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S17.E14: Finito!

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I would've been happy whatever the outcome, but I was super excited that Melissa won.  Just for who she is, and what she cooks, and the way she handles herself.  And most of all for doing all that while putting up with Leann's particular brand of bullshit.  That's a champion!

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It's been hard for me all season to imagine what Melissa's food tastes like, as it often looked bland to me and used ingredients I'd never heard of.  But it must have been amazing based on the comments.  

She also took chances and presented things she hadn't tried before.   That took guts, and she fully deserved the win, IMO.

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4 hours ago, AttackTurtle said:

Amen.  I love Tom, but I have never made a bad Ina recipe.   I also recall hearing the likes of Anthony Bourdain admit that Ina is genuinely respected.  I couldn’t care less about Bobby Flay.

I get that Tom probably would want to make his own version of something he tried rather than use another chef's recipe but I agree with you, I've never had a bad Ina recipe.

4 hours ago, jmcd44 said:

I would love to have the judges cook for me. I love Tom in so many ways and him in the beanie just made it all the better. I didn't like him shading Guy though. He is a great philanthropist & does so much for charity. You never hear a bad story about him.  

Well there was that one ex-producer who accused Guy of being anti-Semitic and homophobic but Tom didn't really shade Guy all that much.  He was just responding to the question about what cooking show made him think "How did this get made?" and I think "Guy's Grocery Games" is a decent answer.

I'm happy Melissa won.  It's one of those rare instances where the strong frontrunner throughout the season ends up being the clear winner in the end.  Maybe that might feel anti-climatic at such a steady win but I hate seeing people fumble at the finish line more so I was happy.

I will stand up for Bryan's beets as that is the one dish he made that I probably would have chosen over the others, although Stephanie's shrimp looked like it'd be fun to eat. I am a beet lover. 

I would have any of their pasta but Stephanie's looked the best to me.  I wanted Melissa's squab in the third dish and I would have gone with her tiramisu as well.  I love a good tiramisu.  This seemed different.  And as much as I like dark chocolate, Bryan's dessert seemed a bit...safe. There's a restaurant I go to that gives out a small dark chocolate truffle at the end of the meal (the way some restaurants will hand out an after dinner mint) and it's yummy.  But it's not dessert if I want dessert. 

Not surprised that Malarkey was a good sous chef.  Restaurant Wars showed that he'd be a solid pick for that role.

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Everyone has already said what I would say about the finale. It was lovely.

The only thing is...I hate tea more than I hate coffee and I would rather lick hotdog meat batter out of a dog bowl than drink coffee and the very thought of hotdog meat batter is making me nauseated right now. 

Tea is gross and the very sight of that tiramisu made my mouth dry up and seal shut after all the open-mouthed drooling I had been doing over everything else.

Melissa is lovely and so deserving of the win. 

Edited by BlackberryJam
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I was pulling for Melissa all season and am so very happy she won! I also loved Stephanie's growth over the course of the show. I met Melissa at a cooking demo she did at UC Irvine a few years back and she could not have been cooler or nicer in person.

So many tears rolled down my cheeks during the episode and next Thursday night will suck with nothing to watch.

When I saw on her Insta that Melissa pledged to donate the fan favorite prize (if she won), it sparked hope that her generosity was in part because she knew she won the $250k already.

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17 hours ago, dgpolo said:

Was that a bacon and eggs scarf Leann was wearing at the beginning? Did she crochet it?

I loved that scarf!!!!! I’m a noob knitter but want to give that a try. 

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The only downside of being so happy with the final three was being a little heartbroken for the two who did not win. Melissa was a stand-out all season, though, so her win seemed inevitable unless she completely lost her magic. I personally would probably prefer Stephanie’s food, but I’m pretty old and my parents were from the Midwest, so rare steak was adventurous for me when I discovered how much better it is than shoe-leather overdone. 

And although she didn’t take top prize, Stephanie finally got to show what a ridiculous travesty her being eliminated the first time was. No immunity in group challenges!

What a great season!  I’d watch one like this any time.

Congratulations to all three, three of my all-time favorites. 

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I was willing through my tv to Padma to say “Bryan,” but alas it was not meant to be.  
 

This show always makes me cry.  And I was deflated when Bryan said this was the last time he would be on TC as a contestant.    I get it, but dang I love him and wanted him to win so bad! 
 

@dbell1 I just got the pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid this past Mother’s Day!  I have yet to use it 🙄😩🤦🏻‍♀️.  Life just keeps getting in the way.

