Top Chef: Finito!
June 19, 2020 10:13 AM - Season 17, Episode 14 - Subscribe

The final three all stars face off in an epic Italian showdown to cook the meal of their lives in an effort to take home the ultimate title and prize.

Correct winner! I'm very much looking forward to eating at whatever place Melissa opens, when such things are reasonably possible again.

I thought having the judges cook for the finalists was a nice touch. Padma's goggles were adorable.
posted by praemunire (19 comments total)
Not even close right? Bryan seemed closer but while it sounded like his meal was great, Melissa's was special. Both Bryan and Stephanie seemed to have pretty standard (but solid) dishes, maybe aside from Bryan's beets.

Can't believe they put Dario Cecchini all the way at the end at the kids' table. (Must have been the vest.) He sure showed them the error of their ways.

Hopefully Gregory gets another shot, if he wants one. For a while this season, probably since Eric left, he seemed like the only chef other than Melissa with a new and interesting point of view relative to what's going on in American fine dining.
posted by supercres at 3:53 PM on June 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also I totally forgot that Bryan's other runner-up season was Masters. He lost to Douglas Keane, besting the likes of Sang Yoon, Neal Fraser, and Lynn Crawford.
posted by supercres at 4:00 PM on June 19, 2020

Man, when you make an old Italian butcher cry with how good your food is, you basically HAVE to win.

I am so so pleased with this result!
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:17 PM on June 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

Same. Melissa clearly deserved this, and I'm happy for her. She seems like good people.
posted by heyho at 6:57 PM on June 19, 2020

I love that Melissa won! I feel like Stephanie definitely was going strong until that braised veal breast.
posted by Carillon at 10:46 PM on June 19, 2020

This was a great result, and I'm glad Melissa stood up to Lee Anne's attempts to introduce her own ideas into the menu. I recall when Carla Hall was in the finale, she allowed her sous chef (Casey) to make her doubt her choices, and it cost her (in favour of Hosea, for God's sake!).

All the food looked perfectly made, but Melissa's was innovative in the way she was able to fuse her Chinese aesthetic with Italian food. I'd have been happy with either of the two women winning, and even though Stephanie fell at the last hurdle, I think her days as a private chef are over.
posted by essexjan at 4:57 AM on June 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Melissa IS Top Chef!

This was the right call. It looks like all three chefs put out some very good meals. There were some missteps (like Stephanie's veal, the big headliner) but I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see this as a competition that really seemed to start and end with the food. There wasn't any real drama in the kitchen, there weren't any giant mishaps nor clashes - just three very good chefs cheffing.

Melissa's dishes appeared the most inventive. She really seemed to embrace the idea of combining place and self in a way that the other two didn't. I wouldn't turn down Bryan nor Stephanie's meals, but Melissa really pushed things farther creatively. What a triumph that was. And Milk Tea Tiramisu? Love it.

The story arcs for these three were pretty solid as well, not as heavy-handed on the reality show-ness. Melissa simply found her confidence in the competition and leveraged it. I loved her repeatedly telling Lee Anne "no" – okay, yes, editing tricks there, but it was clear she had a vision and that's part of seeing it through.

Given there's no idea when we'll see more Top Chef (or anything, really), this was a nice sendoff.
posted by hijinx at 6:26 AM on June 20, 2020

There wasn't any real drama in the kitchen, there weren't any giant mishaps nor clashes - just three very good chefs cheffing.

Yes. It was nice to see these calm and steady chefs do their thing. (Add on Gregory and it’s got to be the lowest drama finalist group in reality tv history, minus GBBO.) A reminder that passion for cooking doesn’t have to mean banging things around and losing your cool. Stephanie, both in restaurant wars and this week, has a real talent for managing more temperamental personalities that would serve her well if she decided she wanted to open her own restaurant.

Melissa is beyond talented—she has a true gift on top of having worked hard to develop technically perfect skills. When Dario was so moved at the respect she showed Italian tradition, it reminded me how much cooking is a form of showing love to other people. She has an openness and kindness to everyone that came through in how she treated the other chefs, the judges, the guests, every episode. She’s a special person and it’s nice to see that rewarded.
posted by sallybrown at 8:04 AM on June 20, 2020 [7 favorites]

I was glad that Melissa won. She made the most consistently innovative food throughout the season.
And I was glad Malarkey got another appearance. He's relentlessly good humoured, supportive and friendly. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, I know.
posted by conifer at 2:59 AM on June 21, 2020

He's relentlessly good humoured, supportive and friendly.

