Harold embodied the head chef most people would want to work under - calm, consistent, a firm and solid grasp of what it meant to cook for the enjoyment of the customer just as much as himself, and an apparent dedication to the people around him. Tiffany was more of a volatile artisan character - we knew she was damned good at making interesting food and she never let that down despite personality issues with other contestants.
Now, I'm not a chef and I have very little experience in the kitchen of a restaurant (beyond the grilling and uber-fast pacing at Harry's, which is limited to some very, very good hamburgers and bar food), but I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on in a kitchen. I spent enough years waiting tables in a variety of places and watching from the safety of the front of the house as cooks freaked out on each other from deep within the weeds or triumphed over a 3-mile-long list of tickets spewing out of a printer. I understand that feeling of skating just over imminent destruction and knowing you're flying by the seat of your pants - and that's a fun feeling to have.
Coming from this educated outsider's point of view, I have a hard time with the contestants from TC season 2. I don't think it was apparent that many of them really had the "it" thing that a "Top Chef" should have. The finalists, Marcel and Ilan, are great fun to watch and their rivalry can be funny - but neither one seems to inspire as a leader. In fact, the only ones I even remotely believed to be Chef material were Sam and Frank - both of whom are gone.
The winner of Top Chef 2 gets a mediocre cash prize (come on Bravo, $100,000? that's ridiculously low. How much did you charge any of your conveniently placed products to run their in-show ads? How much did Nestle pay? Baileys? Korbel? Could your production costs really be that high?), a kitchen of consumer-grade equipment, and a feature in a magazine that probably won't do that much for their career. Ooooo. What are the chances that Marcel or Ilan will actually be able to open their own restaurant after the show? Zero. I know if I was an investor, I'd look at both of them and tell them to come back in 10 years, after they've had some experience outside of the fields of molecular gastronomy and Spanish offal cuisine, respectively. Sure, they have potential... but that's all I see.
Still, I'm watching tonight's finale - I am rooting for Marcel, if only because I like Ilan less. That's about it. I want to see the bullied take down the bully.