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Top Chef - Puerto Rico II - finale (possible spoilers)

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The sous chefs are as follows;

Eric Ripert - Le Bernadin
April Bloomfield - Spotted Pig
Dan Barber - Blue Hill

There is no quickfire, the chef with the most elimination wins gets to choose first. Since Richard and Stephanie are tied, they go to a knife draw, but either by sheer cockiness (or courtesy) Richard allows Stephanie to choose first, she picks Ripert. Richard gets Dan Barber while Lisa pairs up with April Bloomfield

They have to do 4 courses: Fish, Poultry, Red Meat and Dessert.

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  1. if you look back at history, people with first choice of proteins (went along with the sous chef) often stumble. Maybe he'd rather not pick first. If you are challenged with something and have to improvise with a protein it is psychologically different for both you and the judges than the pressure of "not screwing up" your choice. My analysis of his move. safe.

    20 Replies
    1. re: AMFM

      i think he was just being a southern gentleman. considering the situation he was in, i'm not sure his mind could have done the intellectual gymnastics required to compose/consider your theory.

      it's a good one, though.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        and when you actually watch (not the trailer) he only lets her pick the knife first - then it decides.
        still it seems first choice often loses so i could see being okay with it however it came down!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I had thought, reading this, that Richard had simply forgone the knives and let Stephanie choose her sous chef first. That would have been rather huge. As is, he let her do the 50/50 toss up on choosing the knife...not any sort of big deal at all.

          Darned impressive sous chefs, eh?

          1. re: ccbweb

            "Darned impressive sous chefs, eh?"
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            no doubt. i'm sort of "over" eric ripert at this point, because he's on TC every season, and he typically comes across as a bit of an ass [although i liked him this time around]. but man, dan barber? sign me up!

            1. re: ccbweb

              My thoughts exactly, but still - he was one of the nicest, classiest, most considerate contestant yet, even though I'm glad Stephanie won. (I meant this as a reply to ccbweb's comment.)

              1. re: Claudette

                I would agree...classy is definitely how he came off to me. Stephanie, too for that matter. It made the finale a bit more enjoyable for me to watch insofar as I felt like one of the two would win and that both of them were people one could easily be happy for, editing on the part of the Bravo folks or not.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              A gentleman's move. And it wasn't as though he was injuring himself. This was the finals and they all got top notch fare. It really came down to cooking in the end, not outfoxing the others on getting the best ingredients.

            3. re: AMFM

              He didn't let Stephanie get the first pick...he let her draw the knife first...she just happened to get "#1"...he wasn't conceding any advantage or disadvantage.

              1. re: Chew on That

                when kate interviewed him for CH, she asked him about it. he said that all three tables had top-notch ingredients on them and amazing chefs behind them, so no one was going to get a bad deal regardless of the order. he had a great line about how it wasn't as though one of them was going to end up with rotting fish, or have the guy standing there rip off his "eric ripert" mask & reveal that he was actually just some random dude who works at the local taqueria :)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Actually, that's what I thought, too. How could you go wrong with any one of them?

                  I did feel a little bad for April, though. It must have felt a little bit like being the last kid picked in a playground choose-up. What a rotten feeling to be a celebrated chef and then be chosen third. I the deep dark recess of my brain, scarred I suppose by being chosen last for kickball, it felt a little disrespectful to the three sous chefs to me to have them be chosen the way they were. But that's just insecure me.

                  This is my first season of watching Top Chef, and I only started watching in the final few episodes (my first was the episode at Tramato's)--and I'm hooked now.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'm thinking that Richard picked Dan based more on proteins than the quality of sous-chef.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I imagine you're right and, hopefully, that was evident to everyone else (as I said, I started watching very late in the season, so, likely, I wasn't paying attention to important details). To me, all three "sous" chefs seemed to have a dizzying array of proteins from which to choose!

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        My first instinct was your reaction as well -- Poor April. But then I thought about it some more. The sous-chefs are not allowed to provide any input. They just have to do what the finalists tell them to do. All three were well-qualified.

                        If I had to choose, I'd probably have picked Eric Ripert for his proteins, and of course, for the obvious reason. : )

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          speaking of April, Padma asked April if she made the slaw that was under Lisa's meat, noting that "the knife skills were awfully good on it" (love the subtle dig)...but I guess British accents floor me as much as French, because I have watched twice now and can't figure out if she said yes or no....did anyone catch that?

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            Ha! I caught that subtle dig as well. I'm not 100% sure as her voice was a bit low when she said it. But I think April said that Lisa did it. Can anybody either confirm or deny what I said?

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Now we know what Lisa did with her six months off: knife skill classes.

                              :)

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                i'll check my recording later tonight & report back if i can figure it out for sure.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  update:

                                  padma: "did you do that, april? 'cause the knife skills are pretty good." april: "i didn't do that at all."

                                  i'm absolutely sure that's what she said. so DanaB was correct - she said she didn't do it, but never actually said that lisa did [although obviously that was the case].

                              2. re: susancinsf

                                I'm pretty that April said she didn't do it, although I don't think she affirmatively said that Lisa did do it.

                                1. re: DanaB

                                  we saw lisa working with a japanese-style mandoline-- so there's the "awfully good knife skills" right there.

                2. richard is already freaking out everyone with his awesome, unique cooking. he rocks so hard.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: beelzebozo

                    Now, how cool are the sous chefs. They are just working away being complementary and complimentary.

                    Kind of cool that Richard got to show off a bit but I am kind of worried that he may be behind.

                    We finally get a catty-like remark from Stephanie about how surprised she is that Lisa is getting along so well with April.

                    OK, Richard is dead. Banana scallops? For the third time?

                  2. No matter what, I just love Stephanie's attitude overall. Even just the little things, like how she was "hovering" over Chef Eric Ripert, knowing that he CLEARLY knows what he's doing with fish, and how she made fun of herself for doing that... hee hee!

                    1. oooohh nooooooo - Bacon Ice Cream strikes again on Top Chef!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gyozagirl

                        not only that...isn't this the THIRD time richard has done those banana "scallops?"

                        1. re: gyozagirl

                          I thought the SAME thing! But at least there's no avocado in it. :-)

                        2. Stephanie wins the first and third course.

                          I swear to god if Lisa wins this thing I will quit watching.

                          Lisa wins the second, I think.

                          The XY chromosome is dying.

                          Oooh, reunion next week.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Phaedrus

                            And Stephanie wins 3rd course! Woo hoo! And Lisa's soup won 2nd? Ack. And it seems Richard won Dessert course?

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              i guess the third time is the charm for richard's banana scallops...but it's too little, too late.

                              aside from the minor misstep with the leeks, and the ho-hum dessert, steph rocked it!

                              already doing my happy dance with 20 minutes still to go :)

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                After JT, maybe Richard didn't win Dessert?

                                And WHAT? Richard admits he choked? Sounds like he's out. Between Lisa and Stephanie? Oh PLEASE - it's hands-down Stephanie!

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  all I'll say is please,please not pickle puss Lisa!

                                  In just a few more minutes we'll know, but I won't be posting as not everyone has been able to watch yet.

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    It wouldn't be the first time a great chef chocked in the finale. Remember Casey last season? She knew she was out before the judging even began. Poor Richard though...I know he could have done better. His chocking was still probably pretty incredible tasting though.

                            2. Richard said he choked. THAT was the surprise.

                              I can see how Ted can say it was really tough to judge. I think Steph won overall.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                But it now sounds like they were giving the first course to Lisa, not Richard.

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  shit. oh boy...i've stopped my happy dance.

                                  if they give it to lisa, i'm going to vomit.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    You and me both! And what's with Lisa said in the Stew Room she nailed 2nd and 4th, and Stephanie got 1st and 3rd courses? Stephanie's dumbfounded look at Richard was like "Is she kidding us?"

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      except it kind of sounds like she did win 2nd and 4th.
                                      and ted liked her 1st the best too. interesting.
                                      i mean i still intensely dislike her for her attitude but it actually makes me feel better to think she's talented enough to be there.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        I thought that that look of Stephanie to Richard was basically "Why is she talking to me right now? Does she really want to do this?" I mean, how obnoxious was that statement of Lisa's, and at that time too? Oh, I am so so happy that Stephanie won!

                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                          Either way - it was definitely "WTF?" on Stephanie's face! LOL

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            You know that's just editing right?

                                            Steph could have made that face about anything at any time during the hours they sat there and then the editors put it in at that point to make it look like she was thinking WTF.

                                            1. re: Jennalynn

                                              Yes, I'm *fully* aware of what editing can make you believe. See: ongoing editing discussion sub-thread. :-)

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        And Lisa gets a sparkling 4 %

                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          Won't THAT be interesting if they bring that up at the reunion show? LOL

                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                            That just cracked me up. $10 says that 4% is her family.

                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                          IMHO Steph ,lisa then richard If lisa win's i'll puke

                                      3. Besides the great episode so far, I've just enjoyed staring at Eric Ripert for the past hour. I have the biggest crush on him!

                                        And it made me love Stephanie even more with her choosing him. Go TEAM STEPHANIE!!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                          It his impossibly thick French accent. It's adorable. My husband compared it to Inspector Clousseau.

