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May 25, 2006 11:07 AM

Top Chef Final Spoiler

  • j

Wow, Tiffany sure came off bad. Firstly, she lied to the judges concerning her dessert and then was lamenting not about not being the Top Chef but, about not getting the monetary reward of $100K so that she could have traveled and paid off debt. Needless to say, she didn't deserve to win. The voting public were in favor of Harold 92% to 8%. She had better not try to open her own place with the reputation she has earned.

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  1. Harold absolutely deserved to win for a lot of reasons - but he's going to need a reality check soon. The 100K will be taxed of course, and he thinks he's going to open a New York restaurant with whatever's left??? I hope he finds some good backers!

    I do wish him well. I know I'd certainly want to eat at his restaurant. Lots of his dishes throughout the competition had me drooling.

    31 Replies
    1. re: judybird
      sally from LA

      So despite the ghastly wooden hostess, repellent food magazine rep, the over-editing, the short program contents eked out with multiple commercial breaks - the best candidate did actually win! I suspect Tiffani was left in until the last episode as she provoked such a strong audience response. Usually a runner up will get some career kudos, but I doubt that she will!

      1. re: sally from LA
        Jeanne from Brooklyn

        You called it Sally, on the wooden host and the repellent food mag editor! One good thing about a wooden host though, is it means the contestants and the "drama" are allowed to shine. Unlike on other reality shows where the host constantly tries to compete for attention with the contestants. I.e. Seacrest on Idol. On Tiffany, I kept going between feeling bad for her and hating her, and ultimately I believe as edited as she may have been we did get to see her true self. I agree with someone here who said she seems one of those people who have a problem with trusting anyone. I've seen women and men like that in the workplace, and they end up having big problems throughout career due to this issue. Sadly, a key facet of that particular issue is the inability to listen and absorb criticism! As we witnessed in Tiffany, and which is why I still blame her for her own troubles. She made it to final round based on her talent, she was given chance after chance, and still she refused to listen to others' feedback about her behavior. It was all HER choice.

        1. re: Jeanne from Brooklyn

          Exactly. Tiffani's clearly a talented chef. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather eat her food than Harold's, because his food *is* safe, while with Tiffani, there's always the possibility of something new and amazing (that artichoke risotto had me drooling).

          I did feel a little sorry for her at the end -- clearly she wanted this very badly (and as she said in clip last week, her reasons for wanting to travel were food-related). As someone who hasn't always been very socially adept myself, I empathize a little with someone who considers herself a nice person and can't understand why people react to her the way they do.

          I'm sure Tiffani looks at the way the male chefs she's worked around act and wonders why when she tries to act that way people hate her. She believes -- rightly -- that a woman chef should be able to behave the same way as a man. Unfortunately, I think there's still a double standard for the kind of behavior that's considered acceptable from men and the behavior that's acceptable from women -- behavior that's "right" isn't always what's "best."

          But mostly, what she doesn't realize is that she's "tone-deaf" when it comes to the nuances of how people communicate, and that her attempts to "act like a chef" are badly out-of-tune with the situation. Combine that with her underdog mentality (she's a woman, she's "queer") that she feels gives her permission to "fight dirty" and you get ... well, you get someone who says things like "my back just ran into your knife" as if it was something devious that Harold had done to make the other chefs like him better! (I think there was something cut between when Harold responded to that accusation by saying "sorry" and her saying "fair enough" -- I suspect Harold pointed out to her in his quiet Harold way that it wasn't his fault or his doing the other chefs picked him.)

          Anyway, I wish both of them well. As they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity, so I imagine even Tiffani will benefit from this experience.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Though I don't question Tiffani's passion and drive, the excuse that she is a woman and therefore, her actions are misinterpreted is not accurate. Look at LeeAnne who in the same situation didn't bluntly badmouth everyone in her path and boss everyone around. I don't think gender played a role as much as Tiffani would like to think.

            Considering how close Steven and Harold were during the season, wasn't it surprising when Steven chose to work with Tiffani? I immediately smelled a rat and wondered if Steven thought to trip her up to help Harold win. Remember Lorraine Bracco criticizing some of the wine pairings? If there was something fishy going on, that stinks for Tiffani. Sadly, all her bad karma came back to kick her in the tookas.

