And The New ‘Top Chef’ Is…

Mike Isabella and Richard Blais on Top Chef (Bravo)

Mike Isabella and Richard Blais on Top Chef (Bravo)


“Top Chef: Redemption Island All-Stars” has crowned a victor…

Richard Blais won the title and the $200,000 Buitoni-furnished pot over Mike Isabella in Wednesday night’s “Top Chef” season finale.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” a shocked and teary Blais said in a moment of Bahamian rhapsody. “I don’t want to be cliche, but where there’s a will there’s a way.  I willed this.” (Let’s all just forget the several agonizing weeks of self-doubt he underwent leading up to this point.)

For the final challenge, both were tasked with creating their “dream” restaurant, assisted by their former competitors as sous chefs. For Mike, that meant “Iz,” an establishment titled for his nickname, where he doled out spiced beet salad with chocolate vinaigrette, halibut with kumquat marmalade, braised pork shoulder with a judge-pleasing pepperoni sauce, and a rosemary caramel custard. Richard went for a more “whimsical” approach with “Tongue & Cheek,” serving ray oysters with creme fraiche pearls, raw hamachi with crispy veal sweetbreads, pork belly and black cod cutlet, and a “controversial” foie gras ice cream.

It was a tough race, with the judges seemingly torn until the very last minute. “This is the best food we’ve had in any finale,” Tom Colicchio said.

In the end, Richard, the season-long front-runner, clinched it with his “intense, extraordinary flavors,” as Gail Simmons put it.

As for Mike, who quit his job and missed his honeymoon to return, you can’t deny the guy hit his stride in the Bahamas, and he certainly appeared to cook his heart out for this last shot. But it just wasn’t enough. “It hurts,” he said in his closing confessional. “Thirty-two challenges – to come in second is tough. I feel like I beat him, I just didn’t get the prize.”

See Padma’s Favorite Moments From The Finale:

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Come back here Thursday for interviews with both Richard and Mike.


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