“Last Chance Kitchen” Season 14 wrapped it all up as Tom Colicchio set out the final challenge for the two women who hoped they’d be there at the end. Brooke and Casey survived against Jamie in the two-way protein challenge, (see that, here) and they knew only one would be competing in the “Top Chef” finals in Mexico.
Brooke came ever-so-close in her season 10 appearance, going to the finals but losing to Kristen who made it through the “Last Chance Kitchen” gauntlet to take the title. Casey also made it to the finals in one season and is a three-time “Top Chef” contestant. This would be her biggest triumph. Who will go to Mexico to compete for the title this season? We won’t know until next week’s broadcast, which is maddening!
The challenge: make two completely different dishes knowing Tom would taste just one; consistency was the key to the competition. The clock was set for 45 minutes, as Casey rubbed her temples, when Tom yelled “Your time starts now!”.
Brooke’s dishes: Wisely she thought of time constraints and chose to make a soup, with her second plate featuring a salad. Soup and salad for all the marbles? In her mind, showing versatility doesn’t mean cooking complex dishes. Okay, let’s go! The cauliflower and milk went into the soup pot and off she went to the garnishes. The salad would feature more pork, yes, she’s obsessed. She shaved the veggies and put them in ice to get them crisp, to sit alongside a very rich pork flavor.
Casey’s dishes: She went in the other direction, preparing steamed cod and a beef with peach dish. Yes, that’s right. Her intent was to get the fish steaming and work on a really good steak dish. The cod would sit on a light bed of lettuce cream. She used a good rub for the meat, added potatoes cooked in duck fat and compressed the peaches for flavor. Searing the steak while other things were being watched elsewhere in the kitchen was a delicate balancing act.
He made Casey crazy as he showed up during her serious juggling act. The sound he made when he saw her steak resting, while three other things were in prep stage made her fear that something was terribly wrong. She decided to use two steaks, slice them both and see which might please Tom, if and only if he decided to taste one. Remember, he could choose which dish to sample. That would send them to Mexico or home.
Since he’s an equal opportunity torturer, he looked at the clock as he noticed Brooke’s soup was ready to plate. “Is it a hot soup?”, he asked. More than seven minutes remained and it gave Brooke a jolt, as she poured soup out of the bowls. “Shit…you’ll get it hot”, she said, adding “Careful not to burn your mouth.” Okay, she was really tempting fate there.
“You can feel the tension,” Colicchio said. Ya’ think? Both women were confident in both of their dishes and didn’t seem to worry about which one would be the deciding factor.
The Tasting: Tom chose Casey’s fish plate and Brooke’s soup. Was the big hint his comment that “cooking soup was gutsy”, since it’s not showy? Hmmm…….See you all next week after the “Top Chef” season finale.
“Last Chance Kitchen” Season 14 episodes are streaming on YouTube and Bravotv.com Image/video credit: Bravo TV, used with permission