Thursday, December 10, 2009
The winners of Top Chef and TAR,plus coming soon, The Worst Cooks in America
The big finale for Top Chef's Vegas season had plenty of high stakes and more than it's share of last minute twists tossed in for flavor. The Brothers Voltaggio and Kevin were tasked with making a three course meal that had certain requirements attached.
One course had to be made up of items given to each chef in a mystery box(they all got the same stuff),another one could be chef's choice and the last one was mandatory dessert. Hard to dislike dessert,even if it's something you have to have,but that course has plagued many a contender here.
One of the surprises sprung on the Final Three was a visit from their mothers,who became the inspiration for a last moment fourth course;create a dish based on your mom's cooking from childhood. Kevin aced this one,with a southern fried chicken skin with squash casserole and tomatoes. Judge Tom loved the squash,praising the variety of flavors that popped up with every bite.
Unfortunately,Kevin's dessert didn't get much love. Some of the dinner guests(which included the likes of Donatella Apria)hated bacon being part of the dish.
Granted,bacon is an odd choice for dessert but I can understand him using it to accent the roasted banana with chocolate mousse and toasted peanuts-sort of an Elvis vibe to the plate.
Sadly,folks were also not thrilled with Kevin's third course of slow roasted pork belly as well and while the judges liked that he stayed true to himself as a chef,he did not win. Maybe if he had gotten some different sous chefs in the knife draw early on(Kevin had Preeti,who slowed him down during the first half of prep and Ash for the second quarter)or kept up the momentum from his mom inspired course,Kevin might have taken the prize. Oh well,he has a long and prosperous career ahead of him and we all wish him the best.
Byran V had better luck in picking his sous chefs(he got Ashley and Jen)and while his first two courses were considered rather bland,his chef's choice of venison saddle with orange juniper sauce received rave reviews from everyone at the table.
His dessert of white chocolate cheesecake with goat's milk and fruit was considered the best last course of the night. That wasn't enough to get him a win here,either,which is too bad since he was a pretty nice guy throughout the whole competition and very consistent with his food,too.
That leaves Michael Voltaggio as the Season 6 winner of Top Chef. He did wow everyone with his mom inspired dish of "reinvented broccoli" and his mystery dish entree(which was made up of rockfish,crab,Meyer lemon and matsutake mushrooms)seemed to be the best out of three.
His dessert course,however,came out wrong due to overcooking the cakes(plus,his sous chef Eli filled up the baking portions of the pan too high)and he still served them up,anyway. Judge Tom was very familiar with that cake-chocolate caramel coulant-and pointed out that it needed to be served quickly before the caramel hardened it up. Why a guy who screws that up gets the win is weird to me but then again,I didn't taste the food,so there you go.
Congratulations,Michael-you are a great chef,but you do need a dose of humility. I know you meant to be funny when the judges asked you why you deserved to win and the first words out of your mouth were "I don't want Bryan to be Top Chef",but it still went down wrong. On the other hand,you certainly weren't an Ilan type and did make outstanding dishes.
Next week is the Top Chef Reunion,which should be fun but not announcing the Fan Favorite on that show(they're saving it for Watch What Happens on the following day)is not cool,people! Kevin looks like a shoo-in for that,so maybe nice guys can finish best when last.
Congrats are also in order to Megan and Cheyne,the winners of The Amazing Race for season 15. I was rooting for Brian and Ericka,who did have a strong lead at one point but crashed and burned during a Cirque de'Soleil challenge. As long as Sam and Dan didn't win,it's all good(sorry,boys,but cheaters never prosper).
Megan and Cheyne do seem like nice enough kids and they did run a clean race,so kudos to them on their victory here. I do have to say that this finale was quite the nail biter;with so many twists of fate and wrong way going at times,it did put you on the edge of your seat wondering who would make it to Wayne Newton's house first(where else would you have a Las Vegas finish line at?):
As other reality competition shows end,more begin. One of those that will be cropping up in January of 2010 is The Worst Cooks in America on Food Network. Two chefs(Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan)will each lead a team of culinary misfits thru a number of challenges in order to win a grand prize of $25,000.
It sounds like an interesting series(WCIA has a six episode run)and the critics who will be judging the final round are real tough cookies,including Alex Guarnaschelli from Chopped and Jeffrey Steingarten(who has become a mainstay on the Iron Chef America panel). The show starts on January 3 and I intend to keep it on my dial to warm my cold winter nights with:
LEGEND OF THE SEEKER: More new episode goodness awaits this weekend,as Richard and friends decide to teach a group of peaceful villagers how to take back the night from marauding slave traders. Looks like a regular sword slinging fest of fury to me:
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