For those of you who, like me, felt like this All-Stars season was really long, you're absolutely right. This season had 17 episodes as opposed to the usual 14. This probably sounded like a good idea because this is a group of chefs that we already knew (and possibly love), so what could be better than spending more time with them? Unfortunately a lot of favorites and big personalities got eliminated rather early and we were left with quite a few unexpected chefs nearing the end. Richard and Mike as the last two chefs standing did end up being pretty evenly matched but that stretch of episodes with Angelo, Dale, and Carla all getting eliminated while Tiffany and Mike continued to skate by really made me start losing interest.
Mike didn't really start picking up speed until the very end--he was safe in the middle for the majority of the season--but I can't deny that his food in the Bahamas was clearly top-notch. Richard had the best record of anyone this season and he never really choked. So since I obviously couldn't taste the food, I was pretty much judging on personality, and I most definitely preferred Richard to take the title. Richard could be annoying too--always insisting he should have won his original season (as if Stephanie wasn't deserving at all) but also having weird moments of "hating everything he does"--but Mike's loudmouth personality just rubbed me the wrong way. His overconfidence and constant trash talking was a huge turn off.
So I was very nervous for the entire episode and then very, very relieved when Richard was announced as the winner. A lot of people had him pegged as the frontrunner before the season even started and I'm really glad he lived up to expectations. I thought he was smart in how he used Spike to be his "spy" and use the information to adjust his dessert for the second group of diners (and judges). It's clear that he's both a great leader and a chef. Congratulations Richard!
- I thought the way they had to choose their sous chefs was a little unfair -- usually the finale is all about "do whatever you want" but then I guess there has be some Top Chef shenanigans. It didn't end up being an issue but I totally laughed out loud when Mike got Jamie.
- Both Richard and Mike wanted Jen as their sous chef even though she flamed out super early so glad her reputation hasn't been tarnished. Did anyone notice her huge crazy hair though?
- Poor Antonia...just eliminated and then has to get right back in the kitchen to help her former competition. I was pretty indifferent to her pretty much right up until the finale but I think she's kind of grown on me.
- What is up with Richard always making this face? (see left)
- It was very weird that Mike had his whole family come to join him and Richard got...his uncle?
- Those little live commercial bits with Padma and Gail were extremely awkward.
- Petty, but I thought Mike's dirty chef coat every time he came out to talk to the judges was poor form.
- That Curtis Stone is everywhere nowadays. He's on America's Next Great Restaurant and now he's hosting Top Chef Masters too.
- While I wasn't rooting for him, I am very much looking forward to Mike's new restaurant in DC. There better be pepperoni sauce!