It's been a wild and crazy season for "Top Chef" this year, but last night's episode brought it to a finale, and a winner has finally emerged.
Chefs Sarah Grueneberg and Paul Qui survived the season, which featured a wider panel of contestants that had to be narrowed down. This was the first season in which contenders were separated into three categories to compete against one another for a coveted spot on the show.
During the final battle, in which Grueneberg and Qui were asked to prepare four courses for 100 diners, both were allowed to have help from former contestants. Gruenebeg chose Nyesha Arrington, Heather Terhune, Grayson Shmitz and Tyler Stone. Qui decided to add Ty-Lor Boring, Chris Crary, Keith Rhodes and Barbara Lynch to his team.
"You both should be very, very proud," said head judge Tom Colicchio at the close of the show. It was "about as close as it can get" and at this point both contestants stood an equal opportunity of being crowned top chef.
"Paul, you are Top Chef," announced Padma Lakshmi. As he celebrated, it was clear that Grueneberg was upset. "I thought for a second it was going to be me, and it wasn't. I think I deserve to be Top Chef but it wasn't my day," she told the camera.
Meanwhile, Qui continued to enjoy his victory. "I am extremely happy to see my dad and mom being there and everybody I've me throughout this journey. The magnitude of what we've done since San Antonio is so broad I can't describe it," he said.
Fans of the show have agreed with the judges' decision and voiced their support through social media. "So glad Paul won. He could cook and was nice/professional," Carol23 wrote on People.com's message board.
User Asianpride60626 added, "Congratulations Paul Qui for winning Top Chef! You are simply The Best!"