Hello Top Chef, Trashies!!! We have made it to the finals of the competition and yet this thing is far from over.
The final four of the main competition return to the stew room feeling relieved and yet excited for the next stage. For B.Funk he is feeling the burn of being at the bottom in the last challenge and almost being sent home. He says he can see the finish line from here and after applying five times he wants us to stay tuned.
Everyone talks about how Uncle Bruce aka Pasta Pete (a completely genius name cub247) will be missed. Stacho of course makes it about himself, he will miss him because he always believed in him. They all think that it’s going to get tougher from here and the expectations will be higher. DUH!
Denver reveals that she initially moved to Colorado at 19, because she was a good skier and she thought it could take her somewhere. But once she got there the women were bigger and had better equipment and she felt the same way when she came to Top Chef, but she has done better than she imagined so perhaps she just needs to be believe more in herself.
In the cars on their way to the next destination Denver asks Le Bernardin…
They speculate who is coming back from Last Chance Kitchen, Denver thinks it might be Brother and he steamrolled everyone. Finally, the arrive at the Madeline some super fancy mountain resort.
The hills are alive…..
After some sparkling wine, I presume and mountain gazing they walk inside to find some Scar mail that was not there when they first came in.
The next morning the chefs enter the New Sheridan Saloon and Stacho says he feels like he is walking into the OK Corral. Waiting for them inside is Scar, Big Daddy and the Top Chef finals judge robot they roll out and then whir down for restart for every new season Wiley Dufresne.
Now we know where Scar filmed the scene from the opening in her sultry Laura Ingalls Wilder dress
Scar wants to know the altitude is treating them, I am guessing they don’t want another Lee Ann situation on their hands. Tom wants to know about their attitudes! Scar explains that the New Sheridan was established in 1885 and is one of the oldest bars in Telluride. Telluride itself was frontier town with an economy based in gambling, livestock and saloons. Even Butch Cassidy robbed a bank down the street. For the Quickfire challenge they will use a saloon beverage to create a dish.
Once used for its medicinal qualities it became a popular drink once carbonated and advertised as a hangover cure. Wiley tells them they want something exciting and unexpected. They perform the ancient ritual of drawing knives. The order of their knives determines the order in which they can choose from the ingredients in front of them.
Oh hey Scar’s elbow
B.Funk gets to kick off the choosing and they go down the line until all the ingrediences are gone. BUT it’s not going to be just them. Big Daddy was getting a lot of great food in Last Chance Kitchen and the final battles were no different. This flashback doesn’t tell the whole story, for a full recap go and read it here:
Pasta Pete was never in the running, it came down to Non-mustachioed Joe and Brother. Let’s just say Fati was totally right.
How much shit do you think he got for that hat when his wife and friends saw this
Hand to Bob, I thought it was going to Brother. He was KILLING the game in there but in the end, I think he committed the cardinal sin of over-complicating his plate. Le Bernardin is psyched because Non-mustachioed Joe is her brother from another south side mother, OH OK that’s why I like her. Since Non-mustachioed Joe was not present for the choosing for the ingrediences he will get to take one ingredient from each chef leaving most of them hampered, especially Denver. He took her protein, leaving her with lemons, onions and honey.
They will however have access to the basic pantry and are quite literally cooking in the middle of town.
Non-mustachioed Joe compares coming back as a near death experience and is excited to be back. Denver is going to do a play on French onion soup but due to time is going to the best part of the soup the top using the sarsaparilla and onions with bread… so more fancy toast. B.Funk is making chicken fried steak with a sarsaparilla gravy. He says he uses sarsaparilla all the time in his cooking to make mustard and gravies. Stacho is doing a soup and a halibut tartare. Le Bernardin is doing chicken but worries that the chicken will take too long to cook but there is nothing she can do because NOBODY likes medium-rare chicken.
With the soup
Or as Tom calls it an onion crostini
With Claudette gone the Joe’s are now reserving their bitchy remarks for Denver. Stacho whispers to Non-mustachioed Joe LOUDLY that she can’t keep winning with tartines and Non-mustachioed Joe whispers back loudly, “I KNOW.”
Scar asks Wiley how they all did he says while very tasty they weren’t wildly creative. Wiley felt that among the weaker dishes were Le Bernardin, despite being juicy did not say much about sarsaparilla, Tom agrees. Also, Non-mustachioed Joe, the pork was dry, and the sarsaparilla flavor wasn’t there. Among the favorites were B.Funk, Wiley really likes the chicken fried steak and the gravy carried the sarsaparilla flavor well. For Big Daddy it was Stacho’s soup and crudo, the temperature was just right, Wiley liked the coconut and sarsaparilla together it was unexpected and delicious. Also, Denver’s onion soup topper, Wiley says the bizarre description aside he liked the flavor and that despite being left with onions, lemons and honey but she really let the sarsaparilla shine through. The best dish of the day was….
