Step right up folks ...we have a penthouse in Miami, a New York challenge, an Aspen finale, and a live reveal in Chicago. But wait, there's more ... trips to Italy, the French Alps, and round-trip Continental Airline tickets to anywhere in the world! I have always been a Top Chef fan, but this season has been super-sized. Just take a good look around this Bravo Web site to get an idea ... blogs, recipes, and videos ... oh yeah, and Miami Spice featuring ...me! Ha! But I digress ... let me get on to the Season 3 finale.
Final Season 3 Challenge
Eleven thousand feet elevation. Oh ... my ... goodness. I wonder how many of the three remaining chefs did research on cooking in such an elevated climate and the effects it would have on moisture and boiling points? Our intrepid chefs have 35 minutes to put together a three-course menu of their lives. (They may say they have given it no thought, but every chef I know has their dream menu, and it is no secret that is what the chefs are always asked to for the finale of Top Chef.) That having been said, the surprise is always the ingredients they have to work with, and it is quite a challenge to put together a menu in such a short amount of time. I would like to have known the number of guest judges I would be cooking for at the onset as that is an important factor in determining what and how many dishes you will serve. Just in time alone, eight is easier than twenty. And can the chefs deviate from their menus? I would guess that they aren't supposed to as Tom is holding the menus in his hands like a prosecution lawyer!
I loved Casey's choice of pork belly. Belly always gets my attention. Ha! And Dale has really proven himself the game king. His choice of Colorado lamb was spot on for its "seasonal and regional" appeal. Todd English really hit it on the head when he said this was the way to go. When I saw those celebrity sous-chefs, I found myself picking Rocco. (Don't forget my application to be your sidekick!) However I would have been thrilled to cook with any of these pros. The following day Tom announced the surprise addition of a fourth course, as well as ushering in the return of Howie, CJ, and Sara. Again, I would have chosen Sara for her technical skills as well as her work ethic. Hung really made out with both of his assistants.
The judges really had it tough. They dissect everything, sometimes seeming merciless. Also the chefs have to stand there as their creations are disemboweled. (I know that sounds harsh, but when you are the one on the chopping block, that is what it feels like.) For example, the judges say they would have liked a little more acid in Hung's dish. All he really needed was more of the tomato vinaigrette and I bet that would have done the trick. The judges felt that Casey's addition of three small pieces of salmon roe ruined her dish. I know salmon roe is distinctive, but not overwhelming. And as far as Sake poached anything, you can count me in. I also believed that Dale's lobster dish had the potential to be phenomenal. He just needed to lighten up on the curry to a curry-scented broth, cook the lobster through and you have a home run. Hung's almond tuile with dessert was lovely as well. And I cannot wait to re-create his amazing looking duck next week during my cooking segment on "Cada Dia".
How lucky was Dale to have Todd English to French cut his lamb chops? Those puppies were gorgeous! Another home run for Dale in presentation and execution.
Congratulations to Hung. He worked hard and really 'hung" in there. And to all 15 chefs who put themselves on the line, go out into the world and show them what you've got. Make the most of this incredible opportunity. This whole experience continues to be more amazing than I can describe. I have had a blast with these blogs, the webisodes, the cooking segments on Telemundo and much more. Thanks to all of you who have and continue to join me on this amazing ride. And there is so much more to come. You can hear all about my future projects both here and at my web site www.chefcarlosfernandez.com. As always, stay well and ... Break an Egg!