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Top Chef Canada, Season 2, Episode 13, FINALE (spoilers)

So we've finally reached the finale. It's down to Jonathan, Carl and Trevor. Or is it? No it's not. The chefs think that David, Trista and Xavier are back to be sous chefs but that's not it. The last 3 eliminated chefs have a chance to cook their way back into the competition. Wow, didn't see that coming.

So David, Trista and Xavier must prepare at least 2 dishes from PEI ingredients. They must use all the ingredients supplied. And the judges will be Carl, Jonathan and Trevor, along with the regular judges.
The chefs make a huge mess in the kitchen and David burns his hand. But he keeps cooking.

David makes steak tartare with a fried egg and green beans as well as a shellfish stew with gnocchi. Xavier makes oyster with radish and cucumber mignonette; mussels with fennel cream sauce; roasted chateaubriand with butter-poached lobster. Trista makes oyster with creme fraiche and trout caviar; mussel and lobeter soup with potato; grilled tenderloin with bearnaise; lobster mashed potatoes.

Jonathan, Carl and Trevor pick Trista to return to the competition. The judges take their opinions into consideration but they think there might be some strategy involved. They decide that David is the winner and David returns to the competition. He also wins a trip for two to the Prince Edward Island Fall Flavours Festival.

For the Elimination challenge, the chefs have to prepare a four-course meal that reflects who they are as chefs. They are serving the meal at Hockley Valley Resort. And now the real sous chefs are picked. The chefs draw knives to pick from Jimmy, Elizabeth, Trista and Xavier. David draws Xavier, Carl gets Trista, Trevor draws Jimmy and Jonathan gets Elizabeth.
They harvest produce from the resort's organic garden and start cooking.

The guest judge is Vikram Vij and guest diners are Michael Potters and John Paul Adamo.
Jonathan's first course is lobster 3 ways, beetle leaf lobster mousse, green curry lobster and lobster broth. Carl's first course is smoked trout salad with ranch dressing. David's first dish is steamed pickerel with pickerel bourride, mayonnaise and vegetables. Trevor's first dish is fig, pickled raspberry, bruleed goat chees and hazelnut. McEwan questions whether there's room for an amuse bouche.
Second course for Carl is roasted loin of elk, served tableside. There's also barbecue sauce, fried pork belly, fried shallots and eggplant. Jonathan serves braised pork belly with green mango and papaya salad and chili lime caramel. Trevor serves olive oil poached arctic char and vegetables with soy truffle vinaigrette. David's dish is tuna 3 ways, tuna crudo, tuna mayonnaise and "tuna of chianti" poached pork.
Third course is roasted rack of lamb and braised lamb biryani with coconut potato gratin for David. For Carl's third course, orange sorbet with orange tuile, lemon confit, fennel and plum. McEwan questions the ice course as a waste of a course. Trevor serves prosecco and olive oil granita and then roasted veal loin with mushroom farce and veal shoulder ravioli. Jonathan serves coconut rice and beef short rib panang curry. McEwan questions the family-style service.
For the final course, David makes sweet corn pudding with candied sage dark chocolate truffles. Jonathan serves beignet filled with peach compote and blueberry ice along with yogurt and peach ice cream. McEwan questions the progression. Carl offers up a peach cobbler with brandy caramel sauce and spiced ice cream with candied walnuts. Trevor makes a blueberry lavender tart wtih mascarpone cream and lemon curd.

The judges offer some praise and question the chefs. McEwan again mentions the family-style dish from Jonathan but Shereen disagrees with his prejudice against the casual style. Carl's sorbet is discussed again. Again McEwan calls it a waste of a course but it is agreed that it is delicious. David's dessert is praised. Trevor's first dish is questioned as a waste of a course but Trevor defends it. They loved the char though.

Jonathan takes the first course for the judges. Carl's elk seems to take the second course. The third course looks to be Trevor's. Jonathan's dessert was praised but thought to be out of place. David takes the fourth course. So it looks like they each win one course.

McEwan praised them all but reminds them that only one can win. Lisa announces that Jonathan and David are not Top Chef. It's between Trevor and Carl.

And Carl is Canada's Top Chef.

Well that was an interesting finale. I certainly didn't see the last-minute return of David coming. Congratulations to Carl. He was pretty much a front-runner from early on. A few missteps along the way but not entirely an unexpected win.

I was a bit surprised about Jonathan going out. The judges seemed to love all of his food. The only thing they didn't like was the dessert's fit in the progression. But they loved the taste. Also the casual family-style service of the curry but that was not unanimous. Shereen loved it and Vikram also defended it. And it tasted great. So why would they cut him when they didn't like Trevor's first course and they also thought Carl's sorbet was a cop-out?

So Carl and Trevor's other dishes were so amazing that the judges overlooked one questionable course each? I don't have a problem with Carl's win - he's a pretty impressive chef. But from what we could see, it doesn't add up. I realize that there's a great deal of judging that is not broadcast but it just doesn't add up for me.

