Team Top Chef

The Final Four head to Napa to compete for the title.

Dec 2, 20090

...You don't move to Napa! Oh, Carrie Bradshaw, you're so witty. Well, move to Napa is exactly what we did this week for the first part the season finale. The chefs came back, presumably rested and ready to get their heads back in the game. Jennifer came back with curly hair! And Kevin seems to have brushed his hair down and discovered the world of product. The chefs all meet up at a train station, wondering what is going on. Then comes the train bringing Padma and Top Chef Masters finalist Michael Chiarello. Did we mention Padma is pregnant, and she is positively glowing?! The chefs all wish her an awkward "Congratulations," and she presents the Quickfire. Since the chefs are in Napa, they have to create a dish on the train using the grape. I felt bad for Kevin and his motion sickness, but in some really horrible way I wanted to see if he'd really get sick. I feel like his comment set us up for something that never happened. Wow — I've become so sadistic. Wishing sickness on people?! Jeez. It turns out Kevin's dish just wasn't "grape-y" enough. Bryan made the fatal error of grabbing the forbidden fruit, the Concord grape. Sure, it's a grape, but it's not native to Napa. I ate a dessert at VOLT that used Concord grapes, and it was pretty damn amazing. It appears Jenn's combination of clams and liver was good enough to steal, but, alas, it was Michaell's grape leaf that stole the show. He literally used every part of the grape. Although I've never tasted a grape leaf (I know, I know), my grandmother's are apparently the best, and I challenge Michael to a cook-off! Also, shout-out to my best friend Stephanie who would always order grape leaves late-night at our local Greek-owned diners instead of mozzarella cheese fries like a normal person. Anyway, Michael wins a Prius! Did we mention that Green is Universal?

Onto the Elimination Challenge: The chefs are tasked with cooking 150 portions of two dishes, one vegetarian, the other, not vegetarian, for a total of 300 dishes. By themselves. Yikes! They can also only use ingredients available at a local farmers' market. I gotta say, we didn't promote it as such, but this episode was pretty "Green." The Prius? The use of local ingredients? It's nice to see. Anyway, let's break down what the chefs made:

First, we have Bryan: Bryan rocked it with the goat cheese ravioli, which I'm pretty sure I ate at VOLT as well, and it was exceptional. For his meat dish, he made a glazed short rib. Tom questioned whether it was glazed at all because the judges wanted to taste more fig. They also thought everything needed more salt. What's so interesting is that the comments about salt never really register with me. I'm very sensitive to salt in food to the point where I feel physically ill if there's too much in a dish, and I can probably count on one hand how many times I've added salt to a dish once it was placed in front of me. If I'm at a fast food place and I see that they've just made new french fries, I actually ask that they serve me before they add salt to the whole batch — they're so much better that way. So, although, yes, food should be seasoned correctly, I probably wouldn't mind a little less salt. And, lay off Bryan, judges! He's my favorite (she says in a petulant child's voice.)

Next up is Michael. For his vegetarian dish he made a poached egg. No one brought it up, but I found it surprising that he used an egg in his vegetarian dish, just because I would think the chefs would want to make that dish as Vegan as possible (even though it wasn't required), just in case. It looks like the egg decided not to be perfectly cooked for everyone, which was the dish's downfall. For his meat dish, he made foie gras with turnip soup. Give me a piece of foie gras and I'm a happy girl.

29 comments
feednotfatten
feednotfatten

Are you writing your blod for people who DIDN'T see the show?

More clever comments, less simplistic re-telling, PLEASE.

Virginia from NY
Virginia from NY

Monica,

You said I should bug you for some of the recipes that have been removed from the website. In the Comments section of your entry entitled "Hung is Hot" I asked you for 5 recipes. None are in the Top Chef cookbook.

I'm still waiting....

docria
docria

michael won a car for the quickfire DID BRYAN WIN ANYTHING!!!??????????????? he cannot go on empty handed after winning the semi, right?

phan
phan

I love all of them. GREAT season and great talent all around. I was so very sorry to see Jen, the feisty Philly girl have to leave before the end. She was incredible and really held her own better than any of the other women in all seasons..and without the drama of past seasons. That is what was so refreshing this season. All food and talent..no drama and personality disorders as in season past. I am rooting for Kevin for one reason. They are all great..but, it could be very uncomfortable for the brothers if one wins and one has to play second fiddle in their future.

Meera
Meera

I think Jenn was inconsistent and should have gone long before. But her meal on this night was good. I like the brothers and Kevin - all three deserve to make it to the final. Which will be really fun to watch.

