I liked the way they did this episode. They had 3 world class chefs doing prep work for this important meal. Then after the prep was done it was all up to the chefs and not having a sous chef bail them out with an idea or great dish they made to help the chef win.
What else I liked is that the chefs then got a chance to comment and taste the food that they helped prep. Since none of the dishes were finished it was sometimes a surprise on what the final dishes came out or tasted like.
I have watched the finale twice now, and think they got the right winner but it could have easily gone to Lisa. She cooked 2 good dishes, l average dish and 1 outstanding one. Stephanie had 2 good dishes, one that blew the minds of all the diners and a desert that was not memorable. Richard had 1 good dish, 2 average dishes and a very good desert.
Based on individual winners the title was Lisa's by a slight margin, but when the took into account which dinner would they want to sit down and eat it was Stephanie who showed them something entirely new. When you can surprise the whole panel with a combination of ingredients and the way they go together, that is a Top Chef. Lisa did nothing special, nothing that showed incredible depth of creativity. Most of those dishes were take off of existing dishes you can get in some Oriental restaurants in Asia, what Stephanie brought to the table was something no one had ever seen or even conceived of before.
She deserved it.
I do respect Richard when he told the panel that he choked, his dishes were not up to his normal standard.