Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Top Chef finale ends predictably
It seemed no contest between Brooke Williamson and Kristen Kish.
For the first time on Season 10 of Top Chef, superstar Brooke Williamson played the part of the underdog in the moment that mattered most – the second and final installment of the reality cooking show’s finale.
Brooke battled against the lone remaining contestant, Kristen Kish, who was a frontrunner along with Brooke for much of Season 10 until she was prematurely voted off. Kristen won Last Chance Kitchen and was brought back to the competition, and it seemed like Kristen would have to fight her way back into the judges’ good graces.
But far from it: Kristen skated through part one of the finale, beating out competitor Sheldon Simeon as she and Brooke advanced to the last round. And throughout the five-course meal she and Brooke served to a live audience of 160 people in the finale, Kristen had the upper hand, causing a usually-confident Brooke to battle for each course.
Brooke was noticeably frazzled as she and her team cooked. With three chosen former contestants joining her – C.J. Jacobson, Kuniko Yagi, and Stefan Richter – it was abundantly clear from the first course that Brooke would have been much more successful if she cooked her own dishes rather than sharing the load. Her first course, a crispy pig ear and chicory salad, featured burnt pig ears from C.J.
Kristen (accompanied by Josh Valentine – from Dallas – plus Lizzie Binder and Sheldon) easily won the first course with her chicken liver mousse.
Perhaps to make things more interesting, Brooke won the second course. She made seared scallop with salt cod puree, which head judge Tom Colicchio said was cooked perfectly. Kristen’s citrus and lavender cured scallop was almost without flaw, too, but Brooke’s course won out.
In the third course, Brooke attempted to redeem her poorly cooked fried chicken from a past episode – a decision that is rarely rewarded. Kristen’s celery root puree with bone marrow was more elegant and picked as a clear favorite. With Kristen’s win in the third round, Brooke seemed to unravel during the fourth. The first chef to win three rounds would take home the Top Chef title – making for a fun, sports-like evening – and throughout the episode, Kristen appeared made for the job.
The chefs didn’t even have to bother making course five after Kristen handily won the fourth, securing her three victories and earning her the title of Top Chef Season 10.
Kristen becomes the second female Top Chef in the show’s history. She won $125,000, a feature in Food and Wine magazine, and a showcase at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen.
Kudos to Kristen. By beating out other chefs in Last Chance Kitchen, she proved she had the grit. The finale with Brooke proved she also had the guts, and it was her creativity that won in the end.Follow @sblaskovich