Finally, at long last, we have a new Top Chef. And he’s not just any Top Chef. He’s a Top Chef amongst all-stars.
Yes, Top Chef: All Stars wrapped up its stellar season with a nail-biting finale that had me guessing until the very last minute. The producers and editors did a phenomenal job of not just ramping up the suspense but setting up this epic showdown over the course of the entire season. And epic it was. In one corner we had Richard Blais: the humble, shockingly insecure inventive chef. He dominated his original season and this one too with his creativity and flavors. It seemed like he’d be on the odds-on favorite to win.
But in the other corner was lumbering, crude, ethically dubious Mike Isabella, who despite incurring the wrath of many Top Chef fans was coming on strong in the end. Every since the competition moved to the Bahamas, Mike has dominated, and it’s hard to take that away from him. Sure, we can grouse about certain things going his way, but truth be told, the big lug prepared intensively for the finale stage, and it seemed to be paying off in spades. That didn’t mean we had to dislike him any less. Every time I saw his arrogant mug grinning on screen I wanted to slap the braised leeks out of him.
So there we were: Richard vs. Mike; good vs. evil; spiky hair vs. a little less spiky hair.
Who would win??Oh I can’t hold it in any longer. Richard won! RICHARD WON!! There IS a God! I truly thought that Mike was going to pull off an upset. The way Tom raved about Mike’s steamed fish, and the way everyone gushed about his pepperoni sauce (which admittedly had me salivating — ironically, I cooked with pepperoni in an unexpected way last night pre-show, and it was delicious too) had me convinced that this was going to be Mike’s big victory.
However, when the judges later deliberated and declared Richard’s fish to be superior to even Mike’s, I knew there was hope. Why oh why did Richard have to make foie gras ice cream though? First of all, I feel like I’ve seen that on Iron Chef or something. Second, the finale is not the time to make crazy decisions with DESSERT. Didn’t Richard remember that dessert is the Achilles heel of all Top Chefs? Why be so reckless?
Sure enough, Richard floundered with his opulent concoction, thus allowing Mike to tie up the “score.” First two plates went to Richard; the second to Mike. Once the judges declared that, I had a good feeling that this might go Richard’s way. After all, he had two tiny advantages to his restaurant (oh yeah, for their final challenges, the chefs had to design not just meals but restaurants): Richard’s service was faster, and he also opted for an amuse bouche which quite frankly looked heavenly (oysters with crÃªme fraiche “pearls”). Those may have been the deciding factors, and in the end, it all worked out Richard’s way. The faux-hawk’d one took home the big prize in a jumble of tears, sending cocky Mike dejectedly to the corner.
I don’t think I could have dealt with any other outcome (unless, of course, Antonia were still in the running).
“Oh my God, you guys. The ganja here is SOOOO good.”
“Hmm… this plate tastes good. But what do I know? My palate SUCKS.”
“Hey team, at the end of the day, I just want you to have fun because let’s face it: my food is TERRIBLE!”
Mike: “And that in a nutshell is my menu.”
Jamie: “I’m sorry, but you didn’t mention scallops.”
“Why EVEN cook then?”
Jamie: “I mean, an entire meal and not one scallop? WHATEVER, Mike! Good luck with THAT!!!”
In an unexpected turn of events, Richard attempts to play The Toccata with his protein.
“I hope you all enjoy my meal; although, you probably won’t since it all tastes like HORSE SHIT.”
Padma: “You guys, I AM SO HIGH.”
Padma: “I thought it was a lovely meal; although, the foie gras ice cream was a low point. We all left it over. It’s a shame you weren’t at my table, Gail. You could have gobbled it all up, bless your heart.”
Padma: “Well, Gail, of course you thought Mike’s sauce was remarkable. After all, your wedding ring was just a slice of pepperoni with a hole in it, bless your heart.”
“So… do we get to ride jetskis or what?”
Richard: “I won? I did? My faux-hawk might collapse from shock!”
Mike: “Damn. Should’ve plagiarized harder.”
Tom: “Anyone else here totally BLITZED?”
What did you think about the finale?