It has been a long and winding road fair readers. BRAVO has teased and turned, produced a finale before the finale before the finale, and now finally, after everyone on their production team has had a good chance to get the tan they all felt they deserved and Padma got enough post-baby-body show off scenes, NOW FINALLY WE GOT THE FINALE.
And in the finally we have Richard Blaise who we all know should have won his season, and unlikely local hero Mike Isabella who most people were happy to see leave during Vegas season but who has somehow managed to weasel their way into our hearts over the last 800 episodes of the finale.
Frankly, I went in having no idea who would win. I felt that Richard deserved it, but Mike seemed to be on a (well deserved) roll the last couple of episodes and I didn’t hate either of them, so-it was hard. And if it was hard FOR ME, you can only imagine how hard it was for everyone over in the Bahamas.
Now, there was no quickfire but instead BRAVO did a cute little montage of all the eliminated chefs cooking an amuse bouche for 30 minutes while Mike and Richard discussed who they would HATE to get as a top sous chef (always winning that race: Jamie and Marcel (who actually wore sunglasses inside during this segment)!).
In the end this is how it turned out:
- Richard, on the basis of the taste test got: Spike (who apparently had a jet ski reservation he now had to bail on), Antonia (“ARE YOU OK?”) and Angelo (“A Thoroughbred, a great win of a pick!”)
- and Mike got Jame (bahahahaha), red-haired Tiffani and Carla (“These ladies are like my angels”)
The task was simple: make a restaurant of your dreams and serve the judges the tasting menu from it. Richard went with “Tongue & Cheek” a whimsical eatery inspired by what Chefs like to eat and Mike went with “IZ”, his nickname and used his family’s home cooking as inspiration.
Now, what followed was a symphony of camaraderie and great cooking: the menus looked (and according to judges tasted) great (I want those creme fraiche oysters and that pepperoni sauce (which Gail seemed to REALLY love) all over my insides all the time), everyone really went to bat for these two guys (the cuts to Antonia saying how much she respected Richard felt like the most real thing BRAVO had run on air in a year) and watching Spike jump in to help Richard fix the foie gras ice-cream texture before the second service after the “comments on it were controversial” during the first service was a beautiful thing to see (it also had you get all nervous and “hopefully this ice cream doesn’t mess us Blaise’s chances” like). No one was playing games, everyone was just cooking their asses off.
The only thing marring the episode were these weirdo viewing-party segments in between commercials which featured Padma in a party dress pretending to be Billy Bush (or an equivalent of an entertainment news reporter) saying things like “I’m here with the lovely Fabio and the beautiful Antonia, just having a great time…” but you know, you win some and you lose some.
In the end-they didn’t really drag out the judges’ table (mercifully, since both contestants were about to collapse from sheer anxiety and anticipation) and then…RICHARD WON. And you know what, I’m ok with that. In fact, more than ok. The man works harder than any man on Top Chef ever has and it felt good to see him win. And in a testimonial to BRAVO actually making a real, living and breathing reality TV show with characters you somehow do care about, when Mike’s wife ran over to hug him and comfort him, it was a moment when you said “Too bad for him, he did a good job”. Only someone else did a better one. Such is life.
How was it for you?
(p.s. should we recap TOP CHEF MASTERS?)