That's a winner's grin right there!
Let's get right to the week's most important story: Paul is our new Top Chef! The theme of the finale for the Texan was making his parents proud, as his dropping out of college to pursue cooking disappointed them, and he seemed to especially want validation from his father. He made the bold (for a Top Chef finale) move of not using any meat in his meal, instead using fish and eggs for his proteins. The first round of judges loved Paul's chawanmushi (Japanese-style egg custard), though it was slightly overcooked for the second group of judges. Even with this potentially deciding error, Paul didn't blame sous chef Keith but rather himself for not training Keith properly. Dang, that's some real forgiveness right there. Paul's grilled sea bass and congee also got high marks, and just about everyone appreciated the creativity and unexpectedness of his coconut ice cream served with puffed rice, mangosteen, and Thai chili foam.
Way. Too. Cute.
In the meantime, Paul's parents and -- sorry, ladies -- girlfriend joined the diners, unbeknownst to Paul until he was called to their table, where he burst into tears. His mom laughed at her son's crying, but we got a big peek into where Paul came from when his father started crying too. Don't even, you guys. I might have gotten a little misty myself. Of course everyone at the Qui table was thrilled when Paul cinched the win, and we got to hear Paul describe the highlight of his night: "Seeing my dad smiling ... it's been a while since he was proud of me like that." Papa Qui, if your son's impressive and gentlemanly performance over the course of this season somehow wasn't enough to convince you that you raised a pretty remarkable man, I hope this did it. Congratulations, Paul!!
We got one more contestant squeezed in during the last audition round on The Voice. Cheesa Laureta is a 21-year-old from Los Angeles by way of Honolulu. It turns out that the Laureta family moved from Hawaii to the mainland for Cheesa's singing career, taking out mortgages and eventually starting an elder care service that had the family living out of their garage. Oh man! It would have been upsetting indeed if the girl didn't make it. Indeed, the beginning of her rendition of "If I Were a Boy" started out really low and pretty rough, but she managed to get Cee Lo to turn around at the very, very last moment. "Exactly what she wanted!" her thrilled mother screamed backstage (the adorable parents are killing me this week). See you for the battle rounds, Cheesa!
Like the song, not thrilled about the overalls
It was time for "Snatch Game" on RuPaul's Drag Race, and our girls Phi Phi and Jiggly portrayed Lady Gaga and Snooki, respectively, but not before Phi won the mini challenge and gave her phone call prize to Chad, who was missing his boyfriend on their anniversary. Aww, Phi! I knew you weren't all attitude all the time, girl. Nevertheless, the judges weren't totally thrilled with our girls' Snatch Game prowess, and Jiggly in particular was called out by fellow contestant Latrice for acting a fool and making a faux-drunken mess of herself during the game. She apologized, which is giving me hope that Jiggly's starting to get how she comes off on this show. Phi Phi, meanwhile, was criticized harshly by the judges, putting her in safety along with Jiggs but not before RuPaul could scold, "We're looking for the top. The world is watching. Bring your A Game. You better come harder." If there's one thing we can ALL do, it's listen to Ru!
It was a big week on American Idol with viewers voting their favorite contestants into the top 13. Heejun was up first on boys' night introducing us to his home in Queens and -- who else -- his super adorable mom, who danced for the camera. You guys. I am in love with that little lady!! "She loves to dance, she loves to sing, but she’s not good at all," Heejun explained. Then, realizing that his statement would be on television, he added, "She’s gonna kick me in the head." Definitely. He performed "Angels" serviceably (watch here), but all three judges agreed that it wasn't the best song choice (Steven is still calling him "Hey June," by the way). Doesn't really matter because the Han-ster was voted into next week. Thanks, guys!
Is it me or does he have the best glasses?
The following night, Jessica was up with a very nice makeover and vocal cords so swollen that she couldn't rehearse. We also got to see her shop back at home in San Diego and spend time with her biggest supporter, one of her cute little cousins. Seriously, everybody, these families are ALL AMAZING. Jess performed "Love You I Do" (watch here) starting out a little low and shaky but soaring up to her trademark belted notes and gorgeous runs. The judges gave her a standing ovation and gushed over the talent and confidence that Randy called "one of the best of the last two nights." Is it any wonder she was voted to safety? See both of you guys next week!
She's got the sparkle AND the sound
On Face Off, the artists had to create "Tim Burtonesque" characters based on professions they got to choose. Sue picked toymaker, and she developed a complicated backstory and set of props that got the ol' longwinded edit when she explained it all to the judges during their visit to the studio. "Sue's biting off a lot," Ve noted after she heard that Sue was going to age her model, give him appliances to wear, and make two child-sized marionettes with exposed brains for him to carry. In the end she realized she couldn't do it all, and she actually got quite a bit of help from her good natured model, who willingly helped her to cut out pieces and untangle a wig. The other competitors were so surprised about this ("Sue's running a sweatshop in the other corner of the room," one observed) that I grew worried that she was actually breaking rules. It didn't seem she did, but the judges put her in the bottom for creating a character that didn't look Tim Burton-y at all and repeating a lot of what she did for the old age makeup challenge previously. "It was a hodgepodge of ideas jammed together ... it turned into a ballet of idiocy." Yikes! Luckily, someone else screwed up worse than Sue did, and so she was safe for another week. Get a grip SOON though, Sue!
Okay, that puppet is pretty terrifying.
Steven Ho returned to Conan to demonstrate some self defense techniques using common objects like a comb and a Sharpie marker. As usual, he also brought in the Asian baby doll (this time sporting a number 17 jersey!) and had Conan engage in some choreographed silliness. All ended well for Conan, as usual; see the bits here and here.
Steven leads Conan in a stroller attack