Commercial Interruption: Eeeets-a Goodbye-a to Faaaabio. (Sniff, sniff.)
(This is also not the "as promised Greatest Moment in Channel Surfing History," but since we haven't given any hints yet and the act has been completed, we can tell you that some good came out of Fabio's departure ... wink, wink ...)
Sara: Mardi Gras never disappoints. Not with the food, not with the floats, and definitely not with a visit from "Top Chef." For the pre-finale, guest judge Emeril Lagasse really brought the "BAM!" to get "TC" to its final three. Anyone see the return of past contestants coming? I sure didn't. But I was glad to see Leah once again go down in flames and Mimbo Jeff make a triumphant return. Usually a girl likes to be warned when she gets a visit from Mr. Dilido, but this time, it was a great surprise. (uhh, I'm talking about his beach club, obviously.)
With the added twist of the past contestant Quickfire -- Mimbo Jeff had a chance to knock someone out of the top three. All he had to do was win the Elimination Challenge. No problem, right? I'll admit, the big switch-a-roo from "TC" was a little shady, and you could tell the final four wasn't thrilled about it. But the surprise did add some intensity. Not only were they competing for a spot in the top three, but now, they had to try to win the challenge so Jeff wouldn't. Drama, drama, drama.
Watching the chefs prepare for this challenge really brought out the best in some contestants and you could see how badly they wanted this. However, it also brought out the, er, crappy ego-maniacal jerkface-ness of others. (*cough* Stefan! *cough*) I'm sorry -- I know the guy can cook, but man is that guy arrogant. The fact he kept going for smoke breaks during one of the most intense challenges of the show AND that ballsy statement he made to the judges -- more or less, whatever happens, no biggie -- made him totally sound like he's too good for this show. Last night, for the first time, I was ready to see Stefan pack his knives and go.
But alas, it was our dear, dear Fabio who was sent packing, taking both the humor and the expletives out of "Top Chef." So MJ, now that Fabio is gone -- is there anything to look forward to with a finale of Carla, Hosea the Ho and Stefan? Do you think word got out about Fabio's love of dressing up as a woman on Halloween, and that led to his eventual boot?
Malavika: I think there's plenty to look forward to, although the lack of Fabio-ness will be duly noted in the finale. "Theees eees a Thop Chef, not a Thop..." A lot of us here had Stefan running away with this competition in the stretch, but Ostrich model Carla has pulled a fast one and I actually think has a great shot to win. (I never thought I'd write those words in my life). Stefan's Achilles Heel -- as well pointed out -- is himself. While he's off comparing, ummm, sausages with Hosea, Carla has proved that she's a calm, conscientious and caring chef. Much like Top Chef winner Stephanie last year, slow and steady might just win this race. I will be looking to see in this finale how far these cooks will go because, so far, it's been a little shaky in the creativity department -- I long for some white chocolate wasabi sauce to pour on my jicama sweetbread!
As for last night's surprise inclusion of an already eliminated cheftestant, it totally proved to be a winning strategy to push the other chefs to do their best. In retrospect, Fabio went home on a lot fewer mistakes than previous rounds. In fact, you could argue the judges had to nitpick to find a reason to send him home.
Also, RIP Toby Young and his stupid movie metaphors. Tom, how does it feel to have Gail back?
Thomas: Ah, Gail! How I've missed your warm and inviting ... smile.
If this season of "Top Chef" proved anything, it's that Toby Young should never be allowed to speak on TV again and that Fabio deserves his own show. Start the online petition now. Stick him in as the personal chef for the "Real Housewives of the O.C," if that's what it takes. "Everybody Loves Fabio," the sitcom. JUST. DO. IT.
Like Boyd, I was prepared to see Stefan go home. The man almost deserved such a cruel fate for being so flippin' conceited. It's sort of been his shtick up until this point, and except when he's insulting Hosea, it's been rather playful. But last night, he was totally coasting on past accolades. Smoke breaks? C'mon, Stefan, you're better than that.
And what's up with the extra pounds? Has Stefan been eating suitcases full of gumbo with Jay Mohr? You won't get to make babies looking old and bloated, buddy.
I liked the surprise addition of the dismissed cheftestants, but was also glad Dilido Head didn't pull it off. Nothing against Mimbo, but it would have been unfair to take two spots away from the four who made it that far without a previous elimination on their resume. And Crazy Eyes Carla? My God, what a transformation! Is there steroid testing for chefs? I'd like to know the secret ingredient (and it ain't LOVE) because she and Stefan have switched brains and spatulas these past few weeks.
Adam, could you ever have envisioned the final three we have before us? And is it nice to not have a clear cut favorite anymore?
Adam: What's wrong with you people? You're being so flippant and ironically detached. Are you that heartless? FABIO IS GONE! Don't you understand what this means? No more explanations of TC goings-on in charmingly broken English! No more shamelessly bromantic embraces with remaining Team Europe member Stefan! NO MORE MONKEY ASS IN A CLAM SHELL!
What is he to do now, after being so cruelly cast into a society that doesn't appreciate the beauty of an overly sweet red pepper martini? All he has are his knives, his fauxhawk, and his piece of poop car. He's out there right now -- alone, scared, probably hungry ... a Top Chef in a Top Scallop world. Addio, Fabio. You shall be missed.
(Please observe a moment of silence, "Top Chef" fans ...)
-- Sara Boyd, firstname.lastname@example.org, Malavika Jagannathan, email@example.com, Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Adam Reinhard, email@example.com