            1. re: Pupster

              The only thing is that Tiffani already had a menu in her head and knew what she was going to be cooking regardless of what the wines were. Stephen had to work with what she gave him. Harold chose his menu based on the wines, which was the point of the challenge.

              1. re: Katie Nell

                I guarantee Stephen knows not to serve Amarone (one of the richest red wines in the world) early in a meal. And there are multiple Italian whites which are renowned for going with the normally wine-unfriendly artichokes... Either Stephen "choked" or he was devious.

                1. re: eric

                  From what I remember Tifanni had her menu planned, they didn't open th wines until the second day after the menu was set and they had to work with the wines presented by Lorainne Bracco. I don't see devious. I see two guys that had to work to put the money in hand of someone who was an ass to them and did so. They went out and had cocktails after doing prep- it's Vegas baby!

                  1. re: eric

                    From the comments at the table when the artichoke dishes were served, I don't think Stephen pulled a fast one there. Although someone commented that artichokes were an odd choice for a wine pairing, when Colicchio asked the judges their opinions of the actual pairing Tiffani served, all agreed that they matched well.

                    1. re: Dev

                      Watch the episode again. Criticism over serving the Amarone with the fish. Several others questioned.

                      1. re: Pupster

                        Sorry, meant to write that I don't think he pulled a fast one with the wine paired with the artichokes.

                        You're absolutely right about the Amarone, though. Interestingly, I think I read on another post on this thread that Stephen didn't do the pairings.

                2. re: Pupster

                  I didn't say her actions were misinterpreted because she's a woman -- I said that she misread the situation.

                  Double standards do exist, but the fact that it isn't fair that there are different expectations for women doesn't excuse a woman from properly reading the situation and adjusting her behavior. I'm not saying, BTW, that it would be right for a man to behave that way, only that people would react to it differently. Once people have started reacting, then everything that follows is interpreted in light of that initial reaction.

                  Tiffani appears go into her relationships with her co-workers with two elements to her mind set: (1) a chef should be a strong leader, and (2) being a woman means you have to be twice as "strong." I think she's right on both counts. Where she isn't right is the way she tries to demonstrate that she's a "strong leader" and the way she fails to adjust her behavior when it becomes clear that what she's doing isn't working. Instead, she becomes defensive and makes excuses for herself based on her victim/underdog mentality, which just perpetuates and escalates the initial conflict.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Nuanced leadership is what counts. You need to know who to pamper and who to chew out in order to get the best out of people. Some people think that being a strong leader means being a hard ass 24/7. This is just not true. You need to know when to ease up and reward the troops so that when you need them to push hard they are doing it willingly because you have already established the fact that you are not doing this just to be a hard ass but the job actually calls for it. Tiffani missed that lesson, and I don;t think any of the others have it either. Harold is just a nice guy and nice guys are usually listened to because they are nice guys and when you put the two archetypes together, people are more willing to work harder for the nice guy.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I agree, but there is a difference between "strong" and "rude". You can be a strong person without being rude.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                            Jeanne from Brooklyn

                            I don't think you're wrong, I just think your comments don't apply to Tiffany. She's not "strong", she's just being defensive in the face of criticism. Because she's suspicious and finds it very difficult to trust people, and can't imagine they have anything of worth to say to her. People can claim whatever they want about their confidence and strength and so on, but the ability to listen to criticism, take feedback, really absorb it and make changes to one's work and oneself is what really makes for a truly strong person. Period. If you look at Harold, he's strong and can show an assertive attitude, but he's also humble and listens to people. Which is exactly what is going to make him successful.

                          2. re: Pupster

                            There was no conspiracy on Stephen's part. After Lee Anne and Dave chose to work for Harold, it fell upon Stephen to play fair and choose Tiffani. That was Stephen being kind and charitable. I think the show really changed him - he's very likable now. Tiffani seemed to have just gotten worse. That poor woman has ZERO social skills. Beware anyone who outright has to claim to be a kind person, because obviously their actions don't reflect that claim. She thought she could just barrel through everyone to win this thing, but didn't realize what a monster she revealed herself to be. I HATED Stephen throughout Top Chef, much more so than Tiffani. But since the reunion show, I can say that this guy redeemed himself totally.

                            1. re: EatDrinkMan

                              "That was Stephen being kind and charitable. I think the show really changed him - he's very likable now."