IKR, its not super original like PASTA
Scar says at this altitude everyone feels a little high and not just because she toked up and hot boxed in the saloon bathroom. Stacho perks up hoping they are going to get use some of that sweet ass legal Colorado weed.
Nope just a high concept, high end dish at the highest restaurant in North America. Wiley says cooking at a high altitude is no joke everything from boiling water to baking is going to be a lot more difficult. So, guess what each chef will be required to have a baked element on their plate. Joining the judges will be Paul Liebrandt a James Beard award winning chef. They will have the rest of the day to experiment in order to prepare so Wiley reminds them to use their time wisely.
In the cars the chefs are sort of freaking out, even the ones who do pastry like Le Bernardin because she has never baked at a high altitude before. Even though she is close to finding her own voice she still hears the voices of her mentor voices in her head. I think maybe Le Bernardin is feeling the effects from the Stanley Hotel and has the shining.
In the full kitchen of their suite the chefs are trying their hand at baking. Denver says that when she first moved to Colorado she lived in Breckenridge and worked in a little coffee shop, so she has some experience in baking at high altitudes. She explains the issue the best I have ever heard anyone try to explain the issue with baking at a high altitude, everything takes twice as long, and it never rises due to the lack of oxygen.
Big Daddy enters with Wiley and Paul Liebrandt, to emotionally terrorize the chefs and they are all feeling intimidated.
Tom tells them that along with being an amazing chef he worked at a restaurant that was at 18,000 feet so he may have some tips.
Are any of you making fava beans? I love them with liver and a nice chianti
Stacho announces he is making profiteroles, a fancy word cream puff and he knows he has to increase the baking time and the temperature.
I love this guy
He tells him that he also has to adjust the eggs by using more egg white than egg yolk to help with the structure. Tom asks Le Bernardin what she is making. She is making a little pain de mie, Paul says she should be fine just watch how much sugar she puts in because tomorrow she will be 3,000 and the dough will dry out more as it rests. Next, he moves onto Non-mustachioed Joe, he says that when he worked for Art Smith he would buttermilk goat cheese drop biscuits so will be making these and going a bit southern on his dish. He says that when he worked at Table 52 it was his job to make the biscuits every day. He asks for tips because they say biscuits could be tricky so just make cornbread. This catches B.Funk’s attention and they move right along to him. He happens to have a tester done and they taste test it as well as examine the bread.
I feel like Wiley-bot is taking strange guy notes with his eyes
They say it has a nice crumb and when they ask him how he is going to prepare his quail, he mentions that he is going to fry. Wiley reminds him that frying at that altitude takes longer. Denver announces that she wants to make beef wellington but not in a classic way, more like a pie. Paul is honest with that if she executes it well it will show amazing technique but don’t be afraid of the classic. She says if she can get the dough right she will do it but if not, she will go with the honey cornbread.
The next morning, they load into gondolas to go to the restaurant and I am reminded of how in season 9 they had to cook in gondolas in the finals. They state the obvious that Paul will be the most critical. Denver feels sick/nervous in her stomach and also has some sausage in the pocket of coat. This morning she woke up with clarity, the beef wellington is a no go because in her dreams she saw spring green veg, with ribeye and cornbread cutouts.
In the kitchen Non-mustachioed Joe is sweating over his biscuits. Stacho is trying to figure out the correct temperature for boiling water. Denver has now also added fava beans and foie gras to her plate. You know who else is using foie, B.Funk but just the fat to fry the quail. Him and Le Bernardin have a discussion about soul food and agree that it is in only the true American cuisine. Uh the Native Americans might disagree on that statement. Stacho thinks that B.Funk and Denver are playing it safe making cornbread. He on the other hand has never made these puffs. He isn’t sure if this is big risk or small risk but what he does know is that he is inspired. VOM.
Meanwhile, B.Funk’s cornbread is going past the 20 and 30-minute mark and he is concerned it won’t be done in time to plate. Finally, past the 45-minute mark the cornbread is done, and he says it better than it was at 9,000 feet. The judges arrive, and I love the contrast in Gail and Scar’s outfits.
Scar says she is feeling the altitude and hopes the chefs are feeling OK. Gail asks how the demos at 9,000 feet went yesterday. Paul says he was impressed because he himself worked at 18,000 feet in the alps. Non-mustachioed Joe’s biscuits come out so well he sings to them and says he feels like Art Smith would be proud, but he would probably still yell.
Paul and Wiley are so fascinating to watch eat. Wiley is digging in his plate with a knife while Paul sniffs before taking a bite.
Please have this man on every season
Gail asks what challenges he faced, and he notes that night before they were too dense, so he cut the flour. Scar asks how Non-mustachioed Joe did with the baking component. Paul says it has nice flavor, but he would have called it a crumble not a biscuit, but the red pepper worked quite well, and he liked all the textures. Big Daddy agrees all the different textures were nice and calls the dish delicious. Wiley felt that he did a good job of elevating low country food.
