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The Real Winner of Top Chef 2: Top Chef

Ploy or not, the extra bump in publicity that Top Chef 2 got earlier this week proves that a little controversy (and a lot of gossip) doesn't hurt. The official Bravo release just landed in the Eater mailbox, touting TC2 as the cable ratings blockbuster:

NEARLY 3.9 MILLION TOTAL VIEWERS FEASTED ON SECOND SEASON FINALE OF 'TOP CHEF,' PROPELLING FINALE TO #1 TELECAST ON CABLE FOR THE NIGHT AND BESTING ABC'S "PRIMETIME" IN HEAD-TO-HEAD COMPETITION.
The show did better than than the Project Runway 3 finale. What gives? Do we really care about these two chefs? If the 3.9 million people who watched New Yorker Ilan Hall (yes, we're saying it; the show's over, the news is everywhere) best Las Vegasite Marcel Vigneron had the chance to actually taste their food, would the vote still go that way? Would these two have even made it to the end? We guess not, and here's why: Producers and press.

Pitting the two arch rivals against each other just makes for good TV; the producers picked those two as much for their skill as their personalities. And as the chat rooms and message boards have noted, it's based on the classic high-school clique personalities; here we have the cocky bully and a brainy, slightly antagonistic, nerd. Sprinkle in the chance to bring back Sam Talbot, who everyone thought would win, Betty Fraser, who everyone loves to hate, and Elia Aboumrad, who everyone called a traitor in the end, and it's perfectly addictive. Marcel's final words, "I thought it was going to take more than saffron and paprika to fucking beat me, but I guess not," prove that it was a bitter fight to the end. These two were just immature enough to let each other annoy each other. Who could turn away? Even the most devoted fans pissed off by Chefgate '07 said they wouldn't watch, but they watched.

But the Food & Wine winner's article online for 15 minutes on Monday? Inadvertent or not, this was the savviest of moves. That generated more buzz than Bravo could've even imagined. And, hey, we're not complaining either.
· Top Chef 2: Final Thoughts and Hair Tips [Eater LA]
· Top Chef 2: Food & Wine Tries to Unspoile Itself [Eater LA]
· Breaking: Top Chef Spoiled Again [Eater LA]
· Top Chef Semi-Spoiler Alert: Ilan Hall Quits Job [Eater LA]

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