I normally reserve my Top Chef thoughts for other people's blogs (BCD, Lakeview) but last night's exciting finale deserves a few words here. First off, it was so sad to watch Richard implode. It was exactly like Casey from last season. I think you could tell from the first day that he wasn't going to make it. It's almost like he gave so much weight to that meal and how to best express his feelings about himself and his cooking that he was paralyzed by how to do it best- and ended up falling short. You could tell when he walked in at the end of the meal that he knew it and he was man enough to just come out and say it at judges table. The good thing is that I think he more than proved himself during the competition. His food and personality were memorable in a way that I suspect plenty of people will be throwing money at him after the competition. And I bet he will go on to even more success. He'll be the Dale(last season) of this season.
The only good thing about his failure is that it can leave no question in anyone's mind that Stephanie should be Top Chef. I suspect that if they both had brought their A game, and she had won- there would be lots of people whispering that she only won because it was time for a woman to win. (Always happens when you are a "first") It was so thrilling to watch a reality show where I had a real stake in the outcome. I had been to Stephanie's restaurant an number of times and my Dad and his business partner liked it so much that they went there fairly regularly. I remember distinctly the night she came out of the kitchen to tell us she was closing the restaurant and how disappointed we were. I suspected even then she might join the competition and then when the ads for the new season came out I was so excited to see how she would do.
There was an interview with her in yesterday's Tribune where she said she was scouting new restaurant locations. She said she is looking for a place where she can grab the tourist crowd (re: downtown) but that she will be sticking to her "homey" style and reasonable price points. We'll see if she'll be able to do that paying downtown rent! So that means that Chicago will have TWO Top Chef restaurants. Dale's Town and Country is set to open this fall (please please please).
So congrats to Stephanie! And go Chicago!
UPDATE: Ted Allen has the most amazing post on his blog about Richard. i love Ted!