Let's hear it for the underdog! Chef Dale, who was on the verge of elimination throughout this season on Bravo's "Top Chef," did some quick thinking -- and cooking -- to put himself into the show's finale. It was especially gratifying to watch after learning that Dale, who appears to sorely lack confidence in himself, had gone through difficult times including a harsh breakup and the closing of the nationally known Chicago-area restaurant he worked at, Trio, when the owner retired. In fact, Dale had stopped cooking for more than a year before going on "Top Chef," where, he says, he's regaining his confidence.
Hard work and perseverance finally paid off for Dale, whose win Wednesday night was his first of the season. It couldn't have come at a better time. The final four chefs -- Dale, Casey, Brian and Hung -- were asked to cook elk for some hungry cowboys and cowgirls for their challenge. When Dale's dish started to fall apart, he cooked cauliflower and fingerling potatoes that proved to be a winning side dish to his seared elk loin.
Unfortunately, Brian was eliminated. That means that when the live finale airs from 10 to 11:15 p.m. Oct. 3 on Bravo, Dale will stand alongside chefs Casey, who has been proving herself to be the person to beat in recent weeks, and the annoying Hung, who tried to win over sympathy Wednesday by talking about his family and passion for food. It worked -- for a minute that is, until Hung was up to his old "it's all about me" tricks. Was there any doubt that Hung would be overwhelmingly voted by fans as the chef they would most like to see eliminated? Will that elimination happen during the finale? Chef Dale's recent performance proves that anything is possible on "Top Chef."
-- Toni Ruberto