Oh maaan. So, Stephanie wins! I would never take the win away from our first female winner, but I'm sure most people are simply saying "Thank G-d Lisa didn't win!" We had mixed reviews of the finale around my office -- while I actually thought it was kind of a nail-biter, some of my colleagues disagreed. I really thought Lisa might have taken it, especially when the judges asked each other whose meal they'd want to eat again because many of the guest diners commented on wanting to eat more of Lisa's food.
Let's start back at the beginning (a very good place to start). Based on who had the most Elimination wins, Richard and Stephanie had to draw knives to see who chose their sous-chef first. The options: Eric Ripert, Dan Barber, and April Bloomfield. Ummm, doesn't look like anyone would be at a disadvantage with this bunch, but I got the chills when they introduced them. I love love love the guest judges we're able to get for this show, and the introduction of ridiculously accomplished chefs as the contestants' sous-chefs last season was probably my favorite addition to the finale format. Stephanie chose the uber-sexy Chef Ripert, while Richard stuck with Dan Barber. That left Lisa with April Bloomfield, who might I add is a 2008 Food & Wine Best New Chef. Can you believe I haven't been to the Spotted Pig yet? What am I waiting for? Good question! I have to make plans with foodie blogger Andrea Strong soon, so what better place to go than NYC's premier gastro-pub. Anyway, the chefs got to work quickly. Stephanie was kind of hysterical micromanaging Chef Ripert's fileting, considering Le Bernardin is a world-renowned seafood restaurant. April and Lisa got along swimmingly, and Dan Barber was just along for Richard's wild liquid nitrogen ride.
Now, over the years (mostly post-Marcel), many of our chefs have given their opinion on the use of molecular gastronomy, but I think Richard was right when he swapped out some other ideas and only used his tricks for the ice cream, using science as a way to enhance the culinary experience. And according to the judges, he was successful -- and definitely more successful than Marcel was on the beach that fateful day with his bacon ice cream.
I don't want to focus all my time on Richard, but OK, I'm kind of going to. The moment when he commented on teaching Eric Ripert something new, my heart almost jumped because as a viewer I'd like to believe that that's what being a chef is all about, and that all of our chefs are as classy as Richard Blais. I unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to meet him in person yet, but he has been nothing but a pleasure in all of my correspondences with him -- even being super-busy with two babies -- Riley Maddox and his restaurant!
My affection for him grew even more in maybe the saddest moment ever when Richard admitted that he choked. And although I doubt that his idea of choking would be, well, my idea of choking, he did. He knew it. And he admitted it. At first I thought he really shouldn't have said anything -- always stand behind your dish -- but you could tell he was broken, and I felt for him. You can tell that Tom really respects him -- or maybe I'm just reading too much into body language at Judges' Table.
So, Richard was basically out of contention. In the stew room, Lisa said that she and Stephanie had split the four courses. Although Richard had already given himself up, I felt Lisa's comment was a little, for lack a better word, yucky. Lisa and Stephanie may have done better, but not once was the word "Michelin" thrown around. (Where's Todd English when you need him?)
In the end, Stephanie did win. (Braised pistachios? Who knew?) And I simply will not accept comments about her only winning because shes' a woman because that's just not fair. She has been outstanding all season and deserved it. Read our Q+A with Stephanie HERE.
Another season is over, and so with it goes my personal winning streak -- I predicted that Richard would win. Oh well. It's not so bad being wrong.
This may be the finale, but this certainly isn't my last blog -- not only do we have a reunion next week, but I will continue to write about my amateur foodie experiences and continue to answer your questions and try to get what you want on our site.
Until next week,