Thursday, February 12, 2015

“Let’s talk about yooooour octopus.”

Hi Poolers!

Well- This Is It!
Make no mistake who you are!
This Is It!
Your back's in the corner!
This Is It!
Don’t be a fool anymore!
This it- wait a minute, those are the lyrics?
Gross, Kenny Loggins.

The last episode of the Top Chef Boston Finale begins with the doors of the TC Kitchen opening and- wait a minute, is that Who Is James Rigato? Are we getting baited with a clip show?!
We’re definitely in catch up mode. Oh, then Mei Lin says she’s 10x stronger than she was when she first walked in
(and 100x more pissed off.) (Gregory Gourdet) says he’s not holding anything back and FINALLY, yes, Pads says:
“Tonight one chef will win the grand prize!”
...Thought they were effing with us.

In the Stew Room, congratulates Mei Lin and they high five so hard bones break. Ah, it’s the old, break your bones high fiving so you have to cook with one hand trick!
Then come the hugs, the calm before the storm, the dating phase, if you will, when everything is bright and shiny and new and orifices are free from wax and hair. says he knew Mei would be there but she says he thought she was going home.
They toast-
Mei: “May the best man win.”
Look at the fire in those eyes! It says- I’m woman enough to say ‘May the best man win’ and I definitely have bigger balls. I was actually born with three but I cut one off myself- I was a nurse, yo!

Next morning, they wake at dawn and drive out to a remote area because there's a Yo Gabba Gabba concert?

Oh. Damn.
Mei: “We might die today.”

OR you might be cooking in the hot air balloon.
Like you have to have a 6 course meal prepared by the time the balloon lands? I wouldn’t put it past Bravo. “The end goal of my career is to be a chef of many different restaurant concepts…” and to point at a goat on a plain while in a hot air balloon and fall out.

When they land it looks like there might be a duel with pistols.

Pads' Eye of Thundera necklace explains that they'll have to create the “meal of their lives…”

Colicchio says they don’t want to wake up the next day and think of what they MIGHT have done.
Or who they MIGHT have banged.
My bag, that’s what I think of the next day.

Once again they’ll have help- Hey Eliminateds!

How’d ya’ll get here? Mini-van? Cause we ballooned it!
Balloon Liiiiiife!

They get to choose two Sous, goes first since he won last time. No question who.
It's Aww Lil Dougie (Doug Adams!)
(Poor Lil Guy has more gray hair then when we last saw him. Nothing ages a person like politics and reality TV.)

Who’s Mei going with? Hey Giiiiiiirl-
Mei Lin (To Camera): “Duh. Of course I’m gonna go with Melissa” (Mel King.)’s second choice?
Slick (George Pagonis.) Mexikosher (Katsuji Tanabe) does not seem to like this idea.
But Slick is like 'Yes, all that hair gel was not for naught!'
Sidebar: I'm opening a gift shop called Not For Naught. DON’T BITE!

Mei’s final choice is: “Rebecca?” (LaMalfa)
Let’s be clear here, I didn’t just say it like that, with a question, Mei said it like that. But Mei wants to make a pastry and LaMalfa has that experience.

Pads: “I want to thank all the Sous Chefs.”
And, literally (whether through the edit or perhaps real life) the remaining Chefs run off screen.
They ran so fast I couldn't pause to get any of them! Maybe cause Pads called them Sous?
It’s sooooorta a diss. I mean they were just there competing and now they're the help?

Pads lays down the law:
one hour to shop and full use of the restaurants where they’ll be cooking (two different locales);
five hours to prep and cook the next day;
Mei will serve first, second and
Unibrow (Hugh Acheson); Blais (Richard Blais) and Gail Simmons will be in attendance
as well as four chefs and critics that evoke the following expressions-
Mei: "These are Michelin-starred chefs."
Poop your pants now, guys. Preferably before you get in the car to go shopping. ponders shrimp broth with chorizo and cactus and a ginger carrot jammy.
Mei talks about making a Kim Chi butter. KIM CHI BUTTER?! I already want more!
Mei: “These dishes come from my Chinese heritage but I also want to incorporate a lot of these ingredients from Mexico.”

