So here we are, the last three. The only ones who are still standing are Richard, the food science whiz, Stephanie, the solid competitor, and Lisa, the villain (there is always a villain). Who is going to be the next Top Chef? I can hardly contain myself!
After a coupe of civil mimosas, the chefs meet the judges, along with three incredible chefs: Chef April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill in NYC and Chef Eric Ripert, world renowned seafood chef. I would be shaking in my boots.
The challenge is simple, just like every other finale - the chefs must produce a four course meal starting with fish, then poultry, followed by red meat and finished with a dessert (mandatory). They are then told each chef would pair up with one of these amazing chefs as their sous chefs, each with their own array of proteins to be used for the challenge.
After Stephanie drew the first knife, she was allowed to pick her sous chef first (the original criteria was the chef with the most elimination challenges, however she was dead even with Richard). She (of course) chose Chef Ripert as her Sous chef for the challenge. Richard chose Chef Barber and Lisa ended up with Chef Bloomfield.
At prep Stephanie made a little fun of Eric Ripert ("You sure you know how to fillet that fish?") while Richard showed the chefs how to use liquid nitrogen to make hot sauce ice cream. Meanwhile Lisa buddied up with her sous chef which was - well let's just say a little unnatural.
The next day the chefs found out (there is always a twist right?) that their sous chefs wound not be coming in to work that day! The judges wanted to make sure the chefs were truly on their own to win their title of Top Chef.
After the chefs spent a tense day in the kitchen, they were introduced to their panel of judges, including their former sous chefs and even Mr. Zagat (yes that Zagat).
After an exquisite dinner complete with gold utensils and white gloved waiters, the judges headed to judges table with their praises and critiques.
After going over the first course with the chefs, it was pretty much decided Stephanie had the best fish dish, which was very well presented. Lisa won the second course -- hands down -- with her coconut soup and chicken dumpling. Lisa should have also had the the win with her Wygu beef, however Chef Colicchio (the king of meat) mentioned she did not cook it right (ouch!). Stephanie clearly took the win with her lamb dish and unusually delicious olive, blackberry and pistachio garnishes. It was unclear who took the dessert, however the judges did express that they were not a fan of Stephanie's cake (that she cooked only once). They did really enjoy Richard's bacon ice cream though.
After the judges asked the typical question, Why do you think you should be Top Chef?, both Lisa and Stephanie gave the typical answers back. Richard, however, expressed that he thought he choked, especially with his unfinished pork belly dish.
After hours and hours of heated discussion, the judges came to the decision based on which meal they would love to go back and have again. After I couldn't take the tension anymore, Padma told Stephanie she would be the first female Top Chef!
Make sure you come back next week for the Top Chef Reunion recap! Until then, Happy Eating!