Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio on the Las Vegas finale of Season 1.

on Dec 15, 2008

Well friends, we're down to the finale here in Las Vegas - a fitting spot to digest this sometimes salty, pungent and often bittersweet stew that has been Top Chef. Las Vegas is a hodgepodge of the first order, so we all fit right in.

Our three finalist chefs hadn't seen each other in four months, and even more interestingly, they had barely cooked during their time away from the show. Harold had left his job at the Harrison, in New York City, and had begun shopping his own restaurant idea to investors. Dave had returned home to Manhattan Beach to find that the restaurant where he had worked had been sold by its owners, and he was out of a job. Tiffani had returned to the restaurant world, but decided to take a spin as a server so that she could learn the ins and outs of the front of the house.

For good reason, all were nervous about being rusty.

As for where they were emotionally since we wrapped our exhausting round of challenges in San Francisco...for one thing, they were much better rested! Harold was his usual mellow, unpretentious self. Tiffani seemed to have gained something from the experience of seeing herself on TV. She described the experience as a 'wake-up call,' and while I think she wanted to win as much as ever, she seemed to have a new awareness about getting along with others. Tiffani clearly wanted to bury the hatchet with Dave, but he wasn't having it. It seemed as though, even months later, Dave was nurturing his little nugget of anger towards her and was loathe to give it up. Each of the chefs had held onto their strong desire to win, a desire only honed by the closeness of the prize. To show my admiration of the skill and resilience it took to get this far, I sent the chefs an elaborate meal from Craftsteak to their skyloft penthouse at the MGM Grand.