Top Chef
Season 2 Finale, Part I

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The Poke's On You

Speaking of douchefs -- again, I have the forums to thank for that bon mot -- Ted Ilan is finally up. He presents a Spanish version of lau lau composed of morcilla, grilled squid, and taro that he made sure to boil for a "very, very long time," and wrapped the whole thing in ti leaves. Back at the tables, Padmadala says, "It really tastes Spanish." "Well, that's the sausage," Gail informs her. Chef Wong thinks the use of taro leaves really makes the dish. "I'm feeling the itch in back part of my hard palate right now," Padmadala says. Honey, that's cottonmouth. Another guest at the table is also feeling it apparently. Ted Ilan serves his dessert dish. He used coconut milk to make a traditional haupia, added saffron, and then breaded and deep-fried it into a fritter. He references leche frita -- fried milk -- in Spanish cuisine. It looks as though he dusted the fritter with powdered sugar. "Wow, that's definitely saffron," Gail comments. Padmadala thinks that with the coconut milk, the saffron, and the frying, it could be an Indian dish. Since Gail can't contradict Padmadala on this particular point, she says, "I really, really like it." Padmadala brings up Ted Ilan's sad funnel cake as a reference for this dish. The guests found the fried "haupia" interesting.

Back in the Krapmore Kitchen, Ted Ilan whines to Sam, "My plate wasn't beautiful." He's hoping Sam will grab him by the shoulders, look deep in his eyes, and say, "No, but you're beautiful." Sam's response is, "Pffft -- It's hot, man." Ted Ilan continues to whine ineffectually.

A Hawaiian fire twirler twirls fire. The cheftestants and guests watch. One by one, the cheftestants tell us how they are feeling. Elia says, "There's a lot at stake for me, I don't want to hear Padma say, 'Pack your knives and go home.'" Then you should probably cover your ears for the next ten minutes.

Judges' Table. Lord, I see that my TiVo timeline says I'm fifty-two minutes into the episode. Normally, I would be overjoyed at being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but since Bravo saw fit to super-size this, I have another seventeen minutes AFTER the end of the hour. Ugh. Is Padmadala slurring her words here? They talk about how tough the decision is. Discussion, discussion, discussion. Boring, boring, boring. Colicchio mentions that Ted Ilan was the only one to attempt to use the taro leaf, which he thinks was really great considering how Chef Wong underlined its importance to Hawaiian cuisine. Chef Wong agrees. Turning to Marcel's faux poi, Colicchio thinks it was a bit of a stretch. Chef Wong agrees. Gail says, "I found the pineapple poi really airy --" "Really? You thought -- you thought the poi was aerated and not runny?" Padmadala interrupts. "No, it didn't run on my plate at all," Gail insists. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the faux poi appear runny only when Padmadala stuck her fingers in it? Padmadala states that the pineapple poi didn't work for her and ends the discussion by announcing they move on to Elia. Colicchio decides that Elia didn't take the flavors and make them her own, she just made them her own. "There was nothing in that dish that was reminiscent at all of Hawaiian flavors," Colicchio decides. Chef Wong gives all the cheftestants credit for putting out what they did in the amount of time they had. Colicchio wants to bring the cheftestants out for a little Prime Minestrone's Question Time.

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