Top Chef Season 4, Episode 13: The Final Four

Editor’s Note: I know! We’re on time!

MM: You want me to do a countdown?
CC: Hit it!
MM: 3… 2… 1… Go! And welcome to Puerto Rico, everyone except Lisa.
CC: Ah… K-Fed Twin-Free Puerto Rico.

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MM: Holy crap, Lisa’s gone butch — Either that or she took a cue from her pan fires.
CC: I dont understand going butch; I really don’t.
MM: At least Padma’s looking great.
CC: Yeah, and if she wants to be a lesbian, well from my lips to God’s ears.
MM: So for this episode we have guest judge Wilo Benet, a famed Puerto Rican chef. He’s been on the Food Network a few times. Before opening his restaurants he was Chef de Cuisine at the Governors Mansion in Puerto Rico, Pattisier at Le Bernadin, Poissonier at the Water Club in New York and James Beard Foundation Guest Chef.
CC: So you’ve heard of this guy before, then?
MM: I wish I could say yes so I can sound impressive, but I’m looking him up on Wikipedia.
CC: Cheater. So the Quickfire Challenge is to make Padma and Wilo Benet two different plantain fritters.
MM: Lisa looks so smug when she hears the challenge… and it begins – three of the chefs hit the table and Lisa runs back to the kitchen to grab all of the choice protein. Smart.
CC: Are these all going to be fried? The way the challenge is being portrayed it’s hard to see what each chef is doing at their station.
MM: Looks like it. There is some interesting plating going on.
CC: Nice looking tuna on Stephanie’s plate.

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MM: Did Antonia make a mistake by giving the plantain a back seat? Padma and Chef Benet don’t seem happy.
CC: Oh, no plantain in the one dish – but her plantain jam counts.
MM: How much time has elapsed between these episodes?
CC: A few weeks, I think – So, enough time to bone up on Puerto Rican cooking. Here comes Richard! GO RICHARD YOU CAN DO IT!!! His dish looks pretty damn good, and interesting too.
MM: Really? His dish didn’t wow me, but I love how he totally thinks about his dish. The concepts he puts behind them are amazing to me. I hope Stephanie rocked it. She’s my pick to win.
CC: Stephanie wins and Richard is in the bottom two? This man (Chef Benet) has no vision!!
MM: (laughing)
CC: You want Stephanie to win the whole thing?
MM: Yeah. I’m pretty sure that I said a while back that I thought she’d go to the end.
CC: I’m rooting for Richard obviously, but Stephanie would be a close second.
MM: There’s just something about her style that I think will win over Richard – they are definitely the best two in the competition.
CC: Stephanie just keeps winning stuff.
MM: That’s because she’s good! What scares me about Stephanie is that when she goes down, she goes down hard. That said, it’s between those two. If either one of those chefs won, I wouldn’t be unhappy. They both deserve it.
CC: And now for the Elimination Challenge… PIG ROAST!!
MM: Each chef will receive help… that can only mean previous contestants. Enter the scrubs.

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Padma announces Stephanie will be assigning which previous contestant works with which finalist.

MM & CC (together): Oh my God.
CC: At least Stephanie isn’t a jerk who would try to screw this up like Spike.
The pairs are: Dale and Stephanie, Andrew (K-Fed #1) and Lisa, Spike (K-Fed #2) and Richard, Pasta Chick and Antonia.
MM: I think Andrew really is sincere about doing well… it’s just that he’s a doofus.
CC: I would have assigned Lisa and Dale together, but I guess Stephanie wanted Dale.
MM: From those choices I would have probably taken Dale, too. There’s really nowhere good to put the K-Feds.
CC: Put them in that pit that the Spartans have.

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CC: Sous chefs do the shopping, that is bad news.
MM: Andrew trying to communicate and realizing he looks like a moron.
CC: You’d think they would get an interpreter though. I mean, come on. Spike could at least do the butchering though, we found that out.
MM: Spike is not smart enough to understand basic directions! Well, it’s a good thing he still has his legs so he can do Richard’s grunt work.
CC: Yeah see – I held back on my true prophetic powers because I didn’t want to mess Richard up with a legless sous chef.

Before the commercial break, the discussion and single-chef “diary clips” are all about the necessity of being really organized. The camera pans down to a tray of pork left out on a shelf, forgotten.

MM: Oh no, was that Steph’s stuff that was left out?
CC: Did someone forget something there?
MM: Oh my God. Dale forgot to put that away.
CC: Wow that sucks, because you know he didn’t do it on purpose. Why are we just finding out now that they have known each other for 10 years?
MM: I have no idea, but you can tell he feels like a complete jerk. Now that we’re back from the commercial break, tell me this: How come no one can cook a decent batch of rice?
CC: Oh please, not more rice issues.
MM: Lots of pork belly going on. Aren’t they worried they aren’t being diverse enough?
CC: Yeah, pretty pedestrian menus across the board I’d say. Why is Lisa, known for her Asian food, trying to go with Spanish?
MM: Because it can’t be worse than her Asian dishes? Beats me. I’m not feeling confident about anyone’s menus. This episode doesn’t feel fun at all. I’m really nervous about this challenge for everyone – not just Stephanie and her botched dish that was left out. What did she say she was going to substitute the pork belly for?
CC: A pork satay. Using sugar cane as skewers is a little hack I think.