They get to the Mega grocery store and, no, seriously- says (To Camera) that though he did a lot of Asian flavors in Boston he basically wants to step out of that shizz, ditch the cans of coconut milk and use what Mexico has to offer...
...handfuls of slimy, detached penises that no one tell you to use tongs to pick up. plans on a mole and knows he can impress the judges but he also wants to cook a few things “on the fly.” He wants to prove he's not a one-trick pony. Because one-trick ponies get pelted with rocks for only doing one trick and then turned into dog meat.

Just before the finale, Mei worked the pastry station at Voltaggio’s restaurant where “people were doing a lot of new techniques” and it inspired her and she’s “ready to bang out some desserts.”
As a vegan I can’t help but say: that’s gonna induce a lotta mucus.

Back at the house-
The Sous Chefs say they're going to cook for them. Nice!
Mei and sit and she says he bought the entire store. He tells her he got octopus.
Mei: “You got octopus too?”
Uh oh. “Octopus battle!”
He describes the rest of his menu and she feels like he’s pushing himself in a different direction.
Mei: "Your meal is pretty Mexican inspired." "I know it's gonna be good!"
She knows she’s going to have to showcase a lot of flavor and technique to win and possibly look even sterner than she's looked before which might cause an eyeball to pop out.

In Mei’s Kitchen, hold up! Mei gotta bun? Mei hasn't rocked a bun that tight the whole season!
Shit is real now!
Mel King breaks down the duck. Mei asks she and LaMalfa if they’re excited to cook for the chefs and says “…it’s like all of our careers.”
Nice. Inclusive. Well said!

She’s making an octopus dish with a "million components" for her first course and then congee (rice porridge) which he was hesitant to make since she made it in her very first challenge on but she’s adding a bunch of Mexican ingredients. She hasn't been known for flavors this bold.
She’s making the corn fungus (ew) with kim chi butter while LaMalfa does a strawberry lime, toasted yogurt, milk crumble with liquid nitrogen-ed lime curd. Mei handles the nitro since LaMalfa doesn’t have experience with it.
And I wonder, in the end, if it'll be like cigarettes and all these Chefs will wind up with nitro lung.

Mei tells Mel King the kim chi butter has to be tight.
Mel King: “Keepin it tight.”
Mei: “Like, a puppy’s butt hole”
Wow, thats….damn.
That’s uncomfortably tight. Thanks.

In walks Colicchio-
Looking slightly (why didn’t I realize this before?!) Hugo-ish-
When Mei explains she’s using octopus he says: “I'm looking at that grill over there, I hope you’re grilling it.”
Um, why?
What a jerky thing to say if I'm not grilling it.
She says she isn’t but reveals that is and that they’re actually going head to head for the first two courses: both making octopus and then he’s making a stew (sort of like her congee, texture-wise.)

This is met with a blank stare.

In’s Kitchen, he- um, are you late??
I think is one of those runners who runs for everything.
Like even if a car is there waiting with the motor idling and the door open he runs just to “get the run in.” More power to those people, I guess. You know me, I only run for buses. is a man with a plan.
And that plan is taped to the walls before Aww Lil Dougie and Slick get there.
He wants to use his Sous to the best of their abilities: Slick will grade hair gels and Aww Lil Dougie will choke on ant eggs.

Seafood will be Slick's job, everything grilled will be Aww Lil Dougie's. knows Slick was tossed for subpar octopus so he’s gonna let him prep it, get it tender and then finish it himself. He’s adding grilled avocado, prickly pear and passionfruit.
Then he's doing green chorizo, cactus and fried shrimp heads. He won the chocolate QuickFire by using green chorizo so he's going for that again. Say what now?
I don’t remember typing "green chorizo." Hm.
Wonder if he’ll catch shade for not making the chorizo himself cause that's how this crew rolls.

