Hung, Mike Voltaggio, and Ilan the half-Israeli minx. Ilan and Hung don't get last names because--please. Ilan and Hung. Fun fact: Ilan is Hebrew (or to get real, Aramaic) for "tree." And that's enough linguistics for now.
2/3 finalists got their top choice to work with--drawing knives didn't change destiny. Hung + Angelo; MVolt + Kevin (and turns out they know each other from a previous life, in a good way); Ilan + Ed.
Eric "The Ripper" Ripert and Tom are picking the proteins at the market, and they come back with some doozies and some snoresies: pork belly, cuttlefish (or cuddlefish, right Lauren?), duck, cockles, lobster, and rouget. We've heard a lot about cockles, but I've never seen one (except on TV). What are they like?
So I haven't mentioned yet that Angelo was ill. It's unclear what the diagnosis was, but he was aching all over, he had migraines, and he looked like crap. Somehow his 7pm shadow stayed well-groomed and in line. I feel bad for him because he's sick, and the other cheftestants do a great job of being like "Oh I wish he was at his best because I want to compete against everyone at 100%" etc. BS. You are happy he is aching like me 1 week into swim practice circa 1999. Hung and Angiepie communicate by phone for menu planning, shopping, and prep.
Speaking of shopping, VIVOMART: GIANT SUPERMARKET. That's all about that.
Angelo gets clearance to cook on the day of service, and he springs into action. I did feel for the guy. I've been sick during crunch time and had to keep my game face on.
Meal-time. First thing is first, Padma is wearing her favorite color dress, but no bib necklace. Instead, a bumpit.
Overall the meal went really well for all for all of them--no major disappointments. A few complaints though: they didn't love Angelo's cherry shooter "palate cleanser." Tom didn't like Ed's too-safe dessert. Ripper wanted Kevin's vegetable terrine to have more heat, but they loved his duck. They loved his Singapore Sling.
Favorite veggie dish was Ed's, Angelo's fish dish seems favorite, I think both Kevin's and Ed's duck, and Kevin's dessert. They keep talking about how important dessert is, which is hilarious. Obviously "Just Desserts" premiers next. And Kevin wins. He took the most risks. He brought his A game. He worked really hard, went with things he knew but did stretch outside his comfort zone, and at the end of the day he works in New Jersey and that makes him great. I'm not surprised at all. In fact, the editors didn't try to twist and turn us in this episode. Listen to the judges' discussion and you'll hear "we thought Kevin had the 2 of the best dishes out of four." And he took risks that paid off. P
So to recap the recap: Kevin Sbraga, the self-identified "first African-American Top Chef," executive chef at Rat's Restaurant at the stunning Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, is Top Chef. I've been there! Well, Grounds for Sculpture, not Rat's. When I lived in the Garden State I wasn't so blasé about spending big cheese on fancypants dinners. Hah!
"I liked it when I used to fillet the fish and you pulled out the bones. Remember those days?" MVolt to Kevin.
"I want to sacrifice every part of me to be Top Chef." Angelo, keep the limbs attached. We don't want 'em.
"Very complicated dish. I need a user menu." Seetoh on Ed's dish.
It's been great recapping with y'all. I was a bit apathetic about this season, but I thought this was a really fun finale. My hope for next year is that Padma gets a new favorite color and we get some more lovable personalities (like JEN!). Maybe less crying/yelling, too.