Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reactions to the Top Chef Masters Finale

Last night, Chef Rick Bayless, king of Mexican food, took home the coveted prize of first ever Top Chef Master. The challenge was something most chefs probably dream about - tell the story of your life through food. Each chef was asked to create a four course meal: a dish representing their first food memory, one representing why they decided to become a chef, one reminiscent of their first restaurant, and one demonstrating where they're heading in the future.

In not-so-Top Chef fashion, this episode's twist was more gift than curse - the chefs were met in the kitchen by their real-life sous chefs, who helped them prepare the final challenge dishes for the usual critics, along with Tom, Padma, Gail, and the winners of the past seasons of Top Chef.

Not to gush, but both the dishes and the stories were pretty amazing. Chef Keller drew on his childhood in Alsace, Chef Bayless, on growing up in a barbequeing family with a pit master father, and Chef Chiarello, on his Italian-American childhood, including rolling gnocchi as a little boy.

For the most part, the judges gushed, as well. Chiarello stole Padma's heart with his short rib. Tom called Bayless's Oaxaca mole "brilliant." Stephanie said she could eat a plate of the sauce Keller served with his salmon.

But there were detractors, too. Ilan thought Chiarello's fried fish was "one-dimensional" and Hung called his marinara underseasoned. Cocky or correct?

Our All Top Chef poll indicated that you thought Hubert Keller would win this competition. After watching the episode, are you surprised by this turn of events? Pleasantly or otherwise? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...


MCWolfe said...

I haven't watched the whole episode yet but am relieved that Michael Chiarello didn't win. I used to find him pleasant but this show has given me a whole new picture of his personality and I don't like it. Hubert Keller is adorable so I would have been fine with him winning but I am very happy for Rick Bayless. He seems like an all around good guy and apparently is one heck of a chef as well. Congratulations to him!

bernal_vernal said...

Congratulations Rick Bayless! I was hoping Hubert Keller would win, but am happy that Rick won over Michael Chiarello. Both Hubert and Michael have restaurants in my area, I think I may have to try them!

The Scarlett said...

After this episode I found the adorable Hubert Keller even more endearing; how I loved his story of the Monday laundry. I've always thought that chefs had to have intense egos to survive in the kitchen but Keller disproved that.

This was one of those cases in which I really wished I could taste all of the dishes.

Bernal, I've eaten Hubert's food. It is phenomenal.