If one chef had served three completely successful and revealing dishes, the judges’ jobs would have been easy and there would not be the amazing suspense I felt at the end as I listened to the crtics’ questions and comments. But each chef had made one inexplicable miscalculation. Susur’s too bulbous tuna blossom that unbalanced his plate. Marcus’s authentic African dish that puzzled the palate, incredibly emotional but possibly not that delicious. The texture of Rick’s gnocchi and his undercooked pork belly. I’m not sure if my fellow critics were impressed or disappointed that Rick had so boldly stepped out of his comfort zone to cook the excellent venison.
But in the end, the judges seemed swayed by the complexity and perfection of Marcus’s smoked char and the duck stuffed with hamachi tartare in a sea urchin broth.
In the end I found Marcus’s victory very moving. He wanted to win. He kept saying how he needed to win. But deep inside I don’t think he believed he would win. It was a triumph of youth and emotion and imagination over vast experience and professional high wire performance.
Everyone involved in the show seemed delighted by his surprise and joy.
Gael Greene www.insatiablecritic.com