                                        2. Why do I feel like I'm watching the Belmont all over again? Oh why couldn't Richard or Stephanie completely rock this challenge and be a clear winner.

                                          Edit: Oh thank god

                                          1. YES!!!

                                            1. Thank God I can keep watching.

                                              OK, my horse didn't come in but at least the lame mule didn't come in either.

                                              Was that too strong?

                                              1. woooooooooo-hoooooooo!!!!!!

                                                doing my happy dance again :)

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  OK, mind if I joined you?

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    please do.

                                                    let's make it a group chowhound dance :)

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I'm joining in on the Happy Dance!

                                                2. Woo HOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Congrats to Stephanie! ETA: I liked her from the first episode, so I'm really glad that she won!

                                                  (And yet AGAIN - Lisa has a puss on her face when she didn't win!)

                                                  51 Replies
                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    Relief

                                                    1. re: fishfry

                                                      Indeed relief. The editing was perfect for suspense and I had a sinking feeling, but kept the faith they'd make the right choice.

                                                      And they did! Yippee!

                                                      An aside - can they really sit for hours in those chairs while they decide these things?

                                                      1. re: MplsM ary

                                                        i was thinking about that the other day when someone posted the query about crabbiness & low blood sugar. they sometimes deliberate for hours, well into early morning [as ted allen referenced in the finale]. i'd love it if they showed clips of JT discussions where the table was littered with coffee cups, plates of half-eaten snacks, etc. it always looks so sterile and the judges look too fresh & perky :)

                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Yay!! Love Stephanie... Richard deserved the runner-up spot, season wide. Lisa? I don't get it.

                                                      1. re: robdob

                                                        No one gets why Lisa is there. Except Lisa, in her own mind - she thinks she was as good as the rest all the way through - despite saying at the beginning of the show that she squeaked into the finale.

                                                        BTW - her comments at JT as to why she should be TC? PaLEEZ! is all I can say!

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          I really hope the editors take a look at fan reaction this season. In the finals, it looked like Lisa could actually deliver an interesting dish that the judges liked, but throughout the season, as she skated through, second to last in so many weeks, the editing didn't show her cook one thing that the judges really liked. Even Spike got more love from the judges than Lisa.

                                                          I mean really! I get them wanting to edit Lisa as a foil for Stephanie in the finals, and that the editors/producers like to have a villian, but this was ridiculous! Obviously Lisa could cook at least okay. Why edit the whole show so we hate her and think she stinks?

                                                          It was sad to see that Richard choked in the finals. He has always seemed like a talented and interesting chef.

                                                          Lisa, though, even to the end, even when she got along well with her famous sous-chef, and even when she delivered dishes that the judges liked, I couldn't get over the season of hating her and wanting her to lose.

                                                          Whoever is editing this show needs to lose the soap-opera training they obviously are coming off of, and give us a little bit more complexity to these people. It's a cooking competition, after all. If somebody is going to make it to the finals, at least give that person a modicum of respect and show us she can actually cook *somewhere* along the way, rather than paint her 100% with the "she can't cook worth a damn and is a b!tchy prune as well" brush.

                                                          I'm glad Stephanie won, but I'm feeling rather manipulated with how this season played out. I'm guessing Lisa will redeem herself at the reunion, and the editors will think it's all okay. It's not.

                                                          1. re: DanaB

                                                            I agree in terms of the cooking...she obviously needs to have some chops to get to the finals.

                                                            That being said though, I'm sure there was some editing, but I think Lisa is in fact a bitchy sour-puss. The other contestants even said as much over and over again in their individual interviews. Unless that stuff was fed to them, and I'm sure if that was the case it will come out in the reunion, there must be something to her God-awful negative attitude.

                                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                                              This is a perfect set up for: Top Chef, The Intervention.

                                                              All the contestants come back and flow easily into a nice conversation, they rehash the season. Then Andy Cohen dramatically introduces a special guest. Not Bourdain, not Boulud, not Waters, not Keller, not Bocuse, but....Dr. Phil.

                                                              He sidles up next to Lisa and says: "I am here to help you work out your anger issues and sweeten up that sour puss!"

                                                              Hours of hilarity and uncomfortable confrontation ensues, fueled by alcohol served on Glad plastic ware.

                                                              At one point Lisa freaks and dashes out into the Puerto Rican night, hijacking Richards Toyota Corolla, but the rest of the gang catches up with her in their Toyota Highlanders. They end up in the Chicago Whole Foods in a group hug, drinking Anheuser Busch's new Belgian brews and Evian water and saying to each other: "I love you man!" while all are slow dancing on one of Spikes hat as Andrew boogies down in his own inimitable way at triple the tempo. Slow fade.

                                                              or maybe not.

                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                phaedrus, i really do love your mind :)

                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  You are SO warped. I love it. ;-)

                                                                2. re: Elyssa

                                                                  Elyssa - while I would agree slightly with Lisa needing some chops to get to the finale, even *she* said she squeaked in there - she skated by every time by not being the ABSOLUTE worst (in the judges' eyes) every time she was in the bottom group - which was a lot of times. So setting up some sort of "4-5 strikes you're out" situation as DanaB said in another thread would prevent someone as poor as Lisa making it into the finals, which I'd be fine with. "Skating by" into the finale is not the way to be a Top Chef. She wasn't by any means. This is where the individually judged challenges are at fault, IMO.

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    FWIW, I have not eaten her food, BUT.... Lisa is now the chef at Mai House, a Vietnamese resto in Manhattan that is owned by Drew Nieporent, one of the top restaurateurs around. She would not be working for him if she couldn't cook.

                                                                    I am in no way a fan of hers, but I think she must have some chops in the kitchen. She definitely wins the prize for the most disagreeable contestant in the four seasons of TC, imho... makes Tiffani look like a little ray of sunshine!

                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                      Fair enough on the chops required to work at a Nieporent establishment. However, having been in the bottom group so many times prior to making finale, she just *shouldn't* have been there. There was a reason she was there - she slipped under the wire all those times. She didn't play well with others, but others got the shaft each time. And as a "Top Chef" she's got to be able to lead a kitchen, which she seemed incapable of doing on TC4.

                                                                      (Edited to fix what I wrote about her being in the finale 'cause it didn't make sense...)

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        <having been in the bottom group so many times prior to making finale, she just *shouldn't* have been there.>

                                                                        I agree with you, Linda. I have never wanted to slap someone in the face before, but she could incite me to riot!

                                                                      2. re: ChefJune

                                                                        Ha! I think you hit on a good point. Lisa was so contrary for most of the challenges. The last challenge she got to cook her food her way. All the other eppisodes she seemed unable and or unwilling to cook within a challenge claiming it wasn't 'her' food. The entire Polish sausage deal made me want to pelt her with link after link of charred sausage! As a chef you can't imagine a way to make that decent? I just think she is unable/unwilling.

                                                                        At any rate, I am glad she lost, Steph seems like a good little cook! I am very happy for her, and was dissapointed in Richard, but hey, proves we all can choke now and then.

                                                                    2. re: Elyssa

                                                                      Lisa's problem wasn't that she wasn't a decent chef.. its that every team she was one seemed to fail. Perhaps that was the fault of her teammates - Dale, Spike - but perhaps not.. I didn't see her being able to get along, to rise above, to try to lead, and that's part of running a kitchen.

                                                                      So she succeeded in the one environment that minimized her weaknesses - working basically alone..

                                                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                                                        Very interesting point on working alone. Hadn't thought of that.

                                                                    3. re: DanaB

                                                                      You have to remember, though, that the earlier episodes were shown (and therefore edited) before they even went to Puerto Rico. The editors were working with what they had at the time. In addition, the editors don't taste the food -- all they have to base their editing decisions on is what they can see and hear. It would certainly not be the first time a reality show contestant got a "bad edit" simply because, after viewing hours and hours of footage of them, the editors didn't like them.

                                                                    4. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      I agree with you Linda but I have to say Lisa really did give 100% of what she had to this challange. Some of her dishes really looked very good. She didn't cross her arms at the judges table but she did have her thumbs in her pockets. I have to give her credit for a major improvement at the final but she was still well over her head.
                                                                      I feel poorly for Richard. He choked indeed on more than one level but was big enough and professional enough to admidt it. He really is a very talented Chef and how cool was it to watch Ripert drop what he was doing to watch Richards technique?
                                                                      Stephanie deserved the win but IMO 100k is a pretty lame prize when Hells Kitchen is doling out 250k. Give Stephanie the 250 and send the 60k after taxes over to the rejects on HK!

                                                                      1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                        Do you think Lisa hired a PR consultant in the six months? That would explain the new hair, the no longer crossed arms but she kept the sour puss.

                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                          Maybe she's been watching CH! ;)

                                                                        2. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                          Not to nit pick but I think she did cross her arms at one point when they started to give her negative feed back (which was lucky for her limited)...which I thought was interesting.

                                                                          Not complaining...I'm also more or less an open book and when I'm unhappy it usually tells on my face. But I just thought it was funny.

                                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                                            agreed. she definitely still crossed her arms at one point.
                                                                            but she overall looked much better - like when she was telling steph to be confident i was remembering wasn't the cow movie dish theirs together - apple/caramel? not EVERYTHING she made was bad. it's just that somewhere along the line she got grumpy. and she really hated dale and got paired with him a lot as well - it's just that he was the better chef so that other people were frustrated to see him go first.

