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'Top Chef' finale cooks cable competition

The Wednesday night finale of Bravo’s "Top Chef" (2.5 million, 1.9/6) was the second-highest rated episode in the show’s history , up 16% from last year’s closer. The episode trailed only the season two ender. Otherwise, the episode closed the highest-rated (and most-praised) season of "Chef" yet and easily won the night among ad-supported cable.

Can't help but wonder if "Chef" might have made for a more potent entry on NBC's summer lineup than USA Network's "Nashville Star" … then again, the cable version of "Star"  had higher ratings than "Chef," so perhaps not. At any rate, for some behind the scenes insight, here's a Salon interview with the show's enigmatic Buddha/judge Tom Colicchio, who explains that you don’t actually need to expend effort to entertain the viewer just because you’re a judge on a reality show.