by Andy Starr

The finals have begun and Brooke, fresh off of winning Last Chance Kitchen, asserted herself as the front-runner by not only winning the Quickfire Challenge, but also the main competition. Brooke continues to take risks with her vegetarian-inspired dishes (who think to use coconut in ceviche in place of tuna?!) that are so different from her competitors that she needs to nail the flavors and always does. I realize she is stoked about getting to the finals and having early success, but she could have been slightly more humble after winning each round. However, it's entertaining to see her fire back at judges when they question her, like Richard Blais did when asking about her cold soup. Also, she and Casey should probably open a restaurant together as their strong chemistry is apparent. 

It was disappointing to see Katsuji unable to bury the hatchet with John and it may have doomed him. He was finally shown the door just as he reached new levels of sweating. When he presented to the judges, he was sweating so profusely that his glasses were completely fogged up and beads of sweat were rushing down his face. Although he was undoubtedly the least talented chef there, despite having worked in no less than 37 restaurants, that had to play a role in how the judges perceived the food. And I'm sorry, John, but "keeping it simple" with your margarita by not doing anything is probably not the best move in the finals. Even Sheldon's muddied cocktail that looked like a swamp seemed more appealing. John grew me throughout the season though. He kept talking about his temper as a younger man and how he changed and despite numerous opportunities to blow up, he kept his cool and lasted until the penultimate episode. Even on his way out, he held his head high 

Sheldon and Shirley were consistent but far from perfect. I actually thought Sheldon was going to win the first round based on how excited and familiar he was with goa. In the end, both of them made a few too many mistakes - Sheldon with his cocktail and overcooked octopus and Shirley with her vanilla flavored beef - to win. 

I've never been to Mexico but touring the Patron factory seems like a good place to start!