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Awesome ending to a great season! I loved all three finalists and they showed such respect for each other. I'm going to miss my Thursday night favorite so much😕

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10 hours ago, buttersister said:

Prettier than your brother.

Nicer, humbler too, I refer to the other one as the "douchey Voltaggio." I hate  the added drama IRL Stephanie would have called her husband - not the Top Chef winner friend.  Bryan would have called his wife for encouragement..  Michael showing up anywhere just shows how he is definitely going through something.  He was on Grocery Games and looked like meth warmed over.

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8 hours ago, chabelisaywow said:

Nicer, humbler too, I refer to the other one as the "douchey Voltaggio." I hate  the added drama IRL Stephanie would have called her husband - not the Top Chef winner friend.  Bryan would have called his wife for encouragement..  Michael showing up anywhere just shows how he is definitely going through something.  He was on Grocery Games and looked like meth warmed over.

Heh...I’ve always thought of Bryan as the douchey Voltaggio.

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Which one is older?  I always assumed Bryan was, but I can’t remember for certain and Wiki only lists Michael’s age not Bryan’s.  

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Don’t know which one is older. Think it is Bryan but Michael certainly looks older. 
 

Towards the end I was getting concerned that Bryan’s health wasn’t the best.  It was just something about his eyes.  I’m not a medical person so .... I guess that doesn’t mean anything.   It’s just the stress of the situation wreaks havoc on the body.   
 

I’d love the next season to include all three of these chefs in some way.  Not cooking. Judging or tasting or cracking jokes about their experiences.   They really did seem to bond well. 
 

Also hope TPTB learned that the less shenanigans they pull the better the show is. 

Edited by Ellee
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12 hours ago, chabelisaywow said:

Nicer, humbler too, I refer to the other one as the "douchey Voltaggio." I hate  the added drama IRL Stephanie would have called her husband - not the Top Chef winner friend.  Bryan would have called his wife for encouragement..  Michael showing up anywhere just shows how he is definitely going through something.  He was on Grocery Games and looked like meth warmed over.

While it made more sense production-wise to have both Stephanie and Bryan video chat with two former Top Chef winners who just happen to be their best friend and kid brother, respectively; it should be noted that Stephanie's husband and Bryan's wife were most likely en route to Italy at the time of the call. Even if they already were in Italy, they would have been in a hotel room or some other location that might give away the surprise of having them be there at JT for the announcement of the winner.

All this is to say, I was fine with this bit of producer shenanigans, especially since the call between Stephanie and Kristen was so delightful and genuine, it had me in tears. Best friends are family too, in my book.

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5 minutes ago, ProudMary said:

While it made more sense production-wise to have both Stephanie and Bryan video chat with two former Top Chef winners who just happen to be their best friend and kid brother, respectively; it should be noted that Stephanie's husband and Bryan's wife were most likely en route to Italy at the time of the call. Even if they already were in Italy, they would have been in a hotel room or some other location that might give away the surprise of having them be there at JT for the announcement of the winner.

Melissa's mom was there, too, though.

I just figure the finalists made several "I made it!" calls, and the producers chose one each to air (and, of course, for Stephanie and Bryan chose the ones where the person called was also a TC champion).

Were the cheftestants supposed to be surprised by their family members being at JT?  That's been going on for years.

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Why was Gregory standing with the others at the end?  He wasn't family and he wasn't a sous chef during the final plus he was having serious back trouble.  I like Gregory a lot but I didn't understand why he was included in that group.

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9 minutes ago, mlp said:

Why was Gregory standing with the others at the end?  He wasn't family and he wasn't a sous chef during the final plus he was having serious back trouble.  I like Gregory a lot but I didn't understand why he was included in that group.

He probably wanted to be there to celebrate with whomever won.  If not for his back problems, he'd have been there as a sous, so I would hope that when they told him of course he didn't have to run around a kitchen for two days, get some rest and we'll bring another cheftestant over to fill in, they also said he was still welcome to come join everyone for the reveal if he was up for it. 

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I imagine if Melissa had a sibling or a BF, both relationships that predate TC, who had won TC that would have been her call as well but since she doesn’t they went with the person she is closest to who has previously been on TC, her mom who literally helped win her a challenge on her first season of TC.

Edited by biakbiak
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On 6/19/2020 at 8:43 AM, CrazyInAlabama said:

 

Congratulations to Melissa, and also to Bryan and Stephanie.   It must be terribly hard to come in second and third, and they were still happy for Melissa. 

