It's time for the "Top Chef" finale already?!?

It's time for the "Top Chef" finale already?!?

Posted by Sean Stangland on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 20:34

The superior fourth season of Bravo's "Top Chef" wraps up Wednesday night, and Stephanie Izard, the cute, friendly former owner of Chicago's Scylla restaurant, is among the final three competitors. And that's wonderful, given this fourth season has, until the final two episodes, taken place in Chicago and made the city and the suburbs look absolutely fantastic.

Fan favorite Antonia Lofaso didn't make the cut on last
week's pre-finale.

Especially impressive was the challenge hosted by Rick Tramonto at his Tramonto's Steak and Seafood restaurant in Wheeling. The village couldn't have asked for a better advertisement for Restaurant Row's newest jewel than a climactic episode of the classiest reality show this side of "Project Runway" -- the dining room looked absolutely stunning, and the cuts of beef the cheftestants worked with had my mouth watering.

Other Chicago chefs featured on the show this season include Gale Gand and Koren Grieveson, and the challenges included a pizza bake-off at the original Pizzeria Uno and a gourmet tailgating spread at Soldier Field. There seem to be nearly constant shots of Wrigley Field -- but no love for the White Sox, apparently. Boo.

If you've been avoiding "Top Chef" -- or reality shows in general -- you really should check it out. (Heck, you can probably watch the entire fourth season this Wednesday on Bravo.) It's a very well-constructed show, and the personal drama between the contestants develops during the actual competition; this is not a show where half of it is watching a bunch of people scream at each other while they're hanging out in their loft. "Top Chef" keeps the emphasis on the food and the competition, and I think that ultimately makes the people more likable and relatable. And that's why I've come to like Stephanie so darn much. Has there been a nicer person in the history of reality shows?

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