“Top Chef” Recaps: Episode 4.14 “Finale”

Final Challenge: The
meal of a lifetime.
Padmaism: “That was a delicious
meal.”

The final countdown —
Thirteen episodes down, three chefs remain. Let’s remind our contestants
what they’re playing for, shall we, Padma? A feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, a gourmet dream vacation in the
French Alps, $100,000 and the title of Top Chef.

As the Top Chef Finale
title card appears, we forego the normal introduction of all 13 vanquished
contenders and get right to the only three that matter. It’s morning in San Juan. Stephanie, Lisa
and Richard meet on the patio for breakfast before the big battle.

In case you’d forgotten, Stephanie reminds us that there has
never been a female Top Chef winner. Richard
tells us that because of his wife, new house and a baby on the way, he has
everything to lose in this competition. And then he tells us who he thinks
shouldn’t even be in the competition, period.

Richard: I still
can’t get over how Lisa is still here. I think a chef has to be a leader. She’s
just got a bad attitude. I don’t think Lisa deserves to win Top Chef.

Sure, you may feel that way, but should you really tell the
cameras? For a nice guy that makes you sound awfully ungracious. Wait, are you
a nice guy?

Lisa, for her part, seems to know she is lucky to be in
there. But she says she’s going to take that luck and run with it.

Lisa: I kind of
just managed to get through by the skin of my teeth. But, you know what, I don’t
care that Stephanie and Richard have won a bunch of eliminations and I’ve only
won one. You know what, I’m about to beat you.

Oh, Lisa, Lisa. That might be why 91 percent of people in
the Bravo poll last week wanted you to go home. Confidence is good.
Overconfidence is annoying.

The challenge of
challenges —
The chefs walk up to meet Padma and Tom. Padma tells them they
are about to cook the most important meal of their lives. Hmm, OK. But, just
for argument’s sake, if they were ever lost in the wilderness without food or
water, wouldn’t whatever they found to eat be the most important meals of their
lives? I mean, that would be the one that kept them alive. Right, maybe I’m
over-thinking this. Moving on.

Waiting alongside Padma and Tom are three of the country’s
top chefs. They are award-winning New York City chefs April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, Dan
Barber of Blue
Hill
and Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin.

Richard proceeds to call Chef Ripert a “culinary god”
and the panel the “who’s who of modern cuisine.” What, you were
expecting Billy Bob from the neighborhood Denny’s?

Tom tells them the final challenge will be simple, like in
seasons past. They will cook a four-course meal using the traditional
progression from fish to poultry to red meat to dessert. And, yes, they need to
make a dessert.

Stephanie is surprised they are being asked to make a
dessert and worries that it isn’t her forte. Lisa says she’s not good at
memorizing cake recipes and doesn’t really like to eat it either. So she will “do
things differently” for that course. OK, but just stay away from the mango
sticky rice
.

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