Top Chef Chicago Puerto Rico Finale: And the Winner Is...

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Well, we aren't going to have a first female president, but we do have the first female Top Chef. Stephanie Izard took the top prize last night, and you saw it coming.

After watching a season full of drama and the worst behavior we've ever seen on Top Chef, the finale was pretty emotional for us. We felt for these chefs (yes, even Lisa) trying to knock it out of the park in every bite of their last meal. So much pressure on four little dishes!

And it can't be easy to have Eric Ripert, Dan Barber, or April Bloomfield as your sous chef (we loved Stephanie looking over Ripert's shoulder as he sliced fish). Richard, at first, seemed to be relishing the famous company — he was showing off his liquid nitrogen skills to Ripert and Bloomfield and looking pretty confident. But whatever frozen pearls he was making, that were supposed to go on top of oysters, never appeared on his menu. At least not that we saw.

What did were those banana scallops, which he'd already made twice during the season. Overall, he just struggled to make his tricks work for him. At the judges' table, he admitted that he "choked," which we had no problem with him saying. Everyone knew it, and it simply showed that he knew he was capable of better. Go read Ted Allen's blog post about seeing Richard wandering through the San Juan airport the next day. It made us sad.

Now, we knew Lisa was not going to win, but at least she didn't get eaten alive in the finale. Her menu was predictable (spicy! prawns!), but the judges were impressed, and you could tell she had thought about this menu and prepared for it — especially having to make dessert.

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In the end, we're not going to say Stephanie won by default, although we do think that Richard could have blown everyone away if he'd been on his game, but she did what she usually does. That is, excellent, perfectly cooked, beautifully presented plates that are always solid if not the most inventive. And she did braise some pistachios for a little flair on her lamb dish.

Honestly, her food just seems to taste really good, time after time. That's what we want out of a Top Chef. That and her recipe for Red Snapper with Truffled White Asparagus and Clam Broth.

OK, readers, it's all over. What did you think?

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(Images: Bravo)

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