All-Stars champ on the final battle, his competition, and trying not to cry.

Mar 31, 2011 - The Dish

Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais
Anyone who followed Richard Blais' run on Top Chef All-Stars will hardly be surprised by his reaction to taking home the show's ultimate prize last night.

"I'm in disbelief. I mean, I'm very shocked that my name was called," the notoriously humble chef said in our exclusive Exit Interview. How shocked? Well, his Stew Room inner monologue wasn't exactly uplifting. "In my head, I said, 'You're just not a winner. You're just not clutch. You just can't do it in the end. You know, it's just not in you,'" he told us. "Up until the last second, I was standing there saying 'Just be gracious and strong and don't cry. Don't lose and cry.' Mike (Isabella) just put out some amazing food, and I was just getting ready to shake his hand and say, 'Congrats.'"

(Watch our complete Exit Interview with Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais.)

Of course, Richard turned out to be on the receiving end of those congratulatory hand shakes, first from his fellow All-Stars on the set during the show's finale, then again last night during a live Top Chef viewing party in New York. Richard and Mike shared the final moments of the season with hundreds of friends and fans (including several fellow Bravolebrities) who erupted when Richard was crowned the ultimate All-Star. (Chck out photos from the bash and see who cheered Richard on.) So what does the win mean for him? "It was about redemption for me, you know. It was about coming back and winning something that I should have won the first time that I was on Top Chef," Richard told us. "I've doubted myself for the last two years, and now maybe I don't have to doubt myself so much."

Further crushing that doubt, the quality of competition that Richard faced on his road to the title of Top Chef. "Everyone was a strong competitor," he said. "People were going home each and every challenge who have awards in restaurants and cook unbelievable food. People that inspire me, people that I aspire to be like. There's just so much talent here. To know that I somehow managed and strategized and willed my way to victory is amazing."

Do you agree with the judges? Is Richard truly the ultimate All-Star? Start a Tweet Battle and make your case.