Denver and B.Funk joke about cornbread as she prepares to serve. She says that she doesn’t consider herself fine dining, but she does do chef tasting menus at her restaurant, so she is fine dining without being stuffy.
Tom asks her what happened to the pie. She explains thinking it over and decided that she didn’t think it was smart to make Beef Wellington for a famous English Chef. The table remains silent and the Scar dismisses her. Scar says that Denver’s dish does not have a distinct point of view and Wiley agrees that the items on the plate are not well integrated and the cornbread is on the side by itself “saying eat me when you feel like it.” However Big Daddy likes Denver’s dish a lot and doesn’t require a theme, its wagyu beef and spring vegetables. Paul says she executed the baking part of the challenge well and if you eat the cornbread on its own its quite delicious but…
I love English shade
As he serves he explains he is now calling these things puff instead of profiteroles because isn’t entirely sure what defines profiterole. Gail is like really, never? Stacho is like no and I don’t want to blow my own horn but now it’s go big or go home. UGH, you’re the worst!
Paul feels the duck is cooked perfectly but the “puff,” and please note I loved his hand air quotes you can tell has been cooked at altitude because it is very dry. Wiley says had the puff been better it would have been like duck and cherry pie. Gail says profiteroles aside the plate itself is exceptional and one of the best she has had all season. Tom whispers that it was very good.
In the kitchen, Le Bernardin is making vinegar pearls, she changed up her bread AND has finally decided that fine dining is her thing.
Scar asks her how cooking at this altitude was for her. Le Bernardin says that she had to adapt her bread because the pain de mie was not working out, so she made something closer to challah. Mountain bread is challah/pain de mie hybrid, her ode to Telluride. Gail seems very impressed.
Scar admits she really loves Le Bernardin’s dish. Wiley says its balanced and buttery but there is some acid. Paul likes the fact that she adapted the bread. But Big Daddy ends to the love fest by saying it’s good, well-balanced and competent fine dining, but it’s not exciting.
B.Funk is taking Wiley’s comments about frying taking longer to heart. He says that if he can impress Wiley and Paul he has done his job.
Paul asks him if the dish came out the way he wanted it to and he says he stands behind it 100 percent.
After he walks away Paul says that the dish itself is delicious but frying a delicate protein like quail he was trying to crisp the outside but inside it was still cooking, a polite way to say the quail is overcooked. Gail liked the crispy quail, the batter albeit salty had nice pepper flavor and she liked the dish. Tom isn’t sure that this checks the box for being fine dining, but it is good.
The chefs wait in the kitchen second guessing and awaiting their fate. Non-mustachioed Joe and I are getting the same vibes from Paul. Except he compares him to the bad guy in The Matrix and says he is going to smoke the judges and light them up for five hours at judges table…
What do you think the sock monkey is for?
Tom starts out on a good note and tells them that is some of the best food they have had all season, so it’s going to be tough because someone is going home. The top three…
And the winner is….
WHAT, he failed the baking part of the challenge!!?!?!?!?
In the bottom are Denver and B.Funk. The judges liked B.Funk’s dish but felt it lacked refinement and pieces of the dish got lost. For Denver it was what they had stated before everything was good but didn’t seem cohesive.
Scar says this will be hard because the food was a good as the view is beautiful.
Am I right?
Wiley breaks it down perfectly they are basically choosing between one chef who swung and missed at the fine dining challenge versus someone who cooked a nice meal but didn’t want to take a chance. In the end it was….
Tom says he is sorry, it was great to see him cook all season and Scar says she will see him Brooklyn. For B.Funk it is bittersweet, he worked so hard and wanted to be here for so long but the connections he has made and the ability to stay clean has been everything for him. So long Dr. Chocolate, you were too sweet for this world.
Next episode we get the long-awaited nuts episode and the Top Chef brothers show up. I suspect that this is also the family episode where they bring in the chef’s loved ones. Also, Stacho cries.
We are coming down to the end and last week I had a real-life encounter about why this show matters so much. My oldest had an event that we all wanted to go out to brunch afterward because it was so early. My idea of hell is waiting for a table during brunch rush with my kids, so I only go to places that take reservations when I am with them. We settled on Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner and as I was approaching I realized something I had never noticed before even though I have quite literally walked past and driven past thousands of times.
Across the street from Little Goat Diner is Siena Bar, the bar companion to Fabio Viviani ’s restaurant Siena Tavern on the infamous Randolph Restaurant Row.
It’s a Top Chef world and we’re just living in it!
So, what did you all think of this episode? Did B.Funk deserve the elimination or should have been Denver. I have to admit she bugged me at first but her sunny optimism has worn off on me and I found myself cheering on her fancy toast. Also. Do you think Stacho deserved the win? Or is he just taking the place Pasta Pete in the judges’ hearts? Let me know in the comments below!
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