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Top Chef: Finale

The winner is...

The finale of Top Chef in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, the two top contenders throughout the entire season, Paul and Sarah, competed against each other for the ninth Top Chef title.

The chefs are assigned the task of creating another restaurant concept and to conceptualize four dishes. True to form, Paul creates four Japanese dishes with Asian inspiration, focusing on the details and complex flavors while Sarah makes a meal of Italian-German fusion with some unusual—and gutsy—Asian flavors.

The chefs are given four sous chefs chosen from a hodge podge collection of eliminated Top Chef contestants—a few who didn’t make it past the early Alamo rounds—and two James Beard award-winning chefs. Each of the potential sous chefs cook a dish for a blind taste test by the two finalists.

Sarah chooses dishes by Nyesha and Grayson, but also inadvertently chooses 22-year-old Tyler, a chef who was eliminated in the first round because in inept butchering skills, in trying to find her friend Heather’s dish. She later chooses Heather, as well.

Paul chooses one of the James Beard award winners along with the hunky Paul, Ty and Keith.

For his first course, Chawanmushi, a Japanese egg custard dish with gingko root, served with edamame, pea shoots and spot prawns. His next course was a grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes and mushrooms. Next came a congee, a rice porridge served in many Asian countries, topped with scrambled eggs, uni, kale and smoked albacore. His dessert course was coconut ice cream with puffed rice, kumquats and a mangosteen Thai chili foam.

Sarah’s first dish was a squid ink tagliatelle with spot prawns and coconut that Gail Simmons said should have been thought of long ago. Next, she served a rye-crusted steelhead trout with fennel seeds and pickled beets. Her next course was braised veal cheeks with crispy veal sweetbreads. Sarah’s dessert was a hazelnut cake with kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache that the judges agreed was one of the best desserts in all seasons of Top Chef.

After much deliberation, and Tom Colicchio’s certainly heartening compliment that their dinner was one of the best dinners in all of the seasons of the show, the winner is announced. As was to be expected, the season’s frontrunner, Paul, took home the trophy. His parents, who Paul said he disappointed when he dropped out of college, are both crying with happiness.