                                                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                                                              I missed that but at least she made an effort. I'm not a fan of hers in any way but some of her food looked very good this time. I still think Dale should have been in the final three not Lisa. I just don't think I'd want to eat her food. Maybe she can open a place and call it "Sour Grapes".
                                                                              Stephanie and Richard both have a promosing future. I really was sorry to see Richard choke that hard but I'm very happy for Stephanie.

                                                                              1. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                                Maybe she can open a place and call it "Sour Grapes".

                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                brilliant! :)

                                                                            2. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                              I think the recognition you get on TC is WAY worth it over the little/no recognition you get on HK. The extra $150K is battle pay for dealing with Chef Ramsay. None of those winners on HK (except maybe Rock) is going to stay in the position they're awarded, nor will they ever be as good as the TC winners (or even the TC runners-up!). I honestly can't see most of the HK contestants being able to do anything near what the TC cheftestants are capable of doing in the real world after their respective shows are done.

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Oh come on, you know Matt is just a rough pearl that will shine so brillantly!

                                                                                ROTFL!

                                                                                1. re: HarryK

                                                                                  Damn you Harry. You just HAD to put Matt back in my mind's eye. Blurgh.

                                                                                2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  apples and oranges.

                                                                                  if you can't get on TC, are you better off toiling in anonymity than getting exposure on HK?

                                                                                  1. re: Minger

                                                                                    Quite frankly, I don't think the recognition you get from HK is *good* recognition. More detrimental than favorable.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      LOL I agree. You'd have to pay me the 250k up front to go on that show.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        The contestants on that show are not exactly setting the world on fire.

                                                                                        1. re: Minger

                                                                                          No, just their food (how many saute pans are tossed into the sink?) or themselves with the number of times someone has burned themselves.

                                                                            3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              Of course she would, after all she did nail the 2nd and 4th course. :)

                                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                                ROFL! :::::Slapping my forehead!:::::::: How could I forget - she so conveeeeeniently told us all she did!

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Well, she pretty much did -- the judges gave her very favorable feedback.

                                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                                    Not sure if she "won" both courses - 2nd - yes, but did she win the dessert? They were pretty favorably impressed with Richard's dessert as well, so he could have won that one.

                                                                                    Either way - it ended up being "which dinner would they want to go back and have."

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      I could see how she could interpret the dessert course as being hers -- they liked Richard's, but pointed out the banana scallop repeat, which could be a ding.

                                                                                      During that horrible pause when you think Padma's going to give it to Lisa, I was thinking how on earth the other competitors would react and how awkward it would be to watch, and considered turning it off, but Tom's summary gave me a glimmer of hope. "Richard, your food is playful. Lisa, your food is bold like you. Stephanie, you keep surprising us." The Stephanie summary gave me hope that the judges were rightly more impressed with her. Glad I hung in for the winner ;-)

                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                        Threepeat, actually. A first on Top Chef?

                                                                                        1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                          Yeah I think that's the first time someone's made the SAME dish three times, no matter how much he changed the ice cream accompaniment that was kind of strange -- though I think that Tom had never gotten to taste it, because once was a qf and the other was the Tom-vacation with Bourdain instead so maybe Blais just really wanted Tom to try it.

                                                                                          1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                            Well, it could be that he was just being a bulldog in trying to get that dish where he wants it. Or that is the only dessert he can make, which I don't believe.

                                                                                            I thinkhe has one of those personalities that once he gets something into his head he works at it until he gets it.

                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        I thought it was pretty clear she won the second and the fourth. I think they liked Richard's dessert, but they didn't seem to love it as much as Lisa's. Apparently her food tasted really good. If she hadn't undercooked the Wagyu, she might have won (and there would have been a riot).

                                                                                        Really, though, I think what it came down to is that they don't count dessert as heavily as the other courses. They know these folks aren't pastry chefs. They want to see what they can do, but a failed dessert isn't going to cost as much as a failure in one of the other courses. That said, I can't believe that with six months to prepare, Stephanie couldn't come up with a more inspired dessert. Heck, she could have had a pastry chef friend develop one for her and memorize it -- Dave developed a dessert recipe and memorized one for season one (that Tiffani famously took credit for).

                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                          < If she hadn't undercooked the Wagyu, she might have won (and there would have been a riot).>

                                                                                          There surely would have been! Seems to me her whole meal would have had to make everyone of the judges see stars for her to beat Stephanie last night. I realize they only vote on the meal at hand, but somehow I don't think that holds true for the final final. They all DO have taste memories, after all.....

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            I don't think she won the dessert, based on a couple of the blogs. I think they gave the 2nd course (soup) to Lisa, but dessert to Richard. But that's JMO. Without any of the judges actually saying who won which round, can't ever know.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                              ruth, i think you're right on about the dessert issue. i was thinking during the episode last night that i'd be incredibly pissed off if steph lost simply because of her unsuccessful dessert. in every past season [though not during this one] we've heard tom say more than once, "this isn't top sous chef" [or, in the case of stephen asprinio, "this isn't top sommelier"]. well, guess what folks...it's also not "top pastry chef." so if we remove the dessert course fro the scenario, steph clearly produced better dishes.

                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                I agree with Ruth and GHG: Making a mediocre dessert is simply not as great of a crime as having your main course, the meat, cooked all wrong. Partially because they're not pastry chefs but also simply because meat is the main course, and shouldn't be difficult for this population of chefs.

                                                                                      3. re: viperlush

                                                                                        That's two out of how many during the season? Yeah, that's what I thought. Talk to the hand Lisa.

                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                          LOL! Hey! She won ONE Elimination Challenge, you know! That's MORE than enough to say she's as good as the rest of 'em!

                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            Speaking of Lisa's EC wins.....did you notice her face when Padma mentioned that the person with the most EC wins got to choose their sous first? I thought her eyes were never coming down.

                                                                                            I'm totally surprised she didn't say anything about that being stacked against her. But then again, GIRL POWER! *grin*

                                                                                          2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                            I do have to admit that I kind of agreed with Lisa when she said that Stephanie needs more confidence in her food. I can see how annoying it could get hearing Stephanie complain about her food but then go on and win. But I think that it's not so much lack of confidence as it is holder herself to a higher standard. Maybe if Lisa had less confidence and thought about what was said to her at JT she would have improved as the show progressed.

                                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                                              Well, but the one thing that Stephanie didn't like (her dessert) was the thing that the judges liked the least as well, so I would say that there Stephanie was just accurate. I agree, though, that it's more that she holds herself to a high standard.

                                                                                      4. Stephanie wins AND gets all that one-on-one time with Chef Ripert??? LUCKY girl!! ;-)

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: gyozagirl

                                                                                          And the Q&A "Burning Questions" is already up on Bravo's website, and Stephanie "dishes" on Eric Ripert. ;-)

                                                                                          http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef/seaso...

                                                                                        2. THANK G-D!!!
                                                                                          LOVE Stephanie!
                                                                                          Phew, I can keep watching Top Chef now, too.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: DKS1

                                                                                            that's all i kept thinking...because i went on record several weeks ago to say that if lisa was named top chef i'd boycott the show...and i really didn't want to have to give it up :)

                                                                                            when padma was about to announce the winner she honestly looked as though she might throw up, and i was convinced it was because she was about to say lisa's name. i was shouting at the TV, "no, padma! don't do it!"

                                                                                          2. If Richard hadn't handed over one elimination win to Stephanie, he would have had first choice of his sous chef and ingredients. Not sure it would have mattered however. Richard's brain was like a ping pong ball bouncing around.

                                                                                            And so we have our first female top chef, and she won by being a good person who just produced without tons of drama or meanness.

                                                                                            Congratulations!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                              I don't think that would have helped Richard. His Achilles heel nailed him again: doing too much and thinking too much. The sous chef thing could not have helped anyone much. It was just an ogle fest, a chance for the three of them to hang out with their idols.

                                                                                            2. Wooooooo-hooooooooo!

                                                                                              I am SO happy that Stephanie won. Like some others here, I had really decided to stop watching if it was Lisa. Not because Lisa is so horrible but because I felt that if Lisa were the one, it would mean that so much of what we thought was just us being manipulated by the show. Stephanie's win lends validity to the entire show, its rules, their claims that the judging is for real and that the editing isn't *just* to make us crazy. I feel like they've kept their promise now somehow. In fact, this was the first season in my opinion that the clear winner from the beginning actually won! I loved Harold, but LeeAnne should have won or at least been in finals, I definitely thought Elia, Sam and Cliff were all better than Ilan, and Hung was fine but less of a clear leader in every way than Stephanie.

                                                                                              YAY Stephanie. I hope she opens a restaurant and I can go visit it!

                                                                                              1. Is there a reunion show next week? All I saw after the champagne drinking was too many minutes of those flipping idiots. And that was so painful that I can't wade through it for the repeat.
                                                                                                I did get the feeling that the guest chefs didn't agree among themselves at all as to seasonings.

                                                                                                And Lisa's desert looked like "throw everything you have left into a bowl" And any soup tastes good if there's good coconut milk in it. I am so glad she didn't win, except of course in her own head.

