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Top Chef 2 = Finale Part 1 (potential spoilers)

All I can say is HOLY CRAP! The final two are NOT the two I expected to be there...well, I expected one of them, but NOT the other.

Now I'm wondering if the producers chose who they did for the additional drama.

I'm still stunned. And I know who I want to win between these two. One of them is who I had picked from almost the beginning to be in the finale.


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  1. HOLY CRAP indeed. I did think it was odd how Elia and Sam almost seemed to switch positions on Marcel. I know that the voting poll was overwhelmiingly against Marcel, but frankly I think that overall he has been incredibly mature in the face of absurdly petty behavior. Maybe he's a little thoughtless, but I get the sense (speaking as someone with zilch food biz experience) that a little type A personality is expected in chefs, as it is in surgeons. Ilan on the other hand is a whiny little, well, whiner.
    Thought: one of the preview clips showed a diner calling a dish "murky." To me that seems far more like a word that would be associated with poorly executed spanish food rather than Marcel's style.

    20 Replies
    1. re: bworm42

      I will SPIT NAILS if Wolverine wins!!!

      And for Top Chef 3, they damn well better get back to cooking instead of this drama baloney.

      1. re: LindaWhit

        wait, Ilan was the one you expected???

        1. re: bworm42

          Yes. When I think the Final 2, I think the main judges should look at the OVERALL competition...not just the one cooking event. And Padma even said - Ilan had the most elimination wins, Sam had the most quickfire wins.

          I just don't think that overall, Marcel should be there. And if they give it to him, it's going to be thought of as a "sympathy" vote from Cliff half-nelsoning him last episode. Especially since Tom wanted to boot the others and give Marcel the crown that week, but the producers overruled him.

          So unfortunately, that's what I think they just might do - give him the sympathy vote. Which would be total crapola.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            i don't think there is any sympathy vote involved. tom colicchio said in an interview that they judge based on the challenge, not cumulative record. of course, contestants' track record predisposes the judges in some way...

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I thought Marcel clearly won that challenge: he was the only one to really fulfill the requirements of the challege exactly, and his dishes were complicated and beautiful: the fried taro chip the poke was on and the fried lotus root chip in the other dish were lovely touches. Apparently they tasted as good as they looked (which is not always the case). They were definitely the kind of dishes I would expect to see in a cutting-edge, high-end restaurant.

              I was kind of surprised that they chose Ilan over Sam, l but Colicchio seemed really contemptuous of the fact that Sam hadn't cooked anything. I think it was similar to their criticism of Elia in the last challenge: the dishes tasted good, but they expected more in terms of demonstrating skill or creativity, and Sam's dishes really didn't do either.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Perhaps Marcel did win it - based on that individual challenge. However, I still feel that the Final 2 should be chosen partially based on their *overall* performance throughout the entire show. And Marcel just didn't cut it throughout the entire show. Yet Sam, who did wonderfully throughout the entire show by winning challenges is dismissed because he didn't cook anything this time - despite the food items tasting superb?

                How can someone be "top chef" if s/he skated or didn't win previous challenges? That would be like Michael somehow making it to the Final 2 - by skating through - and yanking it out of his butt to win on the last round. That isn't Top Chef - it's "I Barely Made It Here By the Hair on My Chinny-Chin-Chin And Somehow Pulled It Out At the Last Second" Chef. That, to me, is Marcel's title if he takes the prize.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  The finale does reflect performance throughout the show. Everyone who lost an elimination challenge is gone.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Not overall performance, IMO. When combined together, Sam stood out more than Ilan or Marcel.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Sam often played it too safe. That's why Ilan and Elia each one two elimination challenges, while Sam won only one. And it's part of why he lost last night.

                  2. re: LindaWhit

                    It would be a shame if Marcel wins and then and then everyone continues to mock him with name calling.

                    1. re: JackieB

                      I don't believe he deserves to be in the Final 2. My opinion.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      Jeez I'm tired of all this Marcel bashing. So many people don't like his personality and forget it's a COOKING competition. Besides, he is a chef at Joel Robuchon, arguably the best restaurant in the country. I doubt he's there for nothing.

                      1. re: elrushbo

                        I agree. Frankly, I think people have bought into the notion that he must be unlikeable, simply because he's socially awkward. Also, all of the childish behavior and the editing have convinced viewers that he's the one to mock. His food looks good to me and he's the one contestant that always tries to turn the conversations back to food. In my opinion he really deserves to be where he is, unlike Ilan who simply spits out the same Casa Mono food he's been making for years, and totally loses his professionalism (Kraft Italian dressing foam) in order to focus on his Marcel obsession.

                    3. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Colicchio has earned *my* contempt for sure: the show is Top CHEF, not Top COOK. All of us watching that show here last night thought the results were exactly opposite from how we'd have called it - but then I think we all prefer good solid professional food production to foams and curlicues. Both Elia and Sam excelled at what they considered their jobs to be.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Since no one except for the judges actually tasted the dishes, how would anyone know wish dish tasted best?

                        It was unanimous among the judges that Marcel "hit a home run". The others did not. I guess all the professional guest chef judges don't know food too.

                    4. re: LindaWhit

                      That was actually a perfectly educated full-nelson. But I don't think Marcel should win either.

                  3. re: bworm42

                    I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that the description of "murky" was from a clip related to the finale...at least I saw it at the *end* of last night's episode, advertising next weeks (though admittedly, since it didn't air till 10:30 last night in the bay area, I was having a bit of trouble staying awake!)

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      Exactly! I point it out as possible evidence that Ilan may run into some trouble next week, providing a bit of balance to the speculation arising from him leaving his old job.

                      1. re: bworm42

                        ok, guess I stayed up too late, because that point was lost on me in your post. :-) That said, I think that murky could be as easily applied to Marcel's style as Ilan's...any failed attempt could be murky...

                  4. Ilan sucks. He's a smarmy no-talent ripoff artist that got lucky too many times. I hope he looses a finger in the final challenge trying to make another dish from Casa Mono.

                    But seriously...they booted SAM!?

                    1. Marcel deserves to win (and will next week). Ilan is sleazy, immature and has no talent. He convinced Elia to accuse Marcel of cheating and then didn't support her in front of the judges. She looked like a fool.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: RBCal

                        While I am not particularly fond of Marcel, I think Ilan is a weasel: he's good at egging on other people to do wrong without doing anything himself, and then not take any responsibility. It's so sad that all of this has almost nothing to do with cooking. I endure the show just to see the 2 seconds of food that is shown.

                        1. re: RBCal

                          I liked Elia up until that point. How stupid did she look?

                          To imply that he cheated... I was thinking how?

                          - had he smuggled in secret ingredients?
                          - received text message recipe ideas from Morimoto?
                          - spiked the foam with cocain?
                          - broken into the producers office to get advanced knowledge of the challenges?

                          When asked for specifics:

                          "He moved my pot from a burner."

                          Oh the humanity! And Ian deserves to go for setting her up and not taking the plunge with her.

                          1. re: tastyjon

                            Elia wasn't going to say anything, but Ilan kind of put her out there. She still tried to say nothing, but the judges told her to "just say it." So wasn't exactly her fault, but it sure looked like sour grapes to whine at that point, and she's never been one to try to point fingers at other people at judges' table. I felt like Ilan wanted to take any opportunity to take a stab at Marcel, and moving Elia's pot was the most specific thing Marcel had done, although he probably made lots of comments that got under everyone's skin. Whatever Marcel does to make the others hate him isn't very tangible (read Andy's interview with Sam on bravotv.com).

                        2. I hate Marcel... but on the other hand he's perfect 'top chef' material - an ego the size of the planet and the ability to make food do things that it would never occur to any normal person to attempt... I'll be very surprised if he DOESN'T win - I see one of those restaurants in his future where you pay three hundred dollars to 'taste' a dozen courses, each more weird and wonderful than the last, and then you go home and have a real meal because you're still starving. I would rather have seen Sam in the final, but then the name of the show is top CHEF, not top cook.

                          1. Wow! A total surprise. I thought Elia and Sam were going to make it! Glad I didn't bet on it! Ilan's food has not been too inspiring. That chocolate and liver dish should have been grounds for immediate elimination. I can't believe they booted Sam over Ilan. I thought Sam's dishes have been very consistent and top notch. I think Marcel has been a victim of creative editing (as far as public perception) and many of the other chefs have been quite immature. I don't think he has done anything (but be a little annoying) to justify such horrible treatment. Faced with Ilan and Marcel. I hope Marcel wins.

                            24 Replies
                            1. re: acervoni

                              The fact that EVERY single cheftestant hates him doesn't mean anything to you???

                              1. re: hotsauceathlete

                                The fact that all these jerks let Marcel's toolishness get under their skin are way more indicative of their own toolishness than Marcel's. They let Cliff assault him and did not interfere, resorted to baseless accusations and childish rants, made faces while Marcel was presenting his own dish...Personally, I don't think Marcel is top chef material, but at this point, he looks better than the other slimeballs.

                                1. re: hotsauceathlete

                                  Yes, it's very telling. EVERY other cheftestant is threatened by his skill. It IS a competition after all NOT a personality contest.

                                  I found it telling that they interviewed colleagues who work with Marcel at Robuchon and they complemented Marcel. So people who work with him in real life don't have any problem getting along with him.

