Live-Blogging the Top Chef: All-Stars Season FinaleS

We've reached the final episode, and it's a two-horse race. And Will Mike Isabella win by a neck? Or will Richard Blais prevail in a hair-raising finish? Join us in the comments as we live-blog the home stretch!

I don't remember us ever having a finale with everyone rooting so hard in the same direction—and not because we all love Richard the Liquid Nitrogen Addict, either. Rather, we all seem to share a mutual dislike of Mike the Plump-Necked Pretender, and a joint desire to see him to lose. At least, it sure seemed that way during our live-blogs this season, since I don't recall a single commenter expressing support for Mike to win this thing. But maybe I'm wrong, and he has some low-profile fans out there who are quietly pulling for him—an "Underground Jersey Douche Fan Club"?

One thing I do know is that we'll all have fun live-blogging tonight's episode, no matter what happens, because we always do! Here's how to participate, if you haven't done so before: First, turn on your TV and keep your computer handy. Then, when tonight's episode starts (on Bravo at 10 pm Eastern), join the rest of us as we post a running commentary on the show in the comments section below this post. As you live-blog, keep clicking the "All" button at the top of that section to be sure you're seeing all the latest comments!

Before I share a few glimpses of what to expect on tonight's episode, I have a couple important matters to cover. First, I'm ready to announce the winner of the contest we held here last week, which was to guess the exact number of conch jokes we all told during our March 16 live blog. The correct answer was 102-a number that I'm convinced is a new conch-joke-telling world record, even though I haven't gotten confirmation of that yet from the folks at Guinness. The closest guess anyone made was 107, which was posted by (drum roll) … commenter homoviper! So congrats to you, homey! Your prize is a virtual handshake and our everlasting respect!

The second thing I wanted to mention is that, in addition to posting conch-joke estimates, y'all posted a hell of a lot of funny comments last week. As usual, here are the highlights.

On to tonight's episode. Here are a few things to watch for, based on what I saw in the preview clips:

  • All 15 eliminated chefs will reappear tonight to compete in an "amuse bouche" quickfire, which will determine which six of these chefs will assist the two finalists in their last challenge. And despite the free trip to the Bahamas they all got, they're a pretty glum-looking group: As far as I could tell, not one of their 15 bouches looked amused.
  • Richard and Mike will select their teams by each picking their favorite three dishes "blindly," without knowing which chef made what. Here's the strategy they should use to avoid choosing Jamie: If you taste a scallop, just say no!
  • At one point, Mike will say, "I'm gonna beat Richard—I'm a better cook than he is, period." But even as Mike is saying those words, it looks like he himself doesn't really believe that's true. Does anybody?

OK, if this were our last live blog of the season, I'd normally close this post with a "thanks and goodbye till next season"-type message. But I won't, because Bravo will be airing one of those Top Chef "reunion shows" next week—featuring a group interview with all 17 of this season's contestants—and I expect we'll be back to live-blog that next Wednesday night. So be sure to make a note of that in your calendars—and then join me down in the comments!