Steph continues to stand alone. Another Top Chef season, another male winner. Although, Macho did come very close this time – I honestly think that she barely missed out and wound up in second place, based on the judges’ comments. However, it was not enough and the decision seemed to come down to a simple question – is it better to have received too much help or to have done it yourself but with flaws?
Hammer gets the win, and to be honest, he pretty much deserved it. If you think back through the season, Hammer (and his name is Chris Hanmer, but Hammer is much funnier) was almost always near the top and seemed to dominate much of the quality cooking. I think it would have been cool for Macho to pull it off just because it’s getting ridiculous that women can’t seem to win Top Chef. It took The Amazing Race 17 races to have an all-woman team win, but women had been part of co-ed wins. Women win Project Runway. Women have won several Survivors, and a bunch of American Idols. They’ve dominated America’s Next Top Model…but perhaps that’s a bad example.
But they can’t do it in the kitchen. Steph still stands alone, and probably only does because Blais fumbled the ball at the goal line. Thirteen seasons of Top Chef shows and 12 men have won. I didn’t like Macho a whole lot, but she is very talented and could have won. But she didn’t.
I think the difference came from a decision she made that (as Matt actually verbalized) anyone other than Hammer would have made. And perhaps that’s why he deserved to win. When presented with the booted chefs as sous chefs, Macho got the first selection slot. They got two sous chefs, the first was random and the second was schoolyard pick. For her pick, she instantly chose Orlando for his showpiece skills. A very wise selection, except she used him too much. That final challenge entry was three parts Macho, one part Orlando. And it was obvious. The other guys were four parts Hammer and Matt. They used their team’s talents, but they didn’t completely rely upon them. I think this perception that this challenge was too big for her really caused Macho to lose.
The other thing that won it for Hammer was something Elvis said – his plated dish was the only one that the judges completely finished. Taste goes a long way.
The challenge was a good one, if a bit uninspired. Chefs had to make a display table – with a showpiece, an entremet, a bread, and a bon bon. They also had to make a dessert base on their source of inspiration – each of them chose family. It’s a good challenge in that it covers a wide array of baking and cooking skills. The showpiece takes a lot of creativity and technical skills. Cake is a pastry chef staple, and entremet take great skill to make. A bon bon is a way to pack a lot of flavor in a small package. At their core, pastry chefs are bakers too, and all good bakers need to make bread. And the last dish is a free range creative dish. It was a solid challenge, which had about 200 judges and guest tasters.
The challenge also had fun surprises like having three of the top MOF chefs serve as mentors/sous chefs during the first day of preparation. Not Monsters of Fashion, or Mullets on Fish, or Muppets over Finns, or Bad MoF . MOF is a title given to the best of the best – Best Craftsman of France. The chefs geeked out and the MOFs (Jacques Torres, Sebastian Canonne, and Stephane Treand) had some fun. The next part brought in the ousted chefs to help. Randomly, Macho got Vanarin (who?), Matt got Megan and Hammer got Rebecca. Then Macho chose Orlando, Matt chose Carlos, and Hammer chose Amanda. So at least we got to see Amanda and Megan one last time – thanks Show.
And I guarantee that they were all praying to the God of Marshmallow Fluff that Baby Hands would stay on the sidelines. So say we all!