Bravo’s Top Chef 3 concludes tonight with a live finale from Chicago, the setting for the fourth season, which recently started production. Three actually talented chefs remain: Casey Thompson, Dale Levitski, and Hung Huynh. For the first time, the show will have a non-heterosexual male winner (Casey is female, Dale is gay, and Hung is bisexual).
Top Chef 3 has managed to recover from its ridiculous second season. While there hasn’t been an absence of drama, cooking has remained the focus, not ridiculous frat house hazing. While Hung is often annoying–the editors delight in juxtaposing his cocky grandstanding against his failures–he’s also talented, and he’s nowhere near as arrogant as last season’s finalists. Although the quickfire challenges were often an excuse to promote a paid sponsor’s brand, they were innovative and made good television, like when the chefs had to cook airline food on an actual plane. And Padma Lakshmi remains one of the best competitive reality show hosts. (Still, there’s plenty of material for Amuse-Biatch to use to hysterically harass the show.)
The finale will be 75 minutes long, keeping viewers around for the debut of Bravo’s Better Half, a series that watches “the spouses/mates of two trained professionals square-off in competition” after being trained in that profession by their partners. It’s hosted by Susie Essman, best known for screaming obscenities on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.