TC10, Finale, part 2
It has come down to Kristen versus Brooke, a matchup which anyone having watched this season would consider fair and about even. Each finalist would cook the best five dishes in their culinary lives in front of a studio audience that includes their friends, families, all previous nine "Top Chef" winners and the TC10 chefs not acting as sous chefs. For the first time in Top Chef history it was the battle of female chefs to determine who will be crowned Top Chef. The judges were Hugh Acheson, Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons, head judge Tom Colicchio and host Padma Lakshmi.
It was decision time for the Top Chef 10 title and who gets the $125,000 prize from Healthy Choice. A live audience of 300 is in Los Angeles watching the cooking, with 150 of them fed the same dishes. The traditional picking of sous chefs preceded this, with the following results:
Brooke – Stefan, CJ and Kuniko
Kristen – Sheldon, Josh, Lizzie
Notice that Kristen went solely with the last 3 non-final final round finishers
for her picks, while Brooke reached back for Kuniko (bypassing Josie for obvious reasons) and 2 of the chefs beaten by Kristen in Last Chance Kitchen. Each round appeared to get 34 minutes of cooking time, with a certainty that intense planning by the finalists preceded that for menus and ingredients, which were all at the ready. First chef to get the majority of votes for 3 courses would win Top Chef 10.
Here are the menus (with scallops required for course 2 and red snapper for course 4):
Brooke 1 – Crispy Pig Ear & Chicory Salad, Six-Minute Egg, Apricot Jam & Candied Kumquats
Kristen 1 – Chicken Liver Mousse with Frisee, Mustard, Prune, Hazelnuts & Pumpernickel
Brooke 2 – Seared Scallop with Salt Cod Puree, Speck, Black Currant & Mustard Seed Vinaigrette w/ Romanesco sauce
Kristen 2 – Citrus & Lavender Cured Scallop with Bitter Orange, Meyer Lemon & Apple
Brooke 3 – Vadouvan Fried Chicken with Sumac Yogurt-Tahini & Pickled Kohlrabi Fattoush
Kristen 3 – Celery Root Puree with Bone Marrow, Mushrooms, Bitter Greens & Radishes
Brooke 4 – Braised Pork Cheek & Red Snapper with Collard Green Slaw & Sorrel Puree, Pomegranate
Kristen 4 - Red Snapper with Leeks, Little Gem Lettuce, Tarragon, Uni & Shellfish Nage
In course 1, Brooke’s pig ears were fried too much and that cost her the round versus Kristen’s flawless concept and execution.
In course 2, Brooke had flawless concept and execution, but so did Kristen. That course went to Brooke.
In course 3, Brooke’s fried chicken was a major mistake and her sides were uninspired. Kristen’s excellent bone marrow easily won the day.
In course 4, Brooke had slightly dry pork cheeks which threw off her perfect red snapper while Kristen continued her record of perfect dishes.
The cumulative impact was Kristen 3 courses to Brooke 1 course, with the Top Chef 10 win going to Kristen.
I would like to chastise BRAVO (yes you, Andy Cohen) for its placement of commercials.
For regular Top Chef episodes the 7 minute commercial (with a tiny 15 second piece of fluff in between) comes around 40 minutes into the one hour episode. Last night it did too. That left with the judges’ verdict for the 4th course left to be revealed exactly 3 minutes for that. It was completely obvious that Kristen had won, because there was not time for a 5th course. I liked the format of course by course judging results. However, the 7 minute commercial has to come much later in order to left viewers in true suspense about the outcome.