TC9 Ep. 14, Finale
It’s the end of the line in the TC9 competition, the cook-off for $125,000, the Top Chef title, the place in the4 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen and an article in food & wine magazine. Winning it will be a launchpad for ownership of one’s one restaurant. The finale is in Vancouver. It starts with a competition to cook the best possible dish in 45 minutes, except that the contestants are eliminated chefs plus two master chefs. Here is who created dishes for Paul and Sarah to sample as a basis for choosing which to select:
Tyler (eliminated in the preliminary rounds)
Barbara Lynch, owner/chef #9, Boston MA
Montero Canora, New York City
Any dish picked up to the limit of a 4 person team resulted in the chef or master chef creating it going onto the sous chef team of the finalist who picked them. Sarah’s picks resulted in a sous chef team of Nyesha, Grayson, Tyler, Heather. The one Sarah wanted badly for her dessert expertise was Heather, but it cost her getting Tyler by attempting to pick which specific dish Heather had created and making a mistake at that. Paul got Barbara Lynch plus Keith, Chris Crary and Tyler. Both Montero Canora and Colin Patterson (eliminated in preliminary rounds) were not picked in the 80% of the individuals selected for either team.
Paul and Sarah developed their menus from things they believed they did particularly well. Paul’s menu was primarily Japanese-inspired. Sarah’s menu was primarily inspired by Italian and German cuisine. Paul and Sarah were given the usual credit limit at the local Whole Foods and had to spend it in a specific time limit. Sarah’s team cooked at Black and Blue while Paul’s team cooked at ?.
The menu for Sarah was:
1. Squid-ink tagliatelle topped w/ Spot Prawns and Coconut
2. Rye Crusted Steelhead Trout w/ Pickled Beets, Fennel and Gras Pista
3. Braised Veal Cheek w/ Veal Sweetbread Sauce Polenta
Dessert – Hazelnut Cake w/ Roasted White Chocolate Ganache, candied kumquat
The menu for Paul was:
1. Chawanmushi, Steamed Egg Custard, Prawns and Pea Shoots, Edamame
2. Grilled Sea Bass w/ Clam Dashi, Pickled Radishes and Mushrooms
3. Congee w/ Scrambled Eggs, Uni, Kale, smoked albacore tuna
Dessert - Coconut Ice Cream w/ Puffed Wild Rice, Mangosteen Thai Chili Foam, candied kumquats
The meals were tasted by the families of each finalist plus these judges:
Group1 – Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Marco Canora, Mark McEwan (chief judge Top Chef – Canada), David Myers
Group 2 – Padma Lakshmi, Hugh Acheson, Emeril Lagasse, Bill Terlato
Final judging was the smaller group that did not include Marco Canora, Mark McEwan and Bill Terlato.
Here is the commentary from the judges:
Sarah 1 – very successful
Sarah 2 – very good, except that Sarah’s fiancée got this first and cautioned about bones; her beets were undercooked
Sarah 3 – first group of judges found this unsatisfactory due to overly chunky; that was fixed for the second but lacked “crunch”
Sarah Dessert – “over the top”, genius
Paul 1 – first group of judges great but overcooked for second batch
Paul 2 – excellent
Paul 3 – different opinions on textures
Paul Dessert – maybe better than Sarah’s
The core group of judges in a top Chef finale always compares dishes course by course. Here is what they revealed:
Course 1 – close but it went to Sarah
Course 2 – clearly Paul
Course 3 – toss-up
Dessert – again, a toss-up
So now they had to go to more subjective comparisons. Sarah was viewed as taking more risks while Paul had a comfortable menu. Fine detail execution favored Paul.
So who won? It was Paul judged to be Top Chef and get the large rewards.
I was satisfied with this season and with Paul winning.