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Ain't No Thing But a Chicken Wing

Just how fatal was Brooke's poultry flaw?

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello for the last time this season, my little burnt pig ears. Well, we now have a new Top Chef, and I for one am exhausted. For this final episode, we changed up the format a bit, putting finalists Brooke and Kristen head to head with their previously selected sous-chefs. Watching the episode gave me a serious hankering to re-watch this year's Bocuse d'Or and Hugh Acheson's hilariously sleep-deprived live-tweeting of this year's event. i could have used a dose of Thomas Keller and some angry Frenchmen...

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Both chefs were tased with creating five dishes and the only requirements were to use scallop for the second course, snapper for the fourth. Otherwise, they had all the freedom they could ever ask for, which should be a good thing. Ultimately, though, this may have been to Brooke's detriment. To win, one chef has to win three out of five courses.

"Are you ready to share your tiara?" Gail asks Stephanie Izard. Oh, she's ready. It remained to be seen if Brooke and Kristen were ready. I think Brooke was pretty nervous, which was made painfully clear when she couldn't remember all her ingredients. And, seriously, who wouldn't be? Let's dive into the dishes.For the first course, Kristen offered a perfect chicken liver mousse. Gail didn't care for the presentation, but that was the only real complaint. Brooke went for a pig ear salad -- a dish viewers were probably expecting after last week's visit to Brooke's restaurant where she made a smilar dish -- if not the same exact dish -- as a special. There were a few problems with the dish, but the pig ears themselves seemed to be the biggest problem. CJ's cooking of them was inconsistent and Emeril and Tom's were burnt. Course goes to Kristen.

The second course, where both chefs had to use scallop, said a lot about the two women as chefs. Kristen kept it simple with cured scallop, while Brooke seared hers, but added a very surprising and welcome element -- salted cod. Like Emeril, I Iove salted cod, so I would have been pretty happy to receive this dish. And while Kristen's simplicity was apprecited, Brooke's romanesco seals the deal for the judges. Course goes to Brooke.

The third course was crucial, and ultimately, probably the greatest cause of Brooke's downfall. She made chicken wings. Granted, they were apparently delicious, and even traitor Stefan (just kidding, Stefan!) looks like he might finish all of them before they hit the judges' plates, but they were chicken wings. Although I think elevating a chicken wing is something to be commended, and many of the past winners deemed it "ballsy," this is the Top Chef finale. As Tom said, "I get why you're doing it. Although i'm still not sure why you're doing it." This made perfect sense, and Brooke knew it. She even called the wings a "crucial mistake." Kristen takes the course.And so, the fourth course comes. If Kristen wins, she's the new Top Chef, and she does. I really thought this could have gone either way as both chefs seemed to know their dishes and felt confident in their ability to prepare them. Unfortunately for Brooke, Kristen's was just better. Oh, and it had uni. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- uni always wins!

So, mazel tov, Kristen! And congratulations to you, Brooke -- you have so much to be proud of. I had the pleasure of meeting both the ladies this week, and I know they both have big things ahead of them. 

Before I close I just wanted to point out a few things that made me smile this episode.:

1. Sheldon saying "Yes, Chef" when Kristen tasked him to do something. It showed how much respect he had for his leader that day, but ultimately, I just love Sheldon, so he could pretty much do anything and I would smile.

2. Brooke's son, Hudson, passing out was the cutest thing ever!

3. It was so great to see all the past winners there, but Ilan takes the cake for funniest moment when he broke the light on the table!

OK, yeah, nothing tops Ilan.

Until next season, Have a Nosh! And let me know in the Comments below if you're happy with the verdict.

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