Third: striped bass, tomatillo and pineapple and a carrot sauce and, finally, he’s doing mole (over 30 ingredients, Mexikosher style!) and short ribs.
This is not the Asian-inspired, dish-mkaing we’ve come to know, yo!

Colicchio asks if thinks it’s a risk to be using all new ingredients and waits for him to piss himself.
He does not!
Or maybe he's wearing an adult diaper. I wouldn't put it past some Chefs, I mean they're standing and working all day. One trip to the can and BLAM! Burnt corn fungus! I wonder if that would make it taste better...

But watch out there now cause Here Come The Judge!
Yes. I believe that these are the drones we’ve been looking for. Thanks, Pads.

As soon as Mei’s first course is brought out, Colicchio: “Beautiful plate.”
Pads “…tell us what you made for your first course.”
No pressure.

Gail says it’s one of the most beautiful plates she’s seen from Mei.
“Oh it’s gorgeous, a lot of big flavors here, my mouth is salivating.”
CUT TO: His wife watching: "He never salivates at home."

Colicchio likes the herbs but admits the octopus is a little tough, a little dry.
Pads adds: "It’s overcooked."
Crap. We don't want Pads' Assistant to have to come out and cut her food into smaller pieces-no, not the assistant with the tiny hands, the Assistant For Cutting Food Into Smaller Pieces. That's what it actually says on their business card.

Next cour- um, maybe use your spoon, Blais?
And can we get hair and make up in here because Blais is rocking a full Alfalfa right now.

Oh this is purdy.
Pads: “It’s warm and gooey, it has a lotta flavor.” (And that was almost the title of this post. Just the warm gooey, part.) Pads says that congee is better than the first congee she made in Boston and instantly several Moms deci to name their unborn children Congee.

Unibrow says it’s “pulls at the heartstrings…”
which only makes me think of threading and how much I want someone to hold this guy down and just shave his one eyebrow into two.

Clean Plate Club!

Ooo another purdy plate!
Gail wasn’t sure the kim chi and corn fungus sauces went together but "the more I eat it the more it all flows really well."

Colicchio says there are a lot of interesting moments in the dish and the jicama gives it an unexpected crunch.
But crunch like 'Yay!'Not crunch like, 'Did I just step on my glasses?'

Blais doesn't dig the corn fungus to kim chi ratio and Unibrow isn’t sold on how the fat is rendered on the duck.
Yeah well we aren't sold on your dedication to that brow hair of yours.

Time for dessert until...
LaMalfa: "Ahhh, this is sweet."
Mei: "What!"
LaMalfa: "The yogurt, it's sweet."
And that’s not a good thing.

Mei adds more lime and uses more nitro and gets more nitro lung and... problem solved!
Before the dish arrives Pads says "It better be good" and five of her six assistants start prepping freshly made Pop Tarts in case it's not.
Colicchio says if he were a savory chef, which Mei is, he wouldn't even bother with the dessert. Well damn.

The plate arrives-
Blais: “Wow! It's beautiful.” He doesn’t even want to touch it.
Gail calls the toasted yogurt “Amazing.”

“I think it’s spectacular.”

Coliccio: “Okay, two things- best dessert I ever had on Top Chef-“ WHOA!
That's Blais with the, "...but I made you desserts tooooooo..." face.
Colcchio: “Second thing, she was very smart making dessert. I take it all back. This is strong, this is very strong.”

Nice job Ladies!

I gotta tell ya, I think them letting go last is a secret nod though.
I mean, you remember your first love but you're kinda defined by your last relationship and if you didn't get your Boz Scaggs CD back and refuse to let it go and just buy another one thinking it's gonna materialize, well that's on you.

They get to’s spot and Gail notices that he didn't decide to do a dessert.
This guy asks if he’s taking a risk by going all Mexican-
This guy’s title should say Chef/Owner/Giant!

He’s a fucking giant! Lookit the glass in his hand! It’s like a thimbleful of wine!
Giant asks if this is “out of his wheelhouse" and recalls the wheelhouse he accidentally sat on one summer.

