Going into every episode of “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen,” we like to start to get into the heads of the editors and figure out just what they are trying to tell us with each culinary showdown. After all, Bravo doesn’t want a winner that is a jerk, and even when it comes to the nice chefs, there are always little clues to make you think that someone is sticking around a long time.
This is why in going into tonight’s episode of the web series, we felt pretty confident that Carrie Mashaney was going to be the person to snap Louis Maldonado’s streak. He is an extremely likable guy, but we have felt the same way about Carrie all season. Plus, her whole edit suggested that she was going to be able to redeem herself, and we feel typically like when there are two chefs who enter this evenly matched, Tom Colicchio favors the one who was eliminated the most recently.
But, this is where we were surprised to see Louis come out on top, because he is one of our three favorite chefs this season. The guy did something that rarely works (cook an ingredient three ways in broccoli), and turned it into a success. Broccoli is still not something that we would ever consider to be a favorite, but we appreciate the technique that he put into this. Then again, we also appreciated the technique that Carrie put into hers. How many people can make and cook fresh pasta in half an hour? Almost no one except for those good enough to be in cooking competitions.
While there are still some parts of “Last Chance Kitchen” that bug us (mostly the forcing of the contestants to say nice things constantly about the cars, when there are better ways to make product placement work), this was the best episode of the season in that it was fast-paced, had an exciting challenge that was really about redemption, and an outcome that defied the edit. It’s easy to be happy when that stuff all comes together and forms something that is tasty in the end. Grade: A-.
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