Disappointed, much? I kinda am. Thankfully, the competition did become more about the cooking, but I was still disappointed the chefs just couldn't make it an entire episode without trying to sell Marcel out. And I was disappointed that Marcel's behavior all season long was validated with a spot in the Final 2. I know, this is a show about cooking and not about personality, but I still feel that you can have a winner that's talented
and somewhat pleasant to be around; I guess I just shouldn't expect that from anybody in Season 2. And as much as I liked Ilan at first, his unrelenting focus on Marcel totally turned me off. But, the two stepped things up in the first part of the Hawaii challenge, so they're the guys who'll be going for the gold in next week's finale. It's been two months since the contestants last saw each other and not much seems to have changed - except for the fact that Elia's hair is growing in, while Sam got a haircut. Plus, Elia's now being more vocal about her Marcel annoyance. Let's break this down Final 4-style:
Even before hitting Hawaii, we got a little peek into the lives of the Final 4 at work and at home. If it had been anyone else I probably would have thought Marcel's whole culinary-geek thing that he had going on during the brief visit to Las Vegas was cute. I mean, I do appreciate his passion for studying and researching the science of food and experimenting with different ways of adding flavor and spice to dishes as well as relating his excitement to diners. But at times, it seems like he almost takes the fun out of cooking, with his over-thinking and his deconstructing and his hey, hey, hey. However, poor Marcel can't get away from Ilan - he had to sit next to the guy on the plane to Hawaii. Of course, they were in first class at the time, so who really cares who you're sitting next to as long as you're in first class, know what I mean? Ilan thought he had gotten past all his resentments against Marcel, but no go, so you knew we were going to be in for Marcel vs. the World: Take 6. Down in Hawaii, he did take risks with his dish, adding things that I can't spell or pronounce in order to increase the quality of the dining experience. And his presentation of the food was just plain pretty. It all paid off for Marcel. His Hamachi Poke with pineapple poi especially wowed the judges. I can't believe the judges didn't say anything about his creating another
foam, but oh, well. They all mentioned how Elia relied too much on her Mediterranean influences and Ilan fell back on his Spanish-style cooking (he's a line cook for a Spanish restaurant). After hearing the words "tomato" and "foam" together, a groan at the very least would have sufficed. That's what I did, when I heard those words. Padma tried to throw everything off by complaining that his poi was too runny, but I knew pretty much right away that Marcel would be moving on to next week.
I still can't believe Sam didn't make it to the finals. Even though the guy has tool-like tendencies, he seemed to be the most consistent all season long. Although, I never realized that while Sam won the most quickfire challenges, Ilan won the most elimination challenges. Where have I been? I really thought Sam was a shoo-in for next week, and he was my pick for champion. I should have known better, because I almost never pick the winner. In Hawaii, it seemed Sam had three things working against him: 1) Tom Colicchio felt he was playing it safe with his dishes (Opakapaka Poke with seabeans and his mascarpone mousse). Playing it safe certainly didn't work for Cliff - this was a time to take risks; 2) Neither of his dishes was cooked. Major points off; and 3) America voted him fan favorite. Sure, Sam's 10,000 bucks richer, but it was a consolation prize. I guess there was no way he was going to be a fan favorite
and a finalist. Plus, in my book he got more points off when he and Ilan tried to talk to Elia about ratting out Marcel and his questionable behavior. Of course, I had hoped she wouldn't take the bait and make herself look stupid. Boy, was I wrong.
Wow, was there ever a more overly confident person? Where does she get all that cockiness from, huh? Her food looked great, and I'm sure it tasted great, but she went way overboard with the whole "spin on a Hawaiian dish" mandate. She completely disregarded the fact that the meal should still maintain some sort of traditional Hawaiian influence. And why is it only now that she's letting Marcel get to her? Again, with the way things were edited, she seemed to overreact a little bit with Marcel. I still feel like we're not getting the entire picture, because these chefs go ballistic on and about Marcel, but sometimes it doesn't seem warranted. There has to be something we're not seeing. Elia was probably going to go home anyway, but the minute she uttered, "I didn't want it to taste Hawaiian," she was a goner. Don't pass go and don't collect $200. To let herself be manipulated into that last-ditch Marcel-bashing was just sad, even if some of what she said was true.
Again, I have to express my disappointment with Ilan, because all he needed to do was focus on himself and his food. But any chance he got, he tried to needle Marcel. He did impress me - out of all the chefs' dishes, I wanted to snag a sample of his the most. Using the taro leaves was a brave choice - a risk that paid off, despite Padma's "scratching" on the back of her throat. And his version of the Haupia dessert looked awesome. Don't know how the saffron would have translated for me personally, but the dish looked all sorts of fried goodness. When Padma compared it to the funnel cake, I was sold. But, Ilan, please stop the trash-talking. Please stop the instigating. Please stop looking like a punk. It's not cool. And I don't know what purpose it served to push Elia to whine about Marcel. It just made you look desperate and sad, and again made Marcel look like the better man.
- I loved how nice Guest Chef Wong was. It was like a refreshing sorbet that cleansed the palate of all the bitterness and smirks and general badness that went on this season.
- When Marcel went on and on about his dish explaining everything to the diners, he so reminded me of our favorite sommelier (Stephen) from Season 1.
- I kind of loved the fact that Sam was afraid of the helicopter ride. So cute.
- At the end there, Tom was very positive with the chefs. It was nice to hear.
Did you think Marcel and Ilan would be standing at the very end? I have to say that I didn't. My guesses were Sam and Elia, so I was pretty much 0 for 2. Next week, it's a battle for the ages - two season-long enemies looking to take the other down and snag themselves the title of
Top Chef. See you then.
Disappointed, much? I kinda am. Thankfully, the competition did become more about the cooking, but I was still disappointed the chefs just couldn't make it an entire episode without trying to sell Marcel out. And I was disappointed that Marcel's behavior all season long was validated with a spot in the Final 2. I know, this is a show about cooking and not about personality, but I still feel that you can have a winner that's talented and somewhat pleasant to be around; I guess I just shouldn't expect that from anybody in Season 2. And as much as I liked Ilan at first, his unrelenting focus on Marcel totally turned me off. But, the two stepped things up in the first part of the Hawaii challenge, so they're the guys who'll be going for the gold in next week's finale. It's been two months since the contestants last saw each other and not much seems to have changed except for the fact that Elia's hair is growing in, while Sam got a haircut. Plus, Elia's now being more vocal about ...