It's been a long time since I've done a Top Chef live blog...so let's do one. And what would be better than the Top Chef All-Star finale!?
Blais vs Isabella! Woe-is-me vs. Look-at-me! The Hair vs The Gut! Talent vs. Whatever Mike is.
Clearly, I have a favorite...
10:05 - So...the finals challenge is for both chefs to create the restaurant of their dreams, with a 4 course tasting menu that represents their talent as culinary all-stars that they are.
Blais is trying to lower the expectations around him. Isabella is trying to get in his head. This title is going to come down to which crumbles first: Mike's ego or Blais' confidence.
Hey! The other all-stars are back, making amuses for Mike and Richard to taste. By selecting the amuse, the cheftestants select their sous chefs.
10:11 - So Blais got Antonia, Spike and Angelo, and Mike grabs Carla, Jennifer and Jamie. First reaction is that Richard picks some sous chefs that play to his strengths (avante garde, heavy on flavor, grounded in fundamentals but can diverge into cutting edge), where as Mike has selected some women (which will be tough for him) that have very strong personalities. For Mike to succeed, he'll need to be the opposite of what Marcel was during Restaurant Wars. If he can't, just give Richard the crown now.
Mike picks SeaFire at the Atlantis. Blais is at Cafe Marnique. Mike seems like he has a pretty good game plan in terms of who is doing what.
10:16 - Blais has the nitrogen going, and Capt Crunch at the desert station. I'm already excited about where he's headed. And of course as soon as I write that, Richard switches to foie gras ice cream from whatever he was doing with Capt Crunch. That detail is telling, and I don't feel great about it.
Tom is doing his "meet-with-the-chef," which should really be called "Tom does eyebrow raises and pointed questioning"
10:21 - Blais - stop with the lowering of expectations. Just be confident in the fact that everyone recognizes your ability, and smarts, and do what you do best.
10:27 - Blais does a live oyster with salsa verde for a amuse, and then follows it up with some amazing looking hamachi (one of my personal favorites).
10:28 - Isabella's amuse is a beet salad that doesn't seem to resonate. Mike's 2nd course is some beautiful halibut that Tom raves about. Ruh roh...this could bananas.
10:31 - Mike is bringing it, seriously. Destroyed the 3rd courses with some awesomely impressive meat dish. His desert was a little lackluster though.
Spike is being snoopy...I love that kid. He reports back to Blais on what the judges are saying. Another good example of having sous' playing to Richard's strengths.
Judges seem to be impressed with Richard's build-up, although the foie gras icecream wasn't well-received. Richie is working hard on making the ice cream to be better texturally.
10:39 - Awww...All-Star love-in. Padma reporting live, with the new TC Masters host. Padma - oh, the things we'd do. In my dreams. Brrrrr.
10:41 - It's anyone's game at this point. Both courses are sound, across the board. Foie gras ice cream came out better the second time around...which is good, because I feel Tom and Gayle own the judges table most nights.
10:46 - Judges table. Tom says best finale food ever. High praise. Judges say Mike had strong finesse. Pepperoni sauce was crazy business! Ballsy was word of the day for Mikey.
Richard nails intensity of flavors. Hamachi course was the strongest. Black cod was flawless. Lots of praise for Richie.
Oooff. Tough one. I love Richie, but Mike brought it. It's going to be ridiculously close.
10:51 - Tom on the fence? Holy balls. This is going to be a tough one. Richard takes 1st course. And looks like 2nd course could go to Richard as well. Tom says Mike's halibut was the best fish he'd ever had on Top Chef...before Richard's black cod. WOW. 3rd course appears to go to Mike, and there's a split for desert. Gut says Richie by a nose, but we'll have to wait through some more commercials to find out.
10:57 - Here we go......queue the tense elimination music. Padma, get serious on me, girl. Tom hands out requisitie praise. And............
Wow! I feel so good for him right now. That guy is brilliant and works hard at his craft. Congrats! Very rewarding end to this season, and I couldn't be happier.