(SPOILER ALERT) The season finale of Top Chef didn't involve iditarods, tonging for oysters, or a roller derby. Instead, finalists Brooke Williamson and Kristen Kish, with the help of eliminated competitors, cranked out their own menus for the judges and a select group of guests—including the winners from previous Top Chef seasons. When I spoke with both contestants yesterday, neither of them found this finale to be particularly difficult. "It was more about which dishes the judges liked more," said Brooke, who added that it was basically "a matter of preference."
"All of my dishes were executed perfectly," Brooke insisted. But that wasn't enough. In the end, the judges preferred the creations and flavors of Kristen Kish, the winner of Top Chef season ten. So stressful was the experience that upon winning, she asked for a shot of whiskey—and it just kept on coming. When you count all of her winnings, Kristen walked away with $170,000. I pointed out the federal government is going to take a nice bite out of that, to which she replied, "Shit, that's a lot of money." Nevertheless, the Boston chef is planning on a trip to Korea and wisely investing the rest.
Though the finale had already been taped, Brooke still spoke with a tinge of disappointment. She didn't see her son for a stretch over the summer and when I asked if the exposure has benefited her, the California chef said it's only gotten busier, especially on social media, but that otherwise her life hasn't changed. (She and her husband own two restaurants and are scoping out a third.) Brooke didn't leave with prize money, but she did win herself a trip to Costa Rica, a Toyota Prius, and a cruise.
And no, the cruise is not on the Carnival Triumph.