Top Chef
Season 2 Finale, Part II

Episode Report Card
Keckler: B | Grade It Now!
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Dessert. Marcel does a sweet riff on blinis and caviar by serving blinis with Kona coffee "caviar" and Hawaiian chocolate mousse. Dufresne loves it. Someone else says, "It's fun!" Roy dings it for being colorless. Conant says that Marcel has amazing potential and that he's someone to watch. Colicchio nods silently.

Marcel tells us that things could have gone better -- the missing ingredients, his unmotivated team -- but he is still pleased with what he did. He doesn't think Ted Ilan could have been anywhere near as creative or original as he was. Well, he wasn't stupid enough to try sugar tricks in tropical humidity, I can tell you that. The judges applaud Marcel, give him props, and Padmadala excuses him for the nonce.

Judges' Table. Discussion. Colicchio makes a distinction between Ted Ilan and Marcel by saying that he thinks Ted Ilan was making dishes he had made before and was comfortable and confident in them. Marcel, he feels, was making these dishes for the first time. Gail agrees that Marcel took greater risks and was more cutting-edge. She again points out how Marcel's meal was much lighter. At Padmadala's drawly proposal, the judges go over both meals, course by course. Hubert Keller thinks Marcel set the tone of his meal with his first dish, and he thought Ted Ilan's pinworms on toast was only "okay." Colicchio agrees, noting that pinworms on toast didn't take much effort. Turning to the second course, they clearly loved Ted Ilan's moi -- which I keep hearing as "mohel" -- and thought Marcel's salad was pathetic. Even if the isomorphic droplet had been included, they all agree that it still wasn't impressive enough to be included in such a meal. Third course: they can't decide which was better; they really loved both. Fourth course: Hubert announces that they were both good (he's such a nice man, I just love him!) but he could "read more artistry" in Marcel's dish. Colicchio decides Ted Ilan's short ribs with romesco was out of place and belongs in a casual restaurant, but he thought Marcel's beef worked perfectly with his entire meal. Finally, they discuss desserts; they all love Ted Ilan's fancy fruit cup. Gail thought Marcel's dessert was "fun," "whimsical," and "had a sense of humor." Hubert Keller agrees that it was a unique dish.

They continue their intelligence-gathering by bringing out the ex-cheftestants and Ted Ilan's douchefs. Betty slobberingly announces how wonderful it was to work with Ted Ilan. Colicchio asks Elia if she liked the food. "Yeah, it was Spanish -- authentic food. Good," Elia says, almost seeming to damn Ted Ilan with faint praise. Padmadala asks if it's bad for Ted Ilan to rely too much on Spanish food. "Well, this is what he knows," Elia says, again seeming to be doing something other than loudly singing Ted Ilan's praises. I can't figure it out. "He played it wise," Elia concludes. She's basically saying that Ted Ilan played it safe and although that helped Harold win last year, it's not necessarily what the judges want. Colicchio asks if Ted Ilan deserves to win. Elia seems to answer a different question: "I think he deserves to win over Marcel, totally." I think she's still incredibly bitter -- granted, it's probably only been a few days since she was drummed out on her ass -- that she's not there competing for the win herself. I think she knows she's better than Ted Ilan and would never admit to thinking Ted Ilan should actually be Top Chef above all others, herself especially. Colicchio dings her: "But you didn't see Marcel's food, did you?" "No," Elia says weakly, "But --" and in her awkward pause, Betty cackles. Colicchio cocks his head. "Marcel can't run a keetchen, Marcel can't make people work for him. Hands down? Ilan has to win if you just taste his food." "But you didn't taste Marcel's food tonight," Gail reminds her. Elia is just embarrassing herself again and again. I love it. Betty yappily tries to interject something critical about Marcel. But Elia has already asked, "But was the fooood gooooood?" "Yes, some of it was amazing," Gail tells her happily and firmly. Good for you, Gail. You've got her number. Elia shuts up.

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