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Top Chef, Season 4: Finale Part 1 AND Special Giveaways!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! No! Please, no! Please tell me it was all a cruel joke and Lisa is NOT really in the final three! She was in the bottom three almost every single week! Nobody ever liked her food and certainly, nobody ever liked her! OMG, I actually feel a little queasy! How could this happen? Let me start at the beginning……
Last night’s episode opened with our four remaining Cheftestants’ arrival in sunny Puerto Rico for the Finale. As they each deplaned and hooked up with each other at the airport, the little voices inside their heads explained that six months had passed since the TC episode we saw last week. Antonia, Richard and Lisa have been cooking their a$$es off all this time to prepare. Stephanie has been on an extended vacation, traveling through Asia and soaking up some inspiration. (Lucky b*tch!)

They arrive at the Finale location and are greeted by Padma and Guest Judge Wilo Benet. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs have to create two “frituras” or little fried fritters somehow using plantains in each. Stephanie and Lisa create the most successful frituras, while Richard and Antonia’s offerings are deemed a little “slimy” by Chef Benet. Stephanie wins her first Quickfire Challenge of the competition. Her reward for this is to select which of the eliminated chefs she wants as her sous chef in the Elimination Challenge, as well as choose the sous chefs for her opponents. In true Stephanie style, she decides to match up pairs that work well together so that everybody has a chance to put their best feet forward. Now, what do you suppose Spike would have done?
Stephanie chooses Dale as her sous chef. Then, she pairs Antonia with Nikki, Richard with Spike and Lisa with Andrew. Everyone looks happy with this arrangement except Andrew. He is still smarting from the “Lisa throwing him under the bus” incident. Lisa is just happy that she doesn’t have to work with Dale again.

For the Elimination Challenge, the finalists are each given their own whole pig, which they then have to butcher and use to cook their dishes. They are to create three dishes using different parts of said pigs for a fancy garden party at the home of a Puerto Rican official. After a thirty minute planning session, the sous chefs are sent to shop for ingredients, while the Cheftestants begin butchering their pigs.

If I hadn’t been so grossed out, I probably would have enjoyed this part. I definitely enjoy my meat, but I don’t feel quite so guilty about my carnivorous inclinations when I can pretend that it all just comes from an innocuous plastic package. Still, it was entertaining to watch the Cheftestants battle it out with mallets, cleavers and assorted other tools.

Of the four, Lisa and Antonia decided to stick with traditional Puerto Rican fare. Antonia makes a dish using pigeon peas and a homemade pork sausage, a honeyed pork belly salad with papaya and chayote and a curried pork with yucca and pumpkin. Lisa has a tostones dish stuffed with adobo roasted pork butt, a citrus braised pork belly with sweet plantain mash and a pork and yucca relleno.

Stephanie puts a bit of an Asian twist on her dishes serving up a pork satay on a sugar cane skewer with a miso-marcano almond butter, a coconut braised pork on a black plantain pancake and a tropical fruit and prosciutto salad with crispy chicharones (fried pork skins). There were some pretty tense moments when Stephanie and Dale realize that Dale accidentally left one of Steph’s pork dishes out overnight. In that tropical climate, there was no way that Steph could safely use that meat, so they had to toss it and come up with something else. Dale was horrified when he learned of the mistake and Steph was disappointed, but gracious. They moved on to create that fabulous salad instead. Teamwork, people!

Richard just does his own thing, as only Richard can. His menu included a fresh Pernil “ham” with local beans, ribs glazed with Malta, a popular Latin beverage, pressure-cooked pork belly with pickled watermelon and a BBQ pork shoulder with braised greens, coffee and mango.

Later on, at the Judges’ Table, Stephanie and Richard were the top two. The judges loved both of their presentations. Ultimately, Richard was chosen as the winner and they gave him a CAR!!! Yes, you read it right. Richard was awarded a brand new adorable 2009 Toyota Corolla [1]for his win. He was totally gobsmacked (as was I). It was very sweet.

Unfortunately, Antonia’s and Lisa’s strategies to cook classic Puerto Rican food backfired on them and they were in the bottom two. Antonia’s beans were undercooked and the judges didn’t like the fact that she plated all of her dishes on one dish. Lisa’s sauces were too sweet and her tostones were too soggy. In a very nerve-wracking (for me) deliberation, the judges totally screwed up (according to me) and sent Antonia packing.

Antonia was shocked and devastated (as was everybody else). After hugs and sad goodbyes, Antonia took her leave. And then came the biggest WTF moment of the entire season. As Steph and Richard quietly sat bumming out over the loss of Antonia, Super Bitch Lisa leans over and chastises them for not congratulating HER on making the cut.



I kid you not. She actually did that. I don’t know what alternate version of the universe she rolls in, but in my world, that was one of the the tackiest, rudest and sh*ttiest things I’ve ever seen someone do. I don’t think that evil, back-stabbing Spike would even stoop so low.

And so here we are – a finale with Stephanie, Richard and “She Who Shall Remain Nameless” because I am so totally pissed off!


Moving on to happier things, I’d like to announce this week’s Giveaway winner. The lucky recipient of a Top Chef cookbook is Heather of Gild the Voodoolily [2]. Congratulations, Heather! Thanks for participating! Please email me at stickygooeycreamychewy AT gmail DOT com with your mailing address so that I can mail out your prize.
It’s hard to believe that next week will be the last Top Chef episode of the season. I wanted to do something extra nice for the big finale, so I will be doing two really special Giveaways to celebrate.

The first item I will be giving away is this uber chic Top Chef apron designed by none other than Laura Bennett from Project Runway [3]. Laura is one of my all time favorite PR designers and when I saw this cute apron, I just had to have it for one of my Giveaways. The designer’s signature is featured above the Top Chef logo.

The second Giveaway item, and the piece de resistance, is this first edition/first printing Top Chef cookbook autographed by Dave Martin from Season 1, Betty Fraser from Season 2 and C.J. Jacobsen from Season 3. I have verified that the signatures are authentic, so this is sure to be a real collector’s item.
I am very excited about these prizes and I hope you are too. Remember, all you have to do in order to be eligible to win one of these great Giveaways is leave a comment on this post before next Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. As always, I will use the random number generator [5]at random.org [6]to pick the winners.
Good luck and let’s dish!