Unlike reviewer skaizun I knew who the winner was soon after the second episode aired when Zakarian who failed to even DO the challenge correctly was allowed to continue. Time after time he either failed to do a challenge or had bad food and should have been eliminated LONG before this ep.
But I have known since then that he either cheated, paid people off, called in favors or all of the above. NO WAY he won based on skill alone! Nice thing he's teaching his children 'Kids if you can't win based on skill then do like your old man here did. Cheat, call in favors and pay people off. It's the best way to get ahead!'
Another reason you know he cheated his way to the win is how convenient that the next season was a REDEMPTION! Anyone previously eliminated and wanted to can get a second chance! So it was like 'Yeah so I cheated these people out of the win by cheating so let's give them a second chance and do a redemption show next
So yeah I will never believe he won based on skill and cringe when they call this cheater an IRON CHEF! True Iron chef's don't need to cheat to win!