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The Top Chef: World All-Stars Finale Makes History

Season 20 of the cooking competition ends with two unprecedented moments.
  • Gabriel Rodriguez, Sara Bradley, and Buddha Lo in Top Chef: World All-Stars.
    Gabriel Rodriguez, Sara Bradley, and Buddha Lo in Top Chef: World All-Stars.

    [Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for Top Chef Season 20, Episode 14, "Fin."]

    The Top Chef: World All-Stars finale was going to be historic no matter what. It marks the end of the series’s milestone 20th season and Padma Lakshmi’s last episode as host, not to mention the first time any contestant would be bestowed the title of “Top Chef World All-Star.” But contestants Buddha Lo and Gabri Rodriguez also delivered two series firsts, making for an especially exciting conclusion.

    Lo ultimately won it all, becoming not only the first World All-Star, but also the only contestant to ever win back to back Top Chef seasons. He didn’t completely run away with it. Fellow finalists Sara Bradley and Rodriguez both served praiseworthy four-course meals that made the final decision a tough one for the judges. But in the end, both of those contestants made crucial mistakes — Bradley served undercooked liver and Rodriguez got sloppy with his technique — allowing Lo’s intricate dishes, each representing a different aspect of his cultural background, to shine.

    Rodriguez nabbed some accolades of his own. The Mexican chef took the opportunity to truly showcase the most humble of ingredients, a mantra often repeated by other Top Chef contestants but most fully embraced by Rodriguez. While Lo went to the market looking for ingredients like the richest and freshest lobster, Rodriguez turned instead to sweet potatoes, beans, and insects to be the stars of his dishes. Yes, insects. For the first time in Top Chef history, grasshoppers were served during the finale.

    For his first finale course, Rodriguez served esquites (a Mexican corn dish) with huitlacoche puree (made from a sporous corn fungus) and a grasshopper tostada. It exemplified the creativity that Rodriguez displayed all season, and the dish nearly garnered him the win — the judges unanimously praised its flavors and his innovative approach in elevating the humble grasshopper.

    All episodes of Top Chef: World All-Stars are streaming on Peacock. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Top Chef: World All-Stars, Bravo, Padma Lakshmi, Top Chef, Buddha Lo, Gabriel Rodriguez, Sara Bradley