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S16.E15: Finale

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It's the final showdown; the three remaining chefs must create the best four-course meal of their lives; Tom reveals in a twist that only two chefs will get the chance to serve their full menu; only one chef will emerge victorious.

Air date: March 14, 2019

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Okay, not a foodie, but boiled peanuts???   Ugh.  Not familiar with this, living in the upper Midwest.

I think Sarah will win, but not happy about that. (Viewing before the end.)

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3 minutes ago, Thumper said:

Okay, not a foodie, but boiled peanuts???   Ugh.  Not familiar with this, living in the upper Midwest.

I think Sarah will win, but not happy about that. (Viewing before the end.)

i love, love, love boiled peanuts,  especially if they are cooked in a large vat over an open fire in salty water that's never changed.  it looks dirty.  i'm southern and my husband is a yankee and he can't stand them says they look like turds.

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i've never seen padma gush over contestants like she has this season,  she's seems to have mellowed.

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Redeemed at the final minute. I can watch next season with a relatively clear conscience. Kelsey's meal was much more nuanced than her competitor's.

I am a Jersey boy who loves boiled peanuts. They remind me of summers in Savannah with my cousins who migrated there.

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22 minutes ago, Thumper said:

Okay, not a foodie, but boiled peanuts???

I worked with a southern lady who talked about boiled peanuts, but with her accent we all thought she was saying "bowled peanuts" and we had no idea what that could mean! She finally had to spell it.

I miss the show already! Happy for Kelsey and Sarah, they both did so well. I wish we could have seen Eric's meal - but I can't argue with the results.

Love Padma "turns out you don't need balls"

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I was sad Eric didn't get to cook his entire meal, but this was one of my favorite finales-I thought both meals seemed great, but that Kelsey's oysters seemed like the most intriguing dish of the night. So I'm glad she won. She looked stunned after she won, like maybe they were playing a trick on her. I also thought her work ethic was interesting. She was like, "Okay, I want to win, so I just have to be perfect." I was worried she was going to crack under the pressure.  I was relieved when she took her crab dish in stride. Sara really cooked some amazing looking food and again, in the smaller group, I think all of her good qualities really shone-I thought she was kind and funny and generous, and she did seem genuinely happy for Kelsey. When Justin made that crack about the waffle mix in the store, it kind of made me hope Sara would win. I wonder if he will realize how petty and not funny it came off when he sees the show. 

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I love a cooking competition that almost always boils down to the most fantastic of two wonderful meals – no one chokes (ahem, Blais), it’s just one great effort is better than another – so I’m always quite bummed when Top Chef is over, but glad to have enjoyed the season and regard it as the one such show I return to over and over.

Backing up to the "serve the few of us your first course to see who gets to do the whole thing" portion of the competition:  Kelsey, I like you, but if you were “literally” serving up your grandmothers on a plate, that would be cannibalism.  Hers was the dish I didn’t understand from the description (just because of my own limited familiarity with southern cuisine, not any fault of hers), but the others sounded good in the description stage – especially Eric’s, as I love jerk-spiced meats.  Once I saw Kelsey’s, it wasn't my thing, as I hate buttermilk, but that’s on me and the judges were happy with it.  Sara’s looked and sounded the best to me, and I figured Eric was toast because he had two errors – one purely objective, the burnt lotus chips, plus one a little subjective but universally agreed-upon by the judges, over-powering the taste of the beef – and Kelsey’s was more “it could have been even better if” feedback.

I’d have loved to see all three get to cook four courses and compete (especially once Eric was eliminated, because I absolutely loved his “trajectory of the slave trade” concept for the entire meal!), but that’s just not how it goes and someone had to leave early.  What the editing elves showed seemed to track with what Padma said – three great dishes, but two of them came out better than the third.

Sara saying, “The food I’m going to cook is different from what people are used to seeing from me” was interesting given Tom’s “Cook what got you here [now and in the future]” admonition so many contestants forget in the finale.  Plus her not doing a dessert, especially against someone who does good desserts on her own (not via a pastry chef) – that was a risk that could sink her or be brilliant, should all other things shake out pretty equally.  Red herring or foreshadowing, I wondered, and I like that it wound up being a non-issue.

