Yo. When I'm wrong, I am wroooooooong! I was totally predicting Elia and Sam in the final-final. For the past month, I told anyone who wasn't too annoyed to listen that it wouldn't be Sam for the win, because he was too much like Harold. I figured Bravo wouldn't allow themselves to have a typecast winner who was another "sexy" alpha male chef from New York. So who does that leave? Elia as the winner. Well, I was partly right. Sam's not going to win it because he's not even moving on to next week's episode. Ted Ilan and Marcel are. Which, if you've been caught up -- or dragged down -- by the drama over the past week, you know that Ted Ilan cannot win.
After the chefs are flown, wined, and dined at the hands of the usual suspects and Chef Alan Wong, they are told they need to recreate an Alan Wongian birthday luau for the Elimination Challenge. Two of them will be going home. Celebrity guest judge Alan Wong is delightful and sweet to every cheftestant. He is complimentary and impressed with all of them, but when prompted by the other judges, he does admit to some complaints with a few of their dishes.
Meanwhile, Ted Ilan bleats and blathers on to Son of Sam and Elia about how Marcel's only in Hawaii by the skin of his teeth. Elia mutters also that Marcel has cheated throughout the whole competition. Oh, sorry, Marcel has "tcheeted." Shut up, Elia. Jumping gleefully on this nugget, Ted Ilan then encourages Elia to tell the judges that she thinks Marcel has been cheating.
At the Judges' Table, Colicchio and Padmadala argue (rather vociferously for them) about how it's a cooking competition, but Sam didn't cook anything; all his stuff was raw. Padmadala doesn't think it matters because she avers that Sam cooked with acid, but the beefy bald grillmeister that is Colicchio scoffs at this idea.
Back in front of the judges, Ted Ilan goads Elia into tattling on Marcel. Elia makes a few weak mewls on the subject -- something about her steamer being moved? When the burner wasn't even on? -- but it's pretty apparent that she can't even produce ONE SOLID PIECE OF COHERENT EVIDENCE that Marcel ever cheated. The judges come down hard on her, completely dismissing her obviously baseless claims.
Finally, wonder of wonders, Sam and Elia are booted off the Big Island, and Ted Ilan and Marcel will duke it out in the final-finals next week.
Starting off the episode, we do something I don't recall being done last season. In the vein of Project Runway, we visit the final four cheftestants in their various home or work kitchens and get another look at their lives. Marcel's in Vegas at JoÃ«l Robuchon's restaurant. With its black and white wall tiles and black equipment, it looks more like a home kitchen. There's also something about the tile and black equipment that is triggering a slight claustrophobic response -- the place looks very small and closed-in even though it's obviously quite large. Weird. A co-worker tells us that Marcel is constantly on top of the food world. In his own apartment, Marcel explains that he and his roommates have come up with a "super exclusive gastronomic society" that has them all bringing their restaurant work home with them. They're always looking for ways to broaden their experience and explain their knowledge. Marcel packs up his stuff (presumably for Hawaii) and says, "Top Chef has given us the opportunity to bring our own equipment and our own ingredients." He lists some molecular gastronomy ingredients that he's packing up, including xantham gum. Ferran AdriÃ has recently released a line of pricey ingredients that allows you to turn your own kitchen into an El Bulli lab. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly craving some Sperificataion Calcic right about now. Marcel gets excited about "busting out shit they've never seen before."
Still in Vegas but moving over to The CafÃ© at Mandalay Bay, we check in with Elia. She tells us she's researched Hawaiian cuisine on the "eeeenternet" and read some "booooks." She also talked to her co-workers at Mandalay Bay. The assistant manager of The CafÃ© tells the cameras that Elia has the passion and the patience and the knowledge, "everything that it takes" to win the competition. She also has the finger-pointing and the lying. Elsewhere, we are exposed to Elia's Wall of Over-Achievements. Lo and behold, she used to be a competitive swimmer for the Mexican National Team and was two seconds away from the Olympics. Hey, Marisa -- how do you like them cupcakes? With all the swimming medals, she also has all her culinary degrees. Elia packs up her bag of special ingredients and equipment, but we can't really tell what she's bringing. It looks like a mess. Much like Elia.