No Rocco’s crazy, I can eat foie gras ALL DAY.” HA!

The all-important third course is coming and we get one last “Finn is my nemesis” line from Hosea who wonders if doing a dessert will give Finn an edge. Finn thinks Hosea’s venison is an easy, BS dish. Meanwhile, Carla’s soufflé is bubbling. It is too hot and curdling. She cannot serve it. She forgot to turn down the oven and clearly she knows right here that she is doomed. She is serving half a dish for dessert without it’s main component.

Third Course
Finn – Stracciatella Ice Cream with Chocolate Mousse (the return of the chocolate mousse turd!) Vanilla Syrup and Banana Lollipop.

Carla – Apple Tart coin with Blue Cheese and Walnut Crumble with a Cress Salad and Lime Juice. She also has some kumquat marmalade and she owns up to the soufflé disaster.

Hosea – Pan Roasted Venison, Chestnut and Celery Root Puree and Wild Mushrooms. He gives credit to the “world famous Richard Blais” for the Carbonated Blackberry garnish.

Gail is relieved to learn what happened to Carla because that dish was unimpressive. Gail is also perplexed by Finn’s dish and thinks it is dated – it “sings 1982 presentation.” Tom thinks it was “eh.” Tom did like Hosea’s, which was cooked and seasoned perfectly. Gail says it played to his strengths. Fabio wonders why Finn put out that dish as the last thing for the judges. Padma presses him on who was better, Finn or Hosea. Fabio – much to his credit – says that while it hurts him to say it, but Hosea’s overall meal was better. Mullet doesn’t like that Hosea avoided dessert since chefs need to make everything.

My wife had a good observation here. Hosea is the only one of the three that works in a restaurant. Finn and Carla are caterers and if you are catering, you have to make everything.

Back in the kitchen, there are many hugs. Casey essentially apologizes to Carla, “I’m sorry I didn’t show you off.” Carla feels really low, as that was not the meal of her life. Hosea tells Richard that no matter what happens, he really owes him. Maybe he can help out at FLIP in Atlanta for a while. There you go, Richard. A shameless plug for your restaurant. I love how Hosea is munching on one of Finn’s banana lollipops.

Hosea is unsure as to what will happen, but he feels he can face it with his head held high with a meal he is proud of. Richard wants to get some of Finn’s cabbage. Finn is unsure what will happen. The six have a toast and exchange kisses and baldhead rubs. I find it interesting that the two bald men in the finals wound up with two of the past contestants with the most interesting heads of hair.

Commercials – Reunion show next week. You can’t get rid of me yet!

Judges Table
Carla is first. Gail thought the appetizer was well done. Carla felt it was bold and was dying to use the ingredients. Tom liked the first course as well. Gail thought the flavors were spot on. Tom also complements the sauce. Gail calls her on the texture of the meat. Toby thought it was fussy and anemic and wanted bigger and bolder from the meat. Tom asks about Casey’s influence and Carla tells him what happened. She said, “I’ll try that, I don’t know about it and don’t do it.” Tom rolls his eyes at this. Carla also says that the soufflé couldn’t go out. She is asked why a soufflé and she again says that Casey suggested they “jazz it up.” Tom says that she let her sous chef talk her out of the food that got her to the finals.


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