I loved Sara’s immediate enthusiastic reaction to Kelsey’s victory, and my belief the same would have happened had Sara won – they wanted to win, fiercely, but if they had to come in second, they wanted it to be to the other and were happy for their friend.  Southern cuisine isn’t my favorite, but they made a lot of it I’d really want to eat, and, regardless, I like that a chef cooking that food won the top prize, just as I’d have been happy to see Eric take it with his West African-influenced food.

Was seeing one finalist's meal all the way through rather than seeing course one from each of them, course two from each of them, etc. unusual?  I don’t remember details of previous seasons very well.  At any rate, my course-to-course analysis, because that's how the judging makes sense:

With course one, Kelsey’s was obviously a hit, but Sara’s was a home run.  A grand slam, even.  Sara takes it, hands down, but over a dish that would have won against probably eight out of ten other competing dishes, so that will be considered.

In course two, Kelsey’s looked just absolutely great - hearing one of the judges say it was one of the best things he’d eaten all year will be a “wow!” moment for her – and I laughed aloud at her thinking, “Damn, why didn’t I make that last; I can’t top it!”  Sara’s was a test of problem solving, which was only semi-successful and she made it worse with her table presentation.  I hate baby corn, but that's again just my quirks -- the judges had actual issues, and I think the fact one judge disliked A, one disliked B, two disliked C, etc. is a bigger problem with any dish than all judges agreeing on Issue D as the one, but significant, problem.  Kelsey takes it, quite strongly – she nailed hers, and Sara fell down on hers.

As Kelsey freely admitted, her course three would have been a weak point in the meal, regardless, and really seemed like a letdown after the one that preceded it.  Sara’s third course seemed like a great, could have been even more terrific, but on point, deal.  So Sara takes it, strongly, but I think the overall gap is not as much as in course two.

For course four, Kelsey’s dessert looked/sounded great, so she ended strong, but not quite as strong as Sara; her non-dessert fourth course was a very strong ending (based on description/look/reaction, and for them not to kvetch about no dessert) – another home run, but also compared to someone letting three (maybe two, but probably three) runners score.  I liked Kelsey giving her kudos for it.

So, two and two, as far as who did better in each course, and it just came down to how handily they each beat the other in their winning courses.  I love when it’s such a close call.

Padma’s talk to the two of them, about how this would affect girls, was very nice.  Great season, and I’m already jonesing for the next!

Edited by Bastet
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The boiled peanuts was also a good connection between her southern roots and Chinese food. The first time I ever had them was in Taiwan and my Southern grandmother remarked that’s how she grew up eating them (though different spices)!

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I am answering my own question--Kelsey won that too!

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It was on but I was working at the same time.  Was not paying attention.  Not see if I will rewatch the episode.

Happy Kelsey won. Didn’t have a fave for #1. Thought they all deserved to be there. 

What made it sweeter was that Kelsey was away from her new baby and winning just made it that much worth it. 

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I really wanted to see more of Eric but he did seem like he's been circling the drain for the last few episodes.  I guess I'm just more interested on his bend on food than Chinese inspired southern food.  But the finale was perfectly pleasant.  Kind of boring but the foodies should be happy.

I have to say that the Padma and Tom seem neutered.  It's like Project Runway.....time to replace Heidi and Make it Work.   Nothing against them but we need to keep it fresh.

Graham's jacket was horrible.  Both of them.

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7 minutes ago, HappyDancex2 said:

have to say that the Padma and Tom seem neutered.  It's like Project Runway.....time to replace Heidi and Make it Work.   Nothing against them but we need to keep it fresh.

Given that only happened because Heidi and Tim got a more lucrative offer from Amazon that seems unlikely.

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25 minutes ago, LotusFlower said:

I thought it was funny.  Not petty at all.

Was Sara the one that used the boxed waffle mix?

That competition episode was tons of fun.

Who was the one that started chanting? Was it Eric?

hahahahahahaha!

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29 minutes ago, HappyDancex2 said:

Graham's jacket was horrible.  Both of them.

I can never see anything he wears beyond the glasses.

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22 minutes ago, Brookside said:

I can never see anything he wears beyond the glasses.

Consider yourself blessed.  He’s tacky.  And I like graham...just not his fashion sense.  I also find the way he eats to be so dainty...he takes careful micro bites, ponders life and acts like each bite of food is a fine wine.  Which would be fine if he was really good at describing the food like that.

yikes I’m crabby at this show LOL

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2 hours ago, Heathrowe said:

When Justin made that crack about the waffle mix in the store, it kind of made me hope Sara would win. I wonder if he will realize how petty and not funny it came off when he sees the show. 

