What a Long, Strange Season It’s Been


Movin’ on out: Leah (photo: Bravo)

How to cap-off the chefs’ time in New York–a time that began with them peeling apples in the Big Apple, then had them pretending to care about the Foo Fighters and cooking Thanksgiving dinner in toaster ovens in the middle of the summer, and featured Padma dressed as a sexy referee? Why with a “last supper” challenge featuring foodie luminaries eating in a dimly lit room with a burgundy and gold backdrop, all photographed in soft focus, the better to flatter aging foodie luminaries. In a season full of surprises, many of them unwarranted, last night had its own surprises.

It was no surprise that Leah got sent home (she was a goner as soon as that voiceover in the opening minutes about how she came to cooking after doing poorly in college), though if last night’s show had followed the same rules that got Jamie and that dude from Florida sent home, Stefan would have been sent packing. His overcooked salmon appeared the greatest culinary sin of the night, but he’s probably going to win this thing, so he had to stay around. It was interesting to note that following last week’s episode where Stefan was edited to look like a (relative) saint, helping Leah around the kitchen and just being a general nice guy (at least for him), this episode put his cocky asshole-ness at the forefront. This is all probably prep for a nice baldie vs. mean baldie finale.

What was surprising was the silence of one Toby Young. After last week’s Pablo Escolar debacle, the Young-in barely got a word in last night, and those he did get in weren’t overly contrived witticisms. Shocking! Perhaps Colicchio had a talk with him; it does seem like Tom is a bit annoyed by Toby. Also somewhat surprising was the Italian dude talking molecular gastronomy with Wylie Dufresne (though Dufresne didn’t like his dish), though on second thought, Fabio did do that spherical olive earlier in the season, so it all makes sense now. More surprising is that Fabio’s English seems to be getting more broken with each episode, perhaps his own contrivance to seem more charming so they’ll keep him around. And of course most surprising was what a hit he scored with the chicken.

We could have been surprised by Carla’s success last night, but after all that we’ve been through this season, the dark horse riding on is to be expected. Really, we can’t think of going anywhere now except New Orleans for the finale where Emeril Lagasse will surely “bam” the chef-testants into “kicking it up a notch.” Until then…

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