Top Chef 4: Finale Part 2 Predictions
We're in an election year, and there's nothing like the democratic process to really highlight divisions in our country. But we can take heart that many of our citizens in this great nation are united behind a single concept: Lisa Fernandes better not win Top Chef 4, or the Bravo network and Magical Elves production company are going to find their with an angry, torch-wielding mob at their doors. (Not regular torches, of course, but those little butane ones you use to caramelize crème brûlée.)

Now, although I can be sometimes swayed by the opinions of the majority, when it comes to Lisa Fernandes, I've just never gotten on board with the rabid chef-hating. I'm not a fan, per se, but I guess I don't just find her quite as offensive as others do. Nevertheless, based on her performance, rather than personality, I still cannot – or will not – imagine a finale in which she actually emerges on top. So I'm going to essentially leave her out of the analysis of who could win this season of Top Chef.

So why might Richard Blais win? Richard has been strong all season, and he's shown perhaps the most consistent ability to creatively conceptualize dishes in response to the parameters of the challenges. But he's not just precious cleverness and cutesy concepts; his dishes have been delicious and won over crowds. He's also been smart enough to be strategic. He's taken a leadership role at times, but also stepped back when appropriate, such as during Restaurant Wars.

How, then, could he lose? Richard has sometimes been overambitious and put himself in a position where he was not able to execute at his best level. He seemed a little tightly-wound in the first part of the finale, and it's possible the edit was building the case that his nerves might get the best of him.

How might Stephanie Izard win? We've seen it before; she never seems quite as methodical or structured as Richard, but for much of the time in the longer-form elimination challenges, she's shown that she has an excellent sense of how to put together a truly delicious dish. She has also demonstrated technical skill, and the way she handled Dale Talde's error with the pork last week showed that she might be in the zone, able to recover from any curveballs thrown her way in the finale.

How could she lose? For one thing, if Richard and she have equally delicious meals, she hasn't quite shown the same flair he has in conceptualizing dishes, and his creativity might be the tipping factor. And we can't forget that her performance has been spotty and her Quickfire record (no wins until last episode) shows she does have some problems with performing under pressure.

Either way, actually, I'll be happy. I'll just keep my fingers crossed that this isn't the twist to end all twists with Lisa Fernandes taking it all.

Tune into the Top Chef 4 finale this Wednesday at 10pm on Bravo.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of Bravo)