I totally agree, but frankly, I think they were probably aware that they were outclassed by Melissa not just in the finale but during the whole season.  She ran away with the whole thing.

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11 hours ago, BlackberryJam said:

Heh...I’ve always thought of Bryan as the douchey Voltaggio.

I thought I was the only one who like Michael!

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28 minutes ago, rhygirl720 said:

I thought I was the only one who like Michael!

I mentioned it in another thread. I always wanted to eat Michael’s food so much more than Bryan’s. Michael was more innovative and willing to take risks. I also remember Bryan being so pissy when Michael won a cash prize in a team challenge and said he would divide it equally between the team. Bryan was pissed that Michael won and said Michael could keep his share. It was a total douche move.

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On 6/19/2020 at 8:25 AM, jmcd44 said:

I was so happy Melissa won. I agree all the chefs were great and I like a show with no drama where people actually respect and admire each other (is this show really on Bravo?). Stephanie is sarcastic and low-key funny and I was so happy to watch her get more confident as the season went on. And I can't help it, but I ended up liking Malarkey. What is happening in 2020??

This is exactly the show I want to watch.  This is my favorite episode of the show ever.  I was crying with the butcher at the end.

Give them the tools and ingredients they need to hit it out of the park.  No ovens breaking down, no games. Just do it like the Great British Bake off.  

It was fantastic. 

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5 hours ago, BlackberryJam said:

I mentioned it in another thread. I always wanted to eat Michael’s food so much more than Bryan’s. Michael was more innovative and willing to take risks. I also remember Bryan being so pissy when Michael won a cash prize in a team challenge and said he would divide it equally between the team. Bryan was pissed that Michael won and said Michael could keep his share. It was a total douche move.

I had the fortune of eating at ink when it was a tough reservation to get.  Gotta say that that molecular gastronomy style of food - where I have a hard time even knowing what I'm eating - isn't for me.  His restaurant was a one and done for me, and now I'm just discovering that it is closed.  I wonder what he's up to these days?  I agree that he didn't look healthy, almost as if he was on meth or drugs.  His kitchen appeared very modest, although I noticed that he has a nice Wolf range.

I was really wanting Bryan to win.  I'm ok with Melissa winning, but maybe I'm one of the few people who got tired that she mixed Asian into everything.  But I guess that innovation won her the title.  What's interesting is that the judges and guest experts put down Bryan for not cooking with soul - which I think Bryan interpreted to mean they didn't like his innovation and technical style of cooking.  Yet it was innovation in blending the two cuisines is what they praised Melissa for.

 

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27 minutes ago, greyhorse said:

wonder what he's up to these days?  I agree that he didn't look healthy, almost as if he was on meth or drugs.

He and Bryan have two restaurants together, doing a lot of charity work, and he has been both training for a marathon and doing long distance bike riding. 

Edited by biakbiak
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We’ve talked about Stephanie’s growth, but I wonder how many people here don’t know about her first Top Chef appearance. It was in Kristen Kish’s season. That season was when they had four qualification prelims, where four groups of five chefs came in and made a simple dish, and the judge selected four of the five to advance to the main competition. Stephanie was in the soup group, along with her best bud Kristen, and she was the one who did not even qualify. She was pure cannon fodder. 

The next season she makes the show proper and makes Restaurant Wars and the rest is history.  It’d be hard to envision her coming in top 3 in an all-star season during her first season. 

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1 hour ago, Fukui San said:

We’ve talked about Stephanie’s growth, but I wonder how many people here don’t know about her first Top Chef appearance. It was in Kristen Kish’s season. That season was when they had four qualification prelims, where four groups of five chefs came in and made a simple dish, and the judge selected four of the five to advance to the main competition. Stephanie was in the soup group, along with her best bud Kristen, and she was the one who did not even qualify. She was pure cannon fodder. 

 

I absolutely remember that and when Stephanie came back in later season I was so happy to see her, because I felt like she and Kristen were totally "BFF goals" for me. 

Also ... because my memory is compromised ... was that the only season where they had the huge crew of chefs competing in the early rounds to cut down to the TC house? We didn't start watching the show until S7 (the season Kevin Sbraga won) and I think I missed a good chunk of S9 as well for some reason because I don't remember Paul at all, but I DO remember liking the almost American Idol-like prelims to get to sort of know the cheftestants when it got real.

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3 hours ago, PamelaMaeSnap said:

was that the only season where they had the huge crew of chefs competing in the early rounds to cut down to the TC house?

