Helin Jung
January 25, 2007 AT 08:30 PM EST

What would Marcel Vigneron (pictured), he of the Wolverine hair and sideburns, he of the “super exclusive gastronomic society” and the xanthan gums, do with $100,000? What sort of restaurant would the “villain-slash-outcast” open, now that he has 30 stitches upside the head? WWMVD? And, if he cooked it, would you eat?

I know. I feel your pain. I’ll say it just to assure you that it wasn’t a dream: Elia and Sam were eliminated from the first part of the Top Chef finale, so the battle for the title will be between Marcel and Ilan. “Mano ee mano.”

What a show, huh? You hate Marcel all season for everything annoyingabout the world. You even text message and go online to say that Marcelneeds to go. And what happens? The judges decide his food is delicious,original, beautiful, and (couldn’t believe my ears) thoughtful.

Molecular gastronomy aside, my heart went out to Elia and Sam lastnight, and not just because they were sweating so much. Elia’ssincerity and dedication to her passions (as evidenced by the manycertificates from her swimming days) had me pulling for her. Sam’sdedication was also very clear — the diabetic went to work under apastry chef so that he could learn more about desserts. Clearly, Padmawas rooting for them as well, because she kept disagreeing with judgesTom Colicchio (also very sweaty) and Gail Simmons about everything.Mrs. Rushdie practically went on an assault against Marcel’s pineapplepoi and Ilan’s scratchy, itchy taro leaves. 

Speaking of Ilan, he made my moral compass twitch last night. Did hethink that anything was going to come of manipulating Elia into sayingcritical things about Marcel? It was slimy, truly slimy, but we canthank Colicchio for informing us that nobody cares what the chefs arelike as people. Fitting that Ilan should be matched with his equallyslimy arch-nemesis, because it’s about the food… right?

Whatdid you all think? Are you ready for thethrowdown that’s coming next week? Are you just breathless for thechance to hear Marcel say “loomi loomi with foom” one more time (isHawaiian not the cutest language, or what)? Most importantly, who isgoing to be the next Top Chef?

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