The competition among culinary pros on "Top Chef Masters" has come to an end with the announcement of a winner. Chicago native Rick Bayless beats Hubert Keller and Michael Chiarello by a few stars in the cooking competition's first season. Rick consequently receives the $100,000 cash prize which he donates to his charity Frontera Farmer Foundation.
In the finale airing Wednesday, August 19, the three finalists must pass four stages of challenges that trace back their past. They must cook their first food memory, dish that made them want to become a cook, first restaurant and what's next. Rick, whose expertise is in Mexican cuisine, brought in hickory-smoked quail, Oaxacan black mole, roast suckling pig cake, and a black rice soup called arroz a la tumbada respectively.
The judging panel consisted of the regular critics in addition of Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons of "Top Chef". Joining them to chip in stars for the three contestants were the five winners of "Top Chef" including recent winner Hosea Rosenberg. Hubert eventually got 16 and a half stars while Michael earned 17. Rick triumphed with 18 stars.
"Top Chef Masters" is the spin-off to Bravo TV's "Top Chef". While the original show lines up younger cooks struggling to reach success in the field, the spin-off is featuring individuals who have established their names at least nationally.