                                  His portrayal as a enfant terrible is from skillful editing and snarky jealousy from the other cheftestants.

                                  1. re: RBCal

                                    Marcel was very immature, but not mean like the others have been.

                                    1. re: Claudette

                                      I agree. In fact, the fact that he tries to be funny (like with the flambé last night) is just not taken well by the others makes me think they have absolutely no sense of humor and that they wouldn't survive in a kitchen long. I think Marcel can be annoying, but am happy he made it, I think he is one of the better chefs. I am surprised about Sam and didn't think Ilan would make it to beat out Sam. My bets were on Sam and Marcel. Elia looked poor trying to rat out Marcel and Sam and Ilan didn't seem to back her up in front of the judges. I think they knew Marcel had done well and were trying to do anything to change that at the end.

                                      1. re: lollya

                                        While from the show I agree Marcel doesn't look too bad, sort of spineless and whiny and mildly irritating, and the contestants' reactions look excessive, I have to wonder if living with him 24/7 their reactions aren't at least somewhat understandable. There's got to be a reason they are so mad at him, and I don't think it's as easy as 'they're jealous or threatened by him.' He really does at times show a callous indifference to dealing with others, and I thought he was being a jerkoff for moving everyone's pots and pans without asking last night. Of all people to get mad at him, Elia was the one who was the most tolerant of him so far, and even she was so pissed she risked making herself look bad by complaining about him in front of the judges (albeit with Ilan's instigation.) I have a feeling Marcel IS probably a jerk and their reactions, while childish and excessive, have to be coming from his behavior.

                                        1. re: jeanki

                                          Elia was pissed off because she was going to lose and sensed it. It was desperation on her part. You'd be surprised at what desperation can do. Bravo certainly knows how to show off people's bad sides when they are there to be exposed, and they definitely WON'T hold back on presenting a contestant in a bad light if they have the footage, even if that person ends up winning -- evidence Jeffrey on Project Runway, who was shown to be a complete and total jerk time and again, yet he still won, so I don't think it's in the editing. Personally, I think it was a case of the other contestants (egged on by Betty in the beginning, remember?) ganging up on Marcel, who should have simply been seen as yet another mildly-irritating yet talented opponent, and as it progressed, none of them were ever mature enough in their own rights to see that it had gone too far. In the end, the perception of Marcel in the minds of Elia, Ilan and Sam was too great for any of them to recognize that they'd been beat fairly and squarely, so they reduced themselves to petty and flimsy accusations at the last showdown, which only made them look bad.

                                          I'm glad Marcel made the finals and I hope he blows Ilan away in the last cooking challenge.

                                        2. re: lollya

                                          Except that when you are totally fed up with someone every breath they take is infuriating.

                                          1. re: lollya

                                            regarding his humor... The problem is delivery of the jokes. He just doesn't have it. He doesn't have the ability to make that joke without it sounding like he's ridiculing someone. It's the same with everything else. He never says anything "wrong," just "wrongly" (my apologies to English majors).

                                        3. re: RBCal

                                          Well what did you expect his co-workers to say?

                                          I think the term enfant terrible is appropriate. He's incredibly immature, especially compared to the other contestants. He's 26, and yet 28-year-old Cliff thinks of him as a "kid" and 23-year-old Elia thinks (or at least she did at the beginning) of him as a younger brother type.

                                          I don't think the other contestants are jealous of him so much as just plain irritated: he's not mean, but he seems to be incapable of shutting up. Based on what you've seen -- which is only a small fraction of what goes on -- how would you feel towards him if you lived with him 24/7 for a month?

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            I agree and I have to say that I was also disappointed to hear Tom say that kitchen behavior didn't matter. I realize that can be the 'drama' factor but perhaps there were more reasons why they felt he cheated. Elia did say 'normal kitchen behavior' meaning that Marcel obviously spent some portion of his time moving people's stuff, not respecting their space, etc. It's a shame that those factors don't play some into who is 'top chef'.

                                            I think throughout the episodes there has certainly been some level of jumping on the hate-marcel bandwagon but I also imagine there is a lot we didn't see and I just have a hard time believing that adults professionals would all hate one guy with funny hair just because he's a little irritating.

                                            1. re: krissywats

                                              A agree- the Marcel hating is really kind of unfatnomable. It is hard to imagine how so many adults, MOST of whom don't seem to be total nuts, react to him. The yelling,, eye rolls, snide remarks and physical confrontations just seemed weird. It doesn't seem that they would edit out the kind of behavior that resulted in their responses. And, thought I am not a big MArcel fan, I really did not see him behave in such a way to provoke such responses. Wonder if we will ever know.
                                              But- to keep it on chow, Sam was my early pick for the winner.

                                              1. re: krissywats

                                                Short of demonstrable cheating, it would be impractical for judges to evaluate the contestants' behavior.

                                                And the reality is that bad behavior is not a professional handicap. A lot of great chefs are notoriously abusive.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Yes, I know you're right about that, having worked with a few ill-tempers myself. If it were passionate snark - i could understand, but bad form like moving other people's stuff and not respecting their work SEEMS different, do you know what I mean? Ultimately I agree with you, but I think what little we've been shown looks like a foodnerd that doesn't know how to behave rather than a passionate epicurean that can get a bit heated.

                                                  OK - the food the food. Elia's sounded the most interesting to me but my goodness, it really is all subjective on that level, isn't it?

                                                2. re: krissywats

                                                  I'm replying here because I want to address something krissywats said, but overall I agree- HOLY CRAP!! I found out yesterday morning because of the spoiler, but I didn't actually watch it until last night. I still hate Marcel, but I'm not that fond of anyone else either. It's a lose- lose situation this season.

                                                  But, krissywats, if kitchen behavior doesn't matter like Tom said, then I think Tiffany would have won a lot more challenges last year. I think he was just getting defensive because he knew they had picked Marcel to move on.

                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                    I didn't watch last year at all, unfortunately, cause I love the show (we didn't have cable then...i know i know, we live in a cave).

                                                    That's an interesting take because Tom seems like a guy that I might respect and might enjoy talking to in a lighthearted situation, or maybe taking a class from him or something, but also seems like he can be a bit of a di....erm, i mean jerk.

                                                    I do think it's trouble that kitchen behavior doesn't matter, like i said above - I think there's a difference.

                                                    Maybe Tom doesn't want to judge on kitchen behavior 'cause he knows his is bad? I can imagine him being a tyrant in the kitchen. (But I do plan to go to Craftsteak soon.)

                                                    1. re: krissywats

                                                      Oh man, I could not live without cable! I'm addicted to TV, can't help it! This is the only reality show I watch (okay, sometimes I watch American Idol, but that's just because I wish I could sing more than anything- living vicariously)! Anyway, off track, last season was so much better and you would have loved to hate Tiffany (or Tiffani, I can't remember), and Stephen for that matter! Tiffany was a mega-b****, and they definitely took her behavior into consideration when they chose winners of the challenges, even though she did end up making it pretty far. I think that's a big part of why Harold won. Tom did say he was grumpy this season, because he was frustrated with the contestants this year, and I think that has a lot to do with his reaction at the table this time... just my opinion, of course. I don't think he really believed what he was saying when he said they don't take behavior into consideration.

                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                        Tiffani was the very last contestant eliminated. You think she got extra credit from the judges for being a bitch?

                                                        Tom Colicchio has said categorically that they judged only on the food and the producers didn't intervene.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Like I said, Robert, just my opinion! Why do you insist on arguing with people about their opionion?!?

                                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                                            I'm not sure from your post whether you're saying you think they gave her extra points for being a bitch or that she got pretty far even though they held that against her. Hence my question.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              I think she got pretty far even though she was a bitch and they held that against her. Of course, I don't remember everything from last season, but it seemed to me that there were a few challenges that she was reprimanded for being bitchy and thus didn't win the challenges. I think if she would have been nicer she could have had a better chance of winning.

                                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                Whatever happened before, she made it to the final episode, so in that sense she had a better chance of winning than any of the others except Harold.

                                                                On the other hand, Dave and Stephen probably wouldn't have staggered in late and drunk if they'd been on Harold's team. So in that sense her behavior may have cost her the win.


                                                    2. re: Katie Nell

                                                      On the other hand, one of the reasons Harold won, IMO, is because his crew wanted him to win because he didn't treat them like crap. They gave him 110% because he was both a passionate epicurean and a decent manager.

                                                      1. re: New_2_718

                                                        Definitely. And it really makes sense to have a crew on the final challenge, since leadership is an essential quality in a chef. Maybe more important than culinary talent.

                                          2. Based exclusivley on tonights challange the two picked were the right choice.

                                            Overall I would have picked Sam to be in the final two over Illan, but not based on tonights challange. I feel Sam would have offered a bigger challange.

                                            Regardless of how you feel about him, Marcel really stepped up to the challange tonight.

                                            Now if Sam is on Illan's team next week it could spell trouble for Marcel.

                                            1. Because Ilan recently quit his job at Casa Mono (see eater LA), one theory is he wins at all. This was predicted before tonight's episode ran.

                                              Elia, once again showed emotional instabilty and desperation. Sam and Ilan were on their best behavior, and Marcel was his usual putzy self.

                                              Doesn't matter who wins. Just end it.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                Doesn't matter who wins. Just end it.

                                                Agreed. (And THANK YOU CH Engineers for re-instating copy/paste!)

