I should just say that this episode should be titled "Forgone Conclusion." Because if they are judging this competition on interpersonal skills, Tiffani is screwed.
So yeah, Tiffani and Dave are the final two. They are in Chef Tom's restaurant at the MGM where Billy Joel's Child Bride tells them about the final challenge - making a five course meal for eight diners (stars of the culinary world). The guest judge is Lorraine Bracco. Considering Project Runway had Parker Posey and Deborah Messing as their final guest judges, Lorraine Bracco seems so...meh. It appears that Lorraine owns a winery, so I guess her presence is warranted. Maybe I shouldn't complain, because if next season I get asked to be a guest judge and some blogger asks who the hell am I to judge Top Chef, I will hunt them down and kill them.
The twist of the final competition is that Dave, Lee Ann, Stephen, and Miguel will be helping the final two on their meal. In a seriously mean twist of the knife, Chef Tom asks the eliminees who they would want to work for. Dave, Lee Ann, and Miguel choose Harold. Stephen chooses Tiffani, only to shake things up. I'd like to point out that Chef Tom did say that part of being a Top Chef is to inspire others. Therefore, Tiffani is so losing this competition. The poor eliminated chefs have to draw knives to see who they have to help. Lee Ann and Miguel get Harold, much to their collective delight. Stephen gets Tiffani and poor, poor Dave gets Tiffani. My F1 for this recap is - Tiffani is so screwed. Poor Tiffani tries to make nice with Stephen and Dave. Noone's buying that. F1.
Harold, Lee Ann and Miguel are happy as clams. That will be my F2. By the way, there's a rumor on the internet that Harold and Lee Ann have a thing going. That would make my day if that rumor were true. Actually, just the thought of Harold and Lee Ann slashfic would make my day. Any takers? Team Happy gets to serve their dish at the Nob Hill restaurant in the product placed MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Harold is intelligent enough ask Lee Ann and Miguel for their ideas on the meal. Harold gives Miguel props for his duo of beef that went over well in another challenge. Lots of harmony when Harold talks about having everyone is invested in the menu.
The theme for Tiffani's meal is duality and she tells her "team" that they will do two tasting menus. Stephen shows he hasn't had TOO big a dose of self awareness when he says that the dual tasting menu is something he would do since it's so sophisticmacated. Stephen is concerned about the wine pairings, especially with artichokes. Tiffani is stumped for what dessert to make a Dave offers up a panna cotta he was planning on using if he made the final two. That was very nice of you Dave.
Day 1 of the final. Lots of prep work. Chef Tom comes to be completely useless. Tiffani tells him her menu and he gives no advice TO HER FACE. In a confessional Chef Tom expresses his concerns about the ambitiousness of the menu and the wine pairing. After Harold's description of his dishes, Chef Tom saysbehind Harold's back that Harold is playing it safe. Once again, it's a serious missed opportunity not to have the interaction of Chef Tom giving advice and the competitors either defending themselves or rising to the challenge and incorporating the feedback. Cut to Dave bitching about the fact his dessert recipe is benefiting Tiffani. Harold kvells about how great his team works together. Tiffani says that Dave and Stephen are executing her vision. F1 F1 F1!!! Dave begs to differ and apologizes to America for any role he might play in Tiffani's victory.
After the commericials, Lee Ann says how much she wants to make it happen for Harold. And a thousand Harold/Lee Ann romance novels are created. She brought a white truffle honey for him. I bet she did. Lee Ann and Harold pal around to the point where Lee Ann calls Harold chef and he insists on being called by his first name. Harold talks about how he sees Miguel and Lee Ann as peers. Chef Tom tells Harold to stay back in the kitchen as opposed to trying to run the front of the house. Harold wisely writes up a menu and decides to just introduce the food at the beginning and come at the end to be evaluated. Miguel is all over the place in the kitchen.
Ah. The elegant diners. And Gail and Billy Joel's Child Bride. Along with the three judges are Lorraine Bracco, Dana Cowin of Food and Wine, Chef Fleur de Lys, and Michael Mina of Nob Hill, and Drew Nieporent of Myriad Restaurant Group. Harold jokes that when he's evaluated, he will need his kevlar vest. The judges like his diver scallop first course. Lorraine likes the wine pairing and Chef Fleur likes the plating. Gail thinks it sat too long. Behind the scenes, Harold asks a server to eavesdrop. Harold blows it with the olive oil poached bass second course. Billy Joel's Child Bride finds a bloodline in the fish and Michael thinks it's underseasoned. In the kitchen Miguel tries to buck Harold up. The quail and foie gras is deemed as overcooked by Drew, but Dana is happy with it. And Miguel makes me love him all over again by saying that it's not about Harold letting him and Lee Ann down but about them picking him up. I'm sure later that night Lee Ann will be picking him up. Next comes Miguel's duo of beef. The beef is a hit. Lorraine is especially enthusiastic. The spy-server gives the happy news to Harold. The judges love the fig tart and cheese dessert course.
