March 30, 2011 08:14 PM by Shayla Perry
This is it! After many long weeks of fierce competition in the kitchen, the winner of Top Chef will finally be declared! So who will it be… Richard Blais, or Mike Isabella?
Both chefs are greeted by Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio with information on their challenge– to create the restaurant of their dreams, including a four course tasting menu!
Back at their suite, Mike and Richard argue over which of them is favored to win, and ponder which cast members they’d like to choose to work with them. Mike Isabella is confident that he definitely wants Jen Carroll, and definitely doesn’t want Jaime. But little do they know, Padma Lakshmi is already working with the former cheftestants in the kitchen!
Each of them has prepared a dish. Of the 15 dishes, Mike and Richard must blindly choose their three favorites, and the chefs who created those dishes will be on their team.
After tasting the dishes, Richard chooses Spike, who had just mentioned that he had jet ski reservations, which is messing up Richard’s criteria for picking his team.
Mike picks Tiffani Faison, then Richard selects Angelo Sosa’s dish and Antonia Lofaso’s.
Next, Mike picks Carla Hall, Jaime.
The chefs have one hour to plan on the first night before preparing their dishes for 75 patrons the next day.
Richard immediately begins giving instructions to his team, but Mike’s teammates have a lot of input, and he struggles to drown them out in order to create the vision he had in mind.
The next day, a more mature Mike Isabella than the one from Top Chef: Las Vegas preps his team for the day. With only 5 hours, Isabella manages everything from the waitstaff to the wine list, and assembles stations for his sous chefs to work.
Over in Richard Blais’ restaurant, Richard is having trouble with the ice cream machine, but hopes that the last minute switch for his dessert menu item will pay off.
Tom Colicchio checks in with both chefs, noting that organization is key in this challenge, since chefs are ultimately bosses who must be able to manage a team well in order to have a successful restaurant.
Finally, it’s time to dine!
First up is Richard Blais’ restaurant, Tongue & Cheek. The judges love his raw oysters, which Richard knows, since Spike is tasked with “spying” on them to hear what they have to say as the dishes come out.
Over at Restaurant Iz, Art Smith and Curtis Stone are both judging Mike Isabella, along with Tom and Gail Simmons, and they are amazed by Isabella’s halibut, which Colicchio says may be the best fish he’s had throughout all of the seasons of the show. And his “Tom dish,” which was glazed with a pepperoni sauce, just for the judge, does just as Mike wants it to, and wows Colicchio.
Next, the chefs prepare for the second service as the judges and patrons switch restaurants. Richard Blais, who knows that the judges in the first service weren’t keen on his ice cream, tries to improve upon the dish.
Both contestants did well, but who will be the winner of Top Chef?
After the challenge Mike Isabella and Richard Blais talk about their performance. Mike is confident, as usual, and Richard, of course, is feeling anything but!
Before the judges, Mike tells them that his best dish was the fish, and they agree, telling him that his food was the best he’s cooked all season.
Richard is told that his dishes gave the most intense flavors. Though his beef dish was considered “safe,” they feel that his black cod was flawless.
Both chefs are asked to explain why they should be given the title of Top Chef, and Richard begins to tear up at the thought of having his own restaurant that allows him to do what he wants to do as a chef.
Back in the suite, Richard tells Mike that if he wins, he’ll give him some of the prize money to open up his restaurant (how sweet!). Then, the chefs are surprised when their families walk in (Richard’s uncle is there for him, since at the time, his wife was VERY pregnant and unable to travel).
At Judges’ Table, the judges discuss each of the courses at length, and Tom Colicchio reveals that though he said Mike’s fish was the best he’d had on Top Chef, that was before he tasted Richard’s cod. In the end, the judges are split with each of the chefs having two great dishes.
Mike Isabella and Richard Blais are both brought before the judges for the final time, but this time, they’re joined by their families and the other Top Chef contestants.
After much waiting, the judges declare that Richard Blais is the winner of Top Chef!
What do you think of the judges’ decision? Do you think Richard earned the title of Top Chef, or should Mike Isabella have taken home the prize?
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Photo credit: BRAVO