                                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                  His salary range on the myspace blog can be the real thing or a red herring as well.

                                                2. i've been surprised at how backhanded everything Ilan does is from the very first eposode. and the thing is, he doesn't have to - he can cook, it's obvious. (whether he's Top Chef, that's another story.) he's limited and relies on his Spanish cooking background a little too much but ultimately it's carried him far. but then he comes out and does the stupid, insecure, immature goading Elia into doing his dirty work. again with the backstabbing. and next week's preview had a scene where he says "i cook more from the soul (or was it heart?) than Marcel," he's always putting others down. Ilan, grow up - you don't have to do it, just cook.

                                                  i am surprised that Sam didn't make it - he played it a little safe - it was good but not wow and this challenge needed wow. i wish it were him going to the final. i'd like to try his food - hope he starts cooking somewhere soon for good, not just consulting. interesting that he chose to stop participating in marcel-hunt at some point.

                                                  Marcel, i have to say i'm thrilled to see him go from doing poorly in the first challenges to getting stronger and better and impressing the judges - to their surprise. all this while dealing amazingly well with everyone ganging up on him throughout the show - and not just other contestants but most of the viewers, too. he just got better and better, turing all this negative stuff into an amazing personal feat - cool too see. it would have been easier to whine.

                                                  can't wait till next week!

                                                  1. Is it just me, or did it seem like Padma was very unhappy when she told Sam to pack it up? And afterwards her voice sounded raw and she put her head in her hands. I don't think she liked the decisions!

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: diablita FL

                                                      I rewound it - she was teared up and her chin was quivering on both Elia and Sam but moreso on Sam. She had a hard time with that one.

                                                      1. re: krissywats

                                                        She was very very defensive when Tom brought up that his food wasn't "cooked".....she also attacked Marcel......

                                                        1. re: Xericx

                                                          She kept trying to say that Ilan's taro root scratched the back of her throat--I thought shew as trying to get rid of them.

                                                      2. re: diablita FL

                                                        I thought she looked angry at Elia when she told her to go. She maintained composure but she not happy with her. Probably had just had enough of her drama.

                                                        Also Elia's comment about how she missed going to the Olympics by two seconds. In swimming people are measured by 1/100th or even 1/1000th of a second. So two seconds is not close at all.

                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                          Again - rewound it on the DVR several times - she was tearing up and chin quivering on both - but more on Sam. I'm sure her blog on the show site tells the story.

                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                            she didn't really say it was close. just that it was two seconds.

                                                        2. Oh well, this has certainly been the season for throwing chefs under the bus. Too bad, I thought Sam would at least make through to the final match up. Elia has never shown any emotional stability, not a good attribute for a chef. Marcel is just his immature self. Wolverine, that cracks me up! Ilan will probably win, but this season who cares. There hasn't been a single dish I have wanted to copy off Bravo.com, nothing. Nada.

                                                          1. Yeah! Go Marcel! I like seeing his scientific approach to food...I think he does respect the food as an art and a science.

                                                            1. I haven't liked Marcel all season, but he's the best out of those fools who were there tonight. Seriously, a last minute allegation of cheating, because of what, a moved steamer? That was so ridiculous I can't even deal. I really wanted both Elia and Ilan to be out because of that. I hope Marcel wins, and that's saying something, since I've found him completely irritating this season. Ilan is such a sleazy, backhanded horrible person that I really want Marcel to beat him.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                  I have to agree. I haven't liked Marcel or his food that much all season, but his dishes looked the best tonight. Not only did they look beautiful, but they were thoughtful and not just about showcasing technique. Marcel truly seems passionate about what he does.

                                                                  I was surprised that they chose Ilan over Sam, although I was getting tired of Sam's ceviches. I couldn't believe Elia's last minute desperate move that was encouraged by Ilan. I don't want Ilan to win for his behavior; he's looking more and more insecure. Colicchio looked so frustrated by the drama that was being stirred up again.

                                                                  I admit that I sorta missed not having a reunion episode before the finale, although I can see why they avoided it this season--too much heat. The final episode should be very interesting; looked like alot of big name chefs involved.

                                                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                    I really wanted a reunion episode- call me trashy, but I love the reunions shows- it's so Real World!!

                                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                      I have to agree with you Katie - this one could have been REALLY fun to watch. But I think just too much stuff has gone down between so many of the cheftestants, and perhaps the producers realized how ugly it could have gotten.

                                                                2. Next week will be VERY interesting, as the previews showed Wylie Dufresne. Brilliant idea on Bravo's part to get someone as a guest with some molecular gastronomy chops. I think that will be the true test of Marcel, whether you like him or not (and I don't particularly mind him).


                                                                  NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                                                                  1. GO MARCEL!

                                                                    Actially, I hope Marcel loses in the finale. Why? Because, even though I think he is an amazing chef, he lacks humility, and losing will hopefully help him in that direction. It's his greatest weakness.

                                                                    I was thrilled that Elia was voted off, not just for her plain food, but also for her continued whinning about everything except her own lack of skills. Without Mia, she'd be long gone.

                                                                    Sam was excellent, but just had a not brilliant night. His future is secure.

                                                                    I hope Ilan wins so he can take that money and move out of this country permanently.

                                                                    1. Absolutely it was done for drama. Sam's dish was superior to Ilan's saffron-infused fried coconut cake, but they wanted to kee the Ilan vs. Marcel thing going. Too bad Elia acted so icky -- trying to stick it to Marcel in the end. That haircut was a mistake also. I hope Marcel wins - he's the only professional of the group, though I wish he'd stop talking about chemicals.

                                                                      1. Also, since when did the food have to be cooked? It seems that I recall a few raw fish dishes.... I think it was a bogus reason to throw Sam off in favor of keeping up the heat between Marcel and Ilan.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Gigigirl2

                                                                          It would have been nice if one of Sam's two dishes required cooking. Also, the poke he made was not cut well according to the judges. If you are going to assemble a dish then you should at least use good technique. That having been said, I was surprised Sam didn't make it into the final based on past performance.

                                                                        2. I don't think Ilan could fit the kitchen aid appliances prize in his tiny apartment so marcel has to win. I'd rather see what "becomes" of Marcel in the end anyway.I wouldn't mind tasting some of the things that Ilan has made but I figure I can go to Mono and eat it any day of the week no matter who is at the stove there. His cooking on Top Chef was like product placement for that restaurant. If Ilan weren't so good looking his abnoxious side would be more visible to the viewer.

                                                                          Also, if Marcel were a hottie instead of a gastro-geek then everyone would be defending his ego and calling him creative which he is. The most offensive thing about this show to me is how dissing Marcel gets you cool credit - starting with Betty. When she just couldn't take it anymore and humiliated herself by going bonko on Marcel everyone just rallied around her. Poor Betty. Poor Ilan. Poor Cliff. Poor Sam. It's just to much to ask of a person to tolerate someone like Marcel. The winner should have been Emily.

                                                                          1. I call bs. I think that the decision to have Ilan as opposed to Sam vs. Marcel was totally done for dramatic purposes. With that said, I hope that Ilan can kick Marcel's tail in the finale.

                                                                            1. Why did the decision seem to boil down to Elia vs. Marcel and Sam vs. Ilan? That seemed odd. Were they just trying to create more drama?

                                                                              I would have likled to see both Sam and Ilan in the final two.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: AmblerGirl

                                                                                It was VERY obviously that Elia was out, almost from the beginning of the judges eating the food and then again at the beginning of Judge's Table. But from everything they had been saying, I really thought Sam's food was the better of the two...again, it's the editing. We have no real idea what else they might have said or what they thought overall of Sam's dishes.

                                                                                I'm still really surprised they chose Ilan over Sam.

                                                                                I've got to go read the blogs on Bravo to see what Colicchio, et al said.

                                                                                1. re: AmblerGirl

                                                                                  I read it as they decided early on in the debating that Marcel was staying & Elia was going and then they had to decided between Sam & Ilan

                                                                                  1. re: AmblerGirl

                                                                                    That's not what happened. They said Elia was clearly the least favorite and least true to the Hawaiian flavors, so they knew she would be eliminated. They also unanimously agreed Marcel was their favorite, so he would be staying. That leaves one spot between Sam and Ilan.

                                                                                  2. They should have picked SAM, hands down! Now I don't even care who wins.

                                                                                    1. It is not what I expected, but though I watched and will continue to watch I don't really think any of them should win. I would have been less surprised if it had boiled down to Sam versus Marcel, simply because they've got reasonable skills and are both more mature and stable than Ilan and Elia. But at the end of the day, none of the four has the combination of skill, intensity, and creativity that I would like to see.

                                                                                      I wonder if there is any possibility that they will announce that they failed to find a Top Chef this season and declare that there is no winner?

                                                                                      I won't hold my breath.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. I kept thinking as the program was unfolding that it was going to pit Marcel and Ilan, tho I'm surprised they didn't pick Sam. What better way to end the show? It makes for the best viewing now, doesn't it? Can't you all imagine all the snarkiness that's going to ensue?

                                                                                        I'm actually hoping for Marcel at this point. I can't stand his pompous ways but I can't root for a bully. Plus, Marcel's food actually intrigues me more. Ilan seems to be dishing out the same thing he's doing in his current job. I like that Marcel thinks about the task at hand, and tries to put his twist on things. It might not always succeed, however, I enjoy seeing the experimental side he has. I think if he keeps at it, and can manage to contain his youthful pride, he actually might just one day be someone of note in the field. Not yet tho - he has a long way to go and a lot to learn, mostly about how to get along with others in the workplace.