That was certainly not worse than Sara saying to Eric and Kelsey “May the best lady win”, not that I had a problem with either.

I could have ate all six of those dan tat’s in under 5 minutes! I love them so, I think I will have to go to Golden Gate Bakery which is the best place closest to me tomorrow. 

I was rooting for Eric but was happy with all three and thought the food was strong across the board and looked great.

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Before the show started, I was pulling for Eric or Kelsey to win but kind of expecting that Tom and the producers would somehow manage to get the two southern women into the finale.  As it turned out, no manipulation was necessary because Eric did himself in.  I knew he was toast as soon as he said he was making a tartare and I saw that nasty looking concoction he was stirring.  Once again, he cooked for himself instead of the judges.  I respect his integrity and I'm sure he's a terrific chef but he wasn't the best at game play.  

I'm happy for Kelsey.  I think she'll represent the Top Chef brand very well.

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33 minutes ago, HappyDancex2 said:

Consider yourself blessed.  He’s tacky.  And I like graham...just not his fashion sense.  I also find the way he eats to be so dainty...he takes careful micro bites, ponders life and acts like each bite of food is a fine wine.  Which would be fine if he was really good at describing the food like that.

yikes I’m crabby at this show LOL

Graham had gastric sleeve bypass a few years back.  Although I seem to remember that he always "looked to the heavens" every time he took a bite, I suspect that the dainty eating is the result of only being able to eat very small portions.

Nice to see Alvin Leung and his crazy shoes.

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I never liked Kelsey, I'm sad she won.

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5 hours ago, HappyDancex2 said:

I also find the way he eats to be so dainty...he takes careful micro bites, ponders life and acts like each bite of food is a fine wine.  

You know he doesn't eat like that when we're not looking. Not with that body shape.

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Eh. I didn't really care who won. West African cuisine---indeed, Eric's totally original "diaspora" approach---appeals to me (in theory,  anyway) more than  Boiled Peanuts and Buttermilk Cornbread. 

I also wasn't crazy about the forced culinary "fusion" by the show.  

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Well ... that was nice enough.  It’s all I got.  

Does that mean I’m over Top Chef or just that I wasn’t as vested as I normally am?  I don’t know.  It might be that work is hell now.  It is. But again I don’t know. 

Kelsey seems to have a high regard for Brandon.  And Sara for Eddie too.

Who fried whatever was burnt on Eric’s dish?  I’m kind of glad ‘they’ didn’t make a big deal of it.  Lol ... hope mentioning it doesn’t make me making a big deal of it.  Sounded to me like the judges were picking to be ‘picking’ on the food  

Kelsey’s son was just too adorable!!

Do TC contestants ever ‘recreate’ a finale by having the cheftestants do their 4 course finale meal as an event?  Not to be ‘judged a winner’  Just to show what they would have done.  I bet there would be a lot of takers for an event(s) like that.   

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I’ve been friends with Kelsey for a while, so I am super happy she won. I told her going into this that all she needed to do was cook from her heart.

Since moving and having cable instead of satellite, I don’t have Bravo and have to watch online. But reading the weekly comments I don’t think I missed much.

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9 hours ago, Thumper said:

Okay, not a foodie, but boiled peanuts???   Ugh.  Not familiar with this, living in the upper Midwest.

It's a southern thing, and besides, Dothan (Kelsey's hometown) is considered the peanut capital of the world.  The majority of all the peanuts grown in the United States are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan.  We have an annual Peanut Festival at the fairgrounds, so for Kelsey to represent her hometown that way was a nice shout out to the peanut industry.

8 hours ago, Heathrowe said:

She was like, "Okay, I want to win, so I just have to be perfect." I was worried she was going to crack under the pressure.  

I saw a local interview with her before the show and she said that although there were parts of the experience she enjoyed, there were many parts she didn't.  I think she just stayed so nervous about doing well that it kind of clouded her enjoyment of the whole thing.  She said that it took 4 days to shoot one episode, and so much was edited out.  She said that sometimes things she said or did were a little misconstrued, so she was worried that people thought badly of her if something was presented out of context.  

Kelsey also said in her interview that she used her catering skills in the way she approached and cooked her meals.  There was a big finale party in the downtown area where her restaurant is.  They did a pet adoption and fundraiser for that.  From the pictures, it appeared to be a big success.  It was nice to see our town support her in that way. 

