The Finale Countdown
Hugh Acheson assesses the finale dynamic between chefs and sous.
The have jumped from planes. The have listened to Sang go crazy. They have wrestled with food and each other. They have hung with Yo Gabba Gabba! They have done this all and more.
Curtis is standing in his new restaurant, Iglesia de Stone. He is going to cook for the trio of Douglas, Jen, and Bryan. I think they could fit in a couple of more tables in the restaurant. Spot prawns a la Curtis look pretty good. Bryan is still sore about his brother winning back in the day. Chicken liver and then dessert. It’s a fast meal. It comes out that the space is actually now owned by Neal. Grace indeed.
First dish needs to be something old, the second something new, the third something borrowed, and the fourth something sous. Bryan is happy because Graeme won with the lavender dessert frozen dome thing. Doug doesn’t have help in today’s day of prep. Sous chefs enter the sphere, and menu planning happens and then they go shopping. Douglas is smart and is phoning this one in.
They shop around at various artisanal shops and Jen is already bossing Jorel around. This should be a long day for Jorel. Jenis a cacophonous soundtrack to life in the kitchen. She is a force, though, and will forge through despite the distraction of her own monologue.
Douglas is in the Zen kitchen. Shibumi? How about Wabi Sabi? Google that. Jen and Jorel come in, and Jen tries to bowl Douglas over with the weapon of small talk. Douglas has his game face on, though, and he is clinging to his Zen focus. Bryan just called out how much direction Jen is having to give Jorel. This is a chef “burn.” Ouchie.
“This is not Jorel world; this is Jen world.” Evidently, Jen world is like Waterworld where you have to fight everyday just stay alive. Or like Wallyworld which is never open. Or like Elmo’s World where voices annoy you.
Bryan fashion photos through the ages include the pleated pants we all once wore on formal occasions. To honor this past, he is making pleated Chesapeake Chicken.
Douglas is sweating dashi as he makes mussels. Not having Paul is a hurdle, but he seems to be in pretty good shape.
Jen is making paella gnocchi and also ostracizing Jorel AT THE SAME TIME. Prep and pack gets accomplished. Bryan feels confident, while Douglas is tired and grumpy. Jorel seems a little beat up as well. Foreshadowing to mistakes by Graeme.
Here we go! Jen feels like she is being underappreciated and lets everyone know. The diners arrive. It is a veritable who’s who of culinary critics. There are a lot of opinionated opinions in this room. Curtis has stolen my hairdo, and Gail looks fantastic. They eat this:
Bryan: Groat Salad with Dungeness Crab, Asparagus, Hen Egg Custard, and Chicken Skin
Douglas: Soup Billi Bi with White Wine, Saffron, Fennel Puree, and Uni
Jennifer: Potato-Sunchoke Galette with Salmon, Caviar, Pickled Apple, and Creme Fraiche
They seem to like them all. Not much to really whine about. Francis says "oceanic."
Bryan: Black Cod with Onion Dashi, Date, and Parsnip Puree, and Green Apple
Douglas: Soba Wrapped Ocean Trout, Ginger Dashi, and Groats
Jennifer: Paella Gnocchi with Chicken Meatballs, Mussels, and Shrimp
Hadley and Alan love Bryan’s dish. Douglas’ is loved as well, but Oseland says it may have been dried out. Jennifer’s gnocchi is third place except Oseland thinks it’s extraordinary.
Bryan: Braised Beef Cheek and New York Strip with Seaweed Potatoes and Maitake Mushrooms
Douglas: Duck Breast with Sake Roasted Daikon, Tamarind, Golden Pea Sprouts, and Dates
Jennifer: Chinese Duck with Shiitake Broth, Eggplant Daikon, Grilled Bok Choy, and Duck Wonton
Duck, duck, cow. Bryan does Charlie. Douglas does Gray. Jenn does Wolfgang. They all are a little flawed. Though it’s 1992, Jen’s is really adored.
Bryan: Coconut, Lavender, and Vanilla
Douglas: Black Sesame Panna Cotta, Shattered miso Custard, and Green Tea Matcha
Jennifer: Smoked Macadamia with Chocolate Bavarian Napoleon, Tapioca, and Milk Caramel
Douglas has been reading Fifty Shades of Gray. Brian needs a drink. They have plated the last plates for this season. Bryan feels good about his chances. Douglas is winning this dessert course. Nothing they can change now. The judges had a great meal overall. They are a bit bitchy here and there, but most was utter success.
Won’t beat around the bush on this: Douglas Keane wins. Great season and great fun with the sous chefs. They all rocked. Congrats to Dougie. He’s the bomb.