Top Chef DC: And the winner is...

Tonight's episode begins at the ending. Kelly is saying goodbye to the boys, when Padma comes in and tells the three remaining contestants that she needs to see them at judges table

"There's always a twist to everything," says Ed, with exasperation. Sure enough there are knives out. The judges want them to have as much time as possible, so they are announcing the final challenge. The chefs will be going head to head in creating a four-course meal: vegetable, fish, meat - and desserts. "You must make a dessert as your fourth course," says, Gail, coincidentally -not! - the new host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, which premieres tonight after the DC finale. Also, Tom Colicchio says that he and judge Eric Ripert will be shopping for the proteins "and I hear monkey is in season," he says. Can't tell if Tom's really kidding. Hope so.


To help the contestants, they're bringing back past winners to help in the kitchen. Have they done that before? If so, I don't recall. The helpers are Hung Hunyh, Michael Voltaggio and Ilan Hall. "I'm hoping that I get Hung" says Angelo. Wait your turn, dude. First, the chefs draw knives to see who they will be paired with.

Ed has Ilan. Kevin gets Michael - apparently they used to work together. And as luck would have it, Angelo ends up with Hung. "I'm in Asia. This in the finals. And I get Hung. This is the trilogy," says Angelo. Our cooking styles are extremely similar," he says. Hmm. Two crazy, super-charged chefs in the kitchen. Whatever happened to opposites attract?


Back at the hotel, the winners are dishing up advice, Meanwhile, Angelo is feeling sick.

The next morning, Kevin and Ed say Angelo has been up all night. He's in bed and seems really sick - a doctor has been summoned. He's given medication and advised to rest until the next day, when the doctor says he will have a 20% chance of cooking.

Tom Colicchio says Hung will talk to Angelo on the phone, telling him what he sees and taking direction.

The chefs bring out the proteins, Proudly. Eric has rouget or red mullet, cockles, cuttlefish and slipper lobster. Tom has pork belly and a whole duck.

Ed is not listening to Ilan at the store. He says in the past people have gone wrong by listening to their sous chef. He's not gonna repeat that mistake. So I sense a bit of tension.

Things start off on nice note: Hung takes the entire loaf of foie gras. Ed wanted some. So did Kevin. Hung says he needs it all and won't share. Now I remember this guy. But he's got alot on his plate working alone today. The guys all feel for him.

Cut to Angelo at the hotel, getting an injection of antibiotic, while Hung is trying to reach him on the phone. Doctor says the illness Angelo has normally takes 2-3 days or even a week to recover. "It will be very difficult for you to be 100% by tomorrow," he says.The next day, the doctor is back again. He has to approve Angelo to go back to the kitchen. There's no fever so the doctor agrees to clear Angelo to cook.

"It's a massive relief," Angelo says, adding that he's sure Ed isn't happy that he can compete.

Ed agrees, saying he thought it was fine as him vs. Kevin. Now, Kevin on the other hand, says he thinks competition makes everybody better.

The judges panel is packed with big names in cooking, including Dana Cowin, Food & Wine magazine, David Chang (Momofuku) and some former contestants from Top Chef Masters.

The four-course menus:

Kevin: Eggplant zucchini & roasted pepper terrine, pan-seared rouget with cuttlefish noodles, roasted duck with dumplings, coconut pana cotta


Ed: Chilled summer corn veloute, bacon-wrapped slipper lobster and grilled cuttlefish, duo of duck, sticky toffee date cake. (He's letting Ilan do the dessert. Could be trouble.)

Angelo: Royale mushrooms with noodles and pork belly, Asian-style bouillabaisse, duck and foie gras with marshmallow/cherry shooter and "Thai Jewel" - shaved ice and coconut milk

First course goes well. Each chef has fans of his dish. Second course, one judge says Angelo's stew dish is the one to remember. But there's also praise for Kevin's noodle dish. On the third course, Kevin's duck is the best prepared of the three, seems to be the consensus. Angelo's shooters get shot down. There's so much love for Kevin's re-interpretation of the Singapore Sling and pana cotta - "He's just created the national dessert," says one judge. Gail says the curse of the dessert may have been broken.

At judges table, Angelo's cherry shooter is knocked. Tom singles out Ed's dessert as being something he could get at home. Ed fires back that he wanted to make a lemon curd, but he didn't want to totally screw it up. Ed gets knocked around a bit. So does Angelo. But Kevin seems to not get too much criticism, except a little tweak from Eric about spice. This finale may be going in a different direction than I ever thought. Let's see.

Tom says the top chef is the one who took the most risks, but also cooked the best meal. That's the way the judges play it - Kevin is Top Chef. "I am?" he says, obviously stunned. Yeah, me too. What a surprise. What about you?

So do you agree with the judges? Take the poll:

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