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Top Chef Masters Finale 08/19/09 (spoilers)

OK, first show of TC6-Vegas is done - that's gonna be a GREAT season with some top-notch chefs!

But on to the Masters Finale - go Hubert! LOL

And what a great finale theme! Their "chef autobiography:"

1st dish - first food memory
2nd dish - dish that inspired them to be a chef
3rd dish - opening of first restaurant
4th dish - where the chef will be heading in the future

OK, how cool is it that they bring in the actual sous chefs of Keller, Bayless, and Chiarello?

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  1. ok, i'm *drooling* - i don't know how the judges can make a decision like this!

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Seriously - almost ALL of the dishes throughout this "autobiography" looked absolutely heavenly!

    2. I'd bet on Rick Bayliss. But Keller's stuff looks great, too. These guys are all such class acts. You know they want to win,and are bringing their A games.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jeanmarieok

        you know, there were some not-so-rave reviews of a couple of Keller's dishes...and Chiarello made a strong showing!

        like i said, i don't know how they'll decide. what i *do* know is that i want some of Bayless' mole and pibil, and Chiarello's heirloom polents/rabbit dish and short ribs!

      2. Interesting - the texting voting had Bayless winning with 43% of the votes, and Keller with 42%. Poor Chiarello came in last. ;-)

        DAMN. I cannot believe that Keller came in third to Chiarello! Bayless definitely wins - and yup, he's the winner!

        I guess whoever posted the spoiler at the beginning of the season was right (and I really hated knowing that throughout the entire season!). That person had BETTER not do that again if they find out who wins for TC6-Vegas!

        6 Replies
        1. re: LindaWhit

          am i the only one who thinks James Oseland was really gunning for Chiarello? he commented that the short ribs were the "best rendition of that dish" he's ever had, yet only gave him 3.5 stars...

          anyway, hooray for Bayless! he rocks.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            It is quite possible - even Chiarello seemed to think that and teased Oseland with the charred doilies of Saveur Magazine. ;-)

            I'm glad for Bayless - I would have been happy with Bayless or Keller. I'm still just ticked that I knew it was Bayless winning because of that spoiler I read, as I noted above.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              right, i forgot that you mentioned that in an earlier thread. where did you read it?

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                It was here on CH - IIRC, Ruth Lafler responded to the thread, and maybe one or two others. The subject line was written in such a way to make you think it was about last season's TC5, NOT about the upcoming Masters season.

                Obviously someone reported it (I can't recall if I did) because the Mods removed it in its entirety. I can't recall who did it either - but I think they've posted spoilers here before re: other seasons of TC.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  I saw that spoiler also, but not on CH. Also, the editors deserve a kick for inadvertently revealing the winner. In the promo for the finale Kelly Choi announces, "you are the top chef" while looking directly at the finalist located on the far right. Of course, during judges table and the final announcement, Rick Bayless was standing on the far right.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            Chiarello, pronounce my name, chop the carrots, bit him in the ass with the texters, as it wasn't just the chowhound folks who quickly tired of him last week. I was pulling for Keller first, then Bayless, but to be honest, it appeared that anyone could have won, as they all put out brilliant food. I

            1. re: chris2269

              I agree, Keller should have at least beaten out Chiarello. His execution was flawless. When he described his fourth course of braised beef cheeks and the sweetbreads, I was drooling, two of my very favorite dishes. The next time I'm in SF, I am trying to get a table at Fleur de Lys. What a show!

              1. re: araknd

                Keller had me with his first dish - that stew sounded SO good!

                1. re: araknd

                  How do you get Wago beef cheeks at Whole Foods?

                  1. re: chicgail

                    There were quite a few things on the menu that you couldn't get at my local WF, including black truffles, suckling pig and Chiarello's fish (name escapes me right now).

                    1. re: chowser

                      I think that's part of what Rick said in his blog was their negotiation with producers for items they couldn't get at WF.

                      Blog link below in DiningDiva's post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6460...

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          ... which we can, occasionally, get at WF in New York. ;)

                        2. re: chowser

                          If I heard correctly. Keller had had the truffles flown in directly from France, and did not purchase them from WF.

                          1. re: cmvan

                            Thanks, I've just been reading the blogs and it seems quite a few items weren't bought at WF. It would have been slim pickings if they had shopped at my local WF.

                            1. re: cmvan

                              Flown in? I thought his sous chef brought them? IIRC, the tin on the truffles said D'Artagnan? I'm not sure what the "season" is for truffles - their website said their summer truffles are available April - September, so depending on when the finale was filmed, perhaps that's where he got them from?

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                It sounded like, from Bayless' blog, rickwon.com, that they were allowed to order special items WF didn't have by way of distributors. It's unclear, though, where the truffles came from specifically. HK had already shown them, as I recall, before the sous chefs showed up. It was hard to hear, but it sounded like HK said something about how they'd just arrived from being flown in. Perhaps we'll get all that clarified at some point.

                                1. re: cmvan

                                  Hubert Kellers Sous Chef did not bring the truffles. On DVR when the SC's arrive they have nothing but their knives. They actually had a shot of Hubert pulling them out of the bag and saying they were flown in from France. They did not come in a tin. They were HUGE! However they were setting on a D'Artagnan bag so I'm assuming that Ariane got them for Hubert.
                                  The all had special order items. Even Chiarello had truffles as well as Duck and Rabbit liver.

                                  1. re: Fritter

                                    OK, so I'm not crazy having seen a D'Artagnan logo somewhere. :-)

                            2. re: chowser

                              And, of course, Chiarello didn't buy his cabernet vines at WF :)

                              1. re: Reignking

                                He brought those with him. Or so he said. From his vineyards.

                      1. Hooray for Rick! Just made reservations at Topo for our anniversary dinner. Can't wait.

                        1. Loved the finale! I don't think James Oseland was gunning for Chiarello- the gnocchi dish didn't seem that spectacular and there was more than one negative comment about the fish. I thought it was pretty nervy/tacky of him to char the edges of Saveur magazine to use as doilies also...