This week on Top Chef, it was the grand finale, the whole emulsion, the battle for all… the, uh… marble ryes. Whatever. Anyway, it all came down to Joe Flamm aka Joey Cheeks aka Bob’s Big Boy, vs Adrienne Cheatham, aka Salon aka Halle Bearnaise — both hailing from the south side of Chicago. Flamm an Eye-talian specialist out of Spiaggia in Chicago, Cheatham recently of Red Rooster in Harlem.
The two chefs headed up Aspen Mountain to Little Nell at the Aspen Mountain Club, which sits at 11,000 feet. As in, another altitude cooking challenge! Only this time, they’d have to do it without advice from Paul Liebrand. Which is just as well. As we learned in episode 11, Paul Liebrand likes to inflate his altitude cred and speaks at a volume only British mice can hear. (Word from the producers on the altitude discrepancy was that someone screwed up the conversion from metric to American standard).
No, this time they’d be going at it alone. Okay, not really. The challenge was four courses, with two sous chefs. Adrienne chose the other southern chef, Chris and the other final four finishing woman, Carrie, while Joe chose the other Joe, Joe, and the fan favorite, Fati (really, she won!). That all made good sense, though you have to feel for all the chefs eliminated early in the competition, who kept having to do the perp walk every time the competitors needed a sous chef, only to be humiliated anew and have to trudge back to Top Chef purgatory when they’re inevitably passed over for their betters yet again. I assume they all sleep in an oversized dresser like the Japanese execs in that one episode of Seinfeld.
Before the big finale (directive: “Just cook the best meal of your life”) Tom Colicchio and Graham Eliot crashed the contestant condo to cook some food for the chefs. Two things about that: Tom seems so much more vulnerable and human when he’s wearing his old man reading glasses. It’s kind of adorable. Also, Graham Eliot is much more likable when he’s not using obnoxious clothes as a personality substitute. Maybe make this man wear an apron more often? You could put “trying too hard” on the front of the apron to make him feel more comfortable.
After that, most of the show was rightly dedicated to competition. Since a power ranking is kind of useless at this point, I thought we’d structure this like a head-to-head.