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Top Chef: We Can Stand the Heat

By Laura Oppenheimer in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 20, 2007 2:15PM

This post contains spoilers about last night's Top Chef.

We were initially excited when we heard Dale Levitski was going to be a contestant, but once we started watching this season, we became kind of blah on the guy. 2007_9_dale.jpgDespite his numerous — and infuriating — blunders, he soldiered on, inexplicably making it to the final five. In last night's challenge, he again pulled an amateur move, forgetting to put the honey sauce on his duet of chicken. And when it looked like he would be down for the count, it was the Jamaican cheesemaker Sara who ended up getting the ax. The final four contestants who will head to Aspen to compete for the Top Chef title are Dale, Brian, Casey and Hung. Our countdown to the October 3, live-from-Chicago finale has begun. Let's take a look at who's left:

Hometown hero Dale takes the most risks of the final four. When he made dumplings out of potato buds, the other contestants mocked him, but that dish ended up being one of the judges' favorites. Where Dale gets in trouble is when classic dishes with excellent technical skills are called for. A self-taught chef, he lacks some of the basic skills the other, professionally trained chefs have. As much as we him to go all the way, we don't see him making it to the final two.

Our thoughts on the other three contestants after the jump ...

Dude's last name is Malarkey. For us, that pretty much says everything. Like Dale, we can't quite figure out how he made it into the finals. A seafood specialist, Brian barely hung on after the "Chef Overboard" episode. Also, he lost his cool in the restaurant wars series. We find him a likable enough character, but again, don't put money on him making it to the final two.

Meet your first of the final two. For us, there wasn't really any doubt that Marcel's protege/best bud would make it to the finals; his training from the C.I.A. has served well this season. Like Marcel, Hung's interest lies in a merging of newer techniques and trends (hello, foam!) with more classic components. Last night's butter-poached chicken with the crispy rendered skin on top is a perfect example of this approach. And while Hung has a decent shot at it, we think a combination of Hung's bravado, combined with an inability to really put himself into the dishes he cooks (it sounds nasty, but you know what we mean), will make him runner-up. Which leaves us with ...

Meet your Season 3 winner. We have to hand it Casey; she seemed sort of peripheral for the first half of the competition but managed to get it together to come on super strong for the second half. The past three weeks have seen her perform exceptionally well; the carpaccio on the boat cruise, veal on the airplane, and then, last night, coq au vin, were either elimination-challenge winners or runners up. She's hot, she's marketable, and in the past four or five episodes, we've wished we had a TV from the future in which you could somehow get the food on your TV instantaneously delivered to your couch. Her abysmal knife skills put aside, our money is on Casey to walk away with the 100k.