I must also confess that I become a 12-year old girl with a crush whenever I am around Chef Ripert. Not only is he a culinary god as Richard mentioned last night but he is the George Clooney of the restaurant world -- handsome to an uncomfortable degree with loads of charisma and genuine charm.
I also thought he had one of the most important observations in his on-camera interview, with respect to Richard's liquid nitrogen cooking technique. He made a point about a chef always needing to open his or her mind to learn: "The day you don't learn anything you've become such an egomaniac that you're blind." That is perhaps the quote of the season.
My schoolgirl crush on Chef Ripert aside, I really enjoyed seeing him, along with Chefs Barber and Bloomfield step into the role of helper. It's always hilarious and fun to watch that sort of dynamic, and honestly I wish we could have seen more of the footage of the time they spent cooking and prepping together.
One of these days I'd love to see the Top Chef winners from the past four seasons compete against the top chefs of our nation, including Eric Ripert, Dan Barber, and even our head judge, Tom Colicchio. I think that would make quite a Top Chef special. Producers, give me a call, I'm available to judge.
In the end, I agreed with the judges that the menu that Stephanie created was the winning meal because she presented elegant thoughtful progression of dishes, and a lamb course that surprised all of the judges with something new -- braised pistachios -- that they all loved. I was skeptical of that dish as well. Who braises pistachios? Indeed if I had been presented with that dish on a menu at a restaurant I was reviewing, I'd probably have ordered it just to check it out, and if it had worked, I'd also have been impressed.