It was the only season they did it like that but in Texas they had a large group that had to compete, including one guy who was eliminated by Tom and Emeril before he actually cooked anything based on the fact that he butchered a piece of meat so badly.

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Glad to see all three finish so so well. Lovely contestants, lovely meal.

What struck me as odd was Padma (?) saying that one wouldn't think Italian and Asian/Chinese cuisines could be compatible. To me those two have always seemed like a natural fit! Not if you compare char siu to marinara, obviously, but both have lots of noodles, stuffed pasta (dumpling/ravioli), pork, seafood, mushrooms, broth. Swap out a few aromatics, spices, maybe rice for wheat, and you're on your way.

Does fusion really have a bad rap today? That makes me sad. It can be poorly done (and overdone) but such interesting things can be found at intersections.

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On 6/20/2020 at 7:36 PM, rhygirl720 said:

I thought I was the only one who like Michael!

I can't really say I like or dislike either of them, but respect them as competitors.  I have never understood all the negative comments about Michael here and have defended him a couple of times just because......I mean he may not be everyone's cup of tea but he is clearly talented and I don't read so much into these snippets of people that we are given by a edited reality show.

And I'll say it again, if he is on drugs or once was, let's just hope that he is getting some help. Clearly his brother loves him, so there is that....

No matter how talented you are owning a successful restaurant is hard, especially in certain markets   Some people like to cook but do not want everything else that goes with it. Also, being a restaurant owner is not for everyone.  Hopefully he can find a niche for his love of food . 

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If we can't have Mary Berry and her soggy bottom*, thank god we had this season of Top Chef, dare I say the BEST season in 17 seasons. Like many of you have said, I hope producers take notice because the cooking and the chefs and the friendships and the gorgeous locations are all you need. You don't need manufactured angst. I don't want to see sabotage. There's so much turmoil in the world. We needed this. I needed this.

*Like Mary would ever have a soggy bottom! Never!

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On 6/20/2020 at 6:06 PM, BlackberryJam said:

 

Accidental dupe.

On 6/20/2020 at 6:06 PM, BlackberryJam said:

I mentioned it in another thread. I always wanted to eat Michael’s food so much more than Bryan’s. Michael was more innovative and willing to take risks. I also remember Bryan being so pissy when Michael won a cash prize in a team challenge and said he would divide it equally between the team. Bryan was pissed that Michael won and said Michael could keep his share. It was a total douche move.

I've eaten Michael's food, and it was delicious. I keep telling people that the two courses I was most "afraid" of were the I enjoyed the most. It was a 7-course tasting menu, and we had the menu in advance. The couple at the table next to me asked to see him in the kitchen and were glowing about how nice he was when they returned. They beat me to it, so I didn't ask to go back, but asked if he'd sign the Los Angeles (?) magazine that he was on the cover of. He personalized it. Nice.

 

On 6/21/2020 at 12:26 AM, biakbiak said:

He and Bryan have two restaurants together, doing a lot of charity work, and he has been both training for a marathon and doing long distance bike riding. 

No wonder he looks terrible! Have you ever seen a marathon runner or distance biker? My brother is the latter, and he looks awful...and I know how healthy he is. Those activities encourage you to be very very lean. My brother looks cadaverous when he's in "top form."

Edited by carrps · Reason: Left out a phrase that gave context.
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On 6/18/2020 at 11:30 PM, bosawks said:

And dammit Malarkey I cant believe I ended up kinda liking you.

I was shocked at how much more I liked him as a sous chef than as a competitor.  He was helpful and funny with zero bitterness or ego popping up.  Kudos to him!

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I thought the few seconds we saw of Michael V were nice in that he was very supportive of Bryan.  

Season 6 was my favorite (by far) of the regular seasons. When it was on, I didn't "get" Michael or his food.  But over time seeing him elsewhere, reading about the things he's done professionally, I've come to think that he belongs in that top 15% of winners where Tom put Melissa after this season. That boy has some serious skills.

 

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Melissa had such a steady and well-earned ride to the top that I can only be happy about her win. All of her food, all season, looked great to me, except maybe the congee and I'll just have to take other people's word on that! It was really wonderful to have three likable chefs in the finale cooking delicious food...I didn't have a favorite, and could find a reason to be happy for all three no matter who won. I thought it was a great season. A few random thoughts-

-Tom in that knit hat at the grill reminded me of Papa Smurf. I loved that they cooked for the 3 chefs! I loved seeing Padma in her glasses! Also-Padma speaking Italian in this episode (and the others) is inspiring and makes me want to learn. 

