It's the finale! Show is here
The two finalists will have to prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert for fifty contest winners (and therefore serious fans) plus the three judges. They have seven hours to do this. It's not specifically mentioned, but it looks like they have staggered starts and separate times allocated specifically for plating, like in past years. There are no featured products either — the finalists have carte blanche.
Each finalist will have a team of three people helping them. No drunken or resentful eliminated contestants! We see them interviewing and evaluating graduating students from Montreal's Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec
and Quebec City's École hôtelière de la Capitale
, so they were able to pick their cooks. Only Dominic has a female student.
Daniel Vézina warns that being a chef means delegating, which means that you have to check your brigade's work. He tells Dominic and Hakim he's proud of both of them. They have creativity and technique.
Hakim says they didn't consult each other, but both he and Dominic have mackerel appetizers and lamb main courses.
Hakim's menu:Maquereau d'Espagne confit, variation de tomates confites, concassées, en compote au paprika fumé et à cru, purée d'avocat, brunaise de concombre au cumin et harissa
Selle d'agneau rôtie sur os, purée de chou-fleur, girolles, courgettes et amandes, jus au citron confit et olive violette
Moelleux au chocolat sable, framboises et glace au basilic
Dominic's menu:Maquereau du Québec fumé au bois d'érable, caviar d'esturgeon du Nouveau-Brunswick, écrevisse dans un bouillon de nage
Selle d'agneau des prés salée et rôtie de la Gaspésie, espuma de maïs, tomates confites, frites de polenta et gremolata
Bleuets de l'île d'Orléans dans un sirop de mélisse avec meringue de chèvre
That's the simplified form of the menus *rolleyes*. It's why I tend to check the English translations on menus to find out what I'm eating: more direct, if less poetic.
Hakim is butchering the lamb himself. Dominic is giving a butchery class to one of his cooks. Jean-Luc Boulay says this isn't the time. Normand Laprise says Dominic is teaching her to remove too much meat and fat; if you're going to teach, you should be doing it right.
Hakim, who was always smiling and friendly during the previous shows, turns out to be a tough leader in the kitchen. Hakim Ramsay, without the cursing. He's ordering his team around, directing his students to stop working and look at him when he's talking to them, insisting on checking everything, telling them to consult him for everything, to the point where, at one point, one of the students timidly asks him if he can go get a drink of water. It probably doesn't gain him points with Normand Laprise, at least, who says he's a bit of a "control freak," although he admits it's just a different way of running a kitchen.
Jean-Luc Boulay says Dominic isn't seasoning equally, so he'll end up with a filet with too much pepper and not enough garlic, while Normand Laprise will get the opposite. Then they'll argue with each other. Normand Laprise smiles and says, "As usual" and everybody laughs.
Hakim is cooking lamb the traditional way (on the stove), Dominic sous vide. Normand Laprise says Dominic is doing a good job of getting his team on board. Dominic is very tight on the crayfish, just two or three extras, so he warns his team not to eat any. Jean-Luc Boulay says you always have to make sure you have extras for four or five plates when you're serving fifty people. Waiters drop plates, cooks drop food, etc.
Hakim swears (very rare on this show, but he does it in English so maybe it doesn't count!) when his Thermomix spills over. He forgot the seal.
Judges' comments on appetizers:
Dominic – Pretty presentation, great finesse, light, crayfish a bit bland, good texture. Normand Laprise says the mackerel didn't need to be smoked, because it overwhelms the delicate flavours of the other ingredients. Jean-Luc Boulay loves it: great flavours and enough acidity to "wake" the fish. The crayfish and the mackerel, when eaten together, complement each other beautifully.
Hakim – Very fresh, clean presentation (looks a little scanty to me), flavours a little confused, mackerel lacking acidity, a bit cottony, less direct and exciting than Dominic's dish; avocado and mackerel are rich and need more acid.
So the appetizer, which in past years was worth 25% of the mark, seems to go to Dominic.
Normand Laprise mentions that Dominic is a good motivator. Jean-Luc Boulay thinks the kids will like working with him.
Hakim takes spilled sauce calmly. He says twelve people will have to go without sauce. None of those twelve is a judge, of course.
Judge's comments on main course:
Dominic – Normand Laprise complains that presentation won out over technique: the lamb is cooked properly but a little tough, because it was cut against the grain. He also thinks that cooking it sous vide made the lamb a bit dry. Too salty, espuma not necessary, polenta very good.
Hakim – Presentation over technique again, with the lamb cut against the grain to look good; Very delicate, fat tasty, zucchini not necessary, olive too bitter, not enough sauce. To me, the lamb looks like a little log split in half, not very appetizing.
The main course is usually worth half the mark. It sounds pretty even to me. Normand Laprise says Hakim has an advantage because he cooked his lamb on the bone, which is rare in restaurants these days.
Dominic tells us he based his dessert on his favourite birthday treat as a child. Normand Laprise says Dominic is doing a good job leading his brigade, involving them and giving them information. Pasquale Vari says so far Dominic's dishes have been lacking a little finish compared to Hakim's. Jean-Luc Boulay says Hakim is losing a bit of his drive now that he's nearing the end.
Judges' comments on dessert:
Dominic – The judges like. Normand Laprise wanted more blueberries (who doesn't?), and he feels tarragon would have been better than lemon balm. Jean-Luc Boulay says it was a very well done dessert.
Hakim – Pasquale Vari likes his meringue more than Dominic's. Fresh taste of basil, rich and unctuous chocolate.
Dessert seems fairly even.
Jean-Luc Boulay comments that we've seen two different styles of chefs. Hakim has worked a lot in Europe and is more authoritarian, which is what he himself was used to when he was starting out in France. Dominic has a more North American style, working in harmony with his team.
Normand Laprise says he was a bit worried when he learned that the appetizers and main courses would be based on the same proteins, but the dishes turned out to be completely different, representing two very different styles and personalities.
Jean-Luc Boulay says the competition was intense and at a very high level. The results were very close.
says he's never had that much money at once before.
I don't think I ever mentioned that the prize is $30,000 in cash and $20,000 in the form of visits (for two people) to three restaurants from Relais & Châteaux (very prestigious Michelin-type thing) in France and three in Quebec.
The judges didn't offer a final evaluation or a summary of the reasons why a chefling won or lost, as they usually do at the end of the shows. I'm not sure, but I don't think we got one at the end of the previous two finales either. Jean-Luc Boulay really seemed to like
Normand Laprise certainly didn't seem to like it.
Hakim says the whole experience helped him know himself better. Dominic says he gained confidence and learned that sometimes you just have to go ahead and do it.
So everybody is happy, except me because I can't find photos of the final dishes to post. I guess we'll have to wait for the book! And I still want to go to Émilie's restaurant if and when she opens one.