It’s over. And Top Chef presented us with one of its bigger upsets. I’d say the only seasons I would consider upsets would be S4 when Steph beat Richard. And that was a mild one, as Steph was just as dominant that year, but the general thoughts among most people was it was Mr. Blais’ to lose. Same goes for S5 when Hosea beat Finn. The only true upset in my book was back in S2 when Ilan – arguably the weakest of the four remaining chefs – went to Hawaii and beat Elia, Sam and Marcel.
Top Chef: DC did not produce as big of an upset, but in my opinion, it was a notch below. Angelo dominated the majority of this season, with Ed right along with him. Ed even won both challenges last week, so he had momentum. Kevin was never a dominant force this season – he had wins, but he also had big losses. He never really registered as a contender – he just kept rolling along, without much fanfare. But it seems it was all just a rope-a-dope.
In the Final Challenge, Kevin busted out the big guns and, in my opinion, blew out the competition. The guest sous chefs who came back to help – former winners Mike Voltaggio (welcome back Hawk!), Hung Hunyh and Ilan Hall. We’ll go into the food a little later, but suffice to say, there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that he was going to win. Not only did he knock it out of the park, but he had these two factors playing into his victory.
Angelo’s Illness– I do not want to take anything away from Kevin. His final meal was so strong, he may have beaten anyone on this day. In fact, Tom called it the best finale meal they have ever had. However, having Angelo sick with some sort of Romulan flu or something didn’t hurt.
Angelo missed the entire prep day. He spent the time on the telephone with Hung coaching him on what to shop for and how to prep the food. Instantly, I cried foul. I did not like this one bit. If Angelo cannot make his way into the kitchen, he should have been disqualified. Part of the challenge was to prep the food. Angelo did not do his own prep. Hung even slipped once as he called it “his” pork belly. On that half of the challenge, it was Hung’s. That does not seem fair to me, at all. Angelo was quite lucky to have even gotten where he was because he had Hung – easily the fastest worker in show history.
If I was making the call, Angelo would have been out if he could not drag his ass into the kitchen, and the finals would have been just Ed vs. Kevin. But I wasn’t. Bottom line – even though he was able to make his way in, Angelo was playing catch-up all the way through.