Top Chef
Season 3 Finale, Part I

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Rocky Mountain High

Padma now wants each of them to defend their continued existence in the competition. God, I hate these so much. Not only are they a pain to describe or otherwise sum up, but I've never heard one that is really original or impressive. Dale begins by saying that he had his dream job in a restaurant, but the place closed because the owner retired, and he was so broken up by it that he didn't cook for a year and a half. The first QF on the show broke that streak. Dale goes on, "I entered this competition to find myself again. I have been reborn. I have found my flavor." Hysterically, Brian is looking from Dale to the judges with a look like, "Can you believe this malarkey?" Like he's one to talk. Dale feels that the dish he put out that night was head and shoulders above what he's put out before, and he finishes, "And now I'm a chef again."

Next, Casey says that when they got the break between the regular season and the finales, she only took two days for herself and the she was right back at work. She's a hard worker, she's constantly studying, constantly trying to make her restaurant the best it can be. Ripert smiles at her. She really stands behind the dishes she made and promises, "And I really have so much more to show."

Hung surprises everyone by saying that he cooks with "so much love," which is something he gets from his mother. "I grew up in the kitchen, sleeping in the kitchen, cooking all my life, and when I think about my mom's food, I get so emotional. I get tingly because it's all about soul and that's what I talk about all day is the soul in the food," Hung says. He doesn't see himself doing anything else. It's what he has done his whole life and what his entire family does. Colicchio is smiling at him. "It's for the love of food, that's all it is."

The Brian Show: "I think I should stay just because I've cooked for cowboys, I've cooked for these people [he means Bryan, O'Brian, and MALARKEY!], I've cooked for every person under the sun, but I haven't cooked my food. At all. And this is our ["OUR"!] opportunity to show you what I would cook." Because all this time, he's been letting Bryan do the prep, O'Brian do the seasoning, and MALARKEY! do the cooking. "I do believe that my food is pretty entertaining and I think you and the world and my friends would love to see it, so…"

The cheftestants are sent away, and the judges rehash. They all really liked Dale's dish, except for Padma, who says, "It looked like too much on the plate." With Hung, Gail doesn't think the components showcased the elk. Colicchio says, "Brian was really emphatic saying he hasn't cooked Brian's food yet. I think that was a cop-out, I think this was his dish." Colicchio, you don't understand; it wasn't Brian's dish, it was Brians' dish. He hasn't been able to separate the Sybils and be just himself for years now. Ripert says Brian's dish was too sweet, and he feels as strongly as Roquefort that allowing the diners to choose their own cheese was a grave misstep. The judges don't really seem to like Casey's dish. "It wasn't memorable," Gail says, dragging out her italics again. Ripert quietly disagrees, because he loved the smoky tomato butter sauce. "Oh, yes," Gail nods, as if she hadn't just called Casey's dish forgettable. Ripert goes on that the sauce elevated Casey's dish: "Eet was more than completing eet, eet was making eet better." "You're right, there was that one component in the dish that really sang," Gail amends rather lamely. She wonders if it's enough.

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