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

Nicholas' duck course ended up having to be cooked twice. Emeril's duck was chewy, but Tom's was "really good." After berating some young female servers about spoons, Nicholas passive-aggressively called them "lovely" with a purposely disingenuous smile in front of the judges. His panna cotta was an attempt to redeem himself for the panna cotta that should have gotten him eliminated earlier in the season. The cream on Hugh and Padma's dessert hadn't set yet. Tom said there was too much gelatin, but he still liked it.

At one point during the service, the judges heard Nicholas shrieking at people in the kitchen. It made for an uncomfortable moment. When the servers said Table 9 (a non-judge table) didn't get their orders yet, Nicholas yelled, threw up his hands, and said, "Nope, I just lost." No, Nicholas, the servers didn't lose anything for you. Had you lost, your terrible behavior and under-seasoning would have lost it for you. You were just giving yourself someone else to blame.

Something weird was going on at the Judges Table. Everyone agreed that the chefs were great overall, but both made mistakes. The consensus showed that they preferred Nina for the first two courses but Nicholas for the third and fourth, but Tom seemed to be doing nothing but defending Nicholas. I didn't take issue with Tom for preferring Nicholas' dishes -- after all, I wasn't there -- but his way of debating the issue seemed a bit bullying. Hugh, Padma, and maybe Emeril seemed to be leaning toward giving Nina the win, but Tom acted like Nicholas winning was a foregone conclusion. When Hugh in particular suggested otherwise, Tom looked at him like he was stupid as if to ask, "Is there really a question?" -- as if his own opinion couldn't possibly be wrong.

Back in the stew room, Nicholas infuriated me by saying to Nina, "Well, it didn't happen." Nina: "What?" Nicholas: "I had to be perfect to beat you." Just in case anyone was mistaking that for humility, it was NOT. That's Nicholas trying to look like the underdog so that if he lost, he could just shrug sadly, but if he won, he could do that whole dropped-jaw thing and make it look like some dramatic come-from-behind victory.

Sure enough, Tom got his way and Nicholas won. The shot of Tom's satisfied smile as Nicholas celebrated was quite annoying. It looks like in a battle between men vs. women (Travis not withstanding), Tom came down on the side of the men.

Good LORD that was a sloppy kiss Nicholas planted directly on his mother's unsuspecting lips.

(By the way, I know I'm being harsh, and editing plays a role, but based on what's been shown to us in the finale and all season, I think Nina was the better chef and leader in the kitchen).

Should the judges have taken Nina's "extras" into consideration? Should Nicholas' shouting have been taken into consideration? Did you think Tom threw his weight around at the final Judges Table? Is Nicholas the least likable winner since Hosea? Was anyone happy that Jason got more screen time? He sure was.

Ugh, let's just move on and pretend Nina and Shirley squared off in the finale and they both won and Shirley bought an A/C unit for her family. Until next time...

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