(Totally ganked my show page title idea from the brilliant minds at Amuse-Biatch.)
Casey. Dale. Hung. Hit it.
Actually, make that Dale. Hung. Hit it. Clearly, Dale's preview comments about Casey being unfocussed were painfully prophetic.
As the show opens in a live Chicago studio with Padma in the navy version of a bridesmaid dress my babysitter wore in the early '80s, I am reminded of Sars noting in her recaplet how worthless these little spots are. You know what that means? I don't have to recap them! Much. Padma welcomes us, reminds us why we're tuned in, and tells us that the three final cheftestants are backstage awaiting the final decree. Man, just...poor Casey.
Yield: 1 strong cocktail
3 ounces apple cider
1 ounce Pommelle, or other cider-flavored liqueur
1 ounce golden rum
1 ounce bourbon
Slam everything together, stick it in the fridge, and let the cloves macerate in the drink overnight. When ready to serve, garnish with a non-sous-vide apple cheek, stick in a bendy straw, and drink the loss away.
Aspen. The cheftestants wake up with various nervous or excited reactions to the finals. Casey is having trouble breathing because of the altitude, but she still thinks she can GO! ALL! THE! WAY! A short time later, they all just happen to be hanging in Casey's room when room service wheels in a tray of food. Their appetites are immediately suppressed when they open up some Top Chef stationery (when you care enough to scare the very best) and find lift tickets. Casey reads, "Meet us at the top of the mountain to find out about your final challenge..."
The three cheftestants and a camera guy or two ride a gondola up to the tippy top of the mountain, where they find Tom and Padma standing next to tables full of food. There's also a totally unnecessary ice sculpture with "Top Chef" carved into it. Frankly, I would have thought an icy representation of Gail Simmons would have been more impressive. Since they're on the grounds, Padma drones a quick commercial about the Aspen Mountain Club, which seems rather pointless since we learn that the waiting list is "years long." Colicchio delivers the final challenge: "Cook us the best meal you've ever cooked in your life." So simple. Colicchio throws a spanner into the works, though. Unlike in past years, when each cheftestant cooked a meal in turn, this time they're all going to cook at the same time, in the same kitchen, and serve their food simultaneously. They have thirty-five minutes to plan their three-course menu, and they get to choose their ingredients from what they see in front of them, as well as use the special ingredients they brought with them.