Top Chef California Recap: Finale Part 1

By Jason Lee

March 16, 2016

Hey, that's James Beard nominee Isaac Toups! (You're great, too, Marjorie.)

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It's the Top Chef Finale (Part 1) in Vegas, baby! And you know what they say... what happens in Vegas, will propel one chef to culinary superstardom.

Jeremy arrives basking in his newfound momentum. After a hot start, setting him up to be the type of cheftestant who remains a threat from beginning to end, Jeremy overcame his blunders (Taco Dude, anyone?) and comes to the finale on a two-challenge win streak.

Marjorie, protégée of Mike Isabella, knows that she's had some ups and downs in this competition (understatement of the episode so far). In the last challenge, she says she wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. Ultimately, though, she believes that her run on Top Chef has given her a new sense of confidence.

Isaac of the Big Easy comes to Vegas with only one win under his belt. He's fine with that. In his mind, he's been an underdog and will always be an underdog. He's ready to show just how much he's been underestimated.

The chefs arrive at the MGM Grand in the Garden Arena, where Tom and Padma (who appears to be wearing lingerie) are waiting for them. The arena has hosted a slew of legendary fights, and now Top Chef will hope to join the club.




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But wait, there's one more participant. The winner of Last Chance Kitchen is... AMAR. Wow, I'm surprised. Amar always leaned hard on his French culinary techniques during this season, but he never struck me as a threat to take home the title until recently. It says something that he bested both Jason and Carl to make it back into the competition.

And this time, it's a two-parter. The first challenge will take place immediately, with the winner going straight to the finale. The second challenge will have the last finale spot up for grabs, and will take place tomorrow.

But first things first. Today's challenge, in Vegas fashion, will allocate advantages and disadvantages based on luck. Padma deals out a single card to each of the four cheftestants-each person gets assigned a suit. Marjorie gets spades, which used to represent royalty. As such, she has her own cart of ingredients that royalty would have had access to in medieval Europe. She can also poach any ingredients she wants from any of the other chefs.

Isaac gets hearts, which used to represent the clergy. He thus gets the clergy cart and can also take any ingredients from any other chef except Marjorie. Jeremy gets diamonds-the merchant class-and can use ingredients in his cart and any from Amar's cart. Amar is left with clubs-the peasants-and can only make a dish using ingredients that the lowly peasants would have enjoyed.

The chefs will have three hours to serve dishes to 150 people, and needing some help, Top Chef has brought them some help in the form of the last four eliminated chefs. Selecting in order of their respective classes, Marjorie takes Karen, Isaac goes with Carl, Jeremy pairs with Kwame, and poor peasant Amar gets stuck with Phillip.


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