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And Your Finalists Are...

By Laura Oppenheimer in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 27, 2007 2:00PM

This post contains spoilers about last night's Top Chef.

When last we checked in with our friends on Top Chef, we prophesied that Brian and Dale would be the next two contestants to head home. Brian, you had a good run, but we aren't sad to see you pack your knives—especially if it means one more chance for Dale.

2007_9_dale1.jpgThe four finalists went to Colorado (similar to how last years' finalists went to Hawaii). Like their Season Two counterparts (anyone up for taro?), Hung, Casey, Dale and Brian were charged with cooking up some local flavors in both the quickfire and elimination challenge. They first had to prepare up trout on an open fire in the quickfire, and then create a meal around elk in the elimination.

Despite our nay-saying of pretty much the entire season, we couldn't be prouder of hometown favorite Dale for winning the elimination challenge. Head Judge Tom Colicchio appeared to be as shocked as we were at Dale's victory.

Our big surprise of the day was Dale. His dish was focused and delicious, and all the more impressive because of his ability to switch gears when the goat cheese tart didn’t pan out....I think the ability to think on your feet and turn a potential problem into an advantage is one hallmark of a great chef. These days, chefs are asked to cook at charity benefits, private parties, television studios where only one burner works -- you name it. It’s always good to have a Plan B.

Still, Colicchio seems to have the same caveats about Dale as we do. "Dale has made it to the finale without yet making a strong impression of who he is, and what his food is all about," he writes. Even judging from the restaurants Dale has been involved with in the city—Trio Atelier, La Tache, Orange and Stone Lotus—doesn't say much about his vision as a chef.

All that being said, Go Dale! We can't wait to see what happens (er, "watch what happens?") on next week's live-from-Chicago finale.

Image via Bravo.