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Handicapping the Top Chef Masters Season Two Finale

Marcus Samuelsson, Hubert Keller, Susur Lee, Tom Colicchio, Rick Moonen
Marcus Samuelsson, Hubert Keller, Susur Lee, Tom Colicchio, Rick Moonen
Photo: Kelsey McNeal/Bravo

Tonight's big television event, at least in our world, is the Top Chef Masters finale. We can pretend we're really excited about the $100k prize that's going to charity no matter who wins the title, but let's be honest: we want to know who the winner is. And we know it's not going to be a cakewalk, because the three most competitive chefs of the season have made it to the finals. So who's it going to be? Is it Susur Lee, who holds the record for the highest ever elimination challenge score in Top Chef Masters history? Is it Rick Moonen, who has the most wins under his belt in the Champion's round? Or is it Marcus Samuelsson, coming in with the confidence booster of having swept last week's semifinals?

Should win: Rick Moonen. If we're playing the numbers game, Rick has had more wins in the Champion's round than the other finalists: three quickfires (one a group win), and one elimination challenge (part of a sweep). While he has been up for elimination, he's also capable of beating Susur at a very high standard (by a very solid margin of three points, even) and has the Top Chef Masters second highest elimination challenge score of 19, so the question is whether he can pull himself together to do it again right at the end. (The New York Post had a potential spoiler referring to him as the TCM winner early last month, but it seems more likely they meant his having won that week's episode instead of the series over all.)

Dark horse: Susur Lee. He's without a question the biggest star of the season and has the highest ever eliminination challenge score in Top Chef Masters history, a near-perfect 19 1/2, but he's never won a quickfire and has only won the lone elimination challenge early in the Champion's round. His scores are always high, and he never fails to impress the judges, but he pretty much always comes in second.

Probably won: Marcus Samuelsson, for three reasons. 1) He swept last week's semi-finals, which is a great confidence booster. 2) After having been a non-entity narratively throughout most of the season, the show's editors have begun using his talking head bits more heavily the last two weeks, despite the fact that he's pretty dull—and Susur and Rick (along with the eliminated Susan Feniger) have been far and away the most interesting of all the chefs all season long. If you watch a lot of reality tv, you know this tends to be a sign that someone's staging a come from behind in the finals. 3) Time Out New York's spoiler named him the winner in May, and usually when such big spoilers get leaked so far in advance they tend to be true.

So who will it be? Who do you think will be crowned the master of chefs?

· Preview Videos of the Top Chef Masters Finale [~EN~]
· The Chefs of Top Chef Masters Season 2: A Field Guide [~EN~]
· All Top Chef Masters Coverage on Eater [~EN~]
· All Top Chef Masters Exit Interviews on Eater [~EN~]

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