                            2. re: Pupster

                              Stephen didn't do the wine pairings, Tiffani did. And I'm glad Stephen didn't open his mouth and try to "educate" her. He was smart -- he let her do it her way and that way he couldn't be blamed if it didn't work. Had he paired something and the judges didn't care for it, Tiffani would have bit his head off.

                            3. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Regarding the double-standard, I don't totally agree. I've had the opportunity to work for and with many ambitious, hard-driving women and men. With both sexes, there are those that manage to be aggressive and yet inspiring, respectful, and likable; and those that are instead obnoxious, disrespectful, and unpleasant. The former are the best people to work for/with, the latter I just want to throttle. The only difference is that the bad ones are usually called different names based on sex: a--hole for a man and b--ch for a woman.


                              1. re: nja

                                Ah, but Nick, you're a SNAG and you live in San Francisco. :-)

                                  1. re: nja

                                    Don't worry, nja - I completely agree w/ you (as do many others, it seems). ;-)

                          3. re: sally from LA
                            me too, not you

                            I don't agree. I think someone will appreciate her "round circles" and offer her something. think about it, "Vegas is big" and getting bigger by the minute . someone will take herr under their belt, maybe even EL will since his fame and followings are falling

                          4. re: judybird

                            He got something way beyond monetary compensation (I agree that $100K with taxes taken out is peanuts) which is national exposure, as well as face and name recognition among the food community. I thought both Harold and Tiffani were going to wet their pants when they saw Drew Nieporent at the final dinner. Though Bravo had Lorraine Bracco as the 'celebrity' big name for its viewers, those in the restaurant world know that the VIP at that dinner was Nieporent.

                            Meeting him, Jeffery Chowdorow earlier in the season, as well as being able to cook for top name chefs like Michael Mina, Hubert Keller, judge Tom Colicchio and others is really the prize. I have no doubt Harold will find many backers for his restaurant.

                            PS. I thought it was a little sad that Dave's desserts were among the best dishes in Tiffani's menu. Sad for Dave (though it must have been validating to get so much praise) and sad for Tiffani because Dave and Steven showed up drunk and worked half-assed.

                            After the first show, I predicted her statement that she wasn't there to make friends would haunt her. The sure-fire kiss of death.


                            1. re: judybird

                              I'm pretty sure that he was in the process of working on the restaurant even before the final episode. he mentioned the restaurant during the reunion show and also when he, Tiffani and Dave were catching up in the MGM suite for the final elimination challenge. I think the $100k is just "extra", so to speak.

                              I'm glad Harold won though. Tiffani learned at the end that you can't bite the hand (or hands, in this case) that feed you. She pissed off enough people that 3 of the the 4 sous chefs didn't want to work with her, and when all was said and done, none felt she was worthy enough to be Top Chef. I couldn't believe that she said "My back just ran into your knife" to Harold -- what the heck did he do to her? She was just bitter because she knew what was coming.

                              I thought Dave said a great thing when he said at the Judge's Table that Tiffani should have been nice to him and Steven because they were the ones who were trying to help her win. Instead, she snapped at them, and even tried to take credit for Dave's dessert. She should have been going out of her way to be nice to them -- she needed their help, they didn't need hers!

                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                Well they sure helped her by coming in smashed!

                                1. re: mnosyne

                                  of course there is no excuse for that (except to make it more interesting for tv). But the only thing that crossed my mind is that if they were working for Harold, they probably would have respected him enough to get a good night's sleep and be ready for the competition, instead of party on the town the night before. If Tiffany had treated them better all along, they may have acted differently.

                                2. re: boogiebaby

                                  I agree with those who think Tiffani wasn't ALL that bad. She was snippy but I didn't think she was treating Dave and Steven badly during the final. I thought she was fairly respectful and didn't need to kiss their asses. She's not an easy going person but surely not the devil.

                                3. re: judybird

                                  agree about the money he earned. he'll need much more to scratch the surface. wonder what ever happened to Rocco's? from watching the show Chadrow or whatever his name is, said it's now Elephant&Caviar or something, truE?

                                4. Cream always rises to the top.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. l
                                    Lizard (BKLN)

                                    Tiffani did come off bad, but that is, in part, due to editing (yes, I know, the familiar lament of the reality TV villain). Did she actually lie? We know that Dave offers to make the Panna Cotta, and we know that she did delegate the task to him, but we do not see the discussion that took place over what might be done with the Panna Cotta, the bread pudding and the cocktail. Dave can be really simple according to the reports, and she may have had some ideas to add. It seems like there was a lot there left out in order to make her come off really poorly.

