Elizabeth Falkner does not win Next Iron Chef. :-(
The competition between Mehta and Garces came down to a very similar call between creativity and potential, versus technique and control. They made the same call last time. I still think that one was an epically bad call.
I at least am actually really impressed with Zakarian. I find Garces boring. Zakarian doesn't take the kind of risks or come up with the kind of absolutely off-the-wall genius dishes that Elizabeth does, but he has incredible subtlety, and he can take the essence of a traditional dish and refine it into something surprising.
I do think, though, that when you hear the judges saying stuff like that Zakarian is "like an athlete at his peak", while Falkner is exceeding her reputation and still developing -- even though for this competition she was only a hair behind him -- doesn't that mean you want the person who's still growing, rather than the one who's peaked? Again, this is the same way I felt about the judgement on Mehta. OK, maybe he arguably did not deliver quite as good a meal that day; but who do you want on the show? The guy who's predictable, or the one who will maybe take a few episodes to learn to manage the time better, but ultimately will deliver things that are surprising and innovative?
Anyways. I have to respect Zakarian; the meal he delivered looked and sounded amazing. I'm at least glad Elizabeth made him work hard for that victory.
Random revelation: the brussel sprout leaves that turned up integrated into the butternut squash ravioli at our wedding? That was a flourish from Elizabeth's Next Iron Chef finale meal. Very cool.