Thursday, September 16, 2010

'TOP CHEF: D.C.': FINALE

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 5:58 PM

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And so we get an anti-climatic end to the most unfocused season yet of Top Chef. Season seven started with so much promise, full of culinary institute-trained competitors with their own restaurants, and fewer of the caterers and “personal chefs” of seasons past. But it quickly became apparent that this was a group without intense talent or any dominating star. Some of the most obvious talents didn’t make it to the finals, (Arnold, Kenny, Kelly, Tiffany), the most entertaining personalities got axed too early (John, Tracey, Amanda) leaving the show bereft of comedy, and in the end the Finals pitted three chefs against each other who probably wouldn’t have made it that far in previous seasons.

Angelo showed early promise but proved to be too high-strung to dominate the season. He mumbled crazy things all season, like “making love” to a duck before cooking it, admitting to venereal diseases, praying to an ersatz shrine of television chefs, and talking for hours to a mail-order Russian bride he barely knew. It all proved too much stress for him and upon arrival in Singapore, he collapsed and was ordered to bed for two days by a local doctor, and given the clearance to cook just hours before the final competition at “The Jim Thompson Restaurant”, which I assume is the only restaurant in Singapore that has forks.

Ed Cotton came on strong in the final episodes of the season, out of nowhere. As recently as midseason, I didn’t even remember his name consistently. His restaurant Plen Sud received a rare “fair” (i.e. zero stars) review from New York Times critic Sam Sifton a few weeks ago, but he really caught fire at the end of the season and probably only lost the Top Chef title because he couldn’t make a dessert. Note that there were no constraints on what kind of dessert he needed to make. All he needed to do was practice just one killer sweet before going to Singapore, and he would have been Top Chef.

The new Top Chef is, hold on, I already forgot who won last night, let me check my notes...

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Really? Kevin Sbraga is the new Top Chef? Even he was surprised, saying, "Really???" when Padma called out his name. I counted him out before the season began when I read on his bio that he’s “the Barack Obama of the cooking game.” Because, um, they’re both African American, or something. Obama is suave, confident, well-traveled and might I mention the President of the United States, while Sbraga cooks in a New Jersey restaurant called Rat’s. His unbelievable good luck in being given last season’s Top Chef Michael Voltaggio to act as his sous chef for the final meal (three former Top Chefs Ilan Hall, Hung Huyng, and Voltaggio were all paired with the current contender that they most resembled) gave Kevin a huge advantage, paired with Angelo getting the flu, and Ed deciding that he was too macho to learn to make a proper dessert.

Not sure I’m going to watch Season 8.

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