Top Chef Reunion Episode

On last night’s episode of Top Chef, Stephen Aspirino came out the clear winner. Yes, he’s already been booted from the show and is not going to Las Vegas to compete for the title of Top Chef. His win had nothing to do with food. It was about eating some humble pie and taking responsibility for his arrogant attitude in previous episodes.

Probably the most grievous of Stephen’s offenses was when he lit into Candace for wanting to use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of fruit when the chefs were preparing a meal for children. He called her inexperienced and said he refused to give in to mediocrity and said she would fail on the show. Despite Candace’s ripping back into Stephen calling him several unsavory names, Stephen clearly looked like the one in the wrong when they replayed the tape on the reunion show. He stood in front of the other chefs and apologized to Candace and told her he was wrong about the cookie cutters and that he thought she had more guts than he would have had when he was in culinary school.

Stephen also owned that he was a bore when he tried to educate everyone about every culinary detail. All of a sudden, Stephen was so…likable. So score one for the sommelier, and accept this blogger’s apologies for reveling in trashing you for your arrogance.

That said, the rest of the chefs, Harold and Andrea the exceptions, were a surly bunch. Fighting, cursing, causing the cardboard hostess, Mrs. Joel, to widen her eyes in fear and look quickly for a producer, these top chefs fit the stereotype of the Anthony Bourdain crowd–that chefs are a rough bunch, and you don’t cross them.

Even Dave the nice guy, couldn’t control his mouth when it came to his dislike for Tiffani. Everyone, in fact, picked on Tiffani, which finally drove her to leave the set and start crying. This got her no sympathy from the other chefs. They just continued on when she came back.

So whoever earns the title of “Top Chef” might also earn the crown of “One Tough Monkey.”

So Tiffani and Dave must compete together despite their open dislike and harsh words about each other, with only shy but steady Harold as a buffer in Las Vegas in the season finale. I was surprised when the host asked the other chefs who would win, they didn’t rule out Dave. Stephen, he of refined taste, made an excellent point: Only 13 percent of dining in this country is fine dining such as Harold and Tiffani would produce, but all the rest is Dave’s territory. Macaroni and Cheese, here we come.