Jdunlap
Jdunlap

I LOVE Top Chef and have watched every season. I must agreee with a lot of people that this group was one of the most accomplished! I had the top four and three chosen from the first episode. That being said I do have a problem...I sent a comment that was not published so I'm going to try again. I have had trouble voting for fan favorite. Sometimes it registers my vote and sometimes it doesn't. It leaves me feeling that my vote won't count and it's frustrating! So, if my votes are not being counted I must say, GO KEVIN!

Love to cook
Love to cook

I love Top Chef, but I can't help but think how unfair it was to dismiss Jen last night fot too much salt. Runny eggs and chopped up veggies, not a very orginial dish. Undercooked meet, at least Jen's duck was cooked perfectly according to the judges. Bryan dishes looked great.Kevin seem to always take the easy way out. It all about the ratings and not the chefs

Tammy R
Tammy R

Whatever the problem was with Michael's eggs, he should have gone home for that dish. I don't mind my food being salty, but that egg dish didn't look appetizing and the judges said there was too much egg and the veggies were chopped too small. I think with all the mistakes made in that dish, it was much worse than Jen's using a little too much salt. You had to know from the beginning that the Volt brothers were going to the finale. Jen's only hope was Kevin screwing something up majorly - and he's been consistent throughout. I just hope that in next week's finale he kicks both the Volt brothers' a$$es!

Celeste Partida
Celeste Partida

It really has been the best season so far. As Tom said at judges table the final four 'have all been very professional'. I knew these would be the final four and it was hard to see Jen go but it really came down to little things since these are truly talented chefs. I love to cook and I'm pretty good but when I watch this show, I don't know nothing!! I'm amazed at their creativity. I would love to watch a show with just your final four. Follow them along after Top Chef...just a idea!

Matthewabel
Matthewabel

Called this top three around episode five. I am not at all surprised. But out of these three, who will be Top Chef? I am rooting for Kevin, but I think Bryan is solid, too. Michael is a great chef, but his attitude is a downer.

Wine Dude
Wine Dude

always love to see how the chefs get picked apart during the judges critiques. my one problem with the show in Napa was having a Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara-Sanford being so blatantly displayed-arguably Terlato Wines was a sponsor but couldn't they focus on a Napa wine for bottle shots-I would have sent Michael home for the underdone egg dish, Jennifer deserved to stay for the finale

LynnNChicago
LynnNChicago

What a great blog, thank you!!! I also have a favorite, Bryan! However, would everyone please stop saying that Michael served runny eggs, if you watch and read Tom and Gails blogs you will see that he didn't drain the WATER completely, the eggs were cooked he just needed more time to make everything on the plate perfect, not nearly as bad as too much salt. Especially in today's world with all the heart disease and high blood pressure, salt is the worst thing for you! I will miss Jen too, but she was inconsistant and was obviously the one that had to go, apparently some of you viewers have short term memory loss, it wasn't that long ago that Jen was in the bottom of challenges, yes she came back but the three guys were strong in every single competition, their consistancy and talent shine through! I look forward to the finale!

Jessie smith
Jessie smith

I can't believe jennifer went home. Her dish was much better than Michaels runny eggs. No matter what jennifer made I think the judges decided they were going to kick her off. Very dissapointed with Top chef.

AmTy
AmTy

How is Padma still serving as a judge while pregnant? Aren't pregnant women urged to avoid undercooked eggs and unpasturized cheese?

Rabid
Rabid

Bravo should be careful of their previews. Padma announces the winner and because of her position at the judges table (center right looking at the contestants)she is looking directly ahead, head is not turned to the left or right. The chefs are spaced far enough apart that there could be no way she could say this without looking or turning her head left or right. I may be wrong, but than again, I'm never wrong. At least the best is in the final unlike season five winner... Hosea. These were definitely the most talented, and consistent, chefs of any season.

Bonny K
Bonny K

I aggree if you have runny eggs and your that far into the contest you should be GONE!!! HELLO !! This was the biggest mistake to take Jen out of the picture. I really hate seeing a women eliminated because she either added too much salt or she forgot the oven!! What about the fact she made a great dish besides the fact!!!

jks
jks

Hated to see Jen go but I think she was the least knowledgable. She seemed to have problems with making decisions with her menues. Seemed to be more stressed out than the others which I think interferred with her decision making and maybe why she "jumped the track" the last few episodes. Some confidence builders and additional experience should put her name back in the limelight.

tcforgraceandme
tcforgraceandme

I was disappointed that foie gras was featured as one of the main ingredients in Michael's dish, considering that the production and sale of it was voted to be banned in California. It is an especially cruel product, which includes the duck or goose being force-fed grotesque amounts several times a day. While the law banning it involves a 7.5 year phase out, I was upset that this episode, featuring california - one of the few states to enact this kind law - nonetheless featured the product.

babsC
babsC

Cheese is no more vegan than an egg.