It’s in this moment I realize something really, really important.
Blais’s hair is fucked up on purpose!
Blais?! Jesus! This is intentional?!
It's half a mohawk? It's a mullet-mohawk hybrid? It's a mullhawk? gets out his Autotuner-
And intros-
Pads calls it "sublime."
The Giant says it’s elegant and would go great over the bones of a local farmer if his Giant wife wasn’t already grinding said farmer bones for different stew.

This guy says what he liked is that used all sorts of flavors he wouldn’t have been able to.
Welllll, isn't that what all Chefs do? Reality TV Show Judge Badge REVOKED!

Someone says they feel like they’re eating gumbo.
Um, is this good or bad?
Gail isn’t down with the shrimp shells and says they scratch her throat but Colicchio likes it and actually thinks this second course is better than his first.

in the Kitchen, has made his carrot sauce wrong!
He didn’t add vinegar and sugar. WHUUUUT?!
He adds it at the last minute hoping it will fix it but then he added too much so he gives it a pinch of salt! Lordy.
He hopes the tomatillo sauce will round it out.

Colicchio: “I know" "didn’t make dessert but this dish is sweeter than Mei’s dessert.”
The Giant says the dish didn't work for him and smashes a small village in retaliation.
Another judge: "This dish looks like it's from a completely different chef than the last two courses that we had."

When gets to the kitchen: "It wasn't my best dish, that's for sure. There's real Mexicans out there."
Slick: "Really?" "I didn't think about that."
Beg pardon?

He thinks he nailed the mole though...
Pads: "Wow, it's so tender."
And then the succession of eyeballs rolling back into the heads begins.
Unibrow: "This is SPECTACULAR. Full flavors, stunning, long lasting flavors."
The Giant: "Job well done."
Colicchio: "It's a really, really, really good dish, the depth of flavor of the mole, as someone who studied up on it..." And then he takes another bite and DAH-ROOLS everywhere.

The other gues- Oh Snap what are you Eliminateds doing there?!
Mexikosher provides insight by adding that mole is a tradition and each household has a different mole and took a risk and it came out amazing as Born & Bred (Stacy Cogswell) listens on.
Hey, Born & Bred! I still plan on plying you with alcohol and getting all the inside TC scoops when I see you at The Regal Beagle. That confidentiality contract you signed with Bravo can't last forever!

Big hugs in's kitchen, well mostly because Aww Lil Dougie is so little he always ends up in someone's armpit- every hug is big to him unless it's from a lady bug!

The Stew Room. Thy both look exhausted. asks Mei how her dessert went.
Mei: "Fucking good." (softly): "Oh, nice."

Time for the last Album Cover Show Down at Judge's Table!

Oh, my bag.

Then...the Judge's ask... they’re feeling?!?

Aww, come on!

What's with this Today Show shit?
If I wanted Matt Lauer I'd impale myself because WHY would I want Matt Lauer for ANYTHING?

Mei says she’s nervous and anxious and Colicchio says she was cool when he visited the kitchen-
Mei: “That was when I was working.”

Blais asks if this is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his career.
He answers: “In my life, I think.” “I mean, like, I got sober five and half years ago and that was actually a lot easier than Top Chef.”

Pads: “Wow!”
You can tell she's not really sure if that's a compliment. (I'm not either.)

They loved's octopus- it was "tart, sweet, delicious."
Colicchio was taken by the maturity of the dish. (Which I don't think refers to the age of the plates it was served on but maybe...that could be the latest in haute cuisine.)
Unibrow (in a creepy voice): "Meeeeeei, let's talk about yooour octopus."

Gail thinks Mei's visually "took her breath away" but Coliccho thought it was dry.
Gail agrees that the “the octopus was a little chewy…” smiles at this.
“…but I dug it.”

Pads had a problem with the shrimp heads in’s second course. “I feel like I still have a little shard sticking to the back of my throat.”
OH snap! You know what that means! Her assistant with the tiny hands is going to have to reach into her throat and retrieve it!
Colicchio: “I have a feeling you want this dish back. You want to work on this one.” "I do, I definitely do."
Colicchio: “It just didn’t come together.”
Blais: "But Mei, that congee tho, can we talk about that congee?"
They praise it and then roll into their third courses.

