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'Top Chef: All-Stars': Who Finally Earned the Title of Top Chef? (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 31st 2011 1:43AM
'Top Chef All Stars' finaleThis season of 'Top Chef: All-Stars' (Wed., 10PM ET on Bravo) was all about second chances. In a tough competition, it came down to Richard Blais, who had to settle for runner-up in Season 4, and Mike Isabella, who came in seventh in Season 6.

So, while Isabella had already surpassed his earlier performance, Blais went into this finale facing the possibility of being a runner-up for the second straight time.

For this epic finale, several of the former contestants came back to help the finalists prepare their final dishes to excite and impress the judges. The show even flew out their families to watch the winner being crowned. But who would take home the prize?

Unfortunately for Blais, his pregnant wife wasn't able to make the trip, so she wasn't there to support him. However, we don't think he was too concerned about it when Padma Lakshmi said, "Richard, you are Top Chef."

There was a very sweet and genuine moment later on the phone when he shared with his wife that he'd won.

"What?" she asked incredulously, allowing Blais to again declare, "I won 'Top Chef.'"

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My portion was cold, salty, under cooked, and very traditional. Whhaaa.

March 31 2011 at 11:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sure the program is highly edited, but did Richard deserve to win? In my opinion, NO. To me it appeared he cheated by having one of chefs on his team spy on the judges. Thereby trying to correct any mistakes for the second set of judges. By awarding Richard the big prize, TOP CHEF said it was okay to cheat.

March 31 2011 at 11:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to marylandman45's comment

On the other hand, my personal opinion was that he wasn't cheating. Rather, he was doing something which all good chefs SHOULD do: he was listening to the comments from those consuming his food, and he was correcting the flaws they pointed out. I'm quite certain the judges knew their comments were overheard -- they're not BLIND, you know. There was no trick photography which allowed the camera to see Spike there, but not the judges. Give me a break. Regardless, grainy, smooth, shiny, melty -- who on earth (or living in the REAL world) would care to eat liver ice cream? Now, I ask you seriously! Despite that obvious UGH! choice, I still believe Richard deserved to win ... and, no, I did not have a favorite.

April 01 2011 at 1:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

In NO way is it considered "cheating" to do whatever it takes to please whomever is your clientelle. Mike Isabella is the one who resorted to stealing in an earlier challenge this season, for the sole purpose of winning a quickfire challenge. To make matters worse, he actually had the gall to glance over at Richard with a sly grin and wink. PATHETIC LOSER!

To "plagiarize" means to (1) steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one's own; to use another (person's) production (creation) without crediting the source (or without receiving permission from the creator of that idea) and (2) to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source (not your own). Sound familiar MIKE?

Richard Blais clearly deserved to win. He relied on his OWN talent, good or bad / win or lose. Of greater importance, Richard was always generous when asked for advice by other competitors (including Mike Isabella on more than one occasion) and gracious when sometimes that free advice resulted in someone else's victory. Every single chef has stated that Richard was the most talented and would have to be the one to beat in the final challenge.


April 01 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Remember, this program is highly edited. I'm sure they planned the good guy/bad guy routine to keep viewers watching. My guess is Mike isn't the bad guy, just as Richard isn't the good guy. They're both talented chefs and regardless of who won, they will both succeed in the restaurant business.

March 31 2011 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Martine's comment

Mike is a jerk. Always has been. Any guy who would fart/belch (repeatedly in a hot, crowded room then laugh about it is a jerk. Plain and simple.

April 01 2011 at 3:43 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It was so clear that they wanted Richard to win. He's an amazing chef and a good, fair, helpful, smart guy, but they saved him at times when he made mistakes that other made that got them sent home. case in point - Carla got sent home for a great dish but the pork wasn't all the way cooked, two weeks later Richard makes a great dish (although they liked Mikes better) but Richard's lobster wasn't cooked on some of the judges plates BUT he was still saved. This happened way too many times. I don't like Mike (he's kinda smarmy and sketchy) but he shoulda won. JMHO

March 31 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe Richard can afford a hair style now with the money he won.

March 31 2011 at 4:47 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Bravo to Richard for winning...his menu choices were well presented and prepared. He went outside the box and delegated tasks well in the kitchen. Mike was an obnoxious bully in an apron all season. I had to gasp in disbelief when he commented that he felt bad for Antonia leaving...he was so full of himself when he "outplayed" her at every turn and went out of his way to be as annoying as possible to her. This was more of a game to Mike, to see who he could rattle the most rather than a cooking competition...in the end the chef with the most talent won and for that I'm grateful. Let this be the end of seeing Mike Isabella on Top Chef ever again!

