TOP CHEF FINALE RECAP: I Anti-Climaxed

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Stephanie WinsIn general, I found last night’s “Top Chef” finale to be upsettingly unfunny. I wouldn’t call it “anticlimactic” per se — I was happy with the result, and the last challenge really should be the chefs just doing everything themselves from scratch — but I just found the episode disturbingly free of moments that were funny, ridiculous, or memorable.

The product shots were the same ol’ product shots (someone picking up a huge box of Glad plastic wrap and setting it down at a better angle to the camera), Richard pulled out the same ol’ liquid nitrogen, and the judges were the same ol’ “saying pros and cons of all three to make sure no one knows what to expect at the end” finale schtick.

Here are my random thoughts about the episode, the season as a whole, and about who I think the guy in the coffin is (I think it’s either Locke or Andrew) — please leave your own in the comments:

– We all knew Lisa wasn’t going to win, but how many of you had mild heart attacks when the judges were picking their favorites course by course and Lisa had the best first and second courses? I was thinking, they better sh*t all over her third course to make this right. Literally, I mean. They better take turns walking up to the course and defecating on it, because I don’t feel comfortable with her still having success at this point.

– As a whole, I thought the season was mostly entertaining, and both Stephanie and Richard (and Dale, when he was on top of his game) are as good or better than just about any contestants in the show’s history. However, I do feel like the show may have reached its inevitable point of repetition, much like the once ratings-invincible “American Idol,” and should strongly consider making major format changes or coming up with crazy challenges for Season 5. I just hope there isn’t one “treading water” season before the producers realize this (I’m sure some people would argue that Season 4 was that season…)

– For the first time in reality show finale history, I actually wondered why the episode wasn’t more dramatic.

– Are we really so far removed from “Terminator 2″ that someone can whip out liquid nitrogen on a tv show without nine people immediately quoting “Hasta la vista, baby?” I feel like I’d say that at least five times per episode, regardless of whether or not liquid nitrogen was even involved or there was any conceivable context.

Stephanie Wins– If you want to become a famous chef, you are required to have a wacky voice. It’s not just their accents — the foreign chefs all had accents on top of an independently ridiculous voices, and the American chefs on this show (excepting Tom) always seem to talk like Steve Martin characters.

– When Padma was introducing Tim Zagat, my friend and I immediately turned to each other and made the same joke — This “hard to pelase” chef’s barbs may “sting quite a bit,” but if you can “brave the crowds” it’ll be “well worth the trip.” I’ll bet no one else in the world thought of a similar joke, we’re probably the smartest two people on Earth.

– Richard’s “I choked” comments added a slight curveball to the Judge’s Table; looking back, Mark was eliminated right after he told Tom he felt he “didn’t like him,” Spike was eliminated when he fired back at the guest judge for having frozen scallops in his cooler, and now Richard lost after straight-up telling the judges he choked. At no point in the season did someone get into an awkward situation at the judge’s table then end up winning.

– Top Chef Mobile Poll Results – Who Do YOU Think Should Be Top Chef?

Stephanie – 75%

Richard – 56%

Lisa – Negative 31%

– In general, I feel like Stephanie is the best cook and would make the best employee, but I’d be more interested in eating at Richard’s restaurant. Best of luck to the two of them — I look forward to eating in their restaurants just as soon as I can save up my blogger income for a couple years to spend twenty dollars on an entree.

Oh also, one final thing. Here’s the “Random Prediction Board” in our BWE office:

Top Chef board

If you’re saying to yourself “big deal, Stephanie was the favorite and there were rumors she quit her job because she won Top Chef, we all made that prediction weeks ago,” I’ll have you know, we made those predictions NINETY YEARS AGO. That’s right — June 12, 1918.

In retrospect, even Blagg’s incorrect prediction is kind of impressive, as he also foresaw the existence of television, reality television, a show called “Top Chef,” and characters named Antonia and Richard, even though Antonia lost.

Thoughts on the finale/outcome, Bravo watchers? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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