That's cool, cooksdelight!  I've been in her restaurant and got to say hello to her while at the counter. I didn't know that was her Mom at the register at the time!  They were both very kind. 

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Just some rambling observations:

Sara's talking heads reminded me why I didn't care for her all season.

Eric shouldn't have taken Justin's "more spice" advice. I would have loved to have seen his entire meal.

Padma asked Kelsey "did the dish turn out the way you wanted it to?" for every course.

I am glad Kelsey won. Anyone but Sara. She just bugged the crap out of me. 

Except for the soft shelled crab course, Kelsey's food was beautifully plated.

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3 minutes ago, jackjill89 said:

Eric shouldn't have taken Justin's "more spice" advice. I would have loved to have seen his entire meal.

Was it Eric or one of his sous chefs that was responsible for the burnt parts of his dish?  I kind of fast forwarded through some of the kitchen scenes.  IIRC, it was Eddie that cooked the steak on that last entrée of Sara's.  That looked delicious!  

I always feel bad for Padma when she has to tell someone to PYKAG.  You could tell how much she hated having to say that to Eric.  

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Was it Eric or one of his sous chefs that was responsible for the burnt parts of his dish? 

It was Michelle but she told him it wasn't working and he should cut them thinner, because they were both "burnt" and yet not crispy, vs the thinner ones that stayed light and were crispy. He insisted they be cut thick. It's on Eric. 

Having said that, I was super sad not to see him get to cook, I've loved his food so much all season more than both Kelsey/Sarah, and I had hoped it would be an Eric Kelsey final.I do love Kelsey though and I was worried her crab would screw her lucky that terrible bacon dish vs. Kelsey's more consistent meal, won out. Seems like even Crab was pretty good rather than the multiple execution errors on the bacon and beans.

Still it was nice finale to see two women face off who supported each other but also competed fiercely and upped each others games. 

I too notices that Tom/Padman were weirdly emotionally mushy about this finale, I haven't seen Tom stan that hard for a specific contestant (Kelsey) since Tiff in S1. I also laughed that contrary Aussie (Kiiwi?) chef who kept denying there was anything he ate that was flawed or bad. It just made me wonder if the invited chefs feel obligated to nitpick to validate their presence. 

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48 minutes ago, ChitChat said:

Was it Eric or one of his sous chefs that was responsible for the burnt parts of his dish?  I kind of fast forwarded through some of the kitchen scenes.  IIRC, it was Eddie that cooked the steak on that last entrée of Sara's.  That looked delicious!  

I always feel bad for Padma when she has to tell someone to PYKAG.  You could tell how much she hated having to say that to Eric.  

Everytime Eric takes Justin's advice about seasoning; it's a huge mistake.  Happened at least twice now.

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I live in KY and Sara has made it hard to root for her but I did come around to not hating her the last few weeks. Her food did look fairly yummy. I'm glad Kelsey won. I definitely do not think Kentucky cuisine was highlighted particularly well and that's a shame.

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A Few random observations/thoughts:

1. I miss this show already....the Finales always leave me wanting more since it is the best cooking of the show and the least BS and drama.

2. The chefs really came to grow on me. Sara either became easier to take or they just stopped editing her as being abrasive and Kelsey and Eric had always come off as humble and charming....and all 3 can really cook. I also enjoyed that they clearly all like each other.

3. I can't recall a finale where it was sooooo clear that they had cooked this menu several times in anticipation of the finale. How many times did we hear "back home" as in "peaches were in season back home" or "the bacon wasn't like this back home".  I'm not necessarily bothered by it, but it was just very clear that it was not only thought out before they got to Macau, but cooked as well.

4. Also, I dont recall a finale where both finalists had an "unsuccessful" dish. It seems like it often comes down to "a couple grains of salt" or something picky like that and not dishes that didn't work like the pork or the softshell crabs.

5. Is there a west African dish that is like tartare? Eric might have done better if he called it that since he was in trouble with an over-seasoned tartare since in that dish, the main protein is always supposed to be the star. And, no, I hope that they don't repeat this way of cutting someone. The last 3 person finale was in Singapore and I assume we got an extended finale was that they traveled so far, but I do prefer 2 people....and I prefer course to course rather than meal to meal.

