Top Chef Finale Part 1: Las Vegas

Top Chef Finale Part 1: Las Vegas

Dave got sent home this week, leaving Harold and Tiffani to duke it out for the title of Top Chef. The only thing that was surprising about it was that this time, he didn’t deserve to go home. Dave’s been the underdog up until the finale, where he performed, in this blogger’s humble opinion, much better than Tiffani, but was sent packing anyway.

His mistake was not following the directions on one of the challenges. There were three challenges, each a “room service” order to be made in 30 minutes. One for some high rollers, one for poker players on the floor, and one for Cirque de Soleil performers.

Even though the Cirque de Soleil athletes liked Dave’s food the best, he only made two dishes instead of the required three. The judges likened this to leaving off a customer’s order, and he automatically lost that part of the challenge. I agree it was a big mistake, but Tiffani’s food flew under the radar and didn’t impress anyone, especially when she had to make snacks for poker players and made complicated dishes you had to eat with a fork. Harold and Dave nailed this task by deep frying shrimp and onion rings and making other simple finger foods.

Harold clearly won a task that was to provide room service to some “high rollers” who wanted a cold and hot dish of seafood. The high rollers turned out to be none other than departed chefs Miguel, Stephen, and Lee Anne. What was interesting was that, unlike in other challenges, they had no idea who cooked what dish, so they couldn’t send Tiffani packing, which they might have been sorely tempted had they known who cooked what.

In the end, though, Harold and Tiffani have been much stronger than Dave, so the final competition will be more even. Dave didn’t stand a chance against Harold, but Tiffani might pull some sophisticated tricks out of her hat for the final competition when it’s no-holds-barred fancy food.

In honor of dear, departed Dave, here is one of his recipes that I thought looked the best, Prawn Bruschetta, from episode 8. Find this, and other Top Chef recipes on

Dave’s Prawn Bruschetta

4 oz peeled and de-veined prawns or shrimp

1 cup chicken stock

juice from one lemon

juice from one tangerine

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. dried ginger

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

Heat all ingredients except for shrimp in stock pot or small pan. This is your poaching liquid for the shrimp. Once liquid has come to boil, remove from heat and drop shrimp in hot liquid until opaque, then remove and set in ice bath. Remove and then finely chop and check for seasoning.

Egg roll wrappers

1 egg roll wrapper, cut with 2 inch ring cutter into small circles

1 cup peanut oil, heated to 360 degrees to cook wrappers

Heat oil to 360 and then quickly fry up the round discs of egg roll wrappers. Set on paper towels to drain.

Edamame spread

4 oz edamame beans

2 oz heavy mfg cream

1 tsp. kosher salt

Place all ingredients into food processor and blend until smooth. This will be the spread on the lower level of the bruschetta.

Other ingredients

1 grape tomato, thinly sliced

Spread edamame paste on one piece of round egg roll wrapper. Then layer with next round and top with shrimp mixture and garnish with 2 thin slices of grape tomato and serve cool or room temperature.