By Laura Hertzfeld
Updated February 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST
Credit: NBC
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The showdown to who will be the next Top Chef begins tonight – the penultimate episode of season 10 has the two finalists, Brooke and Sheldon, facing off against the latest Last Chance Kitchen winner. But will it be Kristen or fan-favorite Lizzie? Last week’s Last Chance Kitchen (the sudden-death cookoff on between the most recently kicked-off chef and the previous LCK winner) left off with judge Tom Colicchio still deliberating between Kristen and Lizzie after sending Josh home, so it’s a mystery as to who will show up tonight in Part One of the finale.

That said, Kristen has handily beat every chef she’s come up against so far, including breaking C.J.’s seven-win streak and getting a sweet victory over flirty competitor Stefan. General consensus is that she was kicked off the show as a result of the Restaurant Wars squabble with Josie too early in the season, and Kristen now has legions of fans who are hoping to see her back. But Lizzie’s Last Chance Kitchen dish of black cod with spaetzel looked delicious and seemed to impress Tom. Plus, she won over fans during the challenge in Alaska by talking movingly about her dad who recently passed away. Who do you think will come back into the kitchen? Were you pleased to see Lizzie beat C.J. as the fan favorite?

No matter who dons an apron alongside Brooke and Sheldon tonight, all of the chefs who made it to these final rounds have been on a road of growth and discovery in the kitchen throughout the season.

Judge Emeril Lagasse told EW of his admiration for this year’s crop of cooks: “The great thing about Top Chef is that, as the season evolves, so do the chefs. It gets deeper and deeper because of their knowledge.”

And the finale episodes can mean long days for the contestants, so the finalists who compete tonight and in next week’s episode had better be prepared. Lagasse recounted last year’s finale in Vancouver, which shot at a train station. “It was 6:30 in the morning when we left the train station. We started at 4 in the afternoon.”

For the finale, the contestants are heading to L.A., where tonight they will cook at Colicchio’s restaurant, Craft, with Colicchio helping out as expeditor — no pressure, guys. Guest judges Martin Yan (yes, that Martin Yan, as in Yan Can Cook) and New Orleans chef John Besh (both pictured above) join in on the finale fun.

Judge Hugh Acheson had some tips for the finalists, having competed himself in Top Chef Masters. “Stay well-rested, stay really well-hydrated. Whether you realize it or not, you are going to have to want to win this thing all the way, but you can’t be so strident about it.”

Check back next week for an on-the-scene report from the Top Chef finale where we’ll take you through the tastes, the judges’ advice, and scoop from the finalists and the winner! Who do you think will come out on top tonight? Will it be a girl power finale or will Sheldon face off against Lizzie or Kristen next week?

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Top Chef

Tom, Padma, and Gail tell the cheftestants to pack their knives and go.
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