6. I wish they would have given us more of the judging/critiques of the dishes. How bad was the pork...and the components? How off was the softshell crab? what made Kelsey's oyster dish so special...altho the pictures on the tv are very vivid, we still cant taste the food. We really didn't need the scene of Kelsey and Sara eating dinner so those few minutes would have been better spent of more descriptions and judging.

7. Anyone else notice that, unlike many of the finales (like last year), Tom did not say how close it was....which means it wasn't.

8. Wow, did I miss Gail.....notGail was pretty useless and Graham continued his stellar performance of being useless-WTF was that outfit.

9. It will be interesting to see what happens with these 2 finalists. Will Kelsey continue on as a caterer with a breakfast and lunch restaurant (you just know they are serving that buttermilk and cornbread dish today) or will she open her own place, and if so, will she have to go to a bigger city.  And, although there are sometimes Beard nominees from small towns (and even one from Denali Alaska with a place that is only open 7-8 months a year), not sure if Sara has hit her ceiling if she stays in Paducah Kentucky....in case the show didn't tell us enough where se was from.

10. Oh yeah, I miss this show already....and will be in a bad mood next Thursday night...altho I guess I will be watching March Madness.

Edited to add: Anyone else notice the lack of tatoos on the finalists this year...made it much more appetizing than looking at a ton of ink......YMMV obviously.

Edited by AriAu · Reason: Forgot something
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Padma was really, disconcertingly nice this season.  She was so nice to the family members who came to Macao-when she is both WARM and beautiful, it's kind of overwhelming. The shot when she walked onto the stage through the smoke was really gorgeous. Anyway, not to be a weirdo, but she's still pretty.  And when she's not a sourpuss, she's even more attractive. Basically, I am just agreeing with what's been said upthread that she and Tom seemed to really like this bunch of chef's and were much less condescending this season.

Eric is a super-appealing chef. I would have liked to have seen his entire menu-I think it might have been more to my taste than his last few meals on the show.  His tartare did not look good to me. And neither did the spinach stew in the last episode. I know there was a discussion saying that to dumb the food down for the average palate is being colonial....but....both without being able to taste-neither dish looked visually appealing to me. I live in NJ-I'm pretty open to new flavors and foods. So I guess I wish he'd somehow taken the essence of Ghana and opened it up a bit. Michelle did tell him that her dish needed to be cut differently not to burn but he wanted the thicker slices.

This is from the Washington Post and talks about what Eric would have cooked-which sounds really good! I would like to have seen all three of them cook their meals.

Guests would be “starting off in one port in Africa and veering off” to other destinations of the diaspora caused by the slave trade. The menu would serve West African food, as well as South American, Latin American and American dishes influenced by West African traditions. There would be dishes like his scallop yassa, a fine-dining take on a classic Senegalese dish, with black rice, squash and a palm wine-butter sauce, plated to look like a piece of jewelry. It would be elegant but not stuffy, and educational and political without being preachy.

Edited by Heathrowe
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After the first episode, I was all in for Eric and Kelsey, and I thought Sarah had interesting potential. (I also thought David would be way up there, and I worried so would Eddie.)

Ever since season 12, I've felt that Top Chef has hit the comfort food level in my fandom. It's not exciting and compelling, it's just fun and relaxing now. So I don't find it a flaw that those three were so easily identified as the ones to watch, but it does mean that the finale has lost some urgency for me. Still, glad for Kelsey! Hoping someday, they do another All-Stars and Eric gets another shot.

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20 minutes ago, AriAu said:

9. It will be interesting to see what happens with these 2 finalists. Will Kelsey continue on as a caterer with a breakfast and lunch restaurant (you just know they are serving that buttermilk and cornbread dish today) or will she open her own place, and if so, will she have to go to a bigger city.  And, although there are sometimes Beard nominees from small towns (and even one from Denali Alaska with a place that is only open 7-8 months a year), not sure if she has hit her ceiling if she stays in Paducah Kentucky....in case the show didn't tell us enough where se was from.

Kelsey is from Dothan, AL....Sara is the one from Paducah, KY

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Kelsey is from Dothan, AL....Sara is the one from Paducah, KY

Sorry-I was actually editing to fix that.

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Cornbread and milk is still my favorite bedtime snack. Like my grandpa always said, it sticks to your ribs.

Anyway, my hillbilly ass was beyond surprised to see it in a top chef finale. 

