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'Top Chef' finale: Goodbye to the dessert curse

September 16, 2010 |  5:50 pm

NUP_141094_0698 It was the finale everyone had been waiting for -- mostly because viewers were ready for the curtain to fall on the snore-fest that was Season 7. But for all the qualms that people have had about the show, the last episode brought some interesting twists: Angelo came down with a punishing illness that he was thankfully able to nip in the bud in time to fire a few dishes; Hung Huynh proved once again that he's agile enough to do the work of two chefs; Michael Voltaggio won his second finale in a row; and the dessert curse was finally lifted from the contestants. 

Most important, though, Jersey boy Kevin Sbraga took the title of Top Chef, bringing home the win to a state that's had quite a successful run on television so far this year. He's also the first African American to win the competition. 

In order to level the playing field, Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert gave the chefs a set of guidelines to work with: The first course had to showcase veggies; a red mullet was to be used as the main ingredient of the second course; a third course had to utlize a whole duck; and the fourth was a mandatory dessert course.

Former champions Michael Voltaggio, Hung Huynh and Ilan Hall showed up to work as the sous chefs for Kevin, Angelo and Ed, respectively. Hung got stuck with a lot more than he bargained for when Angelo fell extremely ill and wasn't able to participate in the shopping or prep work. Turns out the stars weren't as aligned as he thought them to be, as he was fated to spend the majority of the episode bedridden, barking instructions for Hung into a BlackBerry. Ed and Kevin took it as an opportunity to beat Angelo at his own game, and it worked.

Kevin made a beautiful zucchini, roasted pepper and eggplant terrine, which guest David Chang of the Momofuku empire thought was a bold choice, while Susan Feniger slapped his shoulder in disagreement. For the second course, he presented pan-seared rouget with cuttlefish noodles and zucchini pesto. Everyone thought his seared duck breast with bok choy and orange coriander sauce was perfectly prepared sous-vide, although it was a simple interpretation compared to Ed's stuffed duck neck offering. His dessert course, an interpretation of a Singapore sling with coconut, was sweet enough to seal the deal for the Jersey boy. 

Surprisingly, though, each of the three remaining finalists brought beautiful desserts to the table. Sure, Ed's sticky toffee date cake might have lacked Asian influence (Chang called it a middle finger to the region, but liked it nonetheless), yet it was a vast improvement compared to previous seasons. Gail Simmons went so far as to say that the dessert curse was lifted. I'm not sure if any of the Top Cheffers'  final courses would be good enough to win "Just Desserts," but it was a start. 

So, what did you think of the end result? Was there enough drama to keep you watching next season?

-- Krista Simmons

Photo courtesy of NBC UMV