TOP CHEF SEASON 7 FINALE RECAP: You Chose Singa-Poorly

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This is a Recap of the Top Chef Season 7 Finale (aka Top Chef D.C.), originally airing September 15, 2010. If you read on, I will vomit spoilers all over you like some Informational Angelo.

I should’ve known we were in for a rough episode when the Viewing Guide had a typo in it:

Part 2 of the Finale picks up right where we left off, and I mean right where we left off, like seconds after Kelly’s elimination — when did this become Breaking Bad? — and Padma calls the chefs back to Judge’s Table for another surprise. Oh man, what’s it gonna be?? Maybe they’re gonna have to cook right here and now, using only their hands and what they’re wearing, and Ed’s gonna be like “I was planning for this so I kept a lobster in my pocket. I hope you die, Angelo. I have a sarcastic sense of humor.”

No, turns out the Judges are just explaining the challenge: Cook the best meal of your life (the yooshe), including one appetizer, one fish course, one meat course, and one dessert. Gail handles mentioning the dessert part, so they’re not confused. And speaking of desserts and confusion, where are Gail’s words coming out of on this Just Desserts promo?

Is that a recommendation to save room for dessert in your pants or are you just happy to see me? Gail, I am literally asking you that question. Please call me with your answer, 1-800-BWE-Dan7.

The Challenge seems straightforward, yes? Oh it is…until Angelo comes down with a terrible sickness and might not be able to cook! This leads to a series of not awkward or humorous at all screenshots of Angelo and a local doctor:

After the jump, Angelo receives his prognosis, and the chefs receive the most important prognosis of all: The prognosis of which one of them is the winner of Top Chef. And it’s not a prognosis, it’s just that information said to them directly. (Spaghetti) Strap yourselves in:

Fortunately for Sickgelo, each chef will be paired with a past Top Chef winner as their sous chef, and fortunately for everyone, none of them are Hosea — cue that jangly “something happy’s happenin” guitar riff and welcome back Hung Huynh, Michael Voltaggio, and Ilan Hall. Angelo says “I hope I get paired with Hung.” Yeah, no sh*t you hope that.

Angelo does pull Hung, Ed gets Ilan, and Kevin draws this specimen:

As a final word of inspiration, Seetoh says, “Sock it to me!” Singapore just got Laugh-In two weeks ago, it’s part of their new “Must See Thursday” lineup along with The Shadow radio programme.

Angelo is bedridden and may not be able to cook in the Finale, and the camera crew providing super close-up shots probably isn’t helping:

Angelo then meets with the aforementioned doctor, and his prognosis isn’t good:

In the meantime, Tom and Eric (not these guys) return from their trip to the market (not a beginning of a fairy tale) with the collection of proteins for the seafood and meat courses, putting all the chefs on a level playing field in terms of ingredients, unless one chef quickly grabs all the foie gras and ruins the plans of the other two, but why would they allow that to happen if the point of the Challenge is to have everyone on equal footing? They wouldn’t so let’s drop it.

The Seafood (“See? Protein.”): Red Mullet, Cuttlefish, Cockles, Slipper Lobster

The Meat: Duck, with Pork Belly side-option

The chefs then go shopping for their other ingredients, and Hung has to communicate with Angelo on the phone to see what he wants:

Kevin announces his menu, which includes a seafood dish with cuttlefish “noodles,” and he proceeds to explain that cuttlefish can be frozen then shaved into very thin strips and cooked as a pseudo-pasta. Since when did he possess this incredible, advanced culinary knowledge? He doesn’t even possess the knowledge to not put “Rat” in the name of his restaurant.

Ed is using his prep stage primarily to remind everyone that he is the chef and Ilan is his subordinate. He wastes ninety minutes of his allotted time forcing Ilan to dress up in a Santa suit and hand out gifts to the Sterling-Cooper employees, and when Ilan points out to Ed that he’s referring to a fictional tv show, Ed gets mad and refuses to take his suggestion.

Hung, meanwhile, is frantically prepping for two, literally sprinting back and forth in the kitchen with various handfuls of ingredients:

Where have we seen this before? Ah yes, Michelle’s favorite GIF:

The next day, the news starts looking good for Angelo. The doctor gives him one final test…

…And pronounces Angelo fit to cook. Cue the happy guitar riff again! Angelo proudly declares, “It’s time for the fall of Ed’s Dynasty.” Yes, even Angelo’s boasts are Asian-influenced.

