Although this season of The Taste began with a single spoonful of food from each contestant, on Tuesday's finale, the remaining cooks served the judges three spoons in an effort to take home the top prize. So, which cook won? Let's break it down:
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And Then There Were Three
One of the four finalists bit the dust in the first round, during which famed Chef Jose Andres tasked the contestants to create three different tapas-inspired spoons that had to feature mozzarella, Iberico ham and spot prawns.
Private chef Khristianne of Team Brian idolizes Andres and therefore knows how to work molecular gastronomy tricks such as spherification. Diane (Team Anthony) decided to stay away from Andres' specialty of Spanish cuisine, whereas culinary instructor Gregg (Team Ludo) stuck with Spanish. Food blogger Sarah (Team Ludo) kept her food simple. Poor Nigella had no team members left and therefore floated from kitchen to kitchen.
The verdict? Team Ludo was reduced to only one when Andres picked Gregg to go home. On to the all-female final round!
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The Final Round
Once again, the competition tasked the finalists with three spoons each that would be paired with a glass of wine. Getting the judges nice and sloshed could help them enjoy the food better, no? Overall, Sarah decided to stick with her strategy of keeping it simple, Khristianne went to her roots and Diane flouted convention by using a new technique she hadn't tried before. How'd they do?
Spoon 1 - smoky sea urchin mousse with lobster: Ludo said, "Everything worked well."
Spoon 2 - Seared scallops with quail egg: "That shouldn't have worked ... but it kind of worked for me," said Anthony. Both Ludo and Nigella felt it was lacking.
Spoon 3 - Halibut: Overall good reviews from all judges
Spoon 1 - Peking duck confit: Brian wanted more duck, while Nigella felt it needed more cilantro
Spoon 2 - seafood bouillabaisse with seabass: "That spoon was perfect," said Nigella. Everyone agreed.
Spoon 3 - braised short rib with a squash puree: Both Brian and Nigella thought the puree was too sweet
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Spoon 1 - Arctic char salad with sweet potato: Brian felt the elements didn't go together, but Ludo felt it reminded him of France.
Spoon 2 - seared duck breast with fennel and red wine sauce: More French flavors for Ludo!
Spoon 3 - beef tenderloin with creamy shallot confit: Nigella said it was "beautiful." Anthony said it was a "simply blunt combo of flavors, but they really hit me front and center."
There was not a clear-cut winner. "This was brutal," Anthony said. "All of these were great."
In third place was Sarah, who wasn't disappointed at all knowing that she hung in there with the pros. In the end, Khristianne, the private chef to Charlie Sheen, took home the weird dual-spoon trophy as confetti fell. Anthony's teammate Diane surprisingly took her loss well. "Khristianne deserves it," she said.
"It's surreal," said the newly crowned champ. "These things do happen to people like me. Wow."
"Its a good and noble thing to cook well," said Anthony. "Congratulations, Khristianne."
Did the right chef win?