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: shallots

                                                                                                  Yes, there's a reunion show next week. I had posted on the spoiler thread a few weeks ago when I saw it in the TV Guide online.

                                                                                                  1. re: shallots

                                                                                                    yes reunion last week. I wonder if this is going to be "Beat up on Lisa and Spike" a la the first season.

                                                                                                    Getting a nice quote like "I'm not your bitch, Bitch!" would be nice.

                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                      just saw a promo for it...'cause of course i'm watching the second airing :)

                                                                                                      lisa is asked if it's true that she's been getting dirty looks from people on the street...and the answer is yes.

                                                                                                      karma's a bitch, huh? :)

                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                        lisa is asked if it's true that she's been getting dirty looks from people on the street...and the answer is yes.

                                                                                                        karma's a bitch, huh? :)
                                                                                                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                        LOL! Oh, this IS going to be a good reunion show! ;-)

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                          Yeah, I'm gonna LOVE watching the reunion show!

                                                                                                          We figured the 4% of the vote Lisa received was her girlfriend, vigorously texting and texting and texting.

                                                                                                    2. re: shallots

                                                                                                      I have to agree on Lisa's Asian food. I feel that it is cheating to serve Asian flavors against western food to western palates. Stephanie deserves many more points for her asparagus fish and pistachio lamb over the Lisa's Asian hits.

                                                                                                      1. re: Minger

                                                                                                        I feel that Lisa deserves points also.....for FINALLY being able to prepare rice.

                                                                                                        1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                          HA!

                                                                                                          1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                            Yes! When she said that her dessert had rice, I thought whoa!!! Look at below.

                                                                                                      2. That was kind of a nail-biter toward the end, wasn't it? I'm almost glad Lisa did as well as she did because it gave me a little more feeling that she deserved to be there. I felt bad for Richard. I'm wondering if them yanking the "sous chefs" threw a monkey wrench in his works. Regardless, I'm SO happy Stephanie won! I can breathe again!

                                                                                                        Congratulations!

                                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: phee

                                                                                                          Congrats, Stephanie! A Chicago Chef wins in Chicago! hoorah!
                                                                                                          Poor, Richard. I really feel badly for him.

                                                                                                          1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                            me too - i liked them both. and that wold have to suck to under perform in the finale. i mean we all know he's great.

                                                                                                            1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                              Well, actually she won in Puerto Rico, but thats nit picking. Still happily dancing.

                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                i could do this dance all night...but i really should think about going to bed.

                                                                                                                btw, i had a total chowhound moment earlier that i have to share...i was about to update my facebook "status" to say how happy i was that steph won...but as i was typing i realized it would be a spoiler for my friends in other time zones so i deleted it.

                                                                                                                CH to the rescue!

                                                                                                              2. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                i was sorry to see richard choke, but he'll be fine. he's clearly incredibly talented, and he was impressive all season. i'm sure after this, atlantans will be clamoring to try his food.

                                                                                                                plus, he's got a new baby at home to enjoy. i'm guessing he's still a pretty happy guy right now.

                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  ^^^^^^^^^^^

                                                                                                                  Exactly what I was thinking.

                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                    I think you're right about Richard, goodhealthgourmet. My colleague Kate interviewed him earlier today: http://www.chow.com/stories/11158 and found him to be really funny, down to earth, and happy. I, on the other hand, interviewed Lisa. You'll be able to hear that one tomorrow when we're done editing it. Suffice it to say that I tried to pull no punches.

                                                                                                                    Meredith

                                                                                                                    1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                      right on! thanks for the heads-up, meredith. can't wait to hear your interview.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                        Good interview - gave a lot of insight from Richard as to what he was trying to accomplish with the last meal. And I'm *definitely* looking forward to clicking on the Lisa interview link tomorrow, Meredith!

                                                                                                                        1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                          Nice interview. My respect for Richard increases every time I hear him talk. Not arrogant at all, as some have insisted. I am now planning a trip to Atlanta to eat at Home.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                            Living in Atlanta, I can say we are blessed to have a Chef of Richard's quality here. Home is definitely worth the visit, the wife and I went several weeks after it opened and we were extremely pleased. You will see several of his items from the show on the menu.

                                                                                                                            Samlev

                                                                                                                          2. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                            oooh, Meredith! I'm looking forward to hearing THAT one!

                                                                                                                            1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                              meredith, any update on when your interview will be posted? can't wait to hear it!

                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                It's up: http://www.chow.com/stories/11159

                                                                                                                                1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                  Interesting that Meredith started off the interview saying it was ultimately between Stephanie and Lisa in the finale (to which Lisa, of course, agreed!), whereas Ted Allen has said in no uncertain terms that Lisa was unanimously in THIRD place with all of the judges, and Richard was a close second to Stephanie.

                                                                                                                                  She did sound better/nicer in this interview, but ... there's just something about her I continue to dislike. Lisa can say "it's all reality editing" but as Meredith stated, if Richard and Stephanie can get through the entire season without any (or very, very little) snarky, snotty comments about the other cheftestants, I still have to believe that what Lisa said is an inherent part of her personality.

                                                                                                                                  And regardless of how she says she stands when she's tired (arms crossed at JT), her entire body language was such that she was on the defensive - arms crossed, leaning away from the judges, grimace on her face, raised eyebrow if something negative was said - she just can't seem to take criticism, despite saying that she took everything the judges said under advisement to make herself better.

                                                                                                                                  I *really* wish that Meredith had brought up the issue of throwing Andrew "over the bus" (as Joey would say!) regarding using the required ingredients when she herself didn't do it in an earlier challenge.

                                                                                                                                  And I will continue to say she didn't deserve to be in the Final 3 or 4.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                    Linda, I wish I had asked her about that moment too! I was working on about 4 hours of sleep (and had not seen the episode but was going on what other people had said) when I did the interview. From what I heard from people in my office, Richard choked and it came down to Lisa and Stephanie. But I am glad that I managed to ask her about the crybaby "No one congratulated me" moment that frustrated me so much when I was watching the show. I had been looking forward to the Lisa interview all season (on my list of questions was, "are you really as awful as you seem?") and I'm glad I got to do it, even if I forgot the Andrew question which was on a lot of our minds...And thanks for listening to it!

                                                                                                                                    Meredith

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                      meredith:

                                                                                                                                      i posted a comment on the interview page after i read it this morning, but didn't have a chance to tell you that you did a nice job - when i heard you say that you hadn't seen the final episode, i was surprised that you were going ahead with the interview anyway!

                                                                                                                                      what struck me the most was how disconnected from reality lisa seems to be - saying she had cooked fantastic food when the judges apparently thought it was hardly that; claiming that she & steph were the top 2; blaming her "villainess" label on the editing. [hey lisa, i don't care how they spliced the film, or whether you were standing with your arms crossed at EVERY judges' table simply because you were tired, your sourpuss told us otherwise...as did your fellow chefs who likened you to a "black cloud" in the kitchen.]

                                                                                                                                      the kicker was when you asked her if she reads the boards, and she said that she does, but tries not to pay attention to the negative comments....in that case, what the hell is left for her to read?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                        Meredith,

                                                                                                                                        Maybe I am reading into this, but it sounded like there was a slight edge in Lisa's voice as you kept asking about the perception that people had about her. Did you get that feeling? It also sounded like she was Bravo-tised or at least Spin Doctored because the answers came very quickly and very smoothly. I had noticed the same thing about Richard's interview. I am sure they are interviewed out by this point but it did sound very prepared.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                          Yes, absolutely there was an edge to her voice Phaedrus! I totally agree. But I didn't attribute it to Bravo (the way I do so many things)--I actually think it came from her own inability to admit her shortcomings. She's had to tell herself many times that it's just a matter of editing, and it's a competition, in order to avoid the obvious truth that she is a really negative person that few want to be around. That's my Psych 101 analysis, at least.

                                                                                                                                          Meredith

                                                                                                                        2. Hooray for Stephanie!! A Chicago gal wins the Chicago show! And someone you can feel good about, both for her food and her attitude. Her restaurant was a few blocks from my house and I've eaten there several times. Always a great experience and Stephanie frequently spent time in the front of the house with diners.

                                                                                                                          Gail Simmons seemed to be hanging around closely with Lisa at the celebration at the end. You don't suppose she was flirting, do you?

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                            yes, I think she was!:-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: karenfinan

                                                                                                                              Quick, someone call Entertainment Tonight!!! This is a scoop.

                                                                                                                              Or maybe she is making sure that she got that handshake from Lisa.

                                                                                                                            2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                              I think Stephanie's "midwesternness" is why one reason I so wanted her to win. Stoic, yet smiley.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                                                                Stephanie grew up right here in Stamford, CT--so we'll be taking the credit for that personality, folks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: MommaJ

                                                                                                                                  Yeah, Good on ya Connecticut. Still and all she lived in Chicago before the show and well, we just wear em down to become one of us (she said with a smiley face masking who knows what).

                                                                                                                              2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                Gail was really gushing about Lisa's food, and emphasized that Stephanie's dessert flat-out sucked. I was wondering wassup with that.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                  She also kissed Lisa..quite loudly on the cheek.

