As usual, there's a lot of sneaky intel out there, but I'm endeavoring to keep this blog a spoiler-free zone. This isn't just for the readers, but for me, too -- I don't want to know what happens! As such, anything that's already been broadcast or has been posted on the official Bravo site is fair game for discussion. I will, for example, discuss the preview of next week's show at the end of the post. But if you've heard rumors that one chef has been hosting a lot of dinner parties, or that another chef was spotted boarding a plane to an exotic locale, please keep them to yourself.

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February 3, 2012

Top Chef - S9E13 Last Chance Kitchen

Okay, that was brutal. And it should have been soooooooooo predictable. I'm a little ashamed I didn't see it coming.

For our overseas compatriots, Last Chance Kitchen has a winner. And of COURSE the final web episode ends in a cliffhanger, with the decision and the reveal to be shown on next week's episode.

Great finish, kind of a simplified mirror image of the Top Chef finale. Half an hour, give me your best shot, one dish. Beverly does a seared red snapper with coconut broth, some kind of vegetable stir fry and a fennel mango salad. Grayson goes to the scallops, seared with bacon, a cherry and champagne grape gastrique, tarragon, arugula and pistachios.

Aaaaaaaaaand, we'll see! I'm really sad to see LCK go. I've enjoyed it as much, if not more, than the regular show. Here's hoping we see it again in S10.



Duh, I didn’t see the cliffhanger coming either. I stayed up late to watch the big finish, now I wished I hadn’t watch the episode.

Here something to think about. How are you going to feel if Paul is eliminated this week without having a second chance like every other chef before him had? I know it’s the system in place but give me a break. They gave Janine & Andrew a second chance and those two didn’t even make the top 16.

Yeah, we should have seen that coming. So, since we have nothing to go on, I'm going to engage in rampant, baseless speculation. The winner is Grayson. Why? Because in the interviews they've been showing on the show, her hair is different: it's frizzier. I say she not only wins, but she makes the final four. Of course, it's also certainly Beverly, since Grayson won't get Tom's nod after her JT showdown, Grayson broke a rule by cooking scallops, and we know about Gail's veiled comments about Beverly being not done. So there you have it: it's definitely one of them.

@Anon Man: Unless . . . it's neither of them! Tom repeats his earlier wail that "I think I chose the wrong 16 chefs!" and instead brings back . . . Elia! And makes her cook corn-fed beef for the finale.

Corn-fed beef braised in Diet Coke.

I can't improve on that Alamos and Paula. ;)

Hahaha! Awesome.

I find myself routing for Bev. I think she'll bring more interesting dishes.

This doesn't by any means discount what a great run Grayson has had. She has moments of brilliance but I just feel like she just isn't quite there yet. So close but just not quite there.

I guess we'll see what Tom thinks on Wednesday. Gah! I can't believe they did that to us!

I'm hoping that it's Beverly too. If I doubt this outcome though, it's only because the preview so clearly seems to suggest that it's Beverly who is returning (e.g., the unhappy look on Sarah's face as the returnee is revealed). I always assume, when I see such things, that the opposite is true. Let's hope I'm wrong and that the Elves are using some reverse psychology here.

Most entertaining scenario (from my perspective): Beverly returns and knocks out Sarah or Lindsay.

Least entertaining scenario: Grayson returns, we have the same five contestants competing, and she gets eliminated again – leaving us at the exact same place when we began, except w/o LCK to shake things up and keep it interesting.

My guess is Bev. Tom said one dish was cooked from the heart. Bev's seemed more so to me. But the editors have fooled me before.

PerryMB - the LCK is like the losers bracket in a wrestling or basketball tournament. At some point, the losers bracket winner meets the last man standing. In this case, it is to join the final five with a chance to go to the final four. Whoever loses this week survived to get to the final four, be it via the losers bracket (LCK) or the main bracket. That said, I hope Paul is part of the final four, and trust that the editors wanted to make something look dramatic. For all we know, Paul's comments in the preview could have been said in week 3.

Paul's comments could have just as easily come from a quickfire so I'm not reading anything into them. I didn't see "Wisconsin" in Grayson's dish so I don't think that Tom would have used that language if he was choosing her dish.

I love Grayson but my biggest fear of LCK was that the most recently eliminated chef would come back and it would just feel like the episode before was a waste of time. Now, that episode has happened and it was a waste of time ;) ... I mean, biking around in the mid-day to get to one of 5 preselected restaurants, really?!? Ahem, excuse me. Still, I'd be more entertained by Beverly cooking in the main competition again than by Grayson. Also, I'd totally enjoy watching Grayson be a sous-chef to a finalist but would be cringing in fear of what might be said or done if Beverly has to sous-chef for someone like Sarah or Lindsey.