I wasn't the biggest Malarkey fan and I was sort of surprised that given first pick she chose him but he really toned his 'Top Chef' personality down and let Stephanie shine. It was nice to see him step back and respect that she was in charge, especially given some of the comments from other male chefs this season.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:29 PM on June 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

I am so excited for Melissa and this feels like the right choice. I love how Top Chef has evolved into a chill, peaceful, supportive watch and I’m sad it’s over for now.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:58 PM on June 21, 2020

I actually got choked up when I saw the judges preparing the meal for the finalists. It really was a lovely moment of TV. I will miss this show greatly, it caps the week for my daughter and I. I will seek out some prior seasons for us, any recommendations?
posted by gryphonlover at 11:05 PM on June 21, 2020

Season 1 is pretty goofy fun as they haven't worked out all the kinks yet (including finding a presenter who appears to be human rather than an android), nor refined the character archetypes. The winner, Harold Dieterle, sort of a Lloyd Dobler type, also went on to open some darned good restaurants, though sadly none of them are still open. (Perilla. Sigh.)
posted by praemunire at 10:23 AM on June 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

So happy Melissa won; she seemed like the obvious choice starting around week 3 or so.

Re: previous seasons -
I particularly liked season 8, the first All Stars. Most seasons seem to have a handful of people who are out of their element and just fail during the first few episodes, while the all stars don't have that. It has a few of my favourite challenges - the first elimination is for the cheftestants to remake the dish that got them sent home last time. Plus Bourdain is the guest judge.
I also have a soft spot for season 9, Texas. It was the first Last Chance Kitchen, which was an actual surprise to the chefs involved, and had one of my all time favourite challenges, with Charlize Theron as a guest judge.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:23 AM on June 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Re: previous seasons. I recommend Top Chef: Boston (S12), Melissa and Gregory’s first season, a great deal. Season 13 was Karen’s first season and featured a very talented and entertaining group of chefs—I would have been happy with any of the final seven winning. Season 15 was another great group that seemed (generally) really supportive and complimentary of one another.

Top Chef New Orleans features one of my least favorite TC eliminations, and it’s of Stephanie, but that’s a low point in an otherwise great season.
posted by epj at 10:01 PM on June 23, 2020

gryphonlover If you're going to watch Top Chef New Orleans (season 11) I want to warn you that the ending is so infuriating I still regularly think about it and become angry all over again. SPOILER: a crappy man who is in and out of the bottom during the season wins over a total superstar woman of color. It was a big controversy which Tom Colicchio still ends up having to answer for, because people (like me) are still angry.
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:48 PM on June 27, 2020

Back to this season - SO happy with the result!

What I would like to see next: a Top Chef special where Eric makes and explains his Middle Passage dishes.
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:49 PM on June 27, 2020

Very happy to see Melissa win. Padma said it somewhere in the judging, or maybe it was Gale; Melissa was the only one giving them new food. Now cooking doesn't have to be innovative to be good. But I was much more interested in what she was doing with Italian / Chinese fusion than anyone else. I mean Brian's lasagna looked great, but I almost wish he'd done some modernist deconstructed lasagna instead of something so ordinary.

Truffle congee with salami is genius.

Some Melissa King media... Wikipedia has an OK summary of her career. She's worked at a lot of great SF restaurants: Campton Place, the Ritz Carlton Dining Room, Delfina.. but she's never had her own name on her own place. Not clear she's diving in to a new restaurant either according to this article, although she is selling small batch sauces. The SF Chron had a profile on her a few weeks ago (before the win), and the LA Times had something after the win. And Bravo hasn't shyed away from her queer, Asian American identity.
I am a passionate chef, a strong woman, an outspoken Asian American, a Californian, an artist, an entrepreneur, a Libra, a romantic, a proud lesbian, and a queer, androgynous, gender-fluid human. I am an Auntie and an Uncle. Some days I feel like a grandma, and other days I embrace my inner grandpa.
posted by Nelson at 11:56 AM on June 28, 2020

A New Orleans Chef Navigates Disaster. This is an article about season 11's should-have-won contestant Nina Compton. We don't have a season 11 post, so I'm putting it here. It's an excellent article.
posted by Nelson at 8:06 AM on August 28, 2020

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