Spoilers for the "Top Chef" season 4 finale coming up just as soon as I stock up on liquid nitrogen..
Stephanie. Okay. I'm fine with that. She was easily one of the best chefs this season, and based on the events of the finale, she was really the only choice.
I don't care how good Lisa's finale dishes were -- and there was so much praise for them that I started to get worried -- because she was such a toxic nightmare throughout the season that it would have been a black mark on the show for her to win. This wasn't like season 3 Dale, where he was only occasionally impressive pre-finale but was usually at least competent; Lisa survived week after week by being the second-worst, and it would reflect really badly on the franchise to have her as the winner.
Richard, meanwhile, presented the opposite problem: he had been up there with Stephanie (and, to a lesser degree, Dale and Antonia) as the best chefs of the season, but, like Casey last year, he choked at the end. He got too caught up in technique over flavor, and even he couldn't really defend his dishes.
And so Stephanie had to be the winner, almost by default, even though the only one of her finale dishes that seemed to get universal praise was her third course. As Ted Allen noted, of course, there's the matter of "better" versus "how much better," and it's possible that Stephanie's meat course was so much better than any dish of the evening that she deserved the win. Still, the editing didn't make her seem that impressive, and it's unclear if that was just to maintain suspense until the ending or if that was an accurate reflection of how the judges reacted to all the dishes.
Anyway, I'm glad with the final result and yet not that excited about it. Seems kind of an appropriate ending for this season, which had so much talent and promise but rarely made my mouth water.
What did everybody else think?