Kelly Choi

Kelly Choi can't stop talking about Michael Chiarello's winning dish.

on Aug 6, 2009

Anita, Art, Hubert, Rick, and Michael had to fashion their ultimate burger accompanied by a side dish. I don't get to taste any of the Quickfires, but it shouldn't be a shocker when I tell you how so very much, more than ever before than in prior episodes, I wanted to chomp
into those fat, juicy discs of cow. Except for Anita's; my heart broke for her when the hungry guest judges commented how unsatisfied they were with her burger soup. It made me wonder, had Anita not paid attention to who her diners were? Three dudes expecting to chow down
on oversized red meat bombs would never be happy with a teensy bowl of burger bites swimming in cheesy liquid. Morgan, Spike, and Sang — all hamburger experts in their own rights — didn't hold back with their displeasure. Ouch.

Fast Forward to Critics' Table.

When our Q&A began, I didn't expect to feel so stifled and uncomfortable two hours later into the session. We critics began to get attached to the final Champions Round chefs without realizing just how much until the instant comes for me to dismiss someone. Left standing at the end were Anita and Art, and one of them was about to be canned. Art had been thrown into the icebox with his strawberry rice milk soup, reprimanded for not making his own ice cream. He didn't want to conjure something he wasn't well-rehearsed with, Art explained, for fear that his diners wouldn't experience a yummy meal. For Art, food is love, and bad food wouldn't be lovely.

And then Anita seemed to detach herself from those last moments, bruised by the critique of her oily eggplant and rigid lentils. Taste was personal, she had said, and Anita took her criticisms very personally.

When I announced the final scores and Anita realized she wasn't the one going home, she looked waaaay more surprised than Art himself. It was sad to see "Honeybear" Art dismissed, and he took my proclamation well. Everyone at Critics Table agreed that the kitchen wouldn't be the same without his baby brother charms, but we knew it had been a fair result.

How did you guys feel after the conclusion?

Don't forget to comment here, and tweet me, too: @KELLYCHOI. (I can't believe only TWO more episodes remain from this season!).