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Top Chef - What In The World?! (Finale Part 1 Recap)

Holy... what the... oh my good golly... seriously what happened last night!? I can NOT believe the outcome. Warning there are big time spoilers and shockers here, so if you've got it waiting at home, then go watch it and come back tomorrow with your comments, because believe me, you're going to have some!

For the rest of you, let me just start by saying were you as surprised as I was? I totally thought I knew who was going to be eliminated, I even thought I knew who was going to win, looks like I was WRONG.

To read the full recap for the Hawaiian themed Finale Part 1, read more

Alright, so the show starts off by visiting each of the four finalists as they're packing up and getting ready for their trip. This year they can bring their own special ingredients, utensils and whatever else they might want to make their dishes sparkle. I'm not 100% sure what I think about this. Part of me thinks they should all be given the same even playing field, same ingredients, same gadgets, etc. However, I guess they all had the opportunity to bring whatever they wanted, so it's not like it was unfair.

Once they arrive in Hawaii, the chefs are whisked off via helicopter to Waipio Valley where they are greeted by Chef Alan Wong and our beloved (or hated, depending on which camp you fall in) judges. This time, instead of battling a clock, the contestants are treated to a fantastic Hawaiian feast featuring Poi, Lau Lau, Lomi Lomi Salmon and Poke. While there Chef Alan Wong tells them inspiring tales about how "every dish tells a story." When the feast is over they're told to get back for a good night's rest because tomorrow is an elimination round and (get this!) TWO of them would be going home!

Now is where I'd like to interrupt the recap to point out the commercial. Did you notice that since there was no sponsored elimination challenge, there was now a sponsored have a drink of Korbel champagne break instead?? Just a personal rant, I'm tired of the blatant ads...

Alright, so where was I? Oh yes, elimination round. The next morning the chefs each had to prepare two dishes for Chef Alan Wong's birthday feast. The twist is that they had to rework the traditional Hawaiian dishes (like the ones they ate the night before) in three hours, giving each dish the chef's own personal twist.

First up was Sam with:

The judges seemed to enjoy his dish and liked the way the salty paired with the sweet - I'm pretty sure they even joked about wanting seconds.

Next up was Elia with:

  • Ahi Poke with Olives, Capers & Lemon Confit
  • Snapper Steamed in Ti Leaves with Carrots & Bell Peppers

The judges felt it wasn't traditional enough and that the olives were over powering.

Then it was Ilan with:

Padma didn't seem to enjoy the dish, complaining about an itch in the back of her throat, but the other judges didn't seem to mind. Tom even declared that it was a "perfect marriage of the two cultures."

Finally it was Marcel with:

Even though he spent an eternity explaining his dish, the judges were in love and Gail even felt that Marcel "really hit a home run."

In the end, it seemed like the judges were really torn about who to bring to the finals and who to send packing. Guest Judge Alan commented that "it's not about picking the worst dish, it's about picking the best." They decided on Marcel pretty quickly (stating that they loved his beautiful and adventurous food) and they knew they wanted to send Elia packing (again, they felt her food was too far removed from Hawaii). However they were torn between Sam and Ilan. I, in my own naive way, assumed it was built in Bravo TV editors creating drama for us. I mean, how could Sam NOT MOVE ON? Seriously, how could he not move on? He'd been my shoe-in from the beginning. WHAT?? When they told him to pack his knives and go, my mouth FELL ON TO THE FLOOR.

Well, that's that. One episode left and we now have the battle between Marcel and Ilan. I'm not as thrilled as I was, but I am anxious to see what happens in the finale.

Okay, now that you've got the recap, let's get the talking points. Let's discuss the following:

  • Padma says Ilan's dessert reminds her of the funnel cake and that it was a good thing, but I thought they HATED the funnel cake?
  • Tom stated that Sam's dish wasn't cooked. Do you agree?
  • I've been wondering why everyone thinks Sam is so hot, but after yesterday's episode, I totally understood.
  • Do you think the humidity played any role in their food? All the chefs looked rather glossy during the challenge.
  • How cute were they all on the helicopter?

  • Elia complaining that Marcel cheated. Do you think she was out of line? Do you think Ilan didn't back her up once he saw the judges were unhappy?
  • And finally, what do you think of this outcome, were you as shocked as I?



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