Welcome to the finale of Top Chef Masters! Our finalists are Jennifer, Bryan, and Douglas. The contestants arrive in Santa Monica and pull up to a table in an empty church to eat a delicious meal of prawns, ravioli, and lemon cream cooked by Curtis. Bryan reminisces about losing Top Chef to his brother, and Curtis compares the Real Chef/Sous Chef relationship to a marriage. For the final challenge, the chefs must cook food throughout their cooking careers: something old, something new, something borrowed…and something Sous, a dish created by their Sous Chefs. Bryan’s Sous Chef won the Battle of the Sous Chefs, so good for Graham. Douglas’s Sous Chef made the least favorite dish, so his Sous Chef will not be there for seven hours of shopping and prep time. Ouch.
Shopping, shopping, shopping, sitting in traffic, and with two and a half hours of prep left, Bryan and his Sous Chef finally arrive in the kitchen while Jennifer and her Sous Chef, and Douglas and nobody, have already been chopping and slicing and simmering for quite some time. Due to the lack of assistance, Douglas is running behind schedule. Luckily he gets his Sous Chef back the next day.
With ten minutes left before dinner service, the chefs put the final touches on their first plates. The “special guests” who get to eat this delicious meal are Alan Richman, Jane Goldman, Hadley Timicki, James Oseland, Gail Simmons, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, and Lesley Suter. Wow, that’s some table.
Bryan’s first dish is groat salad with Dungeness crabb, asparagus, hen egg custard and chicken skin (and it looks kind of gross). Douglas’s first dish is soup billi bi with white wine, saffron, fennel puree and uni. Jennifer’s first dish is potato-sunchoke galette with salmon, caviar, pickled apple and crème fraiche. The judges are loving Bryan’s beige and slimy crab dish, and then they gush over Jennifer’s soup before being brought to orgasm by Douglas’s mussel dish.
Bryan’s new dish is black cod with onion dashi, date and parsnip puree and green apple. Douglas’s dish is soba wrapped ocean trout, ginger dashi and groats. Jennifer’s new dish is paella gnocchi with chicken meatballs, mussels and shrimp. Bryan’s parsnip puree is the true winner of this round.
It’s time for something borrowed. Bryan stole braised beef cheek and New York strip with seaweed potatoes and maitake mushrooms. Douglas pilfered duck breast with sake roasted daikon, tamarind, golden pea sprouts and dates. Jennifer bilked Chinese duck with shitake broth, eggplant daikon, grilled bok choy and duck wonton. The judges are torn over Bryan’s dish, Douglas’s duck is a little overcooked, and Jennifer’s dish is “pure Wolfgang Puck.”
It’s time for dessert, and the chefs do not disappoint. Bryan serves a gorgeous coconut, lavender, and vanilla something-or-other, Douglas prepared black sesame panna cotta, shattered miso custard and green tea matcha, and Jennifer went more traditional with smoked macadamia with chocolate Bavarian napoleon, tapioca and milk caramel. The judges are slightly put off by Bryan’s dessert because it is so minimal. Douglas’s dessert is grey, but everyone finds it tasty nonetheless. Jennifer’s was hit-or-miss.
At the Critic’s Table, Douglas takes some heat for his grey dessert, Jennifer receives criticism for interpreting the Sous Chef dish too literally, and Bryan’s third course was too heavy for everyone. It’s pretty clear to me that Bryan is walking away with the win, but let’s allow the judges to have their moment. “The winner of Top Chef Masters is…Douglas.” Douglas? Douglas. Huh. Good for him.
Thanks for following along, it was an amusing season. The next season of the real Top Chef starts October 2, so fire up the grill.