Top Chef

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It's Up to The Egg At This Point
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

The four remaining cheftestants, having had some time off, now travel to Napa Valley for their final two Elimination Challenges. Jen arrives first, at a train station that looks like something out of a postcard, with autumn leaves and everything. Jen has let her hair go wavy, and it looks much better and less brittle. She interviews that being in the top four means nothing, because she just wants to win.

Next to arrive is Michael, rolling a suitcase and carrying an umbrella. He interviews that he wants to be the top chef, and he doesn't care whose feelings he hurts to get there. He and Jen greet one another, and Jen asks if he's talked to his brother. Michael admits that they've talked a little trash back and forth, and Jen chuckles that she's not surprised.

Kevin is next up, and oh dear. He's grown his hair out and it's not a good look. He was much cuter with the short hair. He just doesn't have enough hair to make longer hair work. Anyway, he interviews that he's always vowed to make it to the finale, and he thinks he has the ability to make it to the finale. He greets the others and joins them on a bench. Jen notices that he still has his beard and Kevin says with awe that there's a Facebook page devoted to people who support his beard.

The final remaining cheftestant, Bryan, arrives in the rain. He interviews that he wants to win for his son, because after six weeks away, greeting his son in the airport coming home was awesome, and he doesn't want to spend more time away.

Their extremely slow-motion train arrives and Bryan jokes that they'd better not push him in front of it. Kevin laughs that Padma will probably get out wearing a conductor's hat. Instead, Padma gets out wearing a white sweater dress and sporting some brand new bangs and her brand new baby bump. She welcomes the cheftestants and introduces Michael Chiarello, my nemesis from Top Chef Masters. He's a great choice for a Napa Valley challenge, though.

Quickfire Challenge: Create a dish that features Napa Valley's signature crop, the grape. They will have a full pantry and thirty minutes to cook... while traveling via train. Kevin is worried, because he gets motion sick very easily. Padma announces that it's the last high stakes Quickfire, so the winner will get a Prius. Now that's a prize worth playing for. None of this signed cookbook bullshit.

The cheftestants hop on the train and start cooking. They have tons of grapes from which to choose, and Michael interviews that they all have different flavors. Kevin admits that he's a little rusty at these challenges. They're all hustling and bustling about, while trying to account for the movement of the train. Michael grabs a prep table all by itself near the door, and Bryan interviews that he almost grabbed that table for himself, and he's pissed that he missed the opportunity. SIBLING RIVALRY! DO YOU GET IT???

Kevin is the only one doing dessert, and I suddenly realize that Kevin is going to win the whole thing because he is the only one willing to totally name check the brand of pots they are using with no raised eyebrow. Anyway, Kevin worries also that he chose a less flavorful grape. Jen thinks she's been able to develop a lot of flavor quickly. It's nice to see her with her confidence back.

With five minutes left, the scrambling begins. Michael interviews that he loves the challenges and trying to be creative, and he plans to use as many parts of the grape vine as he can. Bryan has never won a Quickfire, so it would mean a lot to him to win.

And...time! Kevin serves Padma and Chiarello first: a honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil, and sea salt. He's garnished with some edible flowers, and it's quite pretty. Chiarello's only comment is that he likes the olive oil. Michael is up next; he serves grape leaf stuffed with "couscous," served with a vinegar-glazed grape and scallop kebab, and he used a grape branch as the skewer. If you watched Masters, you know Chiarello loves this shit, since he set grape vines on fire and served them smoking with his final dish.

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Top Chef

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