                                                                                                                                2. My wife kept repeating, "If Lisa wins, we're not watching the show anymore!"

                                                                                                                                  All I could do was reassure her that Stephanie is going to win. Bravo was trying to confuse us with a little misdirection play with the clips at the beginning of the show where Lisa claimed she's goint to bring it home and Richard proclaiming himself the best chef so using reverse psychology... Stepanie wins.

                                                                                                                                  Congrats Stephanie!

                                                                                                                                  Now we can watch the Reunion show next week. :-)

                                                                                                                                  1. Congratulations to Stephanie. She appears classy, occasionally brilliant, able to withstand disasters (the pork belly left out), and appealingly self-deprecating. I wish her much success.

                                                                                                                                    Richard got his moment, when he showed the three allstar chefs the technique they hadn't observed before. Congratulations to him for his strong showing, his new baby, and I'm sure that the exposure will help his career.

                                                                                                                                    For all of Lisa's unpleasantness and vitriol, I think it is a shame if she actually gets evil looks on the street. It will be an interesting reunion show -- will she be graceful or will she take the position that she shoulda won but for the popularity contest.

                                                                                                                                    I did like the final challenge. The guest chefs were interesting for the brief time they were on air working, and I liked that the finalists competed alone. I'm glad they didn't reprise the "bring back the losers" as sous chefs with the added faux drama of how they'll work with the finalists and then turning on their teammate to say the other chef should win. I think it is debatable whether a dessert should be required -- some will argue that a Top Chef should be versatile, while others will define the Top Chef as one who cooks to his or her strengths (and can hire a pastry chef).

                                                                                                                                    Interesting to begin to think about season against season comparisons. Does Stephanie measure up against Harold or Hung? (She beats Ilan hands down.) If they put together a team event, wouldn't you want Steph, Richard, and then Dale before Lisa? Do you think the challenges were better or worse than previous seasons?

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: nosh

                                                                                                                                      I think Stephanie and Richard could hold their own against Harold and Hung. I'd probably put Dale *and* Antonia before Lisa for this season. I'm sure they will have another inter-season cook-off, and it will be interesting to see who decides to participate.

                                                                                                                                      I thought it was interesting that they made them go head-to-head AND dish-to-dish this time. It really is a better comparison of overall versatility to make them each cook seafood, then poultry, then meat, then dessert, than it is to let them pick their four courses in any order. However, it inhibited creativity a little to force them into that convention.

                                                                                                                                      Overall, I'm pleased with the outcome, although, as I noted upthread, I do feel a little manipulated by the editing. Can't wait for the reunion show!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                                                        I agree re: the head:head and dish:dish comparisons - each judge then has a very good idea of what each chef is all about.

                                                                                                                                    2. I was about to turn off my TV in anger if I heard Lisa's name called. She probably really did cook a great meal, but did not deserve to be there in the finals. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                      This Stephanie win really puts an emphasis on doing well on the first elimination challange.

                                                                                                                                      36 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: s0memale

                                                                                                                                        Am I the only one who felt that while Lisa's flavors and technique might have been good on those few dishes -- but, that they were not novel dishes or novel flavor combinations? I did not hear the judges mention the lack of novelty and was surprised at Gail's raving over the soup without any mention of what made it different or superior to other Tom Kha Gai soups.

                                                                                                                                        Tom Kha Gai is as commonplace on Thai restaurant menus as chicken noodle soup is on a supermarket canned soup shelf. Black rice and coconut desserts are also commonplace (probably the equivalent of chocolate cake to southeast asian cuisine). I didn't hear the judges mention the lack of novelty factor of Lisa's food, although they did mention that Stephanie had showed them something new (I suspect that it was Stephanie having showed them something NEW that placed her squarely ahead despite her last place finish on the dessert).

                                                                                                                                        Was it all poor editing or did I miss something?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                          Didn't they say that the sauce on Lisa's first dish was the same as what ended up on the 3rd dish - although it was a cloyingly sweeter sauce on the 3rd dish?

                                                                                                                                          I was actually concerned with as "spicy-hot" as Lisa's first dish was, that it could "ruin" tastebuds for any other chef's dishes in that course. I think Lisa's 1st course was eaten 2nd in that round, so whoever's dish was after hers (Stephanie, I think?) could have suffered because of the heat from Lisa's dish.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                            it was editing. i'm guessing at some point they discussed at JT the fact that lisa's menu consisted of pretty standard flavors with no exciting innovations...but they were deliberating until close to sunrise, so out of all those hours of discussion, we only get to see a select few snippets.

                                                                                                                                            i'm also surprised they didn't return to the issue of the powerful spice in lisa's first course. when several of the judges commented on how strong it was, all i could think was that she had just ruined their palates for the next few dishes they were going to taste. had she been serving all her courses in succession it would have been a really stupid move - something the judges should have considered.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                              That's 3 separate posts who have said the same thing about Lisa's overly strong heat in her first course potentially ruining their palates for any other dishes they might eat.

                                                                                                                                              How would the judges be able to overcome that strong flavor to be able to really taste the other dishes? Bread? Water?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                Please Linda, Evian water.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                  Whoopsie. Gotta make sure the sponsors get their ad placement revenue.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                    and actually, water is the last thing you want to drink to cut the spice - it disperses the chili oil over the tongue.

                                                                                                                                                    not that it would have had any place on that particular table, but milk is one of the best things for cooling the heat. a spoonful of sugar also works, as does a squeeze of lemon juice.

                                                                                                                                                    but i'm guessing they may have just gone for a slice of bread. not the most effective remedy, but it can help.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                      I am sure they have bread, milk, water and coffee around to clear palates and noses for any judge who desires them (smelling coffee beans actually really works well for getting odors out of the nose). But definitely if each chef had served alone in sequence, it would be appropriate for them to see what the succession of flavors did without the assistance of palate cleansers.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                        They could always barf out their previous meals using a Glad Flex-Bag /tm/ from the big yellow box.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                              I think you're right, that that's the reason she didn't win but that the editing made it very unclear, actually, why Stephanie won.

                                                                                                                                              I was watching with someone who hadn't seen the whole season, so didn't really get the hate against Lisa, who felt like she was robbed. I was expecting people to be coming up with conspiracy theories about how Stephanie only won because the producers wouldn't let them give it to Lisa. (I don't think that, I think it was just that they edited out a lot of judges' positive comments on Stephanie, and put in lots of the negative ones about leeks and dessert, to make it more of a nailbiter for viewers.)

                                                                                                                                              If you just went with what the judges said, and weren't already rooting against Lisa, and didn't get karmalaw's point about originality... I think you'd expect Lisa to have won hands-down. I think....

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mselectra

                                                                                                                                                The judges voted on the entire menu top to bottom after discussing each dish, that how I think Stephanie pulled it out.

                                                                                                                                                I actually think Lisa lost because of her dud of a third dish. First of she marinated the wagyu steak, which i think was a waste of the steak) and then the judges said it was tough and overcooked and paired with an overly sweet sauce.

                                                                                                                                                Stephanie on the other had, the only dish that wasn't great was her dessert which they said wasn't awful but just "pedestrian".

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ESNY

                                                                                                                                                  I thought Tom discussed the streaky fat in Lisa's Wagyu wasn't allowed to break down and tenderize the meat. Her quick sear on the outside didn't allow for the fat to melt into the meat.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                    in any case, she wreaked a super-premium ingredient, rendering it mediocre, when it was the star of her plate. a pretty serious error.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                      Completely agree with wrecking it. No one seemed to like that dish.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                        I think you missed something. Her sous chef MUST have turned down the burner. There was a sabbatoge de la boeuf!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                        You are right. I recall hearing Tom critize it for being tough, which in my mind triggered the thought that it was overcooked

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: ESNY

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks -- that discussion of the beef is helpful. I don't think a viewer would necessarily pick up on that from the editing, though, I mean that that was the key misstep for Lisa. I think they really showed more raving about how good Lisa's food was than the others, except for that one dish of Stephanie's (and of course never actually said that that course was more important than others, though it makes sense now that it's been pointed out here).

                                                                                                                                                        Somehow, after the episode was over, I just wanted to hear really more clearly why Stephanie won (and I definitely was happy she did) -- since the editing had purposely made it hard to tell who was going to. If that makes sense. I know it probably sounds silly to be commenting on editing at this stage. I'm not sure why this threw me off for this season's finale, I don't think it has in the past (but I'm not, I suppose, the most careful viewer). Am I crazy that in the past, it was clearer why the winner won? Maybe the three meals were just a lot closer in quality this time?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mselectra

                                                                                                                                                          I think they were closer in quality but also very different in style. Which meant some of the comparisons weren't that clear cut and came down to preferrence. It seemed, for example, that Gail preferred Lisa's dishes. Tom seems to have a preferrence for Euro-American food. Padma is all over the place, except that she isn't crazy about really rare (or raw) meat (she was raised a vegetarian). Ted seems like more experimental, or conceptual food, or at least, to give more credit for attempting it.

                                                                                                                                                          With that in mind, they could very well have had widely varying opinions of the dishes they were served and their relative merits. If they didn't come to their decision until 6 a.m. (per Ted's blog), then they obviously spent a lot of time hashing it out.

