The Top Chef finale turned out to be all we had hoped, as the three remaining rivals were all allowed to make whatever they wanted for a blue-ribbon panel of judges. Dale, continuing his surprising mastery, turned out four courses that pleased the judges inordinately, while Casey, having established herself as a favorite, dropped the ball and blamed everything from the climate to her sous-chef, Howie, for her loss. And no surprise, Hung walked away the winner. We walked over to the computer and addressed Adam Platt immediately, dreading his inevitable mordant response.
Platt: Cutty, our long national nightmare is over.
Ozersky: So I suppose you saw Hung's victory coming?
Platt: Hung was the best chef throughout the competition. Surely even you could see that. But did you notice the judges clothes matched the original taping of the summit battle on Aspen? They hadn't changed their clothes in about ten weeks.
Ozersky: Maybe they have multiple identical outfits, like Mayor McCheese. How about my man Dale almost pulling it out?
Platt: They were wearing the exact same clothes!!!
Ozersky: What are you, one of the Fug Girls? Who cares?
Platt: Dale was impressive. But I think Hung's body of work throughout the show won it for him.
Ozersky: But what about Dale's brilliant lamb poached in duck fat? Anybody can throw duck in a sous vide bag! I think maybe the Glad family of bags leaned on the judges to give it to Hung for his service on behalf of bags.
Platt: Well, what did you want the self-serious judges panel to do?!??! Vote for the next best chef who wasn't Hung? Obviously they didn't like Hung either. Colicchio could barely stand the guy. Which leads me to the conclusion that his food must have been way better. The proof was in the pudding, my furry friend!
Ozersky: Watching Hung win was no fun. It's like cheering for Duke or something. Meanwhile, I still think the whole idea is ridiculous. Finding a "Top Chef" among twenty random reality-show contestants is like looking for Mr. Olympia in an Irish bar. Ridiculous. No one takes it seriously.
Platt: You do! I can see you leaning forward, bug-eyed on your moth-eaten couch. And as much as it pains me to admit it, I think the chefs were all pretty impressive. A lot of those challenges were grizzly.
Ozersky: I guess you have to respect what they did under pressure. Reading Bourdain's blog helped me to appreciate how some of this stuff really did mimic pro cooking.
Platt: It ain't an easy job.
Ozersky: We take it for granted sometimes. Even the chefs we make fun of came a long hard way up.
Platt: Not me Cutty! I have utmost respect for the ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen!
Ozersky: Well, Platt, the show gave us plenty to think about.
Platt: Yes, it did. We will be pondering it well into our dotage.
Ozersky: Which should be about three months out.
Ozersky: I just hope this taught you to be more forgiving as a critic.
Platt: I am forgiving. I'm a huge, bald teddy bear.
Ozersky: That's a terrifying image, Platty. And so not true.
Related: Top Chef Winner Declines to Shake Booty [Grub Street]