Top Chef Chicago Watch: THE FINALE!

After 14 grueling episodes, it’s all over. Can you believe it? We have a top chef! And honestly…it’s SO hard not to talk about the results in these first sentences but in an effort not to spoil it for passers by, I’ll wait….just a few….more….words…

Ok, are we all clear?!…..


SHE DID IT! Chicago’s very own talented Stephanie did it! She won the title of first female Top Chef! And as a fellow Chicagoan, female, and all-around HUGE Stephanie fan, I couldn’t be happier!

But I’ll admit…Bravo’s editing pulled a number on me for a bit there. They kept highlighting Lisa’s excellent dishes and showing cuts of the judge’s insisting they were basing their decision on “this one meal”. I was almost prepared to cry, especially because…

I thought Lisa did do a good job on this meal ::gulp::. I thought, if this were the first episode of the show…that she was a strong contender. I thought that Stephanie’s meal, as well as Richard’s, did not appear to be as cohesive and straightforward as Lisa’s. And being straightforward is a good thing.

But (and we know there is always a but)…there is something to be said for creativity, good sportsmanship, and tremendous talent. And boy does Stephanie have all three!

Consistently all season, she has stretched the culinary imaginations of viewers and judges alike. And she didn’t fall short of that this meal either. So she had one poorly executed ricotta pound cake…but HOW about that lamb dish? When Ted Allen is boasting about getting to experience pistachios in a new way…you know you’ve pulled off a good dish. I mean, who thinks of details like braising pistachios? Stephanie does, because she’s a genius.

So despite my anxiety toward the end, I never once doubted that Stephanie should and would win. Can you imagine if she didn’t? They wouldn’t be able to air another season of Top Chef because no one would watch it!

Let’s talk about Richard for a second. Poor Richard. It’s not that he didn’t win (even though if he did, I wouldn’t have been upset! He’s obviously talented!) It’s more that all season, we thought the contest would be between Stephanie and Richard, but in the final moments of the finale…it seemed more like a contest between Stephanie and Lisa. Richard had, self-admittedly, “choked” and didn’t pull off his best performance. I mean, come on, banana scallops AGAIN?! The good thing is we know he is capable of better, and in our minds…we all still have tremendous respect, but for himself, I”m sure it doesn’t feel good.

But I don’t know about you…if I came away with teaching Eric Ripert, Dan Barber, and April Bloomfield a few tricks in the kitchen, I’d feel pretty damn good about myself! (Good job Richard). Yes, those three famous chefs were the sous chefs in this final elimination challenge. I would have been starstruck! I just loved the part where Stephanie hovered over Eric Ripert to make sure he was filleting the snapper correctly. Hilarious, and all the more proof that she should be top chef!

All in all, it was a good season. We just adored watching the beautiful city of Chicago’s culinary offerings on the TV for the past couple months, and we’re really going to miss it! It’s been a lot of fun watching and writing these recaps, and thanks to all of you for reading and keeping up!

But you know what the best part about all this is? Now that the Top Chef is FROM Chicago…maybe I’ll be able to eat at her restaurant! (Hint hint….please open another restaurant in Chicago Stephanie!)

And one last thing…I saw a quote on Chicago Foodies that I’d like to share:

“So now Chicago has the James Beard nation’s best chef, Grant Achatz, Presidential Democratic Nominee Barack Obama and this year’s Top Chef winner – Stephanie Izard.”


For Top Chef Chicago Watch, I’m Hillary, signing out.

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  • melissa

    I’m so glad it worked out this way! Not only is she talented, but affable and non-confrontational. I can’t help but admire the whole package.

  • Farley

    I, too, am more than pleased. My boyfriend said that if Lisa had won, he was going to call Comcast to get Bravo taken off our cable lineup in protest.

    Thank goodness it didn’t come to that!

  • Addie

    All through this seson Lisa stood in front of the judges table with her arms crossed just daring the judges to send her home. If the contest had been based on personality, Lisa would hve been one of the first to pack her knives and leave. Thank goodness Lisa won. She deserved it. Richard won a car. Lisa a complete GE Kitchen of appliances. Lisa nothing!

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