                                                                                                                                                          As for why Stephanie won, I think it was probably for the same reason she won the Tramonto's challenge, even though she didn't have the best dish in either course -- her set of dishes taken as a whole were well-conceived and strongly executed (and one of them was brilliant) as opposed to the others, who had stand-out dishes but also some failures. Or, to put it another way: a bungled entree -- neither Richard's nor Lisa's was well-received -- was a much worse sin than a "pedestrian" dessert.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mselectra

                                                                                                                                                            <I think they really showed more raving about how good Lisa's food was than the others, >

                                                                                                                                                            Could that possibly have been because in so many other instances her food was so bad that they were surprised she turned out three edible dishes in a row?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                              Is it just me, or was most of the Lisa-praise from Gail, who also was the most vehemently unimpressed by Stephanie's dessert? ("It *sucked*.")

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                Someone upthread made it sound like Gail was looking for a prom date with Lisa.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                  That could conflict with her upcoming wedding this summer. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    gail's wedding, or lisa's?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                      Gail's. I don't remember whether it was talked about on the show, or if her blog about wedding wars mentioned her upcoming nuptials.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                        oh. *duh*-- i guess i vaguely remember hearing something about that but it evidently didn't stick in my brain. thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                          Yup - Gail was talking about it on her blog during Wedding Wars. I believe some time in July/August. Lots of people giving her "advice" in their blog posts.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                                          i felt that her food was bold b/c of the type of cuisine she made, but not because there was any inventiveness w/i her food. she used the same sauce twice and said that she just wanted to make something that she made every day and was most comfortable with. this is top chef, where inventiveness and creativity are encouraged -- not top line cook where someone plates the same sauce onto every plate. richard and stephanie's food will undoubtedly evolve as the years go by, and lisa's food will still be the same.

                                                                                                                                                          as much as i can agree w/stephanie winning top chef based on this episode, i felt a bit sad knowing that richard put forth such a great performance in each episode throughout the season. he deserves accolades as well.

                                                                                                                                                          and i too would have boycotted top chef if lisa won.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                                            Funny, because this is similar to my remarks about Dale and the whole "Dale only cooks Asian" contretemps. I pointed out that what might come across as fresh and exciting Asian dishes might not do as well if they were judged against food by real Asian chefs, with training in Asian techniques, by judges who had a lot of experience with Asian food (and not just the Thai restaurant down the street).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                              um, Padma is asian...I'm sure she has a lot of experience.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                um, Padma is Indian. not the same as either Thai or Vietnamese.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                  All those Asian countries, they're all the same. Aren't they? Look at Dale and his style.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                    Indians are Asians and their cuisine is considered 'Asian food'

                                                                                                                                                                    It's a moot point, are we going to say next that someone who only does Italian or French food has to be judged only be someone who specializes in it?

                                                                                                                                                                    It shouldn't matter what type of cuisine and technique the judges specialize in, their palatte is developed enough to differentiate between good and bad flavors regardless of what type of food it is. Tom Collichio isn't even classically trained, he's self taught, does that make him any less qualified to judge the contestants that went to culinary school?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                      India is a broken off block of the African continent that is currently colliding with Asia. And that collision is happening in many ways.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: karmalaw

                                                                                                                                                                exactly. Are the Asian flavors merely novel to the western palates or are they indeed executed well? It's unfair to compare a novel and well executed Western dish, like lamb with olives and pistachios, to Lisa's Asian dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                Try Lisa's food on an Asian critic like Akiko Katayama (Iron Chef America).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                                  "Its too oily!" Akiko Katayama.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                    hahahaha, i was gonna add that. what a funny peeve for a food critic.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I found the finale somewhat disappointing. You didn't see as much of the kitchen compared to judges table. I would have like to have seen more techniques by the chefs. You barely saw Lisa and Stephanie cook. I didn't even get to see what Dan Barber and April do.

                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                The editors also really curtailed the judges discussions of the dishes...no, I shouldn't say discussions, monologues and dialogues would be a better description.
                                                                                                                                                                I heard wonderment at the dinner over some of Lisa's flavors. Were they new and different or just new and different to those critics?
                                                                                                                                                                And each chef's meal was supposed to be a progression of presentations. I'd hate to try to taste anything after Lisa's in your face chili draped shrimp. Tom called it starting with a bang. I'd guess he could have also called it a taste killing shock.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                  agreed, it would be a bonus to get a glimpse of chefs of that caliber in action [i've yet to make it to blue hill, and i'm dying to try dan barber's cooking & visit his farm]. but we have to remember that this show is about the chefs who are competing, not the guests. my complaint is that we often don't get to see enough footage of the contestants themselves doing the cooking. too much fancy camerawork catching people racing around the kitchen with knives or dropping things out of the refrigerator. show me some knife skills & plating techniques, people!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                    yes, and since they also curtailed the discussions of the dishes, I think the solution would be a two hour finale....Indeed, I thought that at least one of the prior finales was two hours; am I am imagining that? Am I the only one who would have been happy to invest another hour in that kitchen?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                      The finale was two hours - last week and this week. Finale starts with 4 cheftestants, and Antonia got the boot last week to bring it down to the final 3.

                                                                                                                                                                      But yes - I would *LOVE* to see more of the JT discussion as well as more of the actual preparation/cooking! Assuming the finale ended around midnight, there was at least 6 hours (Ted saying the birdies were beginning to chirp as they had come to a decision) of deliberation. Don't know if they've chosen to put the episodes on DVD, but putting in more of the JT discussions would be good - although the suspense for the finale if they had had a half hour of JT deliberation would have killed me!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                        It would be a really good move for them to sell DVDs with extended Judges' Tables...I think they'd sell many copies.

                                                                                                                                                                        Personally I watched the finale twice, so I might as well have filled the second hour with more actual programming :)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                          I watched it twice also...partly so I could catch what Ripert was saying (I find the accent a bit hard to follow, or perhaps it is just that he is so cute I get distracted... :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                            Well, darn, I guess you'll just have to rewind it again, and again.......

                                                                                                                                                                            :)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                        i would love to see and hear more about the food on the show. what i liked about the original iron chef were the closeups and voice-overs of the dishes before the judging, even if they were very brief.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                                          In case anyone is interested, Fine Living network is airing old episodes of Iron Chef Japan.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Concerning Richard's pork dish. Forgetting the seasoning issue, I was just thinking about how everyone was disappointed at the lack of a crispy crust. A dish in Chinese cuisine is stewed pork bellies, cooked so long and so slowly that the fat and meat are almost integrated so that the fat is so soft that all unctuousness has been cooked out. The meat is also cooked for so long that the difference in texture between the meat and the fat are barely discernible. The pork is then put on soft doughy pancakes to give reference to structure. the dish is incredible when done right but greasy if it wasn't. I bring this up because I thought some of the judges had preconceived notions when it came to the pork but were absolutely open minded when it came to Stephanie's pistachio, olive and lamb dish. Perhaps the lack of seasoning accentuated the pork's fatty texture. I would love to try that pork dish though, just to see if Richard was able to reach that level of sublimeness.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not sure they were as open-minded to Stephanie's dish as you think. Tom definitely made a comment at JT in front of all three that he was concerned about the combination of ingredients (and I think Ted was REALLY concerned about everything together!), so while they tried it and liked it (Hey Mikey!), not sure they were initially open-minded about the dish when it was written on the menu. Not until they tasted it.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                          There is also the Korean version called bossam, which is pork belly that is steamed and pressed for a very long time, then usually served with kimchi (the spicy cabbage pickle that is a staple of Korean cuisine) and a miniature shrimp pickle liquid, along with a few other vegetables, then wrapped in salted or steamed cabbage or lettuce leaves.

                                                                                                                                                                          However, I assume that Richard was given more time to explain and defend his cooking decisions regarding the pork belly, even if we weren't shown this.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Has it already been discussed here that they chose not to announce the winner live this year? It seemed like they toned the whole finale down considerably after last year -- do i remember confetti coming down around Hung as he heard the news in front of a live audience? VERY different vibe this time around. I think I prefer it this way, but am interested to hear what you all think.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: etowernyc

                                                                                                                                                                            I agree it was pretty low key. I thought that it would be like last season where they first knock off the bottom chef (Casey) followed by a suspenseful commercial break , then Padma intently stare at the remaining two contestants before announcing the winner. When I heard Stephanie's name first I feared the worse.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I have decided that Stephanie is the Anti-Ilan!

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                                                                                                              Perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I think it's really interesting that they decided to use elimination wins as the basis for the EC advantage. Unless I'm mistaken has Lisa won even a single EC? My theory is that this was the producers' way of giving the nod to the fact that Lisa is there by pure luck/chance and Steph and Richard truly earned their spots.

                                                                                                                                                                              And I'm thrilled with the outcome!

                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: heathermb

                                                                                                                                                                                Lisa won the Elements EC when she was on Team Fire with Stephanie and Dale and made the miso-glazed bacon. Dale: "She gets a trip to Italy for making *bacon*?!?"

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: heathermb

                                                                                                                                                                                  Just as a heads up, being a "game show" all this stuff has to be decided ahead of time. You can't wing it with the rules based on the personalities of the contestants. Now that being said, there is no set criteria for "winning" so they can be a bit fast and loose with whom they pick..