MM: Do you? I think it will come across as a nice regional touch. Is it too commonly used, maybe?
CC: I think so, and I can’t believe it really adds much to the dish, but I could be wrong.

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CC (continued): I’m also surprised there isn’t more seafood there. Fish would be a nice pair with the pork – WOW!
MM: What’s with Padma and the toga?
CC: And once again: WOW
MM: (laughing) Okay, you like Padma’s toga. I get it.

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CC: That is a NICE DRESS.
MM: It’s a little out of place. It’s almost a little Animal House. She does look very lovely, though… but a little strange because it’s a toga.
CC: She looks like she should be at the Parthenon being fed grapes by, well hell, by me!
MM: First stop is Stephanie’s station. Was she able to pull off her last minute dish fix? Yes! And Chef Benet seems happy with her plantain pancake.
CC: I like the salad, it’s the most inventive of the three… Wait, and now its like 4 hours later? Why did it get dark?
MM: I was just wondering that. Maybe they were trying to psyche themselves up before hitting Lisa’s station. Not a lot of feedback on Lisa’s station – I can only hope that means she didn’t do well.
CC: Let’s hope.
MM: Wow, there really is no way to know how everyone is doing.
CC: I think Antonia’s undercooked pigeon peas might be an issue. I’m worried for Antonia.
MM: I am as well even though she isn’t one of my favorites (as I’ve made clear over and over) but she’s a much more solid chef than Lisa and I’d hate to see her get bumped out now.
CC: Here comes the announcement on the winners: Richard and Stephanie. Awesome. This top 2 is the top 2 of the entire competition.
MM: Richard’s ribs seemed to be the Judge’s favorite overall.
CC: I was interested in those, but they didn’t have a lot of time to cover the dishes as much as I would have liked.

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MM: I’m already feeling bad for Antonia.
CC: Yeah, this is going to be tough… Richard wins a new 2009 Corolla! Nice!
MM: I hope he doesn’t have to pay to get that Corolla back to the mainland. Not much of a prize then!
CC: (laughing) Yeah the shipping fees have to be murder. Ok, they’re calling in the bottom two. Let’s start the chant now: Lisa…Lisa…Lisa…
MM: And she’s already got her nasty face on.

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CC: The judges don’t like Lisa cooking Spanish over her usual Asian. It was a gamble, but she couldn’t produce quality regional food. And look at Lisa’s reaction! How can she be surprised?
MM: Maybe she thought, “Well, I’ve screwed myself every time I cook Asian, so I thought I’d go for Latin…” Her excuses are the same ones she uses every time. Colicchio looks like he doesn’t believe a word she is saying… Oh no, I don’t want it to be Lisa that goes on to the final 3 but it looks as if she might. Bad feedback for Antonia – she took it gracefully, though.
CC: Yeah, that must have been hard. Whoever is #3 is going to get smoked by Richard and Stephanie anyway.
MM: This has been a really hard episode to watch, probably one of the hardest all season.
CC: I think its a testament to the judges that 3 out of the 4 left are the top 3.
MM: What do you mean – skill wise, the 3 out of the 4 are definitely the top 3 of the entire competition? Yeah, I agree with that.
CC: It’s obviously a testament to the skill of those 3 chefs as well, but yeah, you would think someone good would get hosed along the way. Ok, your prediction before we count it down? I think it’s going to be Antonia. It shouldn’t be, but I think it will.
MM: I think it is Antonia, and I will feel crushed for her. She isn’t my favorite, but overall she’s a better chef.

Padma makes the announcement, asking Antonia to please pack her knives and go.

MM (continued): Yeah, it’s Antonia. That really sucks.
CC: Yeah, it does.
MM: This was the hardest judges’ table to watch. I – WHAT IN THE –

Antonia gracefully makes her goodbyes and exits. The cameras return to the scene in the waiting room, where Richard, Stephanie, and Lisa are sitting in stunned silence after a long competition. Lisa breaks the silence by telling Richard and Stephanie that they should be congratulating her, instead of being mad that she made it through and Antonia didn’t.

CC: Oh, lets get some more drama in there. That was really low class.
MM: It’s all about you, isn’t it, Lisa? Richard wins the quote for this episode: “You won the bronze medal. There ya go.”
CC: Put that on a t shirt and I’ll buy it right now. I do understand how Lisa feels, but you can’t expect people to be jumping for joy after someone leaves.
MM: What does she want congratulations for? That she didn’t suck quite as much as the other person? I don’t know if that’s something to be congratulated over.
CC: Well I don’t know about that. Being in the top 3 is a big accomplishment, but you have to give it more than 5 minutes to switch from Antonia leaving to you not leaving.
MM: That was a sobering challenge.
CC: Yeah, because it could have just as easily been Richard or Stephanie who undercooked some rice and then they’re done.
MM: Yeah, or what if Stephanie wasn’t able to bounce back from Dale’s mistake?
CC: Yeah, that would have been worse, if Steph got booted for a mistake Dale made. I would have called it “dry aged pork” and took my chances.
MM: Gross.

Tune in next whenever as the AwK authors finish up this season of Top Chef sometime relatively near after the episode airs!

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