The first Top Chef is Harold Dieterle

Harold Dieterle won Top Chef, and said he’ll use the $100,000 in part to open a restaurant in New York City this fall. Tiffani Faison served 10 dishes instead of the five required ones, and guest judge Lorraine Bracco called that “ballsy.” But Harold’s food was judged to be safer but more consistent.

All four sous chefs, Dave, Lee Anne, Miguel, and Stephen, said Harold should win (Tiffani later called that “heartbreaking,” and told Harold, “My back just ran into your knife”). And while Dave selflessly gave up a dessert recipe to Tiffani, he sandbagged her in front of the judges, perhaps still drunk from all the imbibing he and Stephen did in the kitchen and the night before in Las Vegas.

And Tiffani hurt her case when she told the judges, “I gave Dave a directive of exactly what I wanted, and he came through with it.” Tom challenged her, and she said, “He and I talked about it — at length, Dave and I talked about it, and he brought something to it and I brought something different to it.”

Whether or not that played a role in the judges’ decision, she lost. “Harold, you are the top chef,” Katie Lee Joel said, appreciating the fact that there was only one multisyllabic word in that sentence.

Top Chef: Episode 12 [Bravo]