Colcchio says with's he "got sweet, sweet, sweet and sour. This dish ate very, very sweet."
Pads lists the ingredients of Mei's dish and Blais says there were a lot of wild flavors, and he was "not sure where the inspiration was." She says she taste the dish and liked it.
Cliché says as much as he liked the dish, it was her weakest of the night.

Then Pads jumps on the mole mobile and calls it "Outstanding."
Gail says it was complex and rich and really showed he was pushing himself. Colicchio says he edited the dish perfectly and "couldn't get enough of it."

Pads calls Mei's dessert "beautiful" and Blais: "Everything that was right about modern food was in that bowl."

Colicchio: "I thought this was the best dessert I’ve ever had on Top Chef period. And I would say it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in my life."
Pads tells them they're going to find the dirty dishes from dinner and lick them clean and dismisses them.

The Judge's go back and forth on the courses and dishes.
By the fourth courses- Blais and Gail are down with
Then Gail says overall has a global prospective that’s brilliant but not as successful as Mei’s.
Pads thinks they had two flawless courses but Blais found's menu more inspirational.
Coliccho: "This is a close one. It's really close."

When they enter to face the Judge's for the last time it's to applause. looks a little like the cat that ate the gently braised canary.

Mei looks like she’s gonna puke congee everywhere.

Coliccho says they've been surprising them all season long but "...what really gets me jazzed is this young talent, just emerging." (And here he dates himself with) "I guess I can only equate it to watching the Ramones at CBGBs or seeing Springsteen at The Stone Pony..." (here someone on the Judge's Panel chuckles- we can't tell who) ", seriously, raw talent, raw talent. You guys are the future. You really are."
High praise and a subtle attempt to get free merch or Springsteen tickets of both. Well played, Colicchio.

Pads: "One of you is going to win $125,000 and the title of Top Chef."


"Mei, you are Top Chef."


She's literally stunned.

She says her parents are going to be proud of her (nope); Michael Voltaggio will be proud her of her (mos def) but most of all she's proud of herself (that's all you need!!!)

Mei: (teary eyed and showing more emotion than she ever has): "I just keep having 'Holy shit' replayed in my head."
"Holy shit,
Holy shit,
Holy shit,
Holy shit."

Then she calls MY Chef Boyfriend!
Mei: "Chef, I’m gonna pass out"

Oh! Tell my Chef BF I'm gonna be home soon and I'd love a raw vegan key lime tart as my Thursday Present!

My Chef BF, Michael Voltaggio: “Stop calling me Chef. You’re the Chef now, you’re the Top Chef.”
Mei: “Ohhh, Chef.”

Splitz, Kyle, LB, Rich E., Jenna, Mari, Martha, Karen Logue, Jet, Holly, Q and KK,
YOU are the Top Chef Pool Winnahs!

Sadly, that means I must ask Meriden, Keith and Greg to pack their knives but don't go! Hang out and mooch some drinks off the Poolers you know who won!

It's been a grand time, Friends. Thank you for reading and playing!

To those of you I won't see in person, the check are in the mail!
If I can find the mailbox with these snow drifts.
(And you thought I wasn't gonna mention the snow. BURN! No, I'll take it. I'll take being burned. By the sun preferably but anything else will work, it's cold out that mofo!)

I will miss having this time occupying your lovely eyeballs!

If you're ever at a playground and you hear a young mother yell out to her son or daughter,
"Congee! It's time to go home." Think of me, Poolers. And smile.

Until then...


Splitz- Mei Lin

Kyle- Mei Lin

LB- Mei Lin

Rich E.- Mei Lin

Jenna- Mei Lin

Mari- Mei Lin

Martha- Mei Lin

Karen Logue- Mei Lin

Jet- Mei Lin

Holly- Mei Lin

Q- Mei Lin

KK- Mei Lin