-I love Gail. I don't know why exactly Stephanie's words made her start crying-there must have been more there-but it was very genuine. And you can see in some later shots that she was still sniffly and red so she must have cried even more than we saw? Anyway - I think Gail is smart and well-spoken and I love her style. 

-Stephanie and Bryan V just seem like lovely, sweet people. I am sad they couldn't all win but I try to look at reality shows as opportunities for the players to showcase themselves and honestly-after watching this season-wouldn't you want to eat at their restaurants, work with them, back their projects, follow their social media?  So I say they are also winners. :)  And if you like Dad jokes, Bryan V has a very cute instagram that is full of groaners. 

One last word for my Malarkey! I still love that guy. I think the Malarkey who showed up for Stephanie is the best Malarkey-just positive and again-kind and helpful and happy to be part of the adventure. I guess he is not everyone's cup of tea but if I ever get back to California I want to try one of his restaurants, too! 

 

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32 minutes ago, Heathrowe said:

One last word for my Malarkey! I still love that guy. I think the Malarkey who showed up for Stephanie is the best Malarkey-just positive and again-kind and helpful and happy to be part of the adventure. I guess he is not everyone's cup of tea but if I ever get back to California I want to try one of his restaurants, too! 

 

I thought about this as I was watching and thought why don't we see *this* Malarkey in all his TV appearances? That Malarkey would have been a fun judge on "The Taste" and a fun contestant on this show. He's obviously *that guy* who helped Stephanie, so he can be that way. All of this is to say I'm now a Malarkey fan!

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On 6/20/2020 at 9:06 PM, BlackberryJam said:

I mentioned it in another thread. I always wanted to eat Michael’s food so much more than Bryan’s. Michael was more innovative and willing to take risks. I also remember Bryan being so pissy when Michael won a cash prize in a team challenge and said he would divide it equally between the team. Bryan was pissed that Michael won and said Michael could keep his share. It was a total douche move.

Personality wise....I prefer Bryan, but Michael is crazy creative.   I think they’re two very different people; however they also appear to be best friends.   
 

I know Michael didn’t look well, but he’s pretty obsessive about fitness and his body reminds me of professional bikers.   
 

I’m happy that Malarkey grew on people.  I actually loved him in his first season (he’s a fellow Oregonian) and have never bought the “villain” role he tried to do this year.  He was wonderful at FOH in Restaurant Wars and really fabulous as Stephanie’s souls chef.  He was 100% there to support her.  I also think that all of the chefs knew that Stephanie was working thru the loss of her brother.

Edited by AttackTurtle
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I think Malarkey is the kind of person who needs "handled." Left to his own devices, he can be a total jackass. But you give him some love, a little ego stroke and a specific task and he really shines. Gregory did that by choosing him first for Restaurant Wars and Stephanie did it by choosing him first as sous. Once someone shows Malarkey they have faith in him, he is going to work his ass off not to let that person down. 

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41 minutes ago, BlackberryJam said:

I think Malarkey is the kind of person who needs "handled." Left to his own devices, he can be a total jackass. But you give him some love, a little ego stroke and a specific task and he really shines. Gregory did that by choosing him first for Restaurant Wars and Stephanie did it by choosing him first as sous. Once someone shows Malarkey they have faith in him, he is going to work his ass off not to let that person down. 

Very interesting. I hadn't thought about it, but I agree. I wonder if he had issues growing up --- not big ones, but things like not feeling he got enough attention or enough praise for what he did. That can create either a downtrodden sad sack or someone desperate for attention and kudos (dang, how did Ramona say that? Kadoos?).

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On 6/19/2020 at 12:30 AM, xtwheeler said:

Ina keeps pre-made (homemade, of course, with the good... everything) daiquiris in the freezer that she just pops in the blender with booze. She's a goddamn national treasure. 

This was an incredible season. So little bullshit, so much amazing food. I enjoyed just about every second. 

Congratulations, Melissa! Congratulations to Bryan & Stephanie, too. Everybody won something--Bryan seemed to find peace & Stephanie regained her confidence, and essentially found herself again. They can all be proud of themselves as chefs and as people. 

I’m loving the Ina love here.  Her fried onion dip is a Sunday football must at my house.   The only food “personality” I’m not crazy about is Sandra Lee.  I can’t crap on Pioneer Woman because her Texas sheet cake is absolutely fabulous.  

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