So here are the highlights in a hail of bullets, with full details to be filled in with the full recap:
- Tom admits that they were on the fence between Blais and Mike in the finale judging. Gail was the most on Mike's side, and still can't shut up about the pepperoni sauce.
- Blais is trying to make good on his promise to give Mike money for his restaurant, but they already said on Watch What Happens that Mike doesn't need the money because he has plenty of investors.
- Mike's mom and Antonia's mom are BFF now.
- Jenn's hair looks much better than it did in the finale. She's disappointed that she got so emotional at her elimination, but Gail says she was impressed with Jenn's passion.
- Padma says that out of the contestants, she'd go on a date with Elia or Casey, or she'd motorboat Antonia. WHAT? Where did that come from? PADMA! You are a mother!
- Jamie is glad she did the show, even if she knows it didn't work out as she hoped. Tiffani admits that if she had won in her season, it would have "validated her bullshit" because she behaved horribly.
- Nearly everyone (but Jamie? Tough to get a head count) say they would come back again. Mike claims he should be on some sort of Masters program, and everyone groans.
- Andy calls Elia out for her comments post-elimination on Tom being a sell-out for doing Diet Coke commercials and not buying local beef. Elia tries to explain herself, but Tom gets a little bitchy, frankly. Many of the cheftestants get annoyed that it drags on so long. Tom tries to nail down the details of what happened, and who told Elia that he served only corn-fed beef in his restaurants. Ultimately, he tells Elia that she doesn't know what she's talking about and he's always supported buying local, sustainable meats. Elia's point is that he's a leader to other chefs, and if he served only grass-fed beef, others would follow suit. Tom also doesn't get why Elia picked on him specifically, and publicly, and thinks they should all be careful what they say to the press. Elia says she doesn't regret it. Ugh. Tom should rise above, and Elia should realize that her concerns would be better addressed to Tom directly instead of to the media. End of story.
- Carla is awesome.
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You know, I always rag on Andy Cohen hosting the reunions, because he bugs me, but I've been thinking about it and who else would host them? None of the judges would be able to be fair enough. Maybe someone like Anthony Bourdain, but I feel like he would be more interested in tossing off bons mots and make it all about himself. You need someone who will ask the tough questions and not let people off the hook. I don't think Cohen is quite there, but he's the best alternative they've got right now.
Andy starts by welcoming Tom, Gail, and Padma, as well as the cheftestants. He congratulates Blais for winning, and everyone claps. Andy asks what Blais was thinking in the moment that Padma announced that he won. Blais doesn't answer what normal people would say, "Holy FUCK!" Instead, he claims that he was in shock because he was mentally preparing to be gracious to Mike when Mike won. Andy asks an actually interesting question: does Blais wish he won in season four, or was it sweeter to come back and win and get redemption in a way? Mike jokes that he wishes Blais had won season four, because then he wouldn't have been on this season. Blais just says he's happy with the way things turned out.
Andy turns to Tom to talk about the final judging. Tom says that they were all on the fence, but they talked through it. Their final criteria were which meal they'd want to eat again or which one moved them the most. Gail says that she needed the most convincing, because she really, really loved Mike's food. And then she brings up the stupid pepperoni sauce again. Ugh. I mean, I get that she liked it, but it's not like he created a new species of kitten or something.
Next, we see a clip package of Blais's journey: he feels he choked in his first finale, he's learned not to be creative just for the sake of being creative, but to make sure his food actually tastes good, and his wife was pregnant while he was competing. So he felt he had to win in order to justify leaving his pregnant wife and young child. I'm sorry but that one clip of him, post-win, saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way, and...I willed this" still gets me every time. Just such raw emotion.
Andy asks Blais how it feels to watch that package, and Blais says it's very emotional. Gail asks if he's any easier on himself these days, and Blais says he's trying to smile more. Fabio laughs that Blais will never take it easy on himself. Blais says his baby has been born since the finale and she's a month old at the time of taping. Andy asks about the promise Blais made to Mike as they waited in the final Stew Room, where Blais said he would invest in Mike's restaurant if he won. They covered this on the Watch What Happens episode after the finale; Mike had enough investors and didn't need Blais's money, but Blais said if there were a round two of investing, he'd be in.