Last night was the first part of the Top Chef finale. The four fresh-faced finalists arrived in Puerto Rico (I want to go! I want to go!) hugging but ready for battle. It was clear that they had all been busy during the hiatus from filming. Richard seemed focused and had obviously studied up on t
he ingredients he would be faced with. Stephanie had taken a culinary tour through Asia, smart girl. Antonia had opened her own restaurant, gulp. And Lisa had cut her hair.
I was glad the quick fire wasn't an immediate elimination like the past couple of years; I've always thought it was a shame to bring someone all the way to the location only to kick them out twenty minutes later. So Steph won and was given the advantage of picking everyone's kitchen assistants. When she picked Dale for herself, I thought it was a wise move.
Sadly, Dale left his brain on the plane and the pork belly on the counter for the night. But here's the thing: That crap happens all the time in a real kitchen. A couple of hours before an event, your cooler could break or the gas could go out or something catastrophic could happen that makes you have to punt. And punt Steph did, quite well I might add, with aplomb and grace.
Everyone got a big pig, and despite the fact that the butchering of it was supposed to be to the root of drama, it all went over well. In fact, the whole challenge was rather easygoing (outside of Dale's pork belly snafu), and the real drama didn't come until the end.
Richard and Steph were the top two, and Richard drove out victorious in a new car. (Don't you think the chefs who won autographed cookbooks were thinking "what gives?") So that means that Lisa and Antonia were in the bottom ranks. I have to say, Lisa must have had some deep reflection over the hiatus as she reconciled herself with her TV persona because her swearing was at a minimum. Antonia, honestly, looked tired, and her inner fire was a little weak.
I wasn't surprised, but I was sad to see Antonia pack her knives. I really thought she would be in the top three. Did she deserve to go? Dunno, didn't taste the peas, but I did think that they put too much importance on the plating issue. I agree that it was a mistake, but axe-worthy?
The best part of the whole show was the aftershot in the back room with the survivors. Richard and Steph are clearly in shock and saddened with Antonia's departure, and Lisa throws down with a snippy, spoiled-bratish "a congratulations would have been nice." Give me a break; she knows she doesn't deserve to be there and her self-loathing-turned-bravado is tiresome. And yet, for the finale next week, we finally have a villain. The b***h is back.