                                    And now, some thinking, or rather, extrapolation based on my limited info:

                                    I actually started to feel very bad for her. I want to cut her slack because she is clearly a bristly person who hasn't learned yet to tone it down (she is young) and for those comparing her to Harold's laid-backness, well, I don't know if that's really fair. This is not to say that Harold isn't lovely-- he is, at least as far as I and my crush could tell-- but that being a woman in this field may demand a certain additional force that is needed, even as she hasn't learned to manage it. Her behavior strikes me as someone who really doesn't feel like she can rely on anyone. Such lack of trust comes from somewhere.

                                    The behavior of Dave and Stephen didn't exactly make it easy for her. In fact, I thought Dave came off poorly-- coming to the project still drunk from a late night, drinking throughout, and then throwing a little pissy-fit because she asked him to keep the wine glass off the line? People have been beaten for less.

                                    From what I saw, Dave and Stephen did nothing to inspire confidence (when sous-chefs are ripped, the least they could do is show dedication to the project rather than giggling and bitching amongst themselves) and Tiffany did try repeatedly to thank them for their work-- leading me to wonder why Stephen was bitching about her not kissing their asses enough.

                                    But then, that could have all been editing too.

                                    Still, something just felt off. I was willing to buy the creation of a villain out of a difficult person, but it seemed like they just kept escalating this villainy that wasn't entirely substantiated, and whose comeuppance almost felt cruel. Even for reality TV.

                                    This doesn't stop my Harold love. I'm just not so big on the Tiffany hate.

                                    And I really want to eat the steak Harold prepared.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: Lizard (BKLN)

                                      Editing aside, I thought that Dave came off as a giver. He put his hatred for her aside and gave up his dessert recipe to her. How Steven and Dave supported Tiffany was shown in stark contrast to the way that LeAnne and Miguel supported Harold.

                                      1. re: Lizard (BKLN)

                                        I too, don't get the hard core Tiffani hate around here but everyone has different takes.

                                        Read Colicchio's blog about his take on the whole situation. Regarding the dessert, he felt that even though it was Dave's idea, Tiffani still put enough touches for it to be considered her own.

                                        He also really ripped Dave and Steven. Dave for being a supposed "giver" really didn't put in the effort.

                                        I've been getting a lot more out of the show from reading his blog. I'm usually not a reality tv fan due to how people are edited and represented. So I find his blog a lot more entertaining and informative.

                                        He did say the thought Harold was the deserving winner because he had been more consistent and also part of being a Top Chef is knowing how to handle a team and a kitchen. While he lauded Tiffani's food, he acknowledged that she needs to learn some interpersonal skills. But her food skills are strong enough that she can go places.

                                        1. re: Jase

                                          Yeah, but did you also read Lee Ann's question and answer session? She said something to the effect that they didn't even show Tiffani half as bad as she really was! That leads me to believe that Tiffani really is *that* bad!

                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                            Where do you find the Q & A - couldn't locate it - thanks!

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Unfortunately, I think they take the Q&A sessions down when the next episode airs. I've only read Lee Ann's and Stephen's, so I'm not really sure, but I just looked everywhere on Bravo's website and it was nowhere to be found... none of the Q&A sessions. But, please believe me... I did not dream it! :-)

                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                There's the video Q&A in each person's bio.

                                          2. re: Jase

                                            I agree. I thought Dave and Stephen came off the worst. For a pedigreed sommelier, STephen's pairings were terrible! I felt sorry for Tiffany, but anyone who has watched any reality tv knows the people who have been kicked off ofter return. So, even though she didn't need to make friends during the competition, she could've used a couple at the end. I felt that throughout the competition, Tiffany's food was more innovative and creative. Harold's food often played it safe and he did raw fish more times than I can count.

                                            1. re: eric

                                              In defense of Stephen, I think it was pretty well established that Tiffani was the one making all the decisions, and that she may have in fact already had a menu pretty set in her mind, regardless of how it matched the wines. Thus, whatever Stephen may have offered in the way of advice, was disregarded.

