The finale is upon us and one must say that this season has been rather rocky in terms of letting the chefs just do what they do best: cooking food. Thankfully, the finale let them do just that. So let's dig in.
Apparently, the Magical Elves are intent on presenting Sara as a villain. The episode starts with a montage summing up the season so far for the contestants, and while Paul was shown winning challenge after challenge in the most professional manner, Sara clashed with other cheftestants, bragged, screamed, cried and was wheeled away on a gurney on the way to the hospital.
During the episode, she has an irritating urge to constantly bash Tyler, who was eliminated early on in the qualification rounds and seems to be a cocky douche but was brought back to cook on Sara's brigade, who she basically picks by mistake to be on her team and punishes him more for that fact than for any errors he made in his cooking.
Speaking of Tyler, the way Paul and Sara chooses their brigade from a host of previous candidates, two professional chefs and a few contestants from the first two episodes, is rather neat. They all have to go through a quickfire challenge, essentially, preparing a dish for the two finalists to sample. Whoever makes their favorite dishes will land on their team. After a season full of ridiculous constraints put on the contestants, this is the first time the food really is placed front and center and Paul and Sara are able to take their destinies into their own hands.
The main challenge is no real surprise. The chefs have to create a 4-course meal for 100 people. They have 6 hours to cook and prepare the first day and then another 3 hours to put everything together the day of the finale. Paul cooks what he cooks best: modern and sophisticated Asian inspired food. His menu contains no meat and two fish courses which, as the judges point out, is rather unusual. Sara wants to bring out her German roots and goes the more rustic route, although "rustic" is exaggerated in this case. Both chefs produce incredibly intricate and tasty looking food that everyone assembled in front of the TV surely would die to try.
No challenge could go by without a few hiccups, of course, although the chefs perform pretty much flawlessly to the point where Tom even says that this might be the best food he's tasted in any Top Chef
finale. But Paul has to make some last minute arrangements after some crab developed a funky taste overnight. Also, the consistency of one of his dishes deteriorates as the night went along so that the second seating of the night has a weaker dish than the first. Sara's pickled beets are still raw and she has some problems with the consistency of her polenta, which she finally blends to obtain satisfactory results.
And the Winner Is...
In the end, Paul takes home the crown and rightfully so. The praise for Sara's food is universal, especially her pasta dish that's beloved by all, but Paul showed such an incredible consistency during the season and has always been more inventive with his food than Sara that he's the only logical choice. Plus, the Sara-as-villain narrative reemerged quickly when she said in a talking head that she deserves to be Top Chef. Because Paul doesn't deserve it? In any event, Grayson, once again, delights us with one of her fabulous bon mots and thus almost steals the show: "We jam out with our clams out." Someone please give her her own show!
What did you think of the finale? Happy that Paul won or would you have preferred Sara?
Jan CeeContributing Writer(Image courtesy of Bravo)