Ugh, Bravo hasn't posted its episode photos yet. I'll try to get something better tomorrow.
Before I get started on the first part of the Top Chef finale, can I just say how great it is that Gail is back? No more lame movie references and sad attempts at humor. Just actual intelligent food criticism. Welcome back, Gail, and never leave us again.
The other big return was Jeff, after winning a second chance quickfire. I assumed the quickfire was arranged to correct the show's mistake of booting Jamie two weeks ago. No dice. But since it didn't backfire and bring back Leah, I'll call it even. Actually, the week's theme - Creole food - turned out to be perfect for Jeff, leading to one of his best-ever performances. Sadly, second place wasn't good enough, and he didn't stand a chance against the sudden lovefest for Carla.
Seriously, what is going on with Carla? For 9 episodes all she did was make adequate desserts and move around her crazy eyes. Then suddenly, over the past 3 or 4 episodes, she's become a judges' favorite. Yet despite all her wins, I can't shake my first (nine) impressions of her, and insist she's not a serious competitor. Could she really have been holding out on us all season, or have the past few episodes just been right in her comfort zone?
There was a lot of love going around in this episode, with the judges liking all 5 meals. But with Carla and other presumed lightweight Hosea getting most of the love, one of the Europeans had to go. I have to say, this challenge seemed a bit unfair to me, given that the Americans knew so much more about this style of cooking. Tom's response was essentially "You read a book on it, so tough luck."
Of course, Stefan's been slumping so heavily the South likely wasn't what got him. Second week in a row his cockiness got in the way, and second week in a row he was spared despite being the judges' least favorite. He better turn it around and bring back the old Stefan for the finale. Because it would just be wrong to see Hosea or Carla win.