                                                                                        However, as others have noted, there is rumor that Ilan has left his current job, which leads to much speculation that he may have won.

                                                                                        Either way, I wouldn't be running out to eat at a restaurant run by these two, unlike Harold's, which is one I'm anxiously awaiting on.

                                                                                          1. First of all, let me preface this by saying Marcel is my least favorite contestant from this episode. That said, he deserved to be in the final based on last night's challenge. Every single judge agreed he was the very best. I will also add, that he has a poor attitude and grates on people, Elia and Ilan have behaved much worse over the last few episodes. They both insult Marcel, talk behind his back, etc. Just because Elia keeps saying she was his only friend doesn't make it so. Her actions have said otehrwise.

                                                                                            As for her cooking, I think she is very talented and has come up with some of the most beautiful and creative dishes in the competition. however, she is always missing something, having problems plating it, etc. that prevents her from truly shining. this was no exception and she had very little Hawaiian flavor, which was a problem. She deserved to go.

                                                                                            When I first started watching this season somewhere after the first few episodes I thoughtIlan was very talented. However, week after week he has done pretty much the same thing...add safron and another common Spanish cuisine ingredient. This week was no different. How does Tom call Sam out for playing it safe and not Ilan, especially when Sam actually used Hawaiian flavors and Chef Wong said his dishes could pass for traditional Hawaiian? And saying he didn't cook anything? Most of those Hawaiian dishes they tasted were not cooked; they were prepared. I thought Sam clearly deserved to be there over Ilan.

                                                                                            1. I don't think that Marcel was pitted against Ilan due to the drama, I think the drama that was aired was due to the knowledge Marcel would be against Ilan in the final. From what I have heard, the final was taped sometime in November - prior to all the editing being completed. It wasn't until episode 3 or 4 that the Marcel bashing by Ilan really started to get heavy. I'm sure there were others who bashed Marcel equally as hard during their interviews but with the final the editors were able to make it a personal competition rather than a cooking one. I really think the editing process makes the audience completly choose sides - you either completly hate Marcel and want Ilan to win or feel so much pitty for Marcel you root for him.

                                                                                              I knew Sam was out the second Tom said "sounds like he's playing it safe" - it was also the third (I think) time Sam made a ceviche - it's a shame because he has way more talent than that. I also think Marcel was able to shine in this round because he wasn't limited by the constraints of a "theme" simply by the constraints of a genre which allowed him to be much more creative.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: wingman

                                                                                                Per Hawaiian newspapers, the last two episodes were taped the first week of December.

                                                                                              2. Some more thoughts:

                                                                                                Is this "drama" even worthwhile? Do they really think viewers want to watch two grown men use 3rd grade insults while cleaning up? It's insulting, really.

                                                                                                While I think Ilan is a good cook and I wold like to eat a lot of things he made, I don't think he is a true chef. he is not creative, nor does he have any style of his own. Basically, week after week and challenge after challenge he tries to recreate a Mono dish, because that iabout all he knows. While they may work, that is not "Top Chef".

                                                                                                Marcel, for all his immaturities, arrogance, etc. is very creative, stays true to his style, and takes some risks outside of what he is comfortable with. He did deserve to be there, based on last night, whether you like him or not. And, if you don't like him, how can you possibly like Ilan, who more and more sounded like a whiny school kid?

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                  I find the "drama" tedious and sometimes fast-forward past it, but it obviously has popular appeal. Even in this topic, where you'd expect more of a focus on the food, only a few of the posts have mentioned the food.

                                                                                                2. My problem is the one thing that they claimed to evaluate the finalists on the most (the food) was the one thing we viewers could experience the least. The only thing the producers could call attention to was the interpersonal interactions between the contestants.

                                                                                                  On that basis, Sam wins hands down. He displayed the most maturity and best sense of kitchen leadership. I got the sense that he was the only one of the final 4 (the final 10, actually) who could take the prize money and turn it into a real, successful restaurant. I agree that the Ilan-Marcel showdown is more about the drama than their worthiness of the prize.

                                                                                                  It's more than just food that makes a chef great.

                                                                                                  If it truly was that the final two put out a superior product, it's impossible for us to taste that, so the decision leaves me a bit flat. I'm also reminded why I stopped watching the show during the first season.

                                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: foodiegrl

                                                                                                    I agree. While Elia keeps telling us she is MArcel's friend, she keeps talking behind his back. Sam, on the other hand, had one confrontation with Marcel directly about 4 weeks ago and has ignored him ever since. He doesn't get caught up in all the petty crap. I also agree that he seems the best suited to actually do something worthwhile with the prize.

                                                                                                    1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                      Sam said in his exit interview that he would travel had he won the pirze money. I had him pegged to win.

                                                                                                      1. re: macca

                                                                                                        At least he won viewers choice. $10,000 is some nice pocket money if he wants to travel.

                                                                                                      2. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                        I have to agree. Though I have said Sam would make a poor manager, he is the best of the bunch and I feel his composure and professionalism yesterday made up for his earlier childishness.

                                                                                                        Can you imagine a kitchen run by Ilan, a man with no ideas of his own or Marcel and cocky, passive aggressive jerk? Good lord!

                                                                                                      3. re: foodiegrl

                                                                                                        Which is why I said when it comes to the Final 2, the cumulative efforts over the entire season should be taken into account - NOT just the final challenge. Perhaps the final challenge should be weighted, as the guest judge only has that to go on...but cumulative efforts should somehow, IMO, be part of the decision-making process.

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          Tom Colicchio said on Bravo (interview with Andy and Sam last night) that chefs were judged on the challenge, not cumulative track record. this was true last season too in terms of the judging.

                                                                                                          1. re: nuxvomica

                                                                                                            I know - I'm aware of that. I personally disagree with it. I think the Final 2 should have SOME cumulative track record built into why they were picked as Final 2.

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              It does. They're the two who didn't lose.

                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                No. It doesn't. It was based only on this one challenge, as said above.

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  Robert's point is that their track record of not losing challenges is what got them to the finals in the first place, and thus it has already factored into the competition. Calling for the track record to "count" is kind of like saying that if they play six games in the playoff series and are tied 3-3, the team that won the most games in the regular season should go to the World Series. Nope, you play the next game, and whoever wins, wins. That's the way competitions work. Otherwise, why bother to have finals at all?

                                                                                                                  Let's also not forget that if not for "olive oil gate" either Cliff or Sam would have packed his knives weeks ago, since they were two of the three members of the losing team, and Carlos had immunity.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    Great analogy. I never really thought of it in those terms, but you are absotulely correct.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      Yes, but not losing challenges also doesn't mean winning them.


                                                                                                                      As of Episode 11 with Eric Ripert, Marcel had won only two QuickFires, whereas Sam had won five. The Elimination Challenge? Sam had one win, Marcel, none, from what I can see at that link.

                                                                                                                      So I guess you're really getting Average Chef, not Top Chef. :-)

                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                        I think Elia had two elimination challenge wins, so maybe that should have counted.

                                                                                                                        As I said, if that's how you're going to judge, then why have the finals at all? Just add up the wins and losses for the various challenges and declare a winner.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                          Same reason why we have a superbowl for football and NBA playoffs, etc.

                                                                                                                          I think having a final 2 makes the game/show more exciting, and induces more people to watch.

                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, like sports it's not always consistency that wins. It's how you play the final game.

                                                                                                                          Iron Chef is more a cooking game than Top Chef 2. Top Chef 2 is closer and closer to Survivor as the show progressed. It's like drama with a dose of food than the other way around.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                            Well, considering the judging has been very contradictory and all over the map this season (judges don't care about how they act/do care about how they act; say it's all about the food/use how someone acts front-of-house as a stipulation in the judging), perhaps it should have been.

                                                                                                                            If the judging had been more consistent throughout, maybe I wouldn't have a problem with it. But it wasn't, and I do.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              I agree, wish the judging is less of a 'blackbox' than it is.

                                                                                                                              But this is a TV show, and fairness isn't a factor. It's the ratings that count.

                                                                                                                              1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                But this is a TV show, and fairness isn't a factor. It's the ratings that count.

                                                                                                                                Oh, I know. Ratings, and having people debate every last little bit of the show on message boards like these to suck in those who may not have seen it the first time! They've got us hooked. :-)

                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                  True. And I hate myself for it. ;)

                                                                                                                                  I like food, and am a closet psychologist wannabe, so this is twice as irresistible.

                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                Since you haven't tasted any of the dishes prepared by any of the contestants, you have no basis on which to make assumptions about how the judges made their decisions. Furthermore, what they show us of the judges' table is only a small snippet of the overall process, from which the editors try to find sound bites that sum up literally hours of discussion (which is why sometimes they have Colicchio do a voice over when they can't find enough appropriate sound bites).

