The Wednesday night finale of "Top Chef" was like a great comeback kung fu movie. After having been sent home too early in the season, Kristen Kish fought her way back into the competition. The "Last Chance Kitchen" champion beat L.A. girl Brooke Williamson by two rounds to earn the title of Top Chef.
Williamson and Kish each cooked in front of a live audience of more than 300 people, the judges, their former competitors and all nine of the previous "Top Chef" champions. The first chef to win three rounds was named the winner. It turned into an Iron Chef-like competition with the audience counting down the final 10 seconds of each round, but the live audience really bugged me. It was distracting, unnecessary and gave the entire finale a cheese ball game show feel.
It was fun to see a look back at the past winners who collectively run 17 restaurants. They were however the harshest critics. After each bite they shrugged their shoulders and looked at each other like maybe they could have done better.
Back in the kitchen, Williamson had Stefan Richter, Kuniko Yagi and Chris "C.J." Jacobson on her team and Kish had Elizabeth Binder, Sheldon Simeon and Josh Valentine in her corner. Kish took the first round with her chicken liver mousse, frisee, mustard, prune, hazelnuts and pumpernickel, beating Williamson's crispy pig ear and chicory salad with a six-minute egg, apricot jam and candied kumquats. The live judging was tense with each judge voting on the spot for a favorite dish.