Yay, Stephanie! I imagine there was just a collective sigh of relief among Top Chef viewers when Stephanie was announced as the winner last night. She was definitely my favorite--solid performance throughout the entire competition, very calm and professional in the kitchen, respected by her peers, and most importantly, great food!
The episode didn't go at all as I expected--who could have guessed that Blaise was going to crash and burn? I was so bummed for him--in terms of creativity and vision he was definitely the most talented chef there and it was disappointing to see him not really be in the running for the title. He looked really upset, but I have no doubt that he'll have a great career regardless.
Truthfully, the episode itself was a little boring. The celebrity sous chefs are a fun touch that they started last year, but nothing all that interesting happened during prep, except for maybe the liquid nitrogen bit, but because I've actually made liquid nitrogen ice cream a few times (I think every engineer does this during undergrad) I wasn't really wowed.
I wish we'd seen a little more of the deliberations. They obviously edited it to make it suspenseful until the very end, but we didn't get much explanation on how they came up with the winner. While they were eating, I thought Stephanie was the clear favorite, with three strong courses and one that was just ok (her dessert). But then at Judges Table, they started to talk up Lisa's dishes and slammed Steph's dessert. I wonder how close it was. I got the feeling that Gail was leaning towards Lisa but I'm pretty sure Tom wasn't going to have any of that. I think I saw his eyebrows kind of raise after Lisa's final statement that she had the qualities of a top chef.
I did kind of have the feeling that Lisa was going to step it up. I have no doubt that she went home and really prepared for this final challenge--probably more than the other two. And while I love Thai/Vietnamese food and obviously I don't know what her dishes really tasted like, it didn't really seem very different from what you'd get at any respectable Thai restaurant. I think Stephanie's lamb dish is what really sealed her win--it was different and unexpected and ultimately impressive. I'm hoping that we maybe get a little more insight into the final decision during next week's reunion show though.
I thought it was great seeing all the chefs come back at the end. Am I a little crazy or did Dale look kind of cute?