Top Chef
Season 3 Finale, Part I

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Rocky Mountain High

Time finally ticks all the way down for everyone else and Padma calls time. "Good job, guys!" Hung bleats, and gives his spaz laugh. "That was horrible," Brian mutters. Oh, but there's a snag! Hung realizes that he forgot to add lemon juice. He had seven minutes to remember it, but his ego was clearly stuffing the cavity of his common sense. It's FISH, Hung, how do you forget lemon juice? Well, you know what they say, "pride goes before the lemon juice." Starting with Brian, Padma asks how he felt about the challenge. Brian blathers, "Thenatureinthebackground thestreamrunning thatwasallreallynicebut thechallengeitselfwasprettydifficult." He sautéed the trout in rendered bacon fat and then somehow used the trout roe with red pepper and some brown butter as well. Ripert points at something on Brian's cutting board and asks why he didn't use the ones he started. Brian uncomfortably admits that they weren't going to be cooked all the way through, so he had to abandon that idea. Dale puts the situation in a nutshell for us: "You're like, 'This is what I'm going to show one of my idols and it's cooked on a stump and I just threw fish guts behind a bush. Great.'" Moving on to Casey, Padma and Eric sample her butter-crisped trout with summer corn and grapes. Hung dusted his trout filet with curry, and adds, "And on the bottom, I have sautéed mushrooms and little bit of lemon juice." Dale boggles accusingly at Hung. Padma leans in inquisitively. Hung amends, "No, no lemon juice." Ripert clarifies that there is no lemon juice in the dish. Hung admits he forgot it. Finally, we get to Dale, who dusted his filet with flour and cayenne before sautéing it. He also sautéed some apples and fennel in bacon and deglazed with bourbon. Padma chews dramatically, and Ripert confirms the use of cayenne.

The cheftestants are lined up, and after Padma asks, Ripert explains that his least favorites were Brian for having an unseasoned and bland salad, and Dale for too much cayenne. As Ripert so eloquently puts it, "Zee cayenne wuz keeking at the end and we had eet een the throats." His voice is so lovely. Brian defensively tells us, "I didn't feel that I had failed in my seafood nature because when chefs consider, they don't consider trout seafood at all." I'm sorry, but that's so lame. Fine, it's not seafood because it didn't live in the saltwater sea, but it's still fish, and where it lived has nothing to do with you flubbing the dish. Also, does that mean chefs don't consider salmon seafood because they spend part of their lives in a river? This leaves Hung's acid-less fish and Casey as Ripert's favorites. Ripert reminds Hung that if he had included the lemon juice, it would have elevated the fish. He turns to Casey and tells her everything was really well-seasoned, that the corn and grapes go well together, and adds, "Also I think your dish has a sole." Wait, I thought it was trout? Okay, fine -- I'll stop the fish humor. Casey's dish had "soul." Because that's what she's full of -- heart and soul. And now I feel this odd urge to play piano. As the camera flashes to Hung's Furrowed Brow Of What Is A Heart And/Or Soul?, Ripert goes on that it's really important for food to have an obvious soul behind it. Casey's the QF winner, and she's choked up over it. Hung tells us that he tasted Casey's dish and thinks he's more refined. Padma sends the winners and losers to relax at "Aspen's gorgeous" Hotel Jerome.

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