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Top Chef season finale recap: Showing Off

The contestants’ mommies stop by as the judges pick the season 6 winner

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Top Chef

Top Chef

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons
Reality TV

I love food and I love Top Chef, but Bravo, your sixth season of this show has felt interminably long. Doesn’t that Natalie Portman episode seem like it was from ages ago? Perhaps it was the few weeks off here and there or the fact that we all knew who the top four were within the first few episodes, but either way, all long things must come to an end.

That end was the battle of three very talented, very different chefs, all of whom are very different in concrete ways, so much so that I could do a word association game pretty easily: Kevin: simple (not a bad thing), Bryan: traditional, Michael: creative. (The pop culture character association game is much more fun: Kevin: Santa, Bryan: Lurch, Michael: a cross between Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel and Kenickie from Grease?)

The talent level of this season’s standouts was so much higher than in previous seasons that it reminded me of the Christian Siriano season ofProject Runway when you wondered why these apparent seasoned vets were even on a reality show. On this season of Top Chef, those who were in the top deserved to be there, so good on Bravo, for not sticking a Carla into the mix.

When we’re this close to picking a winner, it’s not about the gimmicks (i.e. drawing inspiration from theatrical medieval shows); it’s about the actual food, so it was only fitting that for their final elimination challenge, the final three had to prepare a three-course meal. The first would be a creation using identical, crazy-sounding ingredients like anise hyssop, the other would be a dish of their choice and the last would be a dessert. And by last, it wasn’t actually the last because of course a curveball was thrown and a fourth dish was added to the menu, much like Tim Gunn telling the Project Runway contestants to design a second look to go down the catwalk.

They had some help, though, from none other than the rest of the season’s cheftestants. Who could that be?! they wondered. Really? Have they not seen this show — or any reality show — ever? But what was shocking to me was how many of them I had forgotten, like Ron. It’s been so long since I’ve thought about him that for a second, I thought he was from a past season. How could I forget his chowder!

Not all of them got to help, though; Kevin, Bryan and Michael each drew two knives, and one past cheftestant helped them that night prepping and the other was their sous chef the following day. Bryan and Michael lucked out; the former with Jen and Ashley and the latter with Eli and Jesse. (By the way, since when is Jesse a ”work horse?”) Poor Kevin got stuck with Preeti and Ash. Wah wah. Could he get two less skilled chefs? Though it probably wasn’t a direct effect of having to work with these two, it didn’t help his stress level and for the first time, we saw a veritably unhappy Kev.

NEXT: A little Mommy love