Top Chef Las Vegas Recap

By Jason Lee

December 10, 2009

I think Michael can take Bryan. That whisk isn't the best weapon.

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"You are Top Chef."

We know Padma will say it, but who will she say it to? The candidates are Kevin, Michael and Bryan. And what a trio they are.

From the very beginning, we knew that these three were the ones to beat. Pompous Mike gave them a go, Eli tried to bring it right at the end, Jen was certainly neck-and-neck with them for the majority of the season...but these three have always been the ones to beat. Combined, they won 12 out of the 13 Elimination Challenges this season (who won the 13th Elimination Challenge? Why, that would be Jen).

For 13 weeks, they pushed their castmates and they pushed each other – they forced every other competitor to be smarter, quicker, cleverer and more innovative. There simply has not been another season with a comparable level of talent. I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is the best group of chefs that we've ever seen in a Top Chef finale, and they are arguably the best three chefs that the show has ever seen.


What makes this finale even more incredible is that there isn't a frontrunner. Sure, Kevin has probably been the most consistently excellent chef in the competition, but Michael and Bryan have been brilliant on multiple occasions. All three of these chefs have a fantastic shot of winning this title – but it will take their very best to beat the other two finalists.

There is no Quickfire this episode. The chefs arrive at a beautiful grape orchard and Padma explains their challenge. They must cook a three-course meal...though there will be guidelines. For the first course, the chefs will be given a Mystery Box full of ingredients. The chefs must utilize every ingredient in their box to form their first dish. The second dish can be anything the chefs want. The third dish, in a huge change from previous seasons, must be a dessert (fanatic Top Chef viewers will remember the debate that went on last season when Stefan made a dessert but Hosea did not).

And of course, to cook this "meal of a lifetime," the chefs will need help. Kevin, Michael and Bryan turn their head expectedly to see a group of people emerging from behind some grape vines. They're expecting to see their fellow cheftestants, but I have a sneaky suspicion that we'll see some Master chefs play the role of sous-chefs like in Season 3 when Michelle Bernstein, Eric Ripert and Todd English cooked for Kacie, Dale and Hung respectively.

Nope, I'm wrong. We see EVERY cheftestant from this season come out from behind the grapevines. And a grinning Jenn carries a knife block. Yep, they will not be picking sous chefs like in Season 1, they will not be assigning sous-chefs like in Season 4. Each finalist will be randomly assigned two past contestants based on the knives they pull. One sous-chef will help them cook the day before, the other will help them the day of the competition.

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