Everyone pack up your knives. Everyone go home. Get going. C'mon, scram. Padma, stop biting that taxi driver and tell him to drive you to the airport. Tom, now that you've fattened yourself on foods and nutrients and winter is here, it's time to crawl inside your cave and sleep, sweet bear, sleep. Yes, friends, another season of Top Chef has sung itself to a close. Another victor crowned, another cup of dreams dashed (and pinched). What'd you think about the ending? Were you satisfied? Were you spoiled? I, for one, was... underwhelmed.
I dunno. Something about it just didn't have the heft that I usually expect for a finale. It was nice that the boys had their moms show up (cheapo Bravo only had to pay for two plane tickets instead of three, after all) and it was good to see some of our old friends again, however briefly—Mattin! Radiating goldenly in the golden sun of golden Napa! The world misses you young lad, but mostly I miss you!—but... I dunno. Things just felt a little flat, didn't they? I think maybe the challenge wasn't big enough. Sure, creating a four course meal for a panel of discerning judges was tricky, but I feel like they've done this challenge before. I wanted something on par with Fashion Week for Project Runway. The cheftestants should have had to run a restaurant for a night or something. On most other seasons the straight cooking finales have been enough, but this year the final three was just so damn good and professional and really-gonna-make-it-in-the-cooking-world that their talents felt a tad wasted.
That said, there was still plenty of room for the kids to totally whiff it, which roly-poly Uncle Applewood the Bacon Man did last night. I loved his little exegesis on the nature and wonder of bacon ("The Bacon Council is gonna give me an award"), because it deftly summed up just who he's been this entire competition, but it seemed as though something was off with his food. Things didn't come together, meat and mushrooms didn't tenderize the right way. So he sort of floundered and got lost in trying to maintain his trademark simplicity, while the fancy wizardry of the Voltaggio Brothers—Voltaggio as a name sounding like something from His Dark Materials or Harry Potter—whizzed past him. I guess that's the best final two the show could have hoped for, really. It finally came down to that bare-knuckle rivalry. I briefly expected the moment to be fraught with tension, but then it really wasn't. Both brothers were happy for the other. Of course Michael won in the end, but it didn't really matter. They'd made it to the final two together, so the competition had already gone as well as either of them could have hoped.
Michael cried, which was interesting and a little jarring to see. Jarring in a sweet way, of course. His sous chefs came out to congratulate him with champagne, and it was good to see old contestants cheery and de-stressed. I do wonder a bit if Applewood may have suffered from having Pretty Preeti on his team, because she was slow and not good at all. If only he had drawn Mattin. Mattin who probably wouldn't have been much better, but he at least would have been better to look at, with his dashing red scarf and baubled marble eyes. If Kevin did in fact lose out partly because of his randomly-selected helper chefs, then that stinks. But I guess them's the breaks. No one ever said reality TV was fair. Though, adding to Sous Chef Supremacy theory is the fact that Michael and Bryan got to have The Lady Who... and Eli on their teams, and though Eli is a turd, he did place number five. So, who knows. I hope that wasn't the case. Becuase I like tubby little Uncle Applewood. He seems like a good egg. Even if he doesn't make a good mushroom.
In the end I think Mikey deserved the victory. Because he was bold and daring and risky and, though sometimes a royal asshole, definitely thoughtful and respectful to the people and practice of food. He'll do exciting things with a restaurant, I suspect. Or maybe he and Bryan will open a place together! There's a very popular restaurant like that in Boston, so the formula works. Though, these bros might be a bit too competitive to actually work together every damn day. (Though, boys, if you do? Please come up with a better name than 'Sibling Rivalry.' So clunky.) Whatever the case, I'm sure both of them will be just fine. They placed one and two on what I think was the most professional and competent season of the show yet. It really was. I mean, don't get me wrong, people sucked.
Robin sucked hard.
Hap Blapgood suc—oh forget it. ZATTARAIN'S!!
Everyone with piercings in their faces sucked.
Mattin didn't suck enough. Meep.
And Eli sucked because he was a turd.
But The Lady, the Brothers, and Rumble-Tumble the Bacon Bumble? Correct. Correct to all of them on all accounts. They made this season sleek and satisfying and truly smart. Bravo's got a quality product on their hands here. I wonder how long they can keep running with it. Where will they go next? Hmm... Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
See, I'm thinking Paris. Wouldn't that be something?
OK, my knives are safely stowed and the fasten seatbelts sign is on and it's back to New York. Soon I'll be high in the air and the greens and golds of Napa will have faded to pebble size beneath me. And beneath you too. And on the way home we'll pass over glittering, glitzy, gluttonous Las Vegas, where some people cooked once. And then even that will be gone and it will just be clouds. Safe travels!