|Rick Bayless, Photo: Bravo|
So how climactic could last night's finale have possibly been? Three of the most established, entitled chefs in America duking it out for ... what, exactly?
Well, words like "honor," "pride" and "respect" were thrown around, as were references to the charity money at stake, of course. There were the requisite sound bites about "every one of us deserving to win" or "this will be the closest" of all the season's scores. Yes, the group-hug feel of the entire season culminated in a finale so steeped in admiration, they had to set it in a museum, Malibu's majestic Getty Villa.
All of this made Italian stallion Michael Chiarello's fighting spirit -- so cockily annoying in previous episodes (though this week he attributed this impression to Bravo's editing) -- a breath of fresh air, even if he did overdo the boxing metaphors: "It's like Rocky Marciano, Rocky Balboa and Rocky's trainer all in the ring at the same time," he quipped, leading one to wonder who the Burgess Meredith of this trio of celebrity chefs might be -- graying Frenchman Hubert Keller, perhaps?
The pugilist vibe seemed to indicate that the gloves were coming off, or "the truffles are coming out of the bag." Keller was so enamored of his, which were overnighted from his homeland (what happened to the usual dollar limit on ingredients?) that he did a little celebratory dance, shaking the velvety fungi-like maracas.