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Top Chef: All-Stars – Finale – Iz Blais Going To Win?


Elimination Challenge – Create your dream restaurant, and cook for 70 customers and judges. In addition to Tom, Gail and Padma, we have Theoden at Judges Table. Where is Bourdain? Why not at the Finale, Tony? Joining them will be TV personality and author Lidia Bastianich, Gotham Bar & Grill owner Alfred Portale, wine guru Bill Terlato, another former Master Art Smith and new Masters’ host Curtis Stone. Blais calls his restaurant “Tongue and Cheek,” a play on his whimsy and skill and a desire to cook chef-friendly dishes. To be honest, I don’t get it either. But it is better than “Restaurant Iz.” A lot better.

So, the season ends and I’d have to say that Top Chef is well on its way to repeating its Emmy win. Just for the final scenes as Blais earned his win and basked in the cheers of his peers. As he called his wife and told her the words that he has wanted to say to her for two and a half years – “I won Top Chef.” He willed this into being – Redemption has never been so sweet. Or filled with liquid nitrogen.

The Menus
Blais – Amuse Bouche – Raw Oyster with Crème Fraiche Pearls and Salsa Verde. Padma made yummy sounds, Hubert found it to be refreshing. Alfred was impressed by the sophistication.

Blais – 1st Course – Raw Hamachi with Fried Veal Sweetbreads, Garlic Mayonnaise and Pickled Celery. Terlato was loved the portion size, the elements and the whole thing. Lidia was taken with the unity of the dish. Spike reported back that the judges were very happy.

Mike – 1st Course – Spiced Beets with Mozzarella Truffle and Chocolate Vinaigrette. Art found the chocolate to be quite subtle, Curtis thought it was very composed and Tom summed up that Mike was off to a good start. Of course, later he would call this the weakest dish, but for now, let’s go with it.

Mike – 2nd Course – Halibut with Kumquat Marmalade, Cauliflower Puree and Pancetta Crumbs. Mike’s team struggles to get the second course out on time, and certainly that hurt in the final judgment. Tom thought this dish looked nice, and gives high praise that he had never had a fish cooked this well on the show before. Stay tuned. Curtis thought it tasted so good you forget that the dish was just so white. Marcel was seen complementing the “super-flavorful dish.”

Blais – 2nd Course – Pork Belly, Black Cod Cutlet, Bone Marrow, Beets, Brussels Sprouts and Kumquats. Alfred understated that this was a beautiful dish. Chicago Dale is quoted as saying this was “Richie at his best.” Spike summed up that the judges loved the dish.

Blais – 3rd Course – Beef Short Rob with Mushrooms, Red Cabbage Marmalade and Celery Root Horseradish Puree. Lidia’s turn for yummy sounds now. Alfred criticized the creativity, but praised the execution and flavor. Terlato saw Blais’ personality coming out.

Mike – 3rd Course – Braised Pork Shoulder with Pepperoni Sauce, Roasted Cabbage and Turnips. Mike calls this his Tom dish, as it is made exactly how Tom likes it. Curtis calls it a nice plate of food. Gail loses her ever-loving mind over the pepperoni sauce. She’s reduced to just randomly shouting “pepperoni sauce” the way Charlie Sheen shouts “winning.”

Mike – 4th Course – Rosemary Caramel Custard and Pine Nuts with Citrus, Celery and Apple. Tom found it a bit overcooked, and Art gave the strangest complement/insult – “I like the flavor, but not the way it feels in my mouth.”

Blais – 4th Course – Cornbread with Foie Gras Ice Cream and Whipped Mango. Alfred did not expect “freeze dried whatever this is.” Lidia didn’t think much of it. Theoden felt Blais made a great meal but faltered with the dessert. Spike reports back that the dish was controversial and the team adjusts the recipe for the next wave.
The judges trade places and the editing goes by rather quickly. It was hard to follow, but the biggest points made were that Tom’s group enjoyed Blais’ dessert.


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