From the moment Padma uttered the first punny lines of last night's Top Chef finale (a brilliant quip about a "climb to the top" after the chefs' gondola ascent—get it?), we knew it was going to be good. Predictably, the final challenge pitted the contestants against each other doing what they do best: simply cooking. The rumored "twist" actually turned out to be a pair of twists. First, celebrity chefs took their turns as sous chefs during the prep time, and then an hour before dinnertime, Tom Colicchio sprung a required fourth course on the cheftestants. Soon thereafter, Casey self-destructed amidst a flurry of bleeps and overcooked pork belly (pork belly is so 2006 anyway), essentially leaving the decision between Dale and Hung. Each male contestant put together a star dish, but Dale's disastrous gnocchi—victim of "altitude shenanigans"—may have killed his chances. In the end, Hung's technical prowess and confidence conquered. Looking back, it seems that Hung was the favorite all along.
Predictably, there's plenty of finale chatter this morning. Here's what people are saying:
From Ted Allen: "For me, this final episode brought us one of the simplest, best, most defining moments of the entire season: The scene when our three finalists first approached their ingredients at 11,200 feet, on top of Aspen Mountain. What did all three of them immediately do? They looked, they squeezed, and then they gnawed right into every vegetable that piqued their interest to see how it tasted. That, as much as anything else you’ll ever see on this show, is what it means to be a good cook." [Bravo]
From Rocco DiSpirito: "When he explained his menu to me, my head started spinning because of the sheer amount of ingredients and elements he had planned for each dish. I thought to myself, 'Uh-oh, he's going to lose this by being overzealous.' As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth. He knew exactly what to do with each ingredient, when to use them, and when to ditch them. He’s impressive." [Bravo]
From The Stew: Dale talks about Colicchio’s "culinary world is stronger" praise: "That’s a pretty amazing compliment," Dale said. "Then he came over to me and reiterated that to me privately right afterward. He made sure to come and say, 'You were amazing. Your story was amazing.' And he was proud of me." And that lamb dish with the deconstructed ratatouille? It will be on the menu at his new restaurant." [The Stew]
From Gothamist commenter hrm10: "i hate hung more than i can say. if casey would have done just a decent job, she could have beat him out." [Gothamist]
From Bourdain Blog commenter Carm Anthony: "By announcing the winner live, we actually got less reaction and insight from the winner/losers than in previous seasons. Hung's excitement was genuine and nice to see, but having the finale on TAPE - as in seasons past - would have given the producers the chance to "craft" a much more informative and - ultimately - emotional end to the season." [Bravo]
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