The last five cheftestants prepare a ''dying wish'' meal for some of the greatest minds in the culinary world in their last New York-based challenge before embarking to New Orleans. Plus: Could Fabio be any more adorable?

By Kate Ward
Updated February 12, 2009 at 01:43 PM EST

Top Chef

S5 E12
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Okay, so Leah’s gone. Finally. Let’s face it, we’re all feeling good about this elimination — I would not be happy to have a Lisa 2.0 in the final four this season — but it didn’t make for a super-thrilling elimination. After all, how can I focus on this not-too-surprising ouster when there was so much more excitement during last night’s episode?: Fabio’s broken finger! Carla’s amazingly accurate tortoise impression! Wylie Dufresne’s sideburns! Regardless, I’m glad Top Chef realized that this was Leah’s week to pack her knives and go home, and didn’t opt to send Stefan away for his overcooked salmon. Because really, Stefan’s got this whole thing in the bag, doesn’t he (unless Carla’s tortoise manages to rapidly sneak up on his hair-less hare!)?

Let’s begin, shall we? The judge for this week’s quickfire was Wylie Dufresne, a renowned molecular gastronomy-inspired chef, who instructed the chefs to cook a proper egg. And while four of the chefs ran off to the kitchen to cook their complex, clever variations of an egg — a panna cotta resembling yolk, a quail egg with brioche, an egg braised in monkey ass — Carla decided to stray away from molecular gastronomy and prepare an egg dish inspired by Dr. Seuss: green eggs and ham (fitting, considering Carla looks like she was plucked right out of Whoville). Hosea, for one, scoffed at Carla’s dish — but then again, the man’s insulting everyone from Stefan to homeless puppies these days, so maybe no one’s immune to his ire — but that was before Scrunchy McAwesomeface nabbed the quickfire win. Yep, Wylie, a man who can cook and has a sense of humor (ladies?), loved Carla’s dish and awarded her the prize over Stefan, who, admittedly, kicked ass with his poached egg in brioche and panna cotta with mango puree. The bottom-dwellers? Hosea, whose Japanese egg trio didn’t fuse together well, and Fabio, who decided to cook an egg-inspired dessert because he wasn’t comfortable cooking a breakfast dish.

Time for the elimination challenge! Padma instructed the chefs to pull knives, which were plastered with the following names: Lidia Bastianich, Marcus Samuelsson, Susan Ungaro, Jacques Pépin and Wylie Dufresne. The challenge? Cook what these famous chefs would desire for their last meal. Now, maybe I’m channeling my inner conspiracy theorist too much, but I’m beginning to think they sliced open the hands of our cheftestants, inserted a special magnet, brought them to the knife block, and released them. How else do you explain the Scandinavian Stefan drawing Marcus, a chef from Sweden? Or Fabio drawing Lidia, a chef who specializes in Italian cooking? Or Hosea drawing Susan, a chef who loves seafood? Or Carla drawing Jacques, a chef who’s quirky enough to wear a bow tie and shares her affinity for peas (”I think Jacques and I are two peas in a pod…haha!” Cue: nose scrunch!)? That left Leah with Wylie, who, unfortunately, didn’t care too much for her quickfire dish, and is seemingly immune to her feminine wiles.

But before our chefs could begin cooking, they took a trip to Whole Foods, where Leah bombed her audition for Supermarket Sweep (who has to ask someone where to find butter and eggs in a supermarket?!). During their shopping trip and journey back to the kitchen, our chefs were flipping for joy over their challenge, which might explain how Fabio managed to bend his finger all the way back and break it as he was preparing his dish. Of course, Fabio has yet to save the princess this season, so he would never dare to accept defeat. When a medic asked him if he would like to go to the hospital, he responded with a resounding no, and said the following in his confessional: ”Hospital? I’ll chop it off and sear it on the flat-top so it doesn’t bleed anymore, and tomorrow, I will deal with nine finger.” This isn’t, however, a Japanese game show, so Fabio wisely decided to keep his finger attached to his hand, even if it gave him trouble slicing and dicing his ingredients. (His response to his nine-fingered struggles? ”I got so many kick in my ass that sometime when I’m in the bathroom I still poop shoe out of my ass.”) Other things to note about the goings-on in the Top Chef kitchen: Carla talked about the difficulty of cooking her meat perfectly, Hosea mentioned that there was no possible way for him to screw up his dish (If only there was some wood to knock on — maybe he should have called Leah over to help him out?), and Tom begged the chefs to not embarrass him at the dinner (sad that this mediocre season has gotten to this point, eh?).

NEXT PAGE: Judgment Day

So did they embarrass Tom? Not at all. Surprisingly, each of the chefs actually pulled decent dishes out of their amateur little butts. But before we get to the food, I have to ask: What was up with all that soft lighting during the dinner scene? I’m sure they were trying to go for the ”last meal before you’re led to heaven” look, but instead, it ended up resembling a White Diamonds ad. I nearly expected Elizabeth Taylor to pop out of nowhere to howl like a wolf or rope Tom into a short-lived marriage. Either way, one-by-one, our chefs served their dishes to their accomplished guests, many of whom seemed all too eager to slap themselves on a gurney following the meal (anyone else kind feel a little creeped out in that Heaven’s Gate-sy sort of way when Jacques told Lidia, ”We drink to your last meal”?). The most successful dishes came from Carla, who cooked a simplistic roasted squab with fresh peas for Jacques; and Fabio, who prepared Lidia’s roasted chicken with herb-roasted potatoes and caramelized cipollini (we’ll just pretend that whole airline salad never happened). The other three chefs scored compliments from the chefs, but still didn’t fare as well: Leah’s eggs benedict for Wylie needed a bit more cooking; Hosea’s shrimp scampi with tomatoes Provençal for Susan was a bit too refined; and Stefan disappointed the Swedish Chef with his salmon and spinach two ways, which was overcooked and served without the traditional Swedish toast: ”Bork, bork, bork!”

The judges called all of our chefs into panel, where they chastised the bottom three chefs, and Fabio, for his not-so-refined salad. Fabio responded with his third hilarious quote of the night: ”You’ve got a point there. I’m going to go back there and shoot myself. I did an airplane salad. I’m sorry.” (What did I say, Fabio? You’re not on a Japanese game show!) As the judges were in final deliberation, the five chefs waited in the back room, where Hosea decided to rain on Fabio’s parade and tease him for his airline salad (and Stefan is Top Chef‘s big bully, Hosea?). The judges called the chefs back in and announced the winner: Fabio (duh), who won a trip to a Napa Valley vineyard, along with a gigantic bottle of wine. (Says Fabio, “I think it’s gonna be gone in a couple of hour.”) As for the loser, the judges decided that overcooked salmon edged out undercooked eggs, and decided to send Leah packing.

What do you think, fellow Top Chef fanatics? Are you glad Leah’s finally gone? Are you excited to see the final four’s voyage to New Orleans? What would be your last meal (mine: a Friendly’s peanut butter-chocolate ice cream sundae)? Is it me, or is Carla not self-hating enough to have been a model? And, finally, do you realize how hard it was for me to avoid making a dirty joke about the following statement from Fabio? ”It’s Top Chef. Not Top Pussy.”

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Top Chef

Tom, Padma, and Gail tell the cheftestants to pack their knives and go.
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