                                              Although I think that Stephen and David could have handled themselves a bit better during the day of the cooking, I think they were reacting to the events of the evening before, where Tiffani pretty much just treated them as line cooks, if even that, much different than that way Harold treated Miquel and Le Anne as peers. If Tiffani had only worked with her people and give them respect, as opposed to ordering them around like employees, Tiffani might have been able to pull off an upset. Her plating suffered on at least one occasion, and she did it all. The wine pairings were so off that it was commented that she needed a sommeliar. She had one, but did not use him.

                                              I too give her props for going with the dual tasting menu. It is a rather common feature, at least in some Napa Valley and San Francisco establishments.

                                              I also agree that the editors really made Tiffani look bad. If indeed she did collaborate with David on the desserts, then the editing was purposefully deceptive in showing the audience that Tiffani was glad to hand the dish off to David lock, stock and barrel. If, on the other hand, she did very little or nothing, as suggested by the episode, then Tiffani has majority credibility and reality issues which will continue to hamper her career. Unfortunately, it does seem like the latter, particularly in light of her straightfaced denial of reality in the reunion episode.

                                              Lastly, I had to say that I was very frustrated by the editing and the obvious audience manipulation. Even though I enjoyed the overall program, I may not watch next year if they keep it up. (Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.)

                                              And, please, lets get some better celebrity judges. (would have been great if Mina or Nierporent judged, instead of actress/wine importer.)

                                        2. One thing that I thought was really odd was Tiffani's dual menu. When she first talked about it, I thought every guest was going to get a dual plate, but then every other guest got a different dish. This just didn't make sense to me. It's one thing if you're comfortable with the people you're eating with and love to share, but it's a whole other thing if you don't know the other people! And what if you were jealous of your next door neighbor's dish or just didn't like a particular ingredient in your dish? Did anyone else think that was odd?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                            Now you're making me wonder. I'd assumed that each guest did taste each dish, served serially, but that the men and women had them in opposite order. This would facilitate her verbal explanations of the dishes and wine selections so that she wouldn't have to come on and speak again when the second dish was served.

                                            Is that possible, or are you fairly sure that the dishes were actually served to every other person?

                                            1. re: BeeBee

                                              I'm guess I don't know *for sure*... I just remember her explaining what half the people had and then what the other half of the people had, but I guess they could have just not shown it the second time around... now I don't know!!

                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                Men and women did get different dishes, but it was clear by the way they talked about the dishes that they were sharing. I too thought it was very risky to do a tasting menu this way. It reminded me of the old post linked below, where a top SF restaurant served a different menu to men and women, much to the chagrin of the poster.

                                                I'm glad Harold won. From the beginning I thought he deserved it.



                                              2. re: BeeBee

                                                They were definitely sharing (at one point, someone --Bracco? -- said something like "I don't want to share, I don't want to give this up"). The judges have been shown sharing dishes throughout the competition. I think it's pretty standard when you're doing a competition tasting -- sometimes it's just not possible or practical to prepare a separate dish for every judge, and when judges are only going to eat a few bites before the go on to the next dish, it's wasteful as well. Anyone used to being a food judge would find it acceptable.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  to me, all the dishes presented were always too small to share

                                              3. re: Katie Nell

                                                Actually, I think that idea is kind of going around with tasting menus, isn't it. I believe Thomas Keller does that, give two or three different tasting menus to a table to encourage diners to share with each other.

                                              4. It was so clear that Tiffani was going to lose. The editors seemed to have alot of fun w/ this last episode, cutting and pasting to make her look really nasty. Don't get me wrong, Tiffani clearly has personality issues that contributed to her demise, but we only saw part of the picture.

                                                Even though I thought Harold deserved to win more and grew increasingly annoyed w/ Tiffani in the last few episodes, I felt badly for her when she was clearly in pain over her loss. She put her heart and soul into the competition, and I get the sense that she doesn't have as strong of a support network as easy going, affable Harold.

                                                While I thought Tiffani's "duality" menu was a bit confusing and overwrought, I really liked that she took that risk instead of playing it safe like Harold. In fact, that's been my problem w/ Harold all along...his food and personality are a bit boring for me. I want a little more edge and innovation, I guess...still wish Lee Anne had won.

                                                As Colicchio said, Tiffani's highs were higher than Harold's. If she can learn to focus her ideas and creativity, work w/ others, and not have such a big chip on her shoulder, she could do quite well.