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Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for! The final two chefs created their own restaurants and cooked for some of the biggest culinary legends in the world. And Curtis Stone. He was there too.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
17 competitors, 32 challenges, 972 mentions of Richard Blais "choking"...and it's all come down to this! The guy everyone hates versus the guy everyone knew was going to be in finals before the first episode even aired. Wow. This is compelling television, folks, so let's get down to it!
Tom and Padma met Mike and Richard in the kitchen, and simply told them to "create the restaurant of their dreams." Tom promised there would be no twists and turns during the final challenge. His wooden nose then grew six inches.
Suddenly and without warning, all the eliminated chefs were back in the kitchen frantically cooking and looking absolutely miserable. Mike and Richard tasted the food, without knowing who cooked what, and chose their sous chefs based on the way the dishes tasted.
Richard chose dishes cooked by Spike, Antonia, and Angelo (who showed up with ridiculous looking black-rimmed glasses, of course). Mike chose dishes cooked by Tiffany, Jamie, and Carla. The rest of the chefs were dismissed, and you could literally hear their shrieks of joy as they left the kitchen. I'll put it to you this way: the words: "I'm going jetskiing now, bitch!" were uttered.
Mike was incredibly confident and sure of himself while cooking. He led his team well, and had a very clear vision of what he wanted his food to be like. He named his place Restaurant Iz, and served elegantly updated Italian classics that were undoubtedly Mike Isabella.
Once again, Blais, who named his restaurant Tongue in Cheek, spent the entire episode mired in self-doubt. At one point, he actually referred to himself as "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." So either that means he never gets the attention he deserves, or he likes to wear pretty dresses. The choice is yours.
This is Top Chef, and at the end of the day it's really all about the food. And this time around, it was fantastic. The guest judges were world renowned chefs and culinary greats, including Lidia Bastianich, Hubert Keller, and Art Smith. Oh, and Curtis Stone was there too, presumably because he's the new host of Top Chef Masters. Mike Isabella politely referred to Curtis as an "accomplished chef." Really? Am I the only one who remembers Take Home Chef? The guy used to accost housewives in supermarkets, before bringing them back to their houses and flirting with them while making stir-fry. But to hell with actual culinary talent. He looks hot in jeans, right?
Richard's most successful dish was his amuse bouche, raw oysters with frozen creme fraiche. The judges also loved his raw hamachi first course and pork belly second course, but weren't really wowed by his beef short rib third course. They didn't care for his dessert, foie gras ice cream, which one of the judges begrudgingly poked at with a fork and referred to as "frozen whatever this is."
Mike Isabella's food was an overwhelming success as well. The judges loved his braised pork shoulder with his signature pepperoni sauce, and said his halibut was cooked perfectly. The only flaw the judges found was a somewhat long wait between being served the first and second courses.
Gail called Mike's pepperoni sauce a "stroke of genius" and Padma said Richard's cod was "flawless." Tom Colicchio said this was the best food from any finale (he always says that) and that the competition was incredibly close (he always says that, too).
But this is Top Chef, and only one person can win. And so, without much fanfare, Padma announced that the winner of Top Chef All-Stars was... RICHARD BLAIS.
So basically, the win went to the man we all knew was going to win from before the series even aired, surprising exactly no one. Bravo gave him the "winner's edit" the entire time, and everyone who watches reality TV knows when someone comes on strong in the end like Mike Isabella did, they never end up winning. I'm pretty disappointed by the result, but at the end of the day it's probably a good thing Blais won. He might have wound up in a room with padded walls if it had gone the other way.
And that brought another season of Top Chef to an end! Are you happy with the results, or did you stop caring once Antonia got voted off last week? And are you going to be tuning in to watch Curtis Stone hosting Top Chef Masters?