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Top Chef Chicago: Pork Dishes Lead to Finale Upset

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Last night’s Top Chef whisked us away to Puerto Rico for part uno of the season finale, which proved to have no shortage of drama, swine, and tears. Upon arrival in PR, it was hard not to notice that Lisa stepped up her game by sporting a scary new "faux-hawk-like" 'do. Not to be outdone, Richard’s hair was sharkier than ever, and he made it known to the audience that he was surprised about Lisa’s presence in the finale. The quickfire challenge, in a nod to the environs, entailed creating two dishes involving “frituras” (fritters) using plantains as the key ingredient. Stephanie made tostones with seared tuna that impressed judge Wilo Benet (Pikayo Restaurant) and she took home her first quickfire win yet. After that, a brief interlude allowed the chefs to chill out with some native food, song, and dance. Padma, who seemed elated to be rockin’ ruffled, flowery cruisewear and a flower behind the ear, let loose on the dance floor.

In the EC, chefs were given a whole pig and had to create at least two dishes using different parts of the animal. Spike, Andrew, Nikki, and Dale came back to help the cheftestants. Lisa, who seemed unaffected by Richard’s dirty looks, sported a “Kosher” tee, and blamed her Jewishness for causing her meat mallet to fall off during pig prep. Stephanie’s pork belly was ruined by Dale who left it sitting out all night, but she pulled through and placed second. Richard was unanimously declared the winner and he won a brand new car.

While everyone (including the Top Chef poll) thought Lisa should be the one to be sent packing, there’s no way producers could concede to such an obvious outcome. In a shocking decision, Antonia was sent home for undercooked peas. She cried the whole way out, and Stephanie and Richard were beside themselves at her departure. In one of her bitchiest moments to date, Lisa actually got mad at the other contestants for not congratulating her.

Highlights: Padma’s dance moves, Spike and Andrew’s Spanish at the market, Lisa getting pissy after the elimination, hijinks during the pig butchering.

Outcome: Antonia was sent home for sloppy presentation and undercooked peas.

—Kelly Dobkin

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