PeachPie
PeachPie

Oh no! It's almost over! I know how lame this sounds, but when TC is on, Wednesday nights are one of the highlights of my week. I'm going to go through my regular Top Chef withdrawals here soon. Good thing the holidays are here, lol.

In all honesty, I'll be happy no matter who wins. I think our last three guys are simply amazing.

But, I will admit I have a soft spot for Bryan. He's grown on me throughout the season. He may not laugh or smile as often as the others, but when he does, it's like a gift. Love his laugh!

Unfortunately, I'll be missing the viewing party since my computer died and the one I'm using (old) I can't view the videos.

Thanks, as always, for your wonderful, wonderful blog. And definitely try some stuffed grape leaves. Yum! Mmmwahh, darlings!

Brent
Brent

Kevin is definitely not going to win. You can tell from the previews of next week that Padma is looking slightly left of center when she says "you're Top Chef". Unoftunately, Kevin is decidedly on her *right*. It looks as though she is looking at Bryan, though it *could* be Michael...

but Kevin is not the winner.

Aud
Aud

I thought the salt comment was weird too. Though I am your complete opposite. I have a salt addiction, I always add salt. For the longest time I was pulling for Michael to win, but his attitude the last couple of episodes has put me off. Dottie O, I'm confused why you think Kevin should go home if everyone knows he's going to win.

Marc C
Marc C

Jennifer? Jennifer? Are you kidding me? It seems she was penalized not for the salt but letting the grill go out. I can't see that it was her sole responsibility. Frankly I'm rooting for Kevin but even he was kind of dishonest about why the meat was stringy. At least Jennifer was honest about the problem she faced. The judges were more upset with the egg dish than hers. It seems to me they didn't want to split up the brothers before the finale. I really think they made the wrong choice.

GO
GO

I hated to see anyone go home this episode, but I was kind of hoping Michael's egg mistake would send him packing his knives. I ate at 10Arts in Philly earlier this year and it was one of the best restaurant experiences I have ever had. Thank you, Jen! The pork belly was incredible! Of the remaining chef's, my sentimental favorite is Kevin. I wish I had an excuse to go to Atlanta and try his restaurant! This has been the best season of Top Chef, talentwise, with the exception of Robin. I still can't believe she lasted as long as she did. I look forward to the finale!

mmc
mmc

To the poster Dottie O , nothing is worse than too much salt.It can make some people physically sick.I like Jen and think she's a great chef.At this stage of the game the smallest mistake can make such a difference.Maybe Kevins dish was slighty ropey but I like my brisket that way.I do think if he would have had more time he would have cooked it more.I was glad to see Bryan win. I think Michaels egg dish was not cooked well and it seemed to dominate the dish.These are all great chefs with different styles. Any one of them could become Top Chef and they all deserve to be.I think they all love cooking.I haven't liked Michaels arrogance.I think a Top chef has to be a consistently great cook, but has to have humility and respect for his fellow chefs too.What a wonderful season this is!I think I'm rooting for Bryan and Kevin.

BGirl
BGirl

There is no contest here. Tom has already waxed rhapsodically for his fave via his blogs. Kevin will win (or has won), hands down. Although I appreciate Kevin's intellectual yet simple approach to his cuisine, my fave is Bryan. He has never been in the bottom throughout the season. He has been a consummate professional with a bit of sibling rivalry mixed in. I truly wish that he would win the title. At this point any of the final 3 would be truly deserving.

Jim H
Jim H

I think the guy with the runny eggs should have gone home,and jennifer should have stayed

culinary fan
culinary fan

Fabulous season of Top Chef, the best ever. Congratulations. Can't wait for next week, anyone could win. So sorry to see Jennifer go.

How I wish Project Runway was still with Bravo - it has suufered severely in the transition.

Dottie O
Dottie O

I saw tonight's show of Top Chef. I thought Kevin should have left. Stringy meat is worst than too much salt. Why go through all this when everyone knows Kevin's going to win. I think Jennifer should have stayed and Kevin let go. I was so upset with the judges.