We’re treated to one final set of Singapore B-Roll before the home stretch, and it doesn’t disappoint:

The chefs arrive at the Final Kitchen with three hours to prep before serving. Angelo tries to catch back up, and shows Hung the notes he sketched out while he was in bed:

Kevin is fired up that Angelo’s back, saying “I think competition breeds better competition.” Yes, that is factually true. Ed seems pumped up too, but in the middle of that pumping he is also very insistent that he’s still the chef and Ilan is still his sous chef. It’s almost as if Ed keeps repeating this because he knows it will never ever be this way around again?

The chefs are serving to a huge panel of culinary heavyweights, including (in addition to Tom, Eric, Gail, and Seetoh), Dana Cowin, Iggy Chan, Su-Lyn Tan, Susan Feniger, Vincent Bourdain, Paul Bartolotta, Willin Low, Andre Chiang, and David Chang (SIDENOTE: If you’re ever in New York and have the opportunity to swing by David Chang’s Momofuku Milk Bar, prepare yourself for an orgasm).

The tasters’ comments are all over the place; Angelo’s Olive Poached Cuttle Fish with “Asian Style” Bouillabaisse is “the dish you remember,” Kevin’s Roasted Duck Breast with Duck Dumpling, Caramelized Bok Choy, and Coriander Sauce is “the best of the three duck preparations,” Ed showed “considerable skill” with his Braised Stuffed Duck Neck, and Kevin’s Frozen Singapore Sling with Tropical Fruits dessert is a huge hit, with Gail calling it better than the one at the place that invented the drink, and another patron more dramatically proclaiming “He just created our national dessert.” Still not as great as our national dessert: FREEDOM. Wait, we never did freedom desserts as a challenge! Back to D.C., quick!!!

On the downside, Angelo’s “Tart Cherry Shooter” was an unnecessary component of his duck course and confused Tom and the diners, and Ed’s Sticky Toffee Date Pudding with Fleur De Sel Crème Chantilly “A La Ilan” dessert (his name, not mine) was interpreted almost as an insult, even by the tasters who didn’t mind Ilan’s decision to throw salt into the cream (though how hilarious would it have been if Ed lost because of the one Ilan suggestion he didn’t arrogantly shoot down?) In general, the dishes are almost universally well-received, and Kevin notably escapes without any scathing criticism. Could we be headed for another Hosea season, where the “do well enough not to lose” guy randomly steps it up in the Final?

At Judge’s Table, Eric and Tom both absolutely go to town on Ed for his dessert; Tom calls it “something I could get at home,” and Ed seals his own fate by responding “What am I supposed to do? I wanted to make a lemon curd but I could’ve just screwed the thing up.” That makes the least sense of anything anyone’s said mayyybe all season. When Ed leaves, Tom wastes no time making fun of his comment:

Ed, likely knowing he’s out of the running, is sweating like crazy:

The judges agree that Angelo’s dessert was great, but Kevin’s Singapore Sling continues to be the talk of Judge’s Table Town, with Gail actually raving, “It was like a big fruit punch, literally. It punched you with fruit.”

Turns out, none of the sudden Kevin praise was misleading editing on Bravo’s part, and the Season careens towards its now-inevitable conclusion. Padma makes it official with a very abrupt announcement (apologies for quality of pics, my tv was pissed off):

And our collective reaction:

I congratulate Kevin, who seems like a nice guy and a good enough chef who will benefit more from the show’s notoriety than the more-established Angelo would have, and he did appear to have performed the best in Part 2 of the Finale which is technically the only aspect the Judges and producers are allowed to weigh, but overall, he clearly wasn’t even close to being the best chef this season. He won only one total challenge the entire season before the Finale, and zero Quickfires (except once as a 4-person team), as opposed to 3 Elimination wins by Ed and 2 each by Angelo, Kelly, and Tiffany. Tiffany was also never in the bottom group of an Elimination Challenge a single time before her elimination, and had finished in the top group in 6 consecutive Elimination Challenges before the episode she was voted off; Kevin was on the bottom of the Eliminations five times and survived every time, and was only in the top group four times before the Finale.

Tiffany and Angelo were the best chefs of the season. If they didn’t win, Ed and Kelly still deserved it over Kevin. Or they could’ve given it to Bryan V. or redhead Kevin from last year. Or Richard B. or Stefan R. from the seasons before that.

Nevertheless, you won, Kevin, so go and get congratulated by everyone:

Better luck next time, Angelo:

Top Chef Season 7 Finale thoughts, everyone? Thoughts on the Kevin win? Thoughts on the D.C. / Singapore season as a whole? Any Anger / Satisfaction / Disenchantment you need to unleash? Leave it all in the Comments.

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