Adam Platt on the Top Chef Finale: ‘The Key Was the Alligator’

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Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

Don’t say there weren’t clues. First, the source who spied on Carla during an NPR taping and said “the general consensus from her tone is that she didn’t win.” Second, a preview clip showing that Stefan cooked the evening’s best dish— would Bravo post it if he was the victor? Doubtful. Then, of course, there was the baldy bias. So it was a bit anticlimactic when Padma named the next Top Chef last night. Still, we were a bit heartbroken by the way it all played out—one last time, we turned to Adam Platt for consolation.

Platt: The key was the alligator. If Hosea had gotten stuck with that giant reptile, he would have been toast. Pig-eyed Stefan had the training to handle that grizzled protein with aplomb. It would have thrown the others off kilter. Also, Hosea got to cook with the best No. 2 chef. Poor Carla was led astray by Casey. Stefan actually called his sous chef “a bit of a twat.”

Maurer: “But who isn’t!” Marcel did look like a twat in those sunglasses. It was like he was there to judge a booty-shaking contest at Essence fest. On the other hand, he knew not to freeze that carpaccio — if Marcel Vigneron tells you you’re going too far, you’re probably going too far.

Platt: He looked like a mosquito in ski goggles. The judges all looked very festive though. Stefan was too classical and controlled and timid in the end. But I liked his other immortal line: “I make alligator soup, fuck it!”

Maurer: He was stoic till the last. But I have to say, as amazing as his squab seemed, that carpaccio looked like something he fished out of the shower drain with a coat hanger.

Platt: It looked wet and tepid, like it had been left too long in the rain. The squab was technically perfect, but the judges had all seen it before, and the dessert was tedium personified.

Maurer: To use a Toby Young analogy, the dessert was like in an American film, when the bad guy, after fighting someone almost to the finish, gets cocky right at the end and doesn’t even try to deliver the deathblow he so easily could.

Platt: For the record, Hosea’s cooking wasn’t lighting the world on fire. Who the hell wants a last meal of venison and candied kumquats, and then no goddamned dessert?

Maurer: Still, better than serving something as boring as Stefan did. Maybe you’re right that he was drinking like a fish, and his idea of the perfect third course was a trip to Friendly’s.

Platt: He’d probably been drinking heavily, he got cocky and tired of kicking everyone’s ass, and so he bonked. I think the judges also held him to a higher standard. He said “they expected more of me” and he was right.

Maurer: How about Fabio turning against his paisan?

Platt: Fabio stuck the dagger in Stefan’s back, and even twisted it a little. But Toby fought gamely for his fellow Euro baldy. He kept going back to the dessert. But in then end the Don slapped him down. Clearly he wasn’t partial to food cooked in a bag. [Indeed Toby Young writes in his blog, “Tom and I were completely at loggerheads. We’ve disagreed before at Judges Table, but never like this.”]

Maurer: I guess the lesson is, the finale of Top Chef is not when you want to sous vide something for the first time. And listen to your spirit guides, not your sous chef.