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 crême 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.”
“I know.”
“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?

21 replies on “TOP CHEF PHOTOCAP: And The Winner Is…”

  1. Please, please, please look at the picture of the other cheftestants. Elia is in the background dressed like a $5 hooker, complete with white platforms and plastic beads, and Jen Carroll is front and center with leggings and JORTS!! Say what you want about Richard’s faux-hawk, but Elia and Jen are representin’ for 1990.

    1. I was going to comment on the exact same thing but couldn’t remember Casey’s name (I was going to call her Jen Aniston Wannabe). Let’s also remember: not only is she in the Bahamas (hot), she CHOSE that outfit knowing she was going to be on TV. Say wha?

      I love Beaker/Karla’s head popping up in that back row. Hooty hoo!

      Onto important things, so happy Richard won. I will admit I teared up a bit. OK, I will admit more than a bit, a lot. There is justice in the world.

      1. Me too. I practically sobbed.
        I love Richard- he seems like a decent guy, and I was glad he won. But I must admit, I am very intrigued by Mike’s pepperoni sauce- what the hell is pepperoni sauce?

  2. richard’s win was well deserved and awesome? you know what else is going to be awesome? the reunion in which elia does the unthinkable by getting into it with Daddy Tom. Apparently she called him a sellout. I saw a clip of it on the “Watch What Happens Live” after last night’s finale. Richard and Mike said it was super uncomfortable. I could see that. I also could see how it would be super awesome to watch Tom shut that twit down.

    1. And Jen Carroll’s drunk ass yelling @ Andy for joking that Elia’s losing dish was sour grapes. When did Jen & Elia become BFFs?

      Thanks to Blais for not making me (pretend to) swear off TC.
      Nobody likes Marcel.
      I am already OVER the ubiquitous Curtis Stone.
      Congrats to Carla for Fan Favorite & I hope she gets her website fixed so I can order some of her cookies.


      1. I so agree with you on the “pretending” to swear off a reality show when you don’t think the winner should’ve won. I have a feeling my “I will NEVER watch Project Runway again” stance because Mondo didn’t win will be very, very week when the new season starts.

  3. I was elated to see Richard win. I love seeing hard work pay off. He’s been on the scene in Atlanta for quite a while, and has served foie gra milkshakes at 4-5 different restaurants in the past. He should have had that down cold. Ba dump dump.

    1. Jen- I always think of you when I see Richard. I think way back when you had a photo taken with him, didn’t you?
      But my real question is if you have ever tried his foie gra milkshakes, because that just does not sound good to me.

  4. Big ‘YAY!’ for Richard and a ‘well done’ to Bravo for not making the sous chefs look like assholes. Richard and Mike, like the competing chefs in every finale, are ultimately responsible for what leaves the kitchen.

    By the way, while I love me some Hubert, where were the other two silver foxes? How come Tony and Eric have been m.i.a.? I want more Tony dammit!

  5. the ONLY good thing to come out of this season was Carla winning a rightfully deserved fan favorite over that horrid Fabio

    This season started with so much promise, a mostly great cast, and some fun challenges… but then all the good chefs started getting sent home left and right, people were sent home for food they didn’t cook, while others stayed without presenting a plate, the challenges became too survivoresque up until the very end, Mike and Richard were the two worst finalists the show has EVER had, the egos were inflated, I saw Carla cry on tv, and I got into an argument with Fabio online because he was being a twit.

    *sighs* I had hope this show could rebound after a couple of bad seasons, but it burned me. So with a bad season done and the classiest chef ever rightfully taking the title of all star fan favorite, I will be done with this show,

    also Tom is sexist 🙂 Anthony Bourdain or Gail should replace him as head judge

  6. Anyone else notice the look on Mike’s wife’s face after he lost? It was less “oh no, poor Mike” and more “aw shit, now I gotta pick up the pieces of his shattered ego”.

  7. Every time Mike sent out a dish, I though to myself, “I wonder who he stole that one from?”

  8. I LOVED how they didn’t get to pick their sous chefs, and had to just choose the dishes they made. And Mike got stuck with Jamie, haha.
    Jen Carroll was clearly trashed at the Watch What Happens taping. She kept screaming at Andy. So funny.
    I can’t wait for the reunion! Elia sucks.

  9. I live in Atlanta too, and the foie gras milkshake is awesome. He actually has 2 better ones- krispy kreme and burnt marshmallow nutella. I guess those did not seem sophisticated enough for the TC finale. I am hoping he will now open an upscale place so we can try some of his real food, not just his wacky burgers, even though they are great.

    1. Hi Ash, my fave is the pistachio and truffle oil. That man knows how to make a shake. He did a blueberry pancake app with foie gras butter when he was cooking at Home a couple of years ago and it was DIVINE

  10. My friend said “Jen C looks like a walk of shame” and i thought she pegged it.

    Did you guys catch Mike’s annoyed look/eye roll after Richard was announced?

  11. I just want to make all of you bitches jealous and let you know I’m eating at the silver fox Eric Rippert’s restaurant tonight.

    1. Curses.!! (shaking my fist in your general direction) I love Frenchmen who Sous-vide.


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