top chef finale

I was binge watching a season of Top Chef and the finale was held in San Miguel de Allende. After deciding I had to travel there someday, a random plot bunny to have Caroline there as a vamp hunter set 80 years in the future emerged. Who the hell can ever say what will inspire lol.

TW: allusions to child abuse and child death. Torture.

Voices Carry

When it looked like a trap and it sounded like a trap, it probably was a trap. Not that it mattered, because Paolo here was going down. Caroline’s ballet flats slapped a staccato rhythm on the cobblestone streets as she chased the dark-haired vamp through alleys unchanged by time. They were heading out of the city, the bright walls of red and saffron yellow a blur as the incessant bells of San Miguel de Allende sounded, the speed of the vampires’ chase dopplering the sound into a dull whine that rose and fell as the streets flew by.

The imposing grey stone walls of the Sanctuary loomed before them, starkly lit in the moonlight, and Caroline lifted her brows in curiosity. She had actually been meaning to check this place out, might as well get a bit of tourism in while killing this shitty excuse for a vamp.

Paolo wrenched open a massive wooden door, the chains that bound it almost hitting Caroline who followed closely on his heels. He seemed calm, which furthered Caroline’s suspicions that she needed to end this fast. With a burst of speed she drew close enough to reach out and grab the collar of his shirt, twisting to the side and using the momentum to send him flying back the way they had come. He skidded on the worn flagstone before hitting the door they’d just entered with a resounding thud.  She rolled forward to slow her own momentum, coming up in a low crouch, gun raised at the vamp. She fired and Paolo hissed with pain, caught up in a web of vervain-soaked fibers that pinned him to the door.

Caroline walked calmly to face him, nudging Paolo with a toe as smoke rose from where his skin touched the bonds. “So, nothing to say? No last pleas? Insistence that you’ll never treat humans like toys again? I’m disappointed, honestly.”

He spit blood, his swiftly-healing face making the action seem incongruous.  “I’ve heard about you.”

It was an odd response, but Caroline didn’t let it phase her. “Good, because I’m here to kill you, and this way I don’t have to explain things,” she said, her eyes tracing the arched curves of the building’s interior. She really needed to come back and see if they had a tour sometime.

Paolo spit out his next words, the derision almost palpable. “You’re Klaus’ girl. So either way, I have a death sentence.”

She dropped her gaze back to him in a flash. Klaus’ girl? As if. She hadn’t even seen the Original for the past eighty years, so what the hell was this about? She mentally filed the information for later - her and Klaus clearly needed to have that boundaries talk again. For now, she needed to focus on the puzzle of Paolo’s words.

“What do you mean, either way?”  

Paolo didn’t answer, his breath stuttering in his lungs as a rumble of low growls sounded behind her. She turned slowly, distractedly noting the shine of gold that crowned the archways, before meeting the latest threat.

Ten wolves, hackles raised. Paolo had just run her into a werewolf camp on a full moon. Death sentence indeed.

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A few thoughts on the Top Chef Finale...

I know it’s been a couple of days. So, spoiler alert? (Anybody who was gonna watch this has probably already watched it, but I figure I’ll play it safe.)

Yay for the finalists, boo for the format. So, we KNEW going into the finale we were finally going to have another female Top Chef, since Sheldon was eliminated and we ended up with Kristen and Brooke squaring off. This was the strange thing about this season…I LIKED most of the contestants. Josie was the only one I resented, and that’s just because it was clear she was outgunned, yet she kept dodging bullets.

But I really like Kristen AND Brooke. This show throws occasional haywire challenges at the competitors that can cause anyone to have a bad day. But in general, it’s usually pretty clear who the best cooks are. Brooke won the most elimination challenges. Other than the fried chicken debacle, she rarely served a bad plate of food. Even in the Craft challenge, when Tom was (deservedly) hassling her for her timing, once her food got out, the judges really liked it. We knew Brooke was a very capable chef.

The same with Kristen…all of the outrage that was spurred by her elimination came from the fact that everyone knew she was a far superior chef to Josie, who was staying. Leading up to that, her performance had been very good, and it was evident in the amount of respect the other chefs gave her talent. Once she came into Last Chance Kitchen, she knocked them all down. Apparently there has been some discussion about whether or not she was something of a favorite of Tom’s. I do think he liked her a lot. That seemed pretty obvious to me. Whether that came out in his judging decisions that leaned in her favor is less obvious. But she’s clearly a gifted chef, so I don’t think she got anything she didn’t deserve.

So now Kristen and Brooke were finally thrown into their head-to-head battle. And Top Chef whiffs it. That format was not good. I mean, it took out all the things that make a finale really interesting. The process of choosing sous-chefs, for example, and the bearing that has on the menu and execution. The actual menu planning itself. And most importantly, the actual COOKING itself. Yeah, we saw a little in Kitchen Stadium–sorry, I mean TOP CHEF stadium–but mostly we saw them running around trying to plate 300 plates, another mistake. This is one place where they should have stuck with the formula. Complete freedom in their menu planning, inspired by their journey with food or whatever it is they usually pick. Have some special guest judges thrown in the mix, but max it out at a table of 8 or 10 or 12. You don’t need all those extra people to have to get served.

As for the actual decision making process itself, the televised “live” event botched all the suspense. There were no judges’ deliberations (which I always really like seeing), there was just basically a thumbs up or a thumbs down. And because we KNEW when the show would end, they telegraphed the victor once Kristen was up two to one. If it’s 10:50 when we start on that fourth course, it’s pretty obvious we’re not getting to a fifth one, Bravo. Thanks for ruining it.

Again, on the tenth season of such a ground-breaking show, I can see why they might attempt to shake it up. I just think these particular Iron Chef style modifications were a poor choice, filling the episode with montages and “Where Are They Now” segments about former Top Chefs. This is not why we watch the show, Bravo. We watch it to see talented people cooking great food. And for once, the finale didn’t have anybody undeserving. Both chefs were great and easy to root for. And this is when you decide to scale back on showing cooking on your culinary competition? Poor form. Poor form, indeed.

All that being said, some of the dishes served looked and sounded really great, and I congratulate Kristen on her win. Both of them gave it their all, and I wish them the best.

Now when is Just Desserts coming back? I’m craving something sweet…