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4 hours ago, Ms Lark said:

I was rooting for Eric, but congrats to Kelsey. She won me over by totally embracing Macau's cuisine and people. Her actions spoke louder than words. She proved to be a better person than TC originally painted her. And a better chef, too!

Interesting, I had that reaction about Sara, not Kelsey. I appreciated her menu more because it crossed Southern and Macanese. It felt to me like Sara really benefited more from the trip in her inspiration.

That said, it was very confident (brave?) of Kelsey to do a no-meat menu! Have we ever seen that before? All subtle, all seafood. That's unusual for TC. Eric Ripert would have loved it 🙂

1 hour ago, blixie said:

It was Michelle but she told him it wasn't working and he should cut them thinner, because they were both "burnt" and yet not crispy, vs the thinner ones that stayed light and were crispy. He insisted they be cut thick. It's on Eric. 
 

It wasn't clear to me that she really did articulate that to Eric. We saw him ask for them to "poke holes" and her talking head saying he wanted them too thick to fry well, but I didn't hear her say it to him outright. I hope she did.

I would never pick the last chef out for my Finale team. They are probably more tired, and definitely more disappointed. It just doesn't seem kind to them.

34 minutes ago, AriAu said:

3. I can't recall a finale where it was sooooo clear that they had cooked this menu several times in anticipation of the finale. How many times did we hear "back home" as in "peaches were in season back home" or "the bacon wasn't like this back home".  I'm not necessarily bothered by it, but it was just very clear that it was not only thought out before they got to Macau, but cooked as well.

Oh, interesting, I didn't think of that! I noticed all the "back home" references and thought that was weird. Why would you build a menu around what you could get in AL or KY, all the way around the world, rather than what was fresh in Macau?! That could explain it. 

If Kelsey truly used frozen soft shells that was a DUMB move with all that awesome seafood around. 

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22 minutes ago, Lisapooh said:

Cornbread and milk is still my favorite bedtime snack. Like my grandpa always said, it sticks to your ribs.

Anyway, my hillbilly ass was beyond surprised to see it in a top chef finale. 

Did you eat it with buttermilk though?  I use it in cooking but would not eat it poured on something; I don't care for it (understatement).  

I wanted to eat her oysters!  

Edited by Bucket
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8 hours ago, mlp said:

As it turned out, no manipulation was necessary because Eric did himself in.  I knew he was toast as soon as he said he was making a tartare

I've never seen a tartare in any Caribbean table or the African restaurants I've been to; and jerk spice is not a dish, so I see how he missed his mark.

That said, looking back on the whole season, it was well scripted with a good "progression" from Sara's low point: "Home made! Home made!" bwah-ha-ha, to her redemption in this finale. What great attitudes for both chefs! They looked incredulous AF that it was just the two of them. I hadn't realized until Padma's voice over in the intro that they were BFF's before the show. I almost hated going to judges table. Great season, good win, Kelsey. Sara will need a bigger boat (restaurant)! Eric, (and Kwame), got a wonderful showcase for their cuisine.

Edited by Eulipian 5k · Reason: best buds to best friends
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Actually Kelsey still caters, owns her own restaurant (eatkbc . com), and has a bakery attached.     She's from Dothan, and is very successful and her entire family is here, so I doubt she'll be moving.      

Congratulations to all three cheftestants on a classy, well fought finale, and especially Kelsey for the win.   

In some interviews after the finale, Kelsey plans to remodel her restaurant, and there is discussion about putting a small, boutique hotel next door, by remodeling an existing building.   There is another restaurant, with different menu opening on that block soon.       The local redevelopment authority looked into what happens after there is a Top Chef from a particular area, and decided it would be a great addition to the historic downtown, and be profitable.   

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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When they were choosing the sous chefs, I looked at the "left overs" and could swear I had  never seen  three of those chefs!

Oh, and sorry Padma, but I need my balls!

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What happened to Kelsey’s crawfish?  I can’t recall what happened to it.  

I’m bummed that Eric lost.  His story was a lot more interesting than the other two IMO

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I didn't notice them incorporating local flavor or technique.  I don't really care but usually that is a stipulation. 

I love Kelsey's win and hate boiled peanuts.  😆

You have to come prepared to make dessert for the finale.  It is not required but I have heard both Padma and Tom say they appreciate ending a meal with a sweet note. 

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