March 31 2011 at 3:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

BTW, did anyone else notice how happy Antonia was for Richard? Considering: 1) how devastated she was to have recently been told to "pack her knives and go", and 2) that she actually might be distantly related to Mike Isabella (and therefore might root for him), in the end, she still ecstatic (she was holding off tears!) to see Richard win. THAT alone says alot.

March 31 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Reasons Richard was the clear winner of Top Chef:
1) Most creative of two.
2) took on a more challenging menu last night (and previous challenges as well) and did it outstandingly well.
3) quickly improved upon the only weak item on his menu (the foi gras ice cream) when he LISTENED to the critique (you could see the difference in critique of this plate from the first set of judges to the next).
4) Was a team player from the beginning of the season, and helpful to other contestants.
5) Never had to resort to "stealing" others ideas (ahem, like Mike Isabella had done) to win a challenge.
6) Was his own worst critique (you all out there calling him "whiney" can't see the forest for the trees!), because he always felt he could improve upon something - sign of a true artist in any field.
7) Because Mike Isabella didn't deserve to win - he was just there to keep pissing the viewers off and bring attention to the show.

March 31 2011 at 3:17 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to almasearch's comment

And Richard was still humble enough to tell little Mikey that if he won, he'd personally give Mike some of the money he won to make sure Mike could open his own restaurant. You sure didn't hear any offer from Mike to Richard to share any of the winnings if the judges had gone the other way.

April 01 2011 at 1:57 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

kbrownmaha - I couldn't have said it better myself! I totally agree that Richard should have won. The fact that Mike ripped off Richard's recipe and won a quick fire challenge because of it, demonstrates what an unethical, immoral person he is. He should have acknowledged that to the judges, and offered Richard half the cash. Maybe then I would have forgiven his lack of integrity.

Mike is so arrogant, and it was obvious he thought he was going to win. In fact, I couldn't help but notice the expression on his face when Richard was announced Top Chef. I found him to be obnoxious, and his annoying laugh drove me to constantly MUTE him.

Bravo to Richard!!! Class won out!!

March 31 2011 at 3:14 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

When it came down to choosing between Mike and Richard as the winner of Top Chef I was glad it was Richard who won. Richard is an innovative, edgy chef who is not afraid to take risks. He is always a selfless team player, always willing to lend a hand to his fellow chefs even while competing against them. Richard’s self-confidence may have been rattled at times, but he confronted his lack of confidence with a true sense of character and integrity.

Mike, on the other hand—where do I begin? Although he has come a long, long, long way since his initial season on Top Chef, the fact remains that Mike is whiney, antagonistic, narcissistic and was only a team player when the voted-off chefs returned to help HIM compete in the final round for Top Chef. THEN and only then, he was all about being a team player. It was just par for Mike’s course. That being said, I might have been able to overlook all of Mike’s character defects if he hadn’t blatantly STOLE Richard’s concept of a recipe and prepared the recipe in a Quick-Fire challenge as if he conceived the entire recipe on his own merit. Mike won that Quick-Fire challenge and the ensuing prize of $10K by FRAUD. How can anyone feel good about a blatantly fraudulent win? Mike may have won—but he had to CHEAT to do so. Mike CHOSE to take the low-road in that Quick Fire challenge. Mike is a thief, clearly lacking in professionalism and integrity. He may have won that Quick Fire challenge but he is forever a fraudulent LOSER in my cookbook of life. If this is how Mike CHOOSES to behave in front of millions on camera, I’d hate to image how he chooses to conduct himself off-camera. Shame, shame, shame and karma at its best.

March 31 2011 at 1:17 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kbrownomaha's comment
I love Snickers

EXCELLENT, superb analysis!!!!! You said just about everything I was thinking - - - just said it all a WHOLE lot better. To expand on what you said and something someone else said . . . I'd MUCH prefer to work in a kitchen with Richard who is a team player. I can't imagine it is enjoyable to work in a kitchen run by Mike - - - - especially since he'd probably steal innovations from his workers and take credit for their cooking skills. Plus I think he is a good cook, but NOT a good chef. Unlike Richard. Someone commented about Richard's lack of confidence and never being satisfied with what he cooks. I'd PREFER that in a chef, someone who is always striving to innovate and cook better & better than someone like Mike who is egotistical and always thinks their food is better than it actually is. In a REAL restaurant war, in the real world, I can easily see Richard's restaurant winning awards for his food and being extremely succesful. I can see him someday being a competing chef on the Iron Chef show and publishing a great cookbook. But I just can't see Mike's restaurant ever being that successful or him and his restaurant winning any awards. And I sure can't see him being invited to compete on Iron Chef. And any cookbook he wrote would probably not be near as good----unless he plagiarized OTHER chef's receipes. Although he cookbook would probably do okay in the Italian community since Italian food seems the only food he ever cooks or knows how to cook. I'm not even sure how he made it to the finals.

March 31 2011 at 2:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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