Part 1 of the “Top Chef” finale reminded us what we knew all along: Roy Choi and Sang Yoon may be the coolest Asian chefs in L.A., but they’re not as nice on the eyes as Kristen Kish. Kish received a much deserved finale spot on Wednesday’s episode after successfully taking down her fellow eliminated contestants on the online series, “Top Chef Last Chance Kitchen.” Yet, Kish’s momentous winning streak and Sheldon Simeon’s chill island vibes were no match for L.A.’s own, Brooke Williamson.
The show opened with Williamson and Simeon six months removed from the previous episode. We got a glimpse in to their real lives as they each balanced families and successful careers in their respective hometowns. Williamson and her husband, who co-own two L.A. restaurants, Hudson House and Tripel, soaked up compliments from Yoon while dining at Choi’s A-frame. Simeon introduced us to his wife and three young daughters at a family barbecue on a Hawaiian beach, where they spoke of his dream to open a Filipino restaurant.
All three chefs arrived in L.A. at Tom Colicchio’s, Craft, where the elimination challenge seemed more like an opportunity for Colicchio to obnoxiously prove that he still knew how to run a kitchen than to decide which two chefs would move on to Part 2 of the finale. The challenge -- to complete a three-course dinner service -- seemed like it would be a piece of cake for a soon-to-be-crowned Top Chef.
But Kish reminded us that it wasn’t all that easy, “I’m sweating in places I didn’t know I could sweat.” She had reason to be nervous. Her seared ahi tuna with Meyer lemon puree entrée and curry chocolate with cashew dessert left the judges thinking she played it too safe.
Meanwhile, Williamson’s braised short ribs with Parmesan sauce had Padma Lakshmi nearly (and gracefully) licking the plate, and her brown butter cake almost led Emeril to let out a “BAM!” or two.
Unfortunately, it was Sheldon and his red beanie (was I the only one hoping he’d bust out Josie Smith-Malave’s red headband?) who was forced to pack his knives. Judges thought his roasted quail with pine nut puree entrée and white chocolate mousse with fennel dessert signaled a departure from the Asian flavors that made him stand out earlier in the competition.
Best (personal) Moment:
Me saying over and over again out loud, “If Yan can cook, so can you,” while Martin Yan dined on the chefs’ creations.