– Why, oh why, do you come into the Finals without having a dessert ready to go. Even if they show didn’t mandate a dessert, you know that the show could do that. They always through curve balls at the chefs – just practice a damn cake, Ed. Even more egregious to me was how Ed outsourced the dessert to Ilan. Now, my opinion of Ilan aside, he’s a great chef. It’s like when people call George W. Bush stupid. He’s not – he’s just stupid in relation to his peers. Just like Ilan. He won, but he wasn’t even the best of his season, and is by far the worst winner.
My problem here was not that Ilan made a bad dessert – it was fine – it was that Ed didn’t make it. Just like Angelo missed part of the challenge, so did Ed. That was one-quarter of his entire meal, and he let his sous chef make it. Mistake. And he should have known better.
So, while the other two stumbled, Kevin hit a home run. Each part of his meal was good, the other two guys messed up somewhere (Ed’s dessert was too simple, his fish was overcooked, while Angelo made his veggie dish a meat dish, and his sweet dish savory). So, kudos to Kevin. The erstwhile Sbarro (my old nickname for him – his name is Kevin Sbraga) really earned this one.
I liked how Tom and Ripert chose the ingredients for the meals, and essentially gave orders on what to do – First Course is veggie, Second Course is fish showcasing the Red Mullet ( not this thankfully ), the third is duck and the last is a dessert. They also bought them cuttlefish, cockles, slippery lobster and pork belly. If you really want to decide the best, let them all cook from the same list. Brilliant decision.
The rest of the episode was all about Angelo’s illness – and anytime a food show showcases a man getting an injection in his ass, you know it was lacking in drama. It made up for the lack of additional things to talk about by presenting a great final challenge, and some very delicious looking dishes.
The Judges/Tasters – The usual judges were there – Padma, Tom, Gail and Ripert. Joining them was an all-star lineup of chefs. Forgive me if I am unable to attribute critique with judge at times – there were just too darn many of them!
1 – Seetoh – the Singapore Street Food God
2 – Iggy Chan – Singapore chef
3 – Su-Lyn Tan – Author of books about Southeast Asian cuisine
4 – Former Masters Finalist Susan Feniger from LA
5 – David Chang – Chef/owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC
6 – Vincent Bourdin – French pastry chef currently based in Singapore
7 – Willin Low – Singapore chef, and former lawyer
8 – Paul Bartolotta – James Beard Award winning Italian chef.
9 – Andre Chiang – Singapore-based chef.
10 – Food and Wine’s Dana Cowin
Angelo – Pickled Royale Mushrooms, Char Siu Bao Pork Belly, Fresh Noodles and Watermelon Tea. Iggy gives Angelo credit for being daring. Su-Lyn likes it, as being very local but Tom thinks it needs a lot of work. Tom rightfully critiques the fact this was more of a meat dish than a veggie dish.
Kevin – Eggplant, Zucchini and Pepper Terrine, Tomatoes, Jalapenos, and Black Garlic Puree. Susan thinks it lacks oomph. David loves it and thinks it took balls to make a veggie terrine. Ripert credits the lack of spice.
Ed – Chilled Summer Corn Veloute with Fried Black Cockles. Vincent and Ripert thought it was the best first course. Paul thinks no one has overreached so far.