Top Chef
Season 3 Finale, Part I

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

Colicchio visits Casey first and grabs a plate of her mushroom-crusted elk loin with a dual-textured cauliflower thing. Casey puréed half the cauliflower in olive oil and then mixed in caramelized florets. She also has a smoked tomato butter and a pear poached in butter with juniper, which she thinks will pair (heh) well with the elk. Outside, Colicchio and Ripert eat Casey's elk. "She cooked eet verr rare, huh?" Ripert comments. "Yup," Colicchio says shortly. "Almost black and blue," Ripert adds, sticking his knife in his mouth. Gail prances over to Dale's station to try his ginger-cinnamon elk loin with a huckleberry-blackberry red wine sauce. Dale goes on that he couldn't make his goat cheese tart, so instead he has cauliflower and fingerling potatoes, and also pickled cauliflower, pecans, radish sprouts, fresh mint, and a blackberry. Gail doesn't say anything other than "mm-hmm" during this rather long ingredient list. Over with Padma, Gail notes, "There's a lot going on on this plate." Honey, you haven't seen "a lot" yet. Ripert walks over to Hung, who tells us that Ripert is "God." In the stables, Hung tells Ripert he's made a red wine, balsamic, and cinnamon-marinated elk loin, and also has roasted tomatoes and garlic and tomato with Mostazal olive oil and lemon confit. Ripert asks if Hung had the lemon confit in his pantry, but Hung says he made it himself. Hung also has pommes boulangère, to which he added shiitake mushrooms. "Good idea," Ripert comments. And the dish is finished off with elk jus. Hung tells us that when you're being judged by professionals, it doesn't matter how good it is, they're always going to find fault somewhere.

Oh god, and here it is time for the Brians' dissertation on elk. Proudly wearing his off-white cowboy hat, Brian calls out, "I can take a couple of people down here if somebody wants to come visit me not all of you just a couple at a time!" I've finally decided what Brian's cadence reminds me of: a livestock auctioneer. "Here'sapigwhattapigneedapigfortyfiftysixtySOOOOOLD!" He must have powerful lungs because no asthmatic could ever talk that way without dying. After telling some chick from Coronado that he's from San Diego too, he explains his dish: "This is called the Honky-Tonk, Whiskey River, Elk Shank." I totally thought he said "elk shake," and was about to vomit all over the room. Casey notes that she can hear The Brian Show all the way down at her station. Padma greets Brian and says, "I like that you're burning the sage -- it smells wonderful in here." Of course she likes it, because burning sage SMELLS LIKE POT! Brian launches into his description and adds a new adjective for Padma's benefit (she likes the alcohol, remember?): "This is my Honky-Tonk, Whiskey River, Drunken Elk Shank." And he just keeps going, "Whiskey-braised shank, falling off the bone right here and I did that with whiskey, and red wine, allkindsofmixedvegetables, garlic and everythinglikethat. I took cherries, blackberries, and balsamic, reduced it and then I folded that into a sage brown butter. …Corn, pancetta, and pork marinated…I have some really nice spicy radish sprouts right here…bourbon elk shank, all right? So this is a little bit of a horseradish and sour cream…and over here we have some asparagus, corn, pancetta…" Okay, stop right there. I get that with the creative time-lapse editing they are trying to make Brian's list of ingredients seem longer than the passenger list on the Titanic, but they did repeat the "corn, pancetta" part. And given how much else he said, it was clearly unnecessary to do it and it sort of undermines the funny. Brian goes on about two cheeses he has out: "A Gorgonzola right there and a Roquefort right there, a little bit of blue cheese really sets the dish off." Because the bourbon, pancetta, horseradish, and sage are just there for show. Padma digs into the cheese and takes her plate away. I never heard the cowboys and girls say anything negative about the dishes. Gail exclaims, "Wow, that was a serious song and dance. It took him like twenty-five minutes to describe what went on." Colicchio notes they'll have a lot to talk about at judges' table. As usual, Padma just thanks the cheftestants and says she'll see them at Judges' Table. The cheftestants quietly clean up their areas and fret.

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