They loved Carl's first and second dishes. They questioned the third dish but thought it tasted good. They thought the crumble tasted good but was too homey for a finale dessert.

The judges didn't like Trevor's first course. They thought it tasted fine but was too simple and a waste of a course. The judges loved his second and third courses and found the tart to be decent but not particularly special.

So they thought all of Jonathan's food was delicious and only questioned the progression and the casual service of one course. And he loses for that? Seems like less egregious offences to me.

It was obvious David was not going to win from the judges comments but I'm glad he redeemed himself with his dessert. I'd love to try it - sounds intriguing.

In any case, that's the end of another season of Top Chef Canada. I believe I've already seen a casting call for season 3. I guess I'll see you all then.

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  1. *sigh*

    That was an even bigger let down than Dale winning season 1.

    Jonathan should have won it hands down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: piano boy

      The show lost a lot of credibility for me this season.

      The winning four-course tasting meal had a big-gulp sized palette cleanser for it's third course and a peach cobbler with melted ice cream for it's last course? If I was paying for a four-course tasting me in a restaurant and got those dishes - I'd would be *PISSED*.

      I wasn't rooting for Dale last year, but I thought he was very talented and was left wanting to try his food. This year's finale left me wanting to try the food of all the other contestants - Trevor, Jonathan and David (recognizing that I'd like only 50% of the dishes but expecting to get my mind blown away on the 50% I like) - but the only way I'd go to Carl's restaurant is on a business lunch, when I want to get a fast, efficient, well-executed lunch with a taste profile that is pleasing to the non-adventurous.

      They should rename the show Top Corporate Chef Canada. I swear Mark is judging this show as if he were hiring a chef for Bymark.

    2. I have vague memories of someone in an earlier episode being ciriticized for serving raw meat to a pregnant judge, so I don't quite understand why David got a pass for serving steak tartare to the same, still-pregnant judge. I thought that Trista should have won that round, and I agree that if the judging was based solely on that last meal, Jonathon should have won. But on the whole, I enjoyed this season more than I enjoyed last season.

      4 Replies
      1. re: badrockandroll

        Same story, different season. What a letdown. Jonathan and Trevor should have been the final two. So I guess if Jonathan would have said his progression was from the earth, since none of his dishes were criticized beyond the flow, he could have won. Or not. Carl was the winner before the dishes were even served.

        I understand a pregnant judge can't eat raw meat, but I am also curious about tastebuds in general that far into a pregnancy. I don't Shareen Arazm in any case, though, so perhaps I am just looking for excuses for her not to have been a judge.

        If there isn't an overhaul of the judges for next season, I won't be watches. Bland comments with bland delivery and scrunchy "yucky" faces need not apply.

        1. re: badrockandroll

          I think they concocted this whole "bring the 4th, 5th and 6th place contestants back" twist just so they could let David compete in the finale. Shereen has been backing him big time ever since the beginning (hence why he didn't go home for dry "Toronto Spiced Chicken").

          I wonder if Jonathan would have won if his dessert was SE Asian... his lobster dish looked so good.

          1. re: cellophane_star

            Roti-style beignet with a mango compote? Haha.

            1. re: aasg

              Mango sticky rice ball?

              I love mango sticky rice.

              Anyway, he should have made something with mango and/or coconut - that would have clinched it!

        2. I thought Trevor would win, especially since he just opened Fable. I thought Carl was just ok. He's obviously talented but like Dale last year, he didn't grab me as much as the other finalists. I really enjoyed Trevor throughout the series. Jonathan too. In fact, Jonathan's meal looked the best to me.

          Oh, and the part about David serving Shereen steak tartare. They MUST have edited the part about how a pregnant woman can't eat raw beef out. because it came up at least two other times in the series! Maybe she just ate the egg on top?

          Thanks again for all the recaps, chefhound! I always looked forward to this post on Tuesdays :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: cellophane_star

            You're welcome. It's a bit of a project - I definitely respect LindaWhit for her much more detailed recaps of Top Chef US.

            I liked Trevor but I didn't like his last bunch of "talking head" interviews. He seemed to be constantly bad-mouthing/criticizing his job. Not such a good idea, even if you've already decided to quit. Burning bridges and all that.

            David and Jonathan were my favourites because of the obvious passion they have for food. They both embraced each week's challenge with enthusiasm instead of groaning about the difficulties like Carl and Trevor.

            I was rooting for Jonathan (although I do have a tiny crush on David, I knew after the first course that he wasn't going to make it). I thought his meal was the most interesting and the one I would want to eat, even if his dessert didn't "fit". I wish he could have made an Asian dessert.

            Oh, David, please let that Toronto spice thing go! It burned you in round 1 and it wasn't better in the final round. However, that candied sage truffle sounds amazing!

            I just posted an article announcing Carl's new restaurant, which is opening this summer, just down the street from my office. I guess I'll give his food a try and see if it is really soul-less ; )

          2. Boring. Predictable. Kinda like the judging for the show.

            1. Yeah, Carl was at the bottom of my list. His food seemed pretty predictable throughout the competition. I was rooting for David or Jonathan.