At the evaluation, Harold jokes that he's ready for their criticism. And they tell him their likes and dislikes. Drew asks Harold whether he is cooking to please the guest or himself. In my new F2, Harold wisely answers that he tries to do both.
Now it's Tiffani's turn. She starts off all alone as Dave and Stephen are late in arriving. And why are they late? They were pounding the tequila all night. And why were they pounding the liquor? They hate Tiffani. In fact, Dave asks for a bottle of wine so he could drink during food prep. Tiffani says that she's just happy to get their help, drunk, sober or hung over but really, she's seething. Can I get an F1???? Poor Tiffani is trying to rein in her control freak tendencies but that's a losing battle. In fact, when she comes to the front of the house to see all of the diners, she cuts Billy Joel's Child Bride off by saying she knows of everyone at the table. She starts yammering on about duality and the two preparations. The judges are impressed by the ambituousness but Lorraine is wondering if she should put her Dr. Melfi hat on to analyze Tiffani.
Back in the kitchen Tiffani gives in to her inner control freak and tells Dave and Stephen not to talk at all during the prep. That's just ridiculous. Keep digging your own grave there. Speaking of digging her own grave, Tiffani insists on describing every dish that comes out. Can we have an F1? Tiffani's first duo of dishes are diver scallops with squid ink (blech!) and a scallop crudo, slices of raw scallops with citurs segments. These will either be big hits for the clean flavor of the scallops or major disasters. The dishes are a hit. It's the wacky Dave and Stephen show in the kitchen. The three are trying to get along but there's tons of tension. Dave is itching for a fight and Tiffani gives him a reason when she asks him to take his wine glass off the line. Next up is Tiffani lecture on food, along with an artichoke risotto and deep fried artichoke chips. The judges, especially Lorraine, hate the artichoke wine pairing. Gail likes the risotto. Dave bitches that Tiffani's need to control everything meant that dishes sat too long. Another Tiffani lecture, another course. This time it's a steamed branzino with ratatouille and a crispy branzino with a black olive pappardelle. Tiffani can't shut it and the judges hate it. Tiffani tries to thank the guys but Dave is being a big ol' tool and says there's still time to fuck it up. In the meantime the judges have agreed to eat while Tiffani is still talking. What they are eating for this course is a veal saltimbocca and veal with minted peas and spinach crema. Once again, they hate the wine pairing. Lorraine is sad that she doesn't want to lick her plate. Dave is excited about the dessert. The dessert is really a showcase for Dave and Stephen since it's a cocktail/dessert pairing. The judges LOOOOOOVE it. Tiffani and Dave show some graciousness to each other - Tiffani thanking the two of them and Dave saying how much it meant to him to at least cook in the final.
Restauranteur Drew asks the "who are you cooking for" question and Tiffani blows it by saying "for myself." They heap praise on Tiffani for "her" dessert.
Ok judging. Lorraine is part of the judging crew. This will be a mess. Before the competitors come, the judges reiterate their talking points on Tiffani being more ambitious with her courses and loving her dessert. In a truly F1 moment, the judges ask the other chefs about what went on behind the scenes. Stephen and Lee Ann give Tiffani her props. Both Miguel and Lee Ann continue with their Harold lovefest. F1 folks. F-effing-1. Then Dave gets asked about drawing Tiffani and says that Tiffani was on her best behavior, FOR TIFFANI. And then goes on and on about how short she is with them. Then Stephen and Dave pile on. Oooh here's the kicker, Dave takes complete credit for the dessert. F1!!!!!!!!!
Next up is Tiffani and Harold. Billy Joel's Child Bride brings up the fact that Tiffani had to talk about every single dish while Harold just wrote up a menu. Tiffani is genuinely surprised that Harold didn't talk. She has that heavy-lidded Tiffani look of disdain and misery. She gets raked over the coals for talking too much. Harold gets criticized for the sea bass and the quail. Tiffani blows it once again by taking credit for the dessert. She gets smacked down by Chef Tom who mentions that Dave said otherwise. Tiffani tries to cover up by praising Stephen and Dave to the skies. On S.S. Reap and Sow (tm Miss Alli at Televisionwithoutpity), Tiffani's face drops when she hears that Dave and Stephen both wanted Harold to win. Tiffani says she should be Top Chef because she takes risks. Yeah whatever. Harold says that he should be Top Chef because of his consistency and his people skills (hint hint).
Judges deliberate. They try and throw us off track by just talking about the food and saying they don't care about kitchen drama but this is one of the most preordained reality show conclusions since Colby made the final two in Survivor. After commercial - it's Dave. DUUUUUUH. Tiffani cries in her confessional and Dave gets the lovefest from the other four chefs.
Thanks everyone for sharing this journey with me. Sorry for the delay in recaping the final two episode. I just have two things to end with.
1. I am the undiscovered supermodel
2. I'm not here to make friends (except for Scotte, Jason, Stef, Biscuit Girl, Brunette and everyone one of you I adore).