LCK was a great addition to the TC series. Is Cohen smart enough to have figured out this concept, or are there some new wizards among the Elves? An intriguing consequence is that they can never do it again -- or at least not as a surprise to the eliminated chef. Maybe we will see some kind of tie-in where the LCK becomes a new show on Bravo, on a different night, with the eliminated chefs moving over to the new show for the extra chances. Seeing what the Elves do with LCK is enough of a hook all by itself to keep many of us coming back for one more season

Also, my vote is for Bev

Took a look at it again and Tom's comment on 'heart and soul and desire' suggests Beverly won it. Grayson didn't seem that enthused about LCK and said as much in an interview. Will find out soon I suppose.

@Duffy - Good point re: next season. The current format is ideal but the surprise element is a big part of it. Next season's chefs will be expecting to get another opportunity after being eliminated, so the only way to retain an element of surprise without scrapping LCK altogether would be to change the format each season. Although they have already done that to some extent; bringing back eliminated contestants isn't wholly without precedent.

On a related note, how many more seasons do people think the show has left? Being in Australia I don't really have a good sense of how well the show is doing in the US.

OP8, that's a great point about the surprise value. They'll have to monkey with it pretty significantly to have any shock value to the contestants next year. (Not including the handful of people every season who swear they don't watch the show... not that I necessarily believe that.)

The big question is how you'll incorporate whoever it is into the Power Rankings! If it's Bev, I'd rank her above Sara, but if it's Greyson, defo at the bottom...

Those darn elves :)

LCK has been terrific throughout. What an amazing addition - seriously. Just right, too - little 10 minute clips, all about the challenge, done.

Go Bev!

LCK reminds me of a shortened version of Gordon Ramsey's MasterChef. It is all about the food. After the first challenge of the day, the two or three weakest have a cookoff with the loser going home. No games. Even the LCK twist of switching stations was not a bad twist. It was all about the food. Of course, I think Dom's audience is different than most of Bravo's audience.

It's very suggestive that Bev returns to the competition. I think what might happen is that next week is a double elimination that Bev needs to win the challenge in order to re-enter the competition, or she's out. This would ease having the remaining chefs not getting a shot at LCK.

I have loved LCK. It is all about the food. While there are a few gimmicks, they are not the outrageous stuff that TC has come to be known as. And I see Tom Colicchio's fingerprints all over LCK!! The last episode was over 11 minutes. A 30 minute show on TV is only about 25 minutes (minus all the commercials, maybe less). Bravo could easily make this into a show -- 9PM is Top Chef; 10PM is LCK; 10:30 is Watch what Happens. Or some variation of that schedule.

PLEASE BRAVO! Listen to the foodie fans! Give us more LCK and less Real whatever-of-who-freakin-cares!!!

Half-hour programs usually have 21-22 minutes of airtime and the remainder used for ads, but it's still more than double the time needed for LCK. HOWEVER, if Bravo tacks on 15 extra minutes of Top Chef each time to give room for LCK, there will be more than enough time for WWHL (Idk who can even watch Andy Cohen for more than 45 minutes, but I digress...), ad revenue will grow due to more Top Chef goodness (that is if they don't have a contract with specific terms with Healthy Choice). Win-win :)

LCK to me has felt like Tom's chance to rectify the loss of a good chef for whatever reason from the main show. I think it's partially about the food, but also about the chefs that Tom sees promise in. I've very much enjoyed it.

@atheapollo: I can't *stand* Andy Cohen. Anything that would expand Top Chef and reduce Cohen would be A-OK!

Like it or not, Andy is the face of Bravo. He isn't going anywhere. As for us "foodie fans" as compared to the average fan, I don't think the divide is that big. Dom even noted that we were suspectible to liking someone for personality over food (Ty -lor, Grayson, this season as examples). I think the big difference is we dive more into the food in discussing chefs. So we appreciate Bev's diversity of cuisine while still cooking "Asian" or note the subtle touches in certain recipes. But we still gravitate to people we like personally. Sarah has cooked the food I most want to eat, but I'm pulling for Paul like most everyone else because he can cook and is a nice person.

rankings pl0x


I just watched the preview videos for this week. The remaining contestants seem to know the Bev and Grayson are competing. Well, obviously they know that Grsyson is the last chef out and will compete in LCK. But I wonder if someone told them she is competing with Bev?

On another note, why has so many people been down on Bev for cooking "Asian" but the same complaint has not been leveled on Paul or Ed? That irritates me.

Dreamboat: not true.

Grayson, after saying "like a meatball?" looked at Paul and said "or Asian".

I still think it's true that in seasons past, chefs have been criticized for staying with one cuisine, including italian and "asian". Never has "asian" been so broadly addressed as this season, though, as far as I can tell. Very "fusion"-istic imo.

It's new ground for Top Chef, and very welcome. The non-asian food this season has been really uninspired. Meaning, if you add ginger and soy, it's usually way more interesting (and seemingly asian) than what is going on with the others. again, imo.

Ally... Given the way she delivered it, I think it's at least even odds that Grayson was joking, and may have been mocking the very thing we're discussing.

If you watch the previews on Bravo, they actually show the returning chef walk up to the tinted/blurred doors of the Quickfire kitchen. You can't see the face, but from the walking style and height of the chef, it's quite clear who it is.

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