Top Chef
Season 3 Finale, Part II

Episode Report Card
Keckler: A | Grade It Now!
The Huynh Of A Lifetime

We move on to Casey, who already looks a bit melancholy. Padma asks how Casey feels her whole menu went. Casey admits that she was rattled and unprepared. Padma leads her: "But surely you would have come here with some idea of two or three things in your repertoire that you knew you could pull off with very basic ingredients." Casey babbles about altitude changes and seeing ingredients and running and then says, "I wanted a nice block of Gala apples, sake poached. We had one bottle, you took half [she turns and points at Hung], didn't quite have enough. Leeks were not there today." Colicchio begs to differ. There were leeks. "Baby leeks?" Casey asks, pointedly. Colicchio holds up his fingers to indicate the small diameter of the leeks: "I actually remember seeing -- because leeks are one my favorite things -- I remember looking and I go, 'Wow, the leeks look great.' I saw them there." CRINGE! And even worse, they awkwardly decide to leave in a great hanging "Um..." for Casey, making her look as though she was reaching and stumbling for words. It was sort of unnecessary, given the fact that I'm so uncomfortable on Casey's behalf, I'm already hiding under my couch and peeking out between my fingers. Padma asks about Casey's first dish, and she admits that it really gave her trouble. Colicchio asks about the way she put salmon roe and foie gras together. Casey says that it was to give color to the dish. "SALMON ROE? Is a REALLY STRONG FLAVOR -- that CHANGES? The WHOLE DISH," Gail says, suddenly morphing her Microsoft Word personality from Italics Gail to SHOUTING Gail. "That was the thing that ruined it all -- all right," Casey says dryly. Colicchio corrects her that it didn't ruin it "all," butthat it was the only thing that was out of balance. Moving on to her second dish and already really defensive, Casey complains about the size of the dishes verses the size of her prawns. Padma says, "Again, you chose to put some caviar..." Casey says that she was given a sous chef today: "Um, I sort of lost control on the plating of that dish." Oh, Casey. "But this is your finale performance," Padma says pointedly. "Of course it is," Casey says, smiling tightly. "We were also added another course." "Well, everybody had the same conditions," Colicchio comments gently. The fact that he's so gentle almost makes it so much worse for Casey. "You're right," Casey says calmly and with certain defeat. God, are we done with her yet? Leave her in peace! Casey says that she was very happy with this dish. Colicchio wonders how long she left the pork belly in. Casey just says that it was kept in a low oven and doesn't give a time. "Did you eat it afterwards?" Colicchio wonders even more gently. "I didn't eat a piece of it -- I'm sorry," Casey states. Colicchio basically recoils. And that's exactly where Casey conceded her defeat. To say "I didn't taste it" is far less of an admission than "I didn't eat a piece of it." Padma tells Casey that, were the pork belly done right, it would have been the best dish of the night. Really? That's such a heartbreaking hypothetical at this point that it's almost cruel to say it, especially when we didn't hear that opinion from any of the other judges. "It just got really dried out," Colicchio almost whispers. How is Casey not crying right now? Almost as though Colicchio reads my mind, he quickly says, "Uh, beef dish! Loved it! Thought the dish was really, really well done." But even THIS isn't a happy for Casey, because she admits, "I said, 'Howie, can you just work on this while I sort of work on everything else?'" "Okay," Colicchio says quietly. GAH! This is awful! This is a massacre!

Finally, blessedly, we get to Hung. Hung announces how much fun he had and how he loved every dish he made. Colicchio confirms that he didn't plan anything he did. Starting with his first course, Colicchio says that the judges' only criticism is that it needed "a touch" more acid. That's so much more understated than Michelle's screaming comment. Quickly moving to the next course, Gail says that she wanted more acid there as well, and that the rice was "totally" bland, and that she didn't get "enough of the ocean from it." ZIPPING into the next course -- the duck -- Hung says that he loved it. Colicchio repeats The Todd's three-star Michelin comment. Hung nearly faints with pride. "That dish was incredible," says Dale happily. How lousy does Casey feel right now? That's another dish Colicchio suggests the cheftestant carry around with him for a long time. "Don't even think about improving on it," Colicchio adds. At long last, we get to dessert. They wonder why Hung did something so unenterprising. "A MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE?" bellows Shouting Gail. "Is THAT going to blow everyone AWAY?" Hung says that he decided to do something classic to play it safe. Colicchio thinks that classic is good, but that since Hung's food is modern, he needs to balance the classic with a modern twist. The cheftestants are thanked and dismissed.

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