| Rick Bayless, Photo: Bravo
If you've been faithfully watching the first season of "Top Chef Masters," you know it's not about the drama. It's not about the high-stakes tension. And it certainly isn't about the fashion about one of its namesake Top Chefs. (Mexican-chef extraordinaire Rick Bayless
' specs invoke memories of a junior-high chemistry teacher, circa 1996.)
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
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.