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Congratulations, Stephanie.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lisa might've pulled it off if she had cooked the Kobe beef properly. As for Richard, all I could think of is that arrogance got him in the end. I really thought something like this might happen after they showed up saying that Lisa "got the bronze medal" last week and stating, a couple of times, "I'm the best chef here". Not last night, Richard.

                                                                                                                                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think it was arrogance. He was one of the Top Two, based on how well he did all season. I think it's pretty damn humbling to actually admit that he choked. That is something that Lisa didn't do all season - even when she royally screwed up - she blamed someone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                    And if anyone's going to do REALLY well after the show, it's Richard. His restaurant in Atlanta seems to be very successful, and it's going to be more so now, I'd say. Pretty damn impressive to have 3 super-chefs watching Richard do his thing with the ice cream and to have Eric Ripert say he'd never seen anything like that before.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                      I do think it is arrogance to announce on national TV that one of your competitors has placed third when the competition isn't yet over. Richard isn't the first person to be done in by overconfidence. Still, it's a cooking competition, not a personality contest, so if he could've backed up his braggadacio, I would have supported him winning. It just worked out this season that the nice guy (gal) finished first.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                        I was not aware that there was a "third." Did the judges say that?

                                                                                                                                                                                        There is just Top Chef and then there are the others.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think Richard was talking about that days challenge, not the entire finale. He was right, Lisa did come in third.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                            and i thought he was talking about the whole season-- when comparing lisa's overall performance to stephanie and richard, it's obvious to everyone that lisa can't hold a candle to either of them. richard and stephanie are on a completely different level than lisa. the only thing that lisa can say is that she wasn't eliminated from top chef (not that she didn't deserve to be eliminated. . .6 times). she made it to the finale, where stephanie won. i don't think richard's career will hurt as a result of his cooking and comportment all season, hers--yeeowch.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                              He didn't say she came in third, though, he said she "won" the bronze medal, as if that meant he was going to win the gold or silver. I just think it's ironic, is all.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                You are misinterpreting what Richard said, it had nothing to do with the ultimate winner of the show and all about the episode.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Lisa got all pissy when no one congratulated her for making the final. This was right after she was on the chopping block and was spared after Antonia was sent home. Like she should be congratulated for almost being sent home... "Hey, congrats for sucking less than Antonia". And the bronze metal reference is the exact same thing as finishing third, which she did in that episode

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ESNY

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I saw the show and know exactly the way it happened. I thank everyone who felt it necessary to explain why I must have misunderstood the remark, but I didn't. I just don't agree with other interpretations. I feel that the remark was unnecessary and reflective of an attitude that came back to bite him, as attitudes have a way of doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You always have to take into account the editing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                            Am I the only one who was shocked & in complete disbelief that Ripert(and apparently Bloomfield and Barber, editors showed them lurking) had NEVER seen/heard of using nitrogen in cooking? Has he been under a rock? I found that to be really telling about their palates/experiences eating. Even I have been to a few Molecular Gast. places, notably Moto and WD50, and I ain't no Ripert. He never heard of El Bulli or Alinea? He has no idea what those restos are known for??? WTF. Can't just be "arrogance."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe thats why at JT they were apparently impressed with some of Lisas flavors? Especially April...**more on that below. I may be jaded b/c I live in the Bay Area and eat Vietnamese, Thai or Korean food at least three times a week but to me Lisa's food was pedestrian. No risk whatsoever, no ballsy creativity.

                                                                                                                                                                                            **RE: Lisa & April Dynamic. Dare I bring this up? Lisa appears to treat women differently than men. Was she a little more relaxed and open with April? She, perhaps, has issues with men. Shocker, I know. Her demeanor was definitely more relaxed, less abrupt & abrasive with April. Barbers reaction to Lisa's food at JT was funny. I guess If someone is nice to you and you haven't had a lot of Asian food experience you may be overly-complimentary in judging?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mmerino

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sure they've all *heard* about it, but if they're busy with their own restaurants, it is quite possible they haven't ever seen it utilized up close and personal.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                I assumed what Linda said. They probably have heard of it, just have never seen it done in person. You have to remember that their cooking style (everyone of the "sous chefs") is vastly different then that of Wiley Dufree and Grant Achez, so chances are they were impressed and surprised by seeing this technique used in a working kitchen etc. I've read about these techniques before, but Top Chef is really the first time I've seen them used in the cooking process (through Blaise and Marcel).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That could be it, but it didn't seem that way the way Ripert characterized Richard's use of the liquid nitrogen. He was much more impressed by the novelty of it than I would have expected.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hell, I've seen sorbet made with liquid nitrogen -- many years ago, at that. It's a favorite party trick at science fiction conventions: take a bowl of fruit juice, pour in the liquid nitrogen (which looks really cool, causing cascades of vapor like dry ice) and stir it as it freezes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was impressed that Ripert was curious and humble enough to run over to get a close up of Richard's LN work. What was Ripert's voiceover? "When a chef stops learning.... ???"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Minger

                                                                                                                                                                                                      That was indeed impressive. There speaks a true chef!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Especially right after Lisa's comment about not bothering with all the new-fangled stuff. (Does someone remember the exact phrase?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                          hooray for tivo!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "as a chef, the day you don't learn any more, it means you're so egomaniac you're blind."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          we'll forgive his grammar seeing as english isn't his first language :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          it's a great statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                            what a cool quote.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            i do think most chefs will drop anything to see/learn about a new-to-them cooking technique or ingredient, whether it's molecular gastronomy or a little-known ethnic specialty demonstrated by someone's grandma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            at the risk of attracting the wrath of the nyc hounds, i also think that a lot of (rightly famous) nyc chefs need to. . . "get out more"

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was actually wondering about Lisa's comment, which implied that she wasn't interested in learning new things, when followed by Chef Ripert's quote-of-the-show. But thanks for sharing his wording!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: mmerino

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Goodness but folks read into and interpret things the ways they like. What he said was that he hadn't "seen" someone use liquid nitrogen to make what Richard was making. He hadn't seen the particular technique. No implication that the three sous chefs had never heard of it, nor any that the others hadn't seen someone do such a thing. Only that Ripert himself hadn't seen that particular application of a particular substance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Richard and arrogance to me are opposite ends of the spectrum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've felt that the only person that can hurt his chances was himself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Richard, what we see on the show, is not about keeping things simple. He's the type that pushes boundaries and himself. When you push the boundaries, you set yourself up to hit it big or miss the mark. Last night, he missed the mark.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  In regards to the bronze medal comment, I would bet 99% of the views would agree that Lisa is in third place. In fact, it's 97% picked Stephanie or Richard and the winner. Lisa only got 3% of the cell phone votes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The bronze medal comment was in reference to the Finale Part 1 where Richard and Stephanie where the top two, Lisa and Antonia the bottom two. Antonia lost and was sent home, therefore Lisa came in "third." I'm also quite certain that he made that comment after being prompted with a question about his reaction to Lisa's inappropriate whine about not being congratulated right after they said goodbye to Antonia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: heathermb

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I understand... LIsa placed third in Part 1 of the Finale. I haven't said otherwise, anywhere. I just said that Richard's comment, in my opinion, was arrogant. And ironic, given his crash and burn performance last night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Considering that it was in response to Lisa's "congratulate me!" pleas, there is no irony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                          To me, the irony was that he claimed in the same episode to be the best chef there and most deserving of the title and yet he was the one that choked. I don't care for Lisa's abrasiveness any more than anyone else, but with her, what you see is what you get. In Richard's case, I am reflecting on one particular remark, not on the way he was all season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                            mercy, mercy, Mercy--(any cannonball adderly fans out there?) but i think that richard's highly edited sound-byte out-of-context is the same as all the other bravotv sound bytes edited out-of-context (except that, for me personally, richard's was much *funnier*). i do not think that he was saying that he was in any way the absolute best, i think he was responding to being so shocked that antonia had been eliminated, when both he and stephanie seemed to think that they would be in the final 3 with her. or it could have been shock and awe at having to withstand another 2 days' exposure to lisa's toxic bad attitude. you are *absolutely* entitled to your opinion btw-- and should express it!!! but this is my own opinion. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                              if you were to ask the chefs this season even after the finale, "who would you rather work with, Richard or Lisa?" - i bet everyone would say Richard

                                                                                                                                                                                                              hell, i bet if you asked "richard or stephanie" -- more than half would say Richard, not to take anything away from stephanie, it's just that there are some really interesting techniques he's got that you just don't learn in culinary school.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree and I'd think that percentage would go up if it were "who would you rather work _for_."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: mercyteapot

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think it was anything like arrogant insofar as it was clear that he and Stephanie were first and second or second and first in that portion of the finale. It was an observation of fact at the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You're entitled to your opinion, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do agree that in retrospect it's a touch ironic since I do think he probably would have come in third in the last episode had they ranked everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My goodness - I was a nervous wreck! I felt as if I was watching the final game of the NCAA basketball tourney - with equally happy results!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was our Anniversary yesterday and we went out for a nice meal, hurried home, stuffed the kids in to bed early, and settled in with a bottle of wine to watch the show. At the end of the episode - we both looked at each other and said "Good Anniversary".

