Top Chef

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After a quick review of the season thus far (Did you know Hosea really wants to beat Stefan? And that Stefan won a lot of challenges? And Carla kind of came out of nowhere?), we head back to New Orleans for the final challenge. The cheftestants prep in different ways: Stefan brushes his teeth, Hosea puts on his shoes, and Carla does an amazing yoga move that looks like The Worm. Wouldn't it be super fun to be seated at Carla's table at a wedding? Even if you didn't know her? She could critique the food, you know she'd be the first one on the dance floor, and she could be your designated driver, since she doesn't drink alcohol. SCORE!

The final three cheftestants are delivered to a riverboat, the Creole Queen, where they eat breakfast. Carla interviews that she's astounded to still be there, but she feels like she's "building momentum." She adds portentously that if she can continue to make the food that got her to the finals, she has a good chance of winning. DUM DUM DUM! Hosea tells the others that this competition really opened his eyes to the fact that there are tons of chefs out there who want to be on top, to borrow a phrase from Tyra. That sounds dumb until you think about the fact that Hosea was a big fish in a smallish pond out in Colorado, and then he came to New York, the biggest pond of all. Hosea interviews that he has more to prove because, unlike his competitors, he still works for someone else and hasn't started his own business. Stefan interviews that he's pissed that Fabio got eliminated, but he really still thinks he has it in the bag. I bet the producers love Stefan because I get the vibe that, in his interviews, they barely have to ask him a question and he just starts delivering gems like, "Hosea, get the fuck out of here" and "It's in the bag. It's over." You may not like Stefan, but he is reality television gold, much like Santino was on Project Runway, probably because he presumably hasn't watched much reality television. Give me 12 Stefans over one All-Star season where everyone has been on television before and is way more concerned about their image and the editing than on just being honest. Maybe that's easier for me to say now, knowing the outcome of the season, but I think I've enjoyed Stefan all along, even if I didn't necessarily want him to win.

After breakfast, the cheftestants don their coats and head to a museum to meet up with Padma and Tom and find out about their final challenge. Colicchio lays out the ground rules, which are pretty simple: cook the best three-course meal of their lives. He emphasizes that dessert does not have to be one of the courses. Stefan interviews that it's almost too much freedom, because there are so many options regarding what to cook. Padma tells them that they'll be cooking at the famous New Orleans restaurant Commander's Palace, and then serving to a panel of 12 judges and guests. They get two hours to prep today and three hours to cook tomorrow. Colicchio pulls out the not-really-surprise that they will be getting some help, and Carla interviews that she didn't think it would be previous contestants like previous seasons, because they were already brought back once. True, but then production could save money on plane fares and hotels, right? Instead, they've brought back Marcel, Richard and Casey from previous seasons. I remember Marcel and Blais, but Casey took me a second, because she was so nondescript, even though she almost won the whole thing. Hosea interviews that all three of them were strong contenders for the title, so it's cool that they are there to help.

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Top Chef

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