Ilan Hall wins Top Chef 2, ending a disappointing season

As Food & Wine magazine accidentally revealed on Monday, Ilan Hall won Top Chef 2. Head judge Tom Colicchio told Ilan, “you stuck to what you know, but you really wowed us,” while he said Marcel “took a ton of risks … and we were all really impressed.” Those risks, however, didn’t pay off.

Ilan retained his cocky, smug disposition going into the final challenge, saying, “I think that Marcel has no chance; he doesn’t have the passion and the love that I do for food and for preparing food.” Marcel said something similar about Ilan, and after he lost, admitted he was upset. “I thought it was going to take more than fucking saffron and paprika to beat me, but apparently not. It’s just extremely disappointing,” he said.

Four chefs returned to work as sous chefs for the finalists, and Elia continued to trash her own reputation by being petty and immature. When the sous chefs talked to the judges. “Hands down, Ilan has to win, if you just taste food,” she said. “But you didn’t taste Marcel’s food tonight,” Gail Simmons immediately pointed out.

Here are my thoughts on the whole season, which to me was disappointing, from the deceptive editing to the unnecessary cruelty to the overwhelming focus on the middle school-level drama instead of the food. On the other hand, the show has served a purpose, helping me appreciate Project Runway, despite its flaws, even more.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.