Top Chef
Season 3 Finale, Part I

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Keckler: B- | Grade It Now!
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Rocky Mountain High

Moving on to Casey, Colicchio bags on the cauliflower purée. He doesn't think she needed to blow chunks into "a beautiful, silky purée." Casey explains she didn't want the purée to be too homogenous in texture. I can understand that -- too much mushy food is a total texture violation for me. I like varied consistencies. Colicchio tells Casey that her elk was "a little raw, almost." Gail wants to know if Casey had made the smoky tomato butter before. She had. Ripert tells her it was "delicious." Padma asks Hung how he felt about the challenge in general. "I loved it," Hung says immediately. You're such a liar -- what about all your ranting about "it's so heavy and boring"? And how you didn't want to cook for cowboys and girls? Gail asks how much Hung considered the audience when he cooked. "I thought about you guys first, then the clientele," Hung admits, and then says he decided not to make a rustic, heavy dish because he wanted to give the cowboys and girls something different. Colicchio says, "You are technically the best chef up here. Technically. We don't see you in the food at all." I'm sorry, but the way Colicchio says it, it still sounds like "we don't see you in food at all." ["There's been some debate about this; I heard 'the food.'" -- Sars] Colicchio points out that he doesn't see anything of Hung's Vietnamese heritage in any of his food: "Somewhere we need to see Hung, we really do." Hung falls all over himself to promise, "Believe me, if I go to the finals, I can actually prove myself: this is Hung." Yeah, but to only prove that in the finals is sort of bullshit. In seasons past, I remember Colicchio specifically saying, "This is a Dave dish," or "This is a Betty dish," over and over. Shouldn't Hung have found some way to put himself in his food, no matter how much he disagreed with the ingredients or challenge? Isn't part of the challenge being able to still make the food your own, even if you don't like or aren't familiar with various aspects of it?

Padma finally gets to Brian, and she wants to know if there's anything in the pantry he DIDN'T put on his plate. "That's not fair," Brian chuckles. "I just wanted to show you and the world just boom! And I actually think it worked out really impressively nice." Totally and very much completely. Padma points out that she had to wait a really long time to try his food because of his really long explanation, and then she gives him an out by suggesting that that he felt he was really going to sell his dish with his presentation. MALARKEY! takes over. Loudly. "THAT'S A HUGE PART OF THE WHOLE COMPETITION FOR ME I MEAN I'M HAVING AS MUCH FUN WITH THE GUESTS GETTING THEM EXCITED TO EAT IT BEFORE THEY EVEN HAVE IT." Ripert wants to know why Brian had them choose their own cheese. MALARKEY! goes on, "THE GORGONZOLA HAD A REALLY REALLY ROBUST FLAVOR AND THE CALIFORNIA ROQUEFORT WAS A LITTLE BIT MILDER A LITTLE BIT CREAMIER." Ripert comments, "It was very pungent." "Was it?" Brian asks. It's Gorgonzola and Roquefort -- of course it's pungent, Brian! Also, there's no such thing as California Roquefort, so I'm thinking he got his hands on some sort of California blue and christened it himself to make it fancy. Plus, I'm pretty sure that "Roquefort" is name-protected. Ripert presses Brian that as the chef, he should be the one making that command decision for his diners.

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