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I felt so incredibly sad for Richard I could have cried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. i am very pleased that steph won it for chicago. she absolutely deserved the win, her food looked fantastic. well maybe not the dessert. anyway, a great win!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        i felt pretty bad for richard, it's the first time we've really seen him get in the weeds. i think his food is so intricate that having his sous yoinked for the last hours of cooking really messed up his carefully laid plan of attack and he had to make a lot of compromises at the end. he was spread too thin over his first three courses imo. (his dessert, which was basically prepped and finished the day before, was his strongest course) i especially don't think his pork dish came out the way he really wanted it to-- i think richard just ran out of time & hands at the end. richard has worked so well as a team leader that i really think his personal cuisine is all about having the support of others in the kitchen. when you see him have to do big numbers of covers (salmon scale incident), or very fast solo execution (tramonto's)-- there are serious errors or little delays. when he has even one competent teammate, he shines, though. i think richard was at the biggest disadvantage by being forced to work alone in the final challenge, by the very nature of the way he cooks. i would love to try richard's food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Taking your comments and grant.cooks comments above, really opened up the mystery as to why Lisa did so well and why Richard did so poorly in the finals and yet it was the reverse during the season. Interesting, I wonder if they are going to start leaving the chefs alone to do battle in the finals from now on?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Once upon a time, all that mattered about a chef was how s/he cooked and managed a kitchen. No one cared whether s/he scowled or smiled, folded his/her arms or not, was Mr./Ms. Congeniality or a sourpuss, how s/he wore his/her hair, etc., etc., And for my part, I still don't care. The lightning speed with which the "Top Chef" video editors cut back and paste footage of prepping, cooking and plating is dizzying. Richard's "shocking" words were hardly shocking. The commentary was not particularly enlightening for anyone who really likes food. And at the end, I kept wondering, "When will this national obsession with unreal 'reality' shows finally be over?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ClaireWalter

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reality TV is here to stay. There is horrible reality TV (pretty much any dating show) and then there are some high quality shows (Top Chef, Project Runway, the Amazing Race, etc.) It can be simultaneously dull and exploitive, or it can be entertaining and compelling, which the best episode of Top Chef definitely are (although I did find this finale a little dull).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm glad Stephanie won, and think she's been the frontrunner for awhile now. I do feel bad for Richard, especially after hearing his interview at the end. Seemed like he was really hard on himself. It would have been amazing if his molecular gastronomy techniques really went to a higher level, but I guess he just needs to work on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, I just want to say how BORING this finale was. I wished there were more curveballs thrown, or any thrown, at the chefs to see if they get rattled. Why not do it like Project Runway when all of a sudden they have to design another dress. They could have at the last minute add another course or say they have to come up with a cocktail! That would have been fun. Or maybe say they have to go shopping for wine pairings. At least all the food looked pretty. (And Padma looked smoking hot in that red dress.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: singleguychef

                                                                                                                                                                                                              actually (i'm female and usually ignore padma) i liked the blue dress at the beginning! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Ted Allen's blog is up at the Bravo site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef/seaso...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It looks like ALL of the judges thought it was Richard's competition to lose. Said he saw him at the airport alone waiting to fly back to Atlanta, and he just seemed "lost". Also said his (Richard's) admitting that he choked showed he's full of integrity and has the leadership for taking responsibility when things go wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also noticed NO mention of Lisa. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                He was probably under the most pressure out of any of the contestants there. A lot of people including his fellow contestants expected him to win this. I can't imagine what it's like to go back to your restaurant and have all your employees be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Disappointed? Why - because he didn't win? I still see Richard as winning, even if he doesn't have the title of "Top Chef". He kicked ass this season, and he knows it. Yes, it sucks he blew the finale - never would have expected it of him, and I'm sure he didn't expect it either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But to have been invited to participate in this competition, to have won so many challenges, make the finale, and to have Eric Ripert and the other guest sous chefs hover around him and to have the judges say what they've said about him all season? That ain't losing, IMO. His stock has gone up in chef circles, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But I bet holding his little girl in his arms will assuage any sadness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As the joyous daughter/daddy pictures testified to. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Where are these joyous photos? I would love to see them. I thought Richard jumped through all the hoops with integrity and a charming enthusiasm for what he does. Still, I am thrilled that Stephanie won. Would have had to stop watching if Lisa had taken it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mothership

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Posted somewhere else on the recent TC threads here, but I'm not sure where exactly: http://www.ourblogoflove.com/index.cf...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you. Found them - could they possibly be cuter? How wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And Lee Anne's blog is up - she missed blogging last week, so it's a FULL recap of the finale. And a very well done one, giving a lot of detail as to how things were done in the background, stuff we never see/know about. Interesting to point out:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "From a culinary producer’s point of view, it’s a little frustrating to see our chefs go for the same old proteins again and again, even with such a selection. (Scallops: Official Sponsor of Top Chef.) And Lisa and the damn prawns. Leave the shrimp alone already and show me that you can cook something else. It drove me bonkers because getting all of those beautiful proteins to the island of Puerto Rico almost shaved ten years off my life in stress alone. (My fish arrived two hours before we began the final challenge.) "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Looks like they need a Scallop purveyor to start paying for advertising on the next season of TC. ;-) She also gives detailed information about trying each cheftestant's dishes...she thought Lisa's prawns suffered from being drowned in too much chili sauce. She also reiterates what Chef Colicchio said - it came down to which entire meal they'd like to eat again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ted's blog entry was primarily a lovely, eloquent, respectful, and well-deserved tribute to richard. how nice!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      on another note, did anyone else check out the link to ted's website for info about his upcoming FN show? i'm not so sure they should have chosen the title"food detective." it's too similar to "hungry detective." when i first read it i stopped and thought, "wait, didn't they already have a show with that name?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Originality (creativity) and FN...rarely if ever do the two meet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          excellent point :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i specifically noted in Ted's blog that Lisa's name isn't mentioned ONCE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i didn't say it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              oh that wasn't to you - i just thought it was amazing that in a finale with 3 contestants he didn't even mention one of them in reviewing the episode. that's all! i was kind of blown away.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sorry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                got it. no worries :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Lisa deserves some kind of award for either optimism or delusions of grandeur. Every week she is in the loser section and every week she some how sneaks past. And at the end of each show she says. 'Now I'm going to step it up and show them what I can do.' only to find herself back in front of the judges explaining why her dish was so bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Didn't she also say something when she is cooking well she get along with people?...That statement in it's self say volumes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, one thing to say about Lisa that hasn't been said before: She's perhaps the luckiest chef that's ever appeared on Top Chef. I won't say anything about how she got there, but even in the final she had the opportunity to be totally in her comfort zone (SE Asian cuisine), cooking a very pedestrian menu for a group of judges who do not seem to be very sophisticated about SE Asian cuisine, and she almost won the damn thing! (I wonder what a panel of judges from Iron Chef--Japan would have thought of her work.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jbw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <(I wonder what a panel of judges from Iron Chef--Japan would have thought of her work.)>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OUCH!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jbw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sweet young starlet: hee-hee. This is so unlike any other Asian food I have tasted. It is so rough, not so delicate. And the sauces all taste the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hattori-san: Hmm, this chef needs to come to my culinary school to learn about real Asian cooking, or commit seppuku, which ever comes first. The heat in her sauce has melted my shorts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chairman Kaga: I spent millions to build kitchen stadium, for this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOL! You *so* need to blog as Chairman Kaga, Hattori-san and Sweet Young Starlet for next year's TC episode, Phaedrus. <vbg>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jbw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She has to be lucky one one time she did win something she got a trip to Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A trip to Italy, for cooking bacon (that was basically a garnish)? I agree with Dale on that one. She's the luckiest girl in the world! For her to get to the Finale was shocking. Along with Spike and Andrew, I found Lisa to be completely delusional. A little humility would go a long way for her. Comments were made several times about her poor knife skills throughout the season. Knife skills go hand in hand with Asian fine dining Kitchen Stadium...not a chance!.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: jbw

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would have committed seppuku had Lisa won with that pedestrian Asian menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They should do a Top Chef series where the contestants focus on Asian fusion. Dale's butterscotch scallops and Lisa's over sweetened wagyu can find companionship and respect there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. No complaints about the winner. Sames would have been said if Richard had won both were deserving of the tittle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My one 'grievance' with this finale is that I would have like to see the three contestants cook, no holds barred, no wrench in the works(ie disappearing sous chefs), no preselected ingredients. At this point they have certainly earned the right to showcase their talents in the most straightforward way possible. Give them a day to shop, and a day to cook and just let them do their thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. About the elephant in the room: the amount of time on air devoted to words like we need a female top chef, this is the year of the female top chef....and on and on.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'd estimate you could make a (boring) half hour program of the variations on that phrase that took up air time. Mayve an hour (with breaks for commercials.) (Shudder)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The editors were pushing hard for a female winner. Lots of air time was invested in that quest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No one other than the contestants ever said anything about needing a female to win, right? I don't remember one word about it from anyone other than a few of the female contestants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The judges aren't privy to the television shows when they are judging.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shallots

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have no idea where you get the idea that editors were "pushing hard' for a female winner. Despite the amount of air time, perhaps overall, the women were better than the men (other than Richard, who I thought was one of the best from the beginning, despite my not liking the faux hawk or the molecular gastronomy angle - he still made some pretty damn great looking food!