                                                                                                                                I think the contradictory outcomes mainly come when you compare judging of team challenges as opposed to individual challenges. I think the individual challenges are by and large fairly consistent. Team challenges are different, because they're forced to assign individual responsibility from within a group effort. If there was no obvious person responsible for an obvious failing, then they need to find some kind of criterion for picking a loser. And I agree those do sometimes seem kind of arbitrary or contradictory, which I why I wish they didn't do team challenges.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                  Since you haven't tasted any of the dishes prepared by any of the contestants, you have no basis on which to make assumptions about how the judges made their decisions. Furthermore, what they show us of the judges' table is only a small snippet of the overall process, from which the editors try to find sound bites that sum up literally hours of discussion (which is why sometimes they have Colicchio do a voice over when they can't find enough appropriate sound bites).

                                                                                                                                  Yes. I'm fully aware of all of that. I form my opinion on what I see - what the Editors allow me to see, and what I read on the Judge's blogs. There isn't smell-o-vision or taste-o-vision. And until there is, I can only form my opinion on what the editors choose to let me see. Doesn't mean that everyone's going to agree, as evidenced by this thread.

                                                                                                            2. I think the whole thing's scripted. This last episode was obviously done for drama more than for food. Neither of Marcel's dishes were cooked.

                                                                                                              It's about audience-share--IT'S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD.

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: lintygmom

                                                                                                                Wrong, see the recipes. Marcel's taro root was cooked and had uncooked Hamachi Poke on top of it.

                                                                                                                1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                  Marcel didn't use taro root. They made it very clear that Ilan was the only one who incoorporated taro.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                    I am fairly certain that others used taro ROOT, but that Ilan was the only one who used taro LEAF.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Mill City Modern

                                                                                                                      I believe Marcel had a fried taro chip in his dish.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                      " Add the taro root pieces to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry until crisp and lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining pieces."


                                                                                                                      1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                        I stand corrected. Ilan was the only one to use the taro leaf.

                                                                                                                    3. re: lintygmom

                                                                                                                      The piece of salmon for Marcel's lomi lomi salmon looked seared to be on tv.

                                                                                                                    4. Strange that most comments are about the cheftestants personalities (which have been artificially molded by Bravo's editing).

                                                                                                                      The winner is judged in the end on the food and as such Marcel will win. Anyone who's idea of cutting edge cuisine is a chocolate chicken liver turd on a plate is not a talented chef (Ilan's elimination dish before the hair incident).

                                                                                                                      If chefs were judged on personality Gordon Ramsey's restaurants would all be utter failures.

                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                        From the small portion of the judges' discussion we saw, it seemed like Marcel's edge was that he kept true to the Hawaiian flavors while making them entirely his own. What mattered was not the particular character of his personal style but his ambitiousness, superior execution, and delivery of a dish that was exactly what he was challenged to make.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                          And for the same reason Sam should have won also. Chef Wong commented on how his dishes were true to their Hawaiian origins, while Ilan's were delicious, but not resembling their Hawaiian counterparts.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                            Ah yes, but they also felt Sam played it safe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                              The challenge was to put their own stamp on traditional Hawaiian food. Marcel and Ilan did, Sam didn't, Elia made it so much her own it was no longer Hawaiian.

                                                                                                                              "While I have no complaints about his food, neither of the dishes ... seemed particularly personal to Sam ..."


                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                How did Sam not? Chef Wong said the dishes all had the look and feel of their Hawaiian inspirations, but Sam added his own flavors, ingredient combinations, etc.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                                  Sam's dishes didn't have as much of his personality as Marcel's and Ilan's had of theirs.

                                                                                                                                  The judges found it a tough call but somebody had to go. Ilan was the only one who used taro leaves and the only one who used meat, and he risked using some Hawaiian cooking techniques outside of his usual Spanish repertoire.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                  Let me add, if Elia got flamed for not moving too far away from the Hawaiian flavors, then why did Ilan get a pass? Most, if not all, of the judges agreed that he basically made SPanish dishes out of Hawaiian ingredients, especially on the dessert. Chef Wong said the dessert was delicious, but not Hawaiian.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                                    There were sides to the challenge: make Hawaiian food, and make it their own. Marcel did that combination the best, and Elia's food wasn't Hawaiian at all, so those two were relatively easy calls. Between Sam and Ilan it was a difficult close call.

                                                                                                                                    I believe the guest judges take part in the discussion of the elimination challenge and in previous episodes picked the winners (an honor with no practical value), but only the regular three judges get to vote on who's eliminated.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                                      The way Colicchio put it is that if he were somewhere else and Elia's poke were served to him, he would not be able to identify it as being in any way Hawaiin. She called it a poke, but other than cubing the fish instead of slicing it thin, she served a mediterranean carpaccio. Ilan on the other hand used a lot of saffron and a little blood sausage, but he also used taro in his cooking. I generally like Elia better than Ilan but I think it's legitimate to say his food used more Hawaiin influence than hers.

                                                                                                                                      At the end of the day, the flavors being used are always really important, and unfortunately as viewers, we can't taste what they make, so I think sometimes we can't discern why the judges felt that one dish succeeded when another failed. I would like to think that their decisions would be less arbitrary if we had taste-o-vision.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                        I think the problem is not the medium but the editing. Iron Chef usually makes the judges' reasoning clear, probably because they don't waste time on soap-opera tangents.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                          Also, Iron Chef shows us the score cards -- we know how much taste, originality, and plating rate compared to each other, so if someone edges the opponent in originality in taste, but gets blown out of the water in originality, we can see that. I've found it crucial to read the judges' blogs this season to get more explanation of their decision process.

                                                                                                                              2. The way we talk here makes us sound more snobby than all of them. Also, I think that any of them could open a successful restaurant. Regardleess of what we think, I'm pretty sure that they are all driven, successful and connected enough at this point that they could do whatever they want whether or not they are crowned the winner of this television show.

                                                                                                                                Also, what exactly specifically is so great about Sam that all are so shocked that he got removed? He makes a nice looking seared scallop but why are you all so definite that he was the bomb? Are you really going to tell me it was his leadership skills? (ack)

                                                                                                                                1. It has been repeatedly pointed out on the Bravo board that Sam has long been an instigator -- pointing out that Marcel moved that other guy's (what's his name?) toothbrush, telling Elia to snitch on Marcel, etc. He may be kind of nice looking, but maybe Sam isn't really leadership material.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gigigirl2

                                                                                                                                    I think you are discussing both Ilan and Sam's behavior. No matter, both were edited to seem like awful people. In fact, at one point or another, they were all edited to seem like awful people. Foodwise, I think Marcel is the most creative and the most sincere to the task. I know people "hate" him, but you don't plate pesonality. I hope he wins.

                                                                                                                                    Go Marcel!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                                                                      And actually, Ilan always has those glassy eyes -- He looks pickled a good part of the time.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Gigigirl2

                                                                                                                                      Sam always looked like he was about to cry to me.

                                                                                                                                    3. I cannot see ilian winning, just because he reminds me too much of Harold, and I don't think the judges will do that. But then, or course, Harold was a gentleman and ilian doesn't strike me as one. of course that could be the way he is edited, but .....
                                                                                                                                      This whole series has been nasty, and i just hope Season 3 is better because if it continues like this, this series will have jumped the shark, and i will hope that Bravo will bury it.

                                                                                                                                      1. I think it's clear that Marcel had the best dishes for this particular competition, and Elia the worst, but I just don't see how Ilan is picked over Sam. Gail Simmons seems to echo others sentiments that Ilan can only cook spanish flavored food, and I don't think he is that creative.

                                                                                                                                        So I think Ilan vs. Marcel is more for the dramatic affect, and since this is no longer a cooking competition but a Hollywood movie script I think Marcel will triumph against all odds and win the whole thing, despite all the harrassment and being an underdog the entire show. Just start playing the Rocky theme while watching the finale.

                                                                                                                                        I have to say though I am impressed by Marcel's dishes. Poke and Lomi Lomi would have been the exact 2 dishes I would rework as well. They have the most potential. I like Hawaiian food, but they are not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, and I am surprised that he can make something resembling poi, which is really not that yummy.

                                                                                                                                        Lastly, Elia and Ilan should be thrown out for unsportsmanlike conduct. If they have legitimate beef about cheating they should back it with proof. Seems like the contestants bring up the cheating card when their butt is on the line, and not before.

                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                          "Hawaiian food, but they are not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination"
                                                                                                                                          Sorry, but thats offensive. What exactly does gourmet food mean, anyway? Does gourmet food mean expensive, pretty food on clean white plates? Does it mean expensive food? How about I put a perfectly cooked piece of kobe on a sole of a shoe and serve it to you. Does that make it gourmet? How about we go back about 75 years and I serve you some lobster or some sweetbreads on some expensive china? I'm sure that would a nice gourmet meal back then.

                                                                                                                                          Hawaiian food. Excuse me, Hawaiian gourmet food can stand up to food from anywhere. If awards are needed to make a place a gastronomic paradise, we have several local chefs that have been nominated and won James Beard awards and have cooked at the James Beard house. We have top notch ingredients from local farmers and the fish caught in local waters are shipped all over the world to other leaders in the culinary world (Chef Thomas Keller ships Hearts of Palm from Hawaii to use at French Laundry). Please don't call something not gourmet because it does not cost $200 per person and is not served on waterford or wedgewood (we have those by the way). If you haven't found gourmet food, sorry GREAT food in Hawaii, you haven't looked hard enough.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: da_seuss

                                                                                                                                            I am not talking Hawaiian Fusion Food, I am talking about the food they served at the traditional luau. I am not saying it's not tasty, but its root is more peasant than gourmet. Marcel took traditional non-gourmet luau food and actually made it gourmet - presentation, texture, etc.

