Top Chef season finale recap: An Unsavory Winner

A chef who's apparently incapable of running a functional kitchen won the title; and Tom Colicchio made it happen.
Ep. 17 | Aired Feb 5, 2014

SAINT LUCIA VS. NEW ENGLAND Who will come out on top?

David Moir/Bravo

Who else wanted to throw a turkey baster at the TV — or better yet, at Tom Colicchio's head — after the winner of Top Chef: New Orleans was revealed? Yes, I had a strong opinion on who should have won before the finale even aired (as is my right as a viewer of television), but there were plenty of objective indications that the wrong person won. And it was mostly Tom Colicchio's fault.

Usually, when the show introduces the chefs' family members, it makes me like them more, but in the case of Nicholas, it didn't change my opinion. It confirmed that he's had people repeatedly telling him he was the greatest even as evidence suggested otherwise.

Throughout the season, Nicholas has screamed and hurled unfounded accusations at his fellow chefs. During tonight's challenge and others, Nicholas threw tantrums and damaged other people's reputations in order to make himself look blame-free. Nicholas, who often feigns humility, knows that if you scream at someone in front of other people, and things end up going wrong, you can always pin your failure on the person you yelled at (and humiliated publicly). By belittling people around him, he could safeguard himself in case he lost ("Ugh, if only I had better servers!" "If only Carlos or an invisible kitchen imp hadn't turned up the temperature on my oven!"). I felt sorry for the servers Nicholas maligned tonight.

Alright, let's cool down and finish this. At the top of the episode, Padma emerged from the Maui surf in a bright red bikini — it was her Ursula Andress/Halle Berry moment. She then paraded a bunch of previously eliminated contestants in front of Nicholas and Nina. As the winner of the previous episode's challenge, Nicholas got to pick his three helpers first: of course Jason, whose arrogance matches his own, then Louis and Brian. It wasn't much of an advantage because Nina got her three first choices: Shirley, Stephanie, and Travis.

Each of the teams had to take over a restaurant for a night and prepare a four-course meal. As they bought ingredients and prepped, Tom visited each kitchen. I loved that Tom openly threw shade when Nicholas told him that his first team pick was Jason. Tom: "Really?" Jason: "You have to say it like that?" Tom: "Yeah, I did." SHADE SHADE SHADE. In Nina's kitchen, Tom questioned her decision to make a simple last-minute dessert after she found out her kitchen didn't have an ice cream maker -- but Nina was wise to Tom's mind games. If she hadn't put a dessert on the menu, Tom would have asked where it was.

NEXT: "I'll tell you exactly how I want stuff done." Guess who said that?

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