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Gregory vs. Mei, local ingredients vs. dessert on Top Chef’s finale

A dessert that was better than any Tom Colicchio has ever eaten in his entire life helped Top Chef Boston‘s winner take the $100,000 prize, and gave the show only its third female winner in 12 seasons.

Mei Lin defeated Gregory Gourdet thanks in part to her dessert, but Gregory’s decision to focus almost entirely on local ingredients tripped him up a few times. Throughout the final meals and judging, it seemed clear that Mei had the win locked up. My full recap is here. Honestly, I would have been thrilled with either as the winner; they were both strong all season.

Overall, I think this was a solid Top Chef. There was very little extraneous drama yet still a lot of entertainment, thanks in part to several strong challenges. “The First Thanksgiving” episode’s challenge was my favorite, because having everyone use authentic Pilgrim-era cooking and food took them equivalently out of their comfort zones. The Julia Child episode was a close second.

I don’t think new judge Richard Blais contributed much beyond trying so hard he was even more annoying than usual, but at least he wasn’t around all that much. The “sudden death” quickfire challenges were a nice addition, however. They weren’t quite sudden death, because the loser of the quickfire had one more chance to save themselves, but I liked that, because it’s not as fun to see someone be eliminated because of one guest judge’s opinion on a single, rapidly prepared dish.

The series is now casting as it has been renewed for a 13th season, which is good news for us and Bravo. It’s the one series on the network that’s about something other than rich, entitled assholes behaving badly. Bravo did try with Best New Restaurant, which I appreciate, but it just didn’t work for me. It felt like several different Food Network shows in one, and that is not a compliment.

MasterChef Junior holds a special place in my heart, and Chopped can still be fun, but Top Chef remains the best of the food competitions.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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