                                                                                                                                            Sorry if you are offended, hope my clarifications help. While I am not a Hawaiian native, I've been to the island many times (actually once every other year) and I had my share of island food from plate lunches to the more refined versions at restaurants such as Mama's Fish House and David Paul's. I've even dined at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room many years back.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                              "its root is more peasant than gourmet." you are just digging yourself into a deeper and deeper pig roasting pit here. Peasant? I guess Hawaiian natives are peasants and their original food is peasant food? Your clarifications are certainly clarifying indeed.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jeanki

                                                                                                                                                This just reminds me of a hotly debated thread previously on the 3 "Grand" cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                If you believe that Hawaii luau food like lomi lomi salmon and lau lau are gourmet, that's fine, but that's not my thinking. Let's keep to the food and not about Hawaiian people or their culture.

                                                                                                                                                I don't know why "peasant" seems to be such a negative thing to some people , btw. Most of the food I like are peasant/rustic. It's not the princely/courtly/refined type. There's nothing wrong with it, and I am not ashame to admit that I like peasant food. Good food is good food, whether peasant or gourmet.

                                                                                                                                                The last posts seems to equate "gourmet" as good "peasant/rustic" as bad. Maybe that's your thinking, not mine. I am just trying to categorize the food served in that episode.

                                                                                                                                                Lastly, I've only seen the luau type food "as is" in luaus and plate lunch places. Even Alan Wong's restaurant doesn't serve it "as is" - they have the pork, but it's not straight up lump of meat. They've refined it, tone down the salt, add other non-luau ingredients, make it prettier on the plate, and yes serve it on better china and charge a lot more for it. Nothing wrong with that either.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                  Sorry but food IS a part of culture, so yes, the people and culture are involved when you label the food as 'peasant.' And you are very naive if you think 'peasant' is not considered a negative term relative to 'gourmet' or 'princely'. I agree good food is good food whatever its origins, but you have to be cautious when you are quick to label whatever non-Euro cuisine's origins as 'peasant' or not gourmet. I don't know the history of Hawaiian food, but you might be totally wrong; the dishes might have originated for their royalty for all we know. I find anything exotic or different from the norm as 'gourmet' IMO anyway; and so do most chefs who build in travels to other cultures and cuisines as part of their culinary education and incorporate it into their dishes, as they DID ON THIS SHOW.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jeanki

                                                                                                                                                    The dishes served in that lunch were I believe very much traditional farmers' food. Everyday meals would be mostly starch and some fish. Pork was festival food.

                                                                                                                                                    "Peasant" is strictly speaking an inappropriate term since no one owned the land, but it's roughly analogous to the Hawaiian "makaainana"--people who lived on and worked land they did not own and were at the bottom of a complex class hierarchy.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                      I found this somewhat informative. The dishes were not just farmers' food in the sense that it seems all levels of their social strata participate in luau foods (which were showcased on the show.)


                                                                                                                                        2. I wished somebody had done something with spam!!!

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: macca

                                                                                                                                            LOL! That would have been quite something. Unfortunately, I think they were meant to stick with the same type of ingredients which were served at the meal the prior evening. Although I guess it could have been incorporated. Ilan using Spam instead of sausage in his dish would have really given it a more Hawaiian flair!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I don't picture Marcel toting cans of spam in his luggage along with his magic powders.

                                                                                                                                          2. Ilan made a lucky choice in studying traditional Hawaiian food during the hiatus.

                                                                                                                                            Sam, on the other hand, may have made a disastrous choice in apprenticing himself to a pastry chef. He came in for the same criticism Colicchio leveled against Marisa Churchill: "he didn't cook anything!"

                                                                                                                                            What did Marcel do with his thermal recirculator?

                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                              Did he bring one? If so, I guess it will show up on the next episode. I hope he stop using foam for once.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                Colicchio mentioned it and I think I saw it on his station.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                  Wasn't he waving it around at one point, while unpacking his things? I'm pretty sure I saw it too.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sivyaleah

                                                                                                                                                    Maybe he did, but lomi lomi and poke both doesn't really require that kind of cooking method.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                I don't think there is anything lucky about it. Smart is more like it. Actually, not even smart, just logical!

                                                                                                                                                The contestents *knew* they were going to Hawaii, so what would the odds be that Hawaiian food, and ingredients readily available and even indigenous to HI, wouldn't be included in the challenges? All that wonderful topography, geography, Waipio Valley (one of the more photogenic places on earth), big resorts with Hawaiian themes, the inherent photogenic qualities of a luau...well, of course the producers are going to want to take advantage of it to make the show more watchable!

                                                                                                                                                (though I must say, as someone who goes to the Big Island too often and will be there again soon, I wish there were restaurants there that routinely offered the type of cooking we saw a glimpse of in some of the dishes last night. Even Alan Wong's Hualalai Grill was a disappointment to me on my last Big Island visit.....That said, I had already guessed that the guest judges would include either Wong or Roy Yamaguchi, with my guess being Wong on the grounds that Yamaguchi is really from Japan....)Indeed, I was half expected the locale to be the Four Seasons (where the Hualalai Grill is located) but I guess the Hilton Waikaloa isn't illogical either, given its reputation as being the most 'Disneyesque' of the Big Island resorts....

                                                                                                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                  That is an astute observation Susan, I think you deserve to be Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                1. Dave Martin's blog mentions that Ilan "really tried to go the extra mile by preparing poi," and I think I remember him saying that on camera. I guess he was unhappy with the results and didn't serve it.


                                                                                                                                                  1. Elia has clarified her statement about Marcel "cheating"

                                                                                                                                                    JS: How was he cheating?

                                                                                                                                                    EA: I don’t know. He had agar in his bag and he would use it to change the density of the sauces, or one day he had recipes from Joel Robuchon. These were little details that I think were the things that made Betty and Sam and Ilan and everybody be so mad at him.

                                                                                                                                                    JS: So why didn’t, why didn’t anyone bring, certainly there was other allegations of cheating, why didn’t anyone bring Marcel’s cheating up with the judges?

                                                                                                                                                    EA: I did, and then I think they’re gonna show it at the finale. I don’t know how they’re gonna edit it, what am I gonna do, you know. I am not the producer, I’m just one of the contestants. I have no saying in this whatsoever, because it’s going to edited again.


                                                                                                                                                    27 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                                      I am at a loss at why having recipes and agar are considered cheating. Do they have rules that said that they cannot bring recipes with them? I thought with the last 2 rounds of cookoff they can bring any equipment and any ingredients. It seems to be a no-holds barred type of situation.

                                                                                                                                                      If she didn't think enough ahead of time in her 2 months off to either learn how to bake (like Sam), or bone up in Hawaii food (like Ilan), or bring special ingredients for the challenges (like Ilan with the blood sausage and Marcel with the Xanthan Gum), then it's just sheer laziness on her part and she has no one to blame for her elimination but herself.

                                                                                                                                                      I have to say I used to respect Elia. I don't anymore.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                        In all of the challenges except last night's (where they could bring up to 220 pounds of ingredients and equipment), the rule was that they were limited to the ingredients they could buy for a specified budget and/or what was provided in the studio or on location.

                                                                                                                                                        Recipes, I dunno. They've never mentioned it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                          I think Elia was referring to incidents in the past. They were explicitly told they *could* bring their own ingredients and equipment to the finale, but for the rest of the competition they were restricted to what was provided or they were allowed to shop for. Recipes are not allowed -- that's why they all run like crazy from baking, which is much harder to get right without knowing the exact proportions, and why in Top Chef 1 Dave talked about having memorized some recipes in case he needed them for the finale.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the explanation.

                                                                                                                                                            A case of "too little, too late". They should have spoke up way earlier instead of right before they know that they will be eliminated.

                                                                                                                                                            The recipes restriction seems like of silly. In real life they will have a chance to look things up and not do it from their head, especially things like dessert.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                              A lot of things that happen on Top Chef are nothing like real life -- the most egregious was last season when they were given 24 hours to cater a sit-down wedding reception, including the cake! Then Colicchio sneered at them for using cake mix. I've made lots of cake in my lifetime, but I couldn't make one from scratch without a recipe (or many hours of trial and error), and neither could the vast majority of professional chefs.

                                                                                                                                                              In real life, or course, the vast majority of caterers would have a specialist make the cake, especially given the time constraints.

                                                                                                                                                              The other thing that bugs me is when Colicchio says "if it isn't good, don't serve it." It's not like they have a choice! Sometimes they can "fix it" by removing a failed element (like Ilan's "funnel cake" fiasco), but they have to serve whatever they made during the time they were given. They aren't allowed to say "I tried something and it didn't work out, so I'm not serving anything this challenge!" And then they get dinged for playing it safe -- with no time for trial and error, what choice do they really have?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  What I meant was, they have to serve something (or in the case of the finale, two things). If the whole dish fails, they still have to present it and hope for the best. Colicchio's "just don't serve it" mantra really doesn't apply.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                    I've heard him say that when it was something they could have left off.

                                                                                                                                                                    When the whole dish is wrong, e.g. the disastrous beach quiche, he criticizes the contestant for not adapting.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                  Colicchio wasn't terribly consistent in his judging. Elia played it safe by serving the cream of mushroom soup in the Thanksgiving challenge, but won. On one hand he wants people to be creative, but on the other he doesn't really reward people who didn't play it safe and didn't have a perfect dish.

