Top Chef All-Stars ends as Richard Blais beats Mike Isabella; Carla Hall is fan favorite

Top Chef All-Stars concluded last night and crowned season four runner-up Richard Blais its winner. He defeated Mike Isabella after each opened their own restaurant, and produced “the best food we’ve had in any finale,” as Tom Colicchio said. Gail Simmons echoed that: “They gave us two meals unlike any we have ever had before,” she said.

Both the editing and in-person deliberation seemed to favor Mike; after the judges’ table discussion, Richard said, “There was definitely some heavy petting going on for Mikey Isabella.” But at the end, which included an audience of the eliminated chefs and the finalists’ family members (it’s great to have an audience, because those just-the-finalists winner announcements always seem anti-climactic), Richard prevailed.

Mike Isabella had kind of an ugly reaction, rolling his eyes and turning away, and in his interview afterwards, he said, “I feel like I beat him, I just didn’t get the prize.” But during the live quasi-reunion afterwards–a show that you are lucky if you did not watch–Mike changed his tune and called Richard “such a team player and such a great person” and said Richard’s generosity helped him make it to the finale. Also during the Watch What Happens Live special, Carla Hall was announced as fan favorite, beating Fabio Viviani.

While the series stretched out its finale a little too much, perhaps because they had a final five for two weeks, it was a really strong season, thanks in part to the near-perfect cast. Some of them surprised us and some gave us exactly what we expected, but it worked all around.

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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, 37, 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.