                                                                                                                                                                  Not having access to recipes or cookbook is a strange handicap. It's like telling golf players that they only have access to 2 golf clubs or something. The opening new restaurant challenges are kind of unrealistic too, but at least it's more doable.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                    Anthony Bourdain picked Elia as the winner:


                                                                                                                                                                    In an elimination challenge, winning is an honor with no practical value, so they let the guest judge do it. The panel chooses the loser.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      You are right, but as they have many hours at the judge's table Colicchio could have probably convince the guest judge to pick one over another if he truly wants to reward risk taking. I thought Boundain was kind of torn too.

                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, it's just puzzling to me how they kept saying that they don't want the same safe stuff from the contestants, but they don't reward them if the contestants takes a risk on a good concept and failed on the execution. They seem to be reinforcing the behavior and desire for the chefs to play it safe and just do dishes that they know but that they know they do well on. I think Carlos was kicked out for being 'safe' as well.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                              Written recipes and cookbooks are not permitted and clearly stated in the contracts signed before flying out to LA. I am pretty sure your own ingredients were ruled out as well. I believe Elia referred to Marcel using agar and recipes during the earlier challenges. At this point, who cares who wins? Everyone's disgusting.

                                                                                                                                                              In the end, $100K after taxes is a small sum for sacrificing yourself to the world and having glass bottles smashed in your face. A line cook who is truly talented could work for about 3 years to make up for that amount while maintaining their dignity. The prize money is a drop in the bucket for setting up even the most lowkey restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Ha, I don't think Bravo would ever disclose actual copies. However, the recipe rule is new, as is the no-contact rule. (Contestants were unable to socialize or communicate with anyone but each other, which les to them becoming stircrazy.) Maybe you could talk the Smoking Gun into getting their hands on it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gingersweetiepie

                                                                                                                                                                    The no-agressive-contact rule is standard for reality shows where people live together -- otherwise the liability would be through the roof. It's one of only a handful of rules on Survivor, for example.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't believe the no recipe rule is new either -- otherwise, Dave wouldn't have specifically mentioned having memorized some of his recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                      When I said no contact I meant social contact. Contestants were not allowed to speak to anyone or go out during the duration of filming,

                                                                                                                                                                      In season one, you see Stephen check his email and I believe research recipes online. Would have never happened this season. So the no-recipe rule may have only applied to the finale. Another possibility is that Dave memorized for the sake of saving time. No one is going to pore over sheets of paper when they have 30 minutes to make something.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gingersweetiepie

                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, I understand now. Perhaps the no contact rule was precisely because contestants were researching recipes when they weren't supposed to.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                          There are a fair number of parallels between Top Chef and Project Runway (although cooking and fashion design can't be completely parallel), and PR's rules include no "recipes" -- Keith was sent home last season for being found with pattern books in his possession.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                            In Season One they explicitly were able to look up recipes on the internet: that was one of the reasons that they had internet access. They discussed this for a number of the challenges where they had to do desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: gingersweetiepie

                                                                                                                                                                          In season one I know they had access to AOL as it was a sponsor.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                  From that statement, it sounds like Elia is saying those incidents took place prior to the finals; Marcel was using others' recipes, etc. throughout the competition, which is one of the reasons he drew a lot of ire. She also indicates that this was brought to the judges attention earlier in the season and the producers edited it out.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Matt M.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't see how this info didn't come out sooner by the other chefs, regardless of producer edits. Aren't the producers the same from Project Runway? They were really strict on the rules about pattern books, I'm sure it was the same with cookbooks or written recipes. I can't imagine Betty sitting on this. Or even Sam for that matter. His instigation techniques are more entertaining than the cooking on the show. I watched it again and yeah Elia was trying to talk about past incidents. The three of them couldn't speak of even 1 specific example. That's ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                    Does it even matter? Marcel hardly won with his dishes anyways.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rumgum

                                                                                                                                                                      That's pretty much what Marcel has said in interviews: if he'd been doing anything, they'd have gotten it on camera.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder if when Elia says the Marcel had "recipes from Joel Robuchon" does she mean actual pieces of paper with portions and ingredients or does she mean in his head? Obviously if they were in his head, I am certain every contestant on this show has used some prior experience, methods and ingredients in at least one dish during the show. Give me a break.

                                                                                                                                                                  On the other hand, I have to imagine cookbooks and documented recipes are a big no-no. As any fan of PR can tell you, pattern books and patterns get you kicked off that show (Keith Michael) and recipes being the chef's manifestation of a "pattern", and the producers being the same folks etc...you can only imagine the same rules apply.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Foureyes137

                                                                                                                                                                    Does anyone seriously believe that if any of the other cheftestants found Marcel with recipes or agar that they wouldn't have turned him in?

                                                                                                                                                                    They have shown so much hate for him that they would have gleefully done this.

                                                                                                                                                                    The pressure got to Elia and she has gone off the deep end. If you read the entire interview at the end even the interviewer was laughing at her wild speculations.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RBCal

                                                                                                                                                                      I think Elia is a fruitcake and a sore loser. It's kind of telling to me that they showed a clip of an Elia interview while they were boarding the plane and she said that others were mad at Marcel but she doesn't have a problem because he is not a _threat_ (this is not verbatim). This must have been taped when she thought Marcel had no chance of winning. He didn't really dominate the challenges and she supervised him at the Mansion, so she probably thinks that she is better.

                                                                                                                                                                      I think things turned sour when she realized that he's advancing and that she may pack her knives ahead of him. Her complaints and comments about 'telling wolf story to his kid' about the time he took to explain his dishes seems very petty. It's not like it's taking time away from her, and she is not on the receiving end of the lecture. I am surprised that the judges and guests didn't have any complaints but she did (either that or the Bravo editing team got that out).

                                                                                                                                                                      She also accused Marcel of rigging some votes online in her interview, which is really dumb as she had absolutely no proof.

                                                                                                                                                                      I fail to see how some agar to thicken sauce and previously gathered receipes help. A lot of the challenges have quirky ingredients - vending machines, offals, scavenger hunt at a kitchen. It certainly didn't seem to help Marcel if he did do that - he won much less than Elia, Sam, Ilan and Cliff.

                                                                                                                                                                      Lastly, she said that she studied the Hawaiian cuisine before the challenge, but her dishes certainly didn't show it!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                        I noticed that about saying he wasn't a threat, and I agree with you that this (change in) perception was key to her decision to call him out on practices she considered unkosher. She didn't care what he was doing "wrong" until she realized she might not win the competition, and I think you are spot on that her feeling of superiority made her indifferent earlier on.

                                                                                                                                                                        In any case, I'm rather unimpressed with her at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                4. HOLY CRAP, indeed. I lost all confidence in the judges or producers of this show that's filled with product placement. (How many times to we have to hear about the Kenmore Kitchen??). I guess the drama is more important than a real competition. Sam was ROBBED, Elia, too but less so.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. It's interesting to me that the judges' decisions are puzzling when you watch the show, but make total sense if you read their blogs.

                                                                                                                                                                    I suspect that reflects incompetence on the part of the producers.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Okay, my take on this whole thing...

                                                                                                                                                                      I think both Sam and Marcel were the only two to realize that besides the food aspect, this was a game. Both played the game like master Chess players. Marcel got under everyones skin and they fell back on their heels and responded to him instead of concentrating on the various tasks at hand. Sam was a puppet master, always there, and yet never responsible.

                                                                                                                                                                      He had one public blow up with Marcel to establish cred and then stirred up stuff to let the others look worse.

                                                                                                                                                                      C'mon folks, if you watched the whole show, read the postings here and other places, it would seem that the two to beat were Sam and Cliff. Think about it... the doofus twins end up with shaved heads, Cliff (Sam's real challenge) gets booted, Marcel gets sainted and Sam slides by... Sam -vs- Marcel would have been a no-brainer, and I bet that was the angle Sam was striving for. (BTW his haircut looked good!) Sam though played it safe and hoped that the Elia/Ilian tantrum would get them booted... His biggest mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                      It has been written here and other places that the whole "foam meme" in regards to Marcel was just wrong. In the scheme of things the foams were secondary to most of his dishes and yet like Al Gore inventing the Internet or the basis for "Love Story" who really needs the facts when telling a story.Most people are invested with their own truth and could care about reality, even when reality is a reality TV show that skews somewhat from reality! (whew!)

                                                                                                                                                                      And that brings us to editing. A few years ago while having an early mid-life crisis, I went to art school for four years. I got to take some editing classes and it is amazing what you can do! I think a lot of the reaction shots (b roll footage) really had nothing to do with what was happening. A lot of the facial grimaces (not all) were clearly reactions to something not shown on camera but edited to make it appear like it was...

                                                                                                                                                                      Bear in mind, as mentioned earlier, a lot of the editing was happening when the outcome was already known to the editors/producers. Hence the Marcel/Ilian storyline getting played up as the last few episodes were shown. This not showing the whole story makes the 180 of Elia somewhat blatent looking.

                                                                                                                                                                      Love it or hate it, we watched it and commented on it. In case anyone wants to see what a talented editor can do... watch this:

                                                                                                                                                                      Play nice, cook well, eat better and enjoy nextweek's finale!


                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: delk

                                                                                                                                                                        Great post delk - and the Shining edit is brilliant. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Has anyone tried to make any of the recipes from Top Chef? It's hard as a viewer to really comment on the contestants since we're relying on the palates of the judges. With that in mind I decided to make one of the dishes from last night. I had some coconut milk I needed to use up so I made Sam's coconut mascarpone mousse. I already believed that Sam should have made it through to the finale and this just confirmed my belief. It was delicious! His use of salt in the coconut sauce was spot on (although I used regular sea salt, not Hawaiian). I do love coconut and mascarpone so I may be a bit biased, but this was a great and well-balanced dessert that I will definitely make again. And in my search for mascarpone cheese (my local Whole Foods ran out) I found some Xantham Gum...perhaps I'll make Marcel's "poi" next?

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: AnjLM

                                                                                                                                                                          The judges thought all the dishes were delicious. That make picking the losers a challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                          "[Sam's] play on Huapia (soft coconut pudding), using mascarpone and salted coconut milk, was light and playful, a sure sign of the pastry knowledge he had acquired since cooking for us last. The real issue we had was that nothing had actually been cooked and so had not showed us his full range of skill."


                                                                                                                                                                          "While I have no complaints about his food, neither of the dishes stood out for originality or seemed particularly personal to Sam, and he certainly took no risks by trying to cook using an unfamiliar Hawaiian technique."


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                            What's interesting is they say that nothing was cooked but the coconut sauce was cooked on a stove and the orange tuille was baked in the oven. That counts as cooking for me.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. this may be a question that's been asked already (there's over 125 posts) or a comment that's already been made...but HOW THE HELL did they grow thier hair back so fast???
                                                                                                                                                                          as to a winner, marcel will win, i will be sick to my stomach, and bravo won't give a rat's butt cos they got their ratings.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: spinach

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't about Ilan's hair but as for Elia, I have first hand experience (mine not hers), curly hair grows very fast.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: spinach

                                                                                                                                                                              there was a three month break between the last filmed episode and the Hawaii finale...

                                                                                                                                                                            2. oh yes and while i think of it, once marcel wins, he will very likely fit the model described in wednesdays ny times by frank bruni..PERFECTLY.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. I was very surprised to see Sam go. I think he has a lot of creative talent. The only challenge he screwed up on was the breakfast at the beach episode. Most chefs probably could not have passed that one! I am not surprised to see Marcel in the top two. He has a lot of talent, unfortunately he is a big schmuck. If he ever owns his own restaurant he's going to lose a lot of employees with his attitude. Everyone says Elan is a weasel, what the hell do you call Marcel? I would like to see Elan win and bring Marcel down a notch or two. Elan has potential.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chefklb

                                                                                                                                                                                  Everyone has been calling Marcel a weasel from day one as well as many other names. Not to mention the attack.

                                                                                                                                                                                  It's Ilan who has been sneeking around getting poeple to do his dirty work and acting like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. So, back to the food...

                                                                                                                                                                                  I love Hawaiian food. I wish there was more meat dishes though. Hawaiians love their pork. There certainly could've been more presence of it. Didn't they have 2 or 3 hours to cook?

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm surprised Ilan was the only one to attempt laulau with the use of taro leaves. I loved the idea of using squid. Laulau is such an awesome dish. The taro leaves have such a lush texture when cooked this way. My FIL makes it with pork butt (of course) and salmon instead of the traditional butterfish. And it freezes wonderfully. Ilan's frita Haupia sounded so yummy to me. I'm not familiar with what the combination of saffron plus coconut would taste like. Crispy fried coconut goodness is a sin I'm ready to commit to.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not sure about Marcel's pineapple Poi. Poi to me is the carb or starchy side on the platelike rice or potatoes. I'm sure Marcel's was a burst of pineapple fruit flavor, creative I guess. I happen to like the traditional Taro poi. My friends eat it with sugar, which I'm not really a fan of. I like it when it sits and gets a little tangy. It's perfect that way IMO with Kalua pig and lomi lomi salmon.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sam's version of Haupia sounded interesting. I may have to try it. What's not to love, coconut milk, marscapone cream, no cooking involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Elia's dishes seemed boring. I've eaten a lot of poke, never with olives. I thought the use of capers and sun dried tomatoes sounded good. Steaming fish in a ti-leaf didn't seem to be a stretch at all. Wonder if she would've earned points if she used a Maui onion in any of her dishes. That was a lame attempt at sarcasm.

                                                                                                                                                                                  They all deserve credit in making it this far in the game. They're all talented cooks with wonderful hair potential!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I never liked Marcel much from the start. Whatever his skills might be, he's terribly immature and has the social skills of a lobotomized tapeworm. But I've rooting for the guy for a while, now -- and I reckon that says a lot about the other contestants: psychos, nutcases, thugs, and snivelling, cowardly bastards...

                                                                                                                                                                                    As far as the cooking goes -- they're making food out of vending machines, cooking for kids at fat camp, and scoring negative points because they're not good in front of the house -- what does that have to do with being a Top Chef? It's like a Top Formula 1 Driver show where the contestants wheel around on tricycles while wearing buckets on their heads.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Eel Feather

                                                                                                                                                                                      LOL! What a hilarious mental image!

                                                                                                                                                                                      I like Marcel much more than the other jacka$$es on the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. all I am going to say is there is going to be a lot of very disappointed people out there....
                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Marcel wins.

                                                                                                                                                                                      What I found terrific is on this last episode Chef Collichio made reference to their behavior in the kitchen... that they are not being judged by that, however last week he got on Sam's ass because of the Cliff/Marcel thing asking him if he would allow that in his kitchen. It wasn't Sam's responsibility... he's not the executive chef of the contestants... It has been on thing after another...and it's all BULLSH**!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      I would like to see all the guest chefs put through the same competition and treated the same as they treated the competitors. A lot of their comments I found unnecessary and sometimes cruel. All done for the camera I am sure... This show should be called "Survivor Chef" ... crappy equipment, working ridiculous hours, being woken up to go shopping, and given as much alcohol as they could handle and very little budget for the lofts.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Mia ROCKS!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. This year I didn't find myself rooting FOR people as last year -- Harold and Lee Ann -- nearly as much as disliking and HATING ON contestants -- first the Wolverine, then Betty for her over-the-topness. Mikey was a nice diversion at the start who got an unexpected sympathetic win near the end before exiting.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Sam was clearly the Top Chef this year. Maybe his size and persona advertising calm and competence gave additional credibility to his dishes, but he was consistent, often winning and almost always at or near the top. He instigated a little, but if you were investing $$$ in a restaurant, wouldn't you clearly invest the money in him? Marcel -- maybe he could be the brilliant young phenom in the kitchen, but you'd never trust him to turn a profit or to be able to hire and lead anyone. Elia -- head case. Ilan -- gosh, you have to keep hourly track of the liquor, the cash drawer, the recipes, petty cash... Cliff -- easily #2 behind Sam until he fell apart at the end. Betty -- preening, insecure, grating.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Marcel vs. Ilan: This is sorta like having Terrell Owens playing against Michael Vick in the Super Bowl -- two ingrates with certain skills, no class, nobody you'd admire or emulate. You just hope for a train wreck.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nosh

                                                                                                                                                                                          This has got to be the best summarization of all of Season 2's cheftestants. Spot on, IMO. Thanks, Nosh. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                                                                                                                                                            V. funny nosh. I agree- no one to root for, just someone that is that the least bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. It seemed to me that at the judges table, the guest judge thought Sam's food was the best, Gail said Marcel hit a home run but Padma said something was runny and appeared to think it wasn't that great, Ilan was criticized for having too much Spanish influence, and Elia's food wasn't "Hawaiian" enough. Where does anyone get the idea that Marcel's was the best (except for Gail's opinion)? Also the judges were incredibly inconsistent re behavior in the kitchen, playing it safe and "not cooking". They had a quick-fire challenge based on not using heat - did they say that was not cooking? All leads me to believe that their choice for Top Chef was made earlier and they had to justify the decision at the end.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Aside from bad kitchen behavior and annoying personality, I'm just not impressed with the way Marcel's food has looked from the beginning.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cfair

                                                                                                                                                                                              The guest chef doesn't get to vote on who's eliminated.

                                                                                                                                                                                              It was clear on the show that the judges found it easier to agree that Marcel won than to choose between Ilan and Sam, since they made their decisions about Marcel and Elia first.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Tom: "[The food] was all really good, but two dishes stood out: Marcel’s deconstructed Hamachi Poke with Pineapple "Poi" ... [and] Ilan’s Morcilla and Squid Lau Lau."

                                                                                                                                                                                              Padma: "I loved Marcel’s ... hamachi poke on a taro chip. ... [His] salmon lumi lumi with ... was the best savory dish of the night."


                                                                                                                                                                                              From the blogs, I think the final decision might have been two to one, with Tom and Gail voting for Ilan and Padma favoring Sam.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. For anyone who loves spoilers, check out eater, finale spoiler on there.

                                                                                                                                                                                              For what it's worth, I've said before I don't think there is a winner, I think there is a big loser though, and that is Tom Colicchio who was emascualted by the Bravo producers over the Marcel mess. I like Tom a lot and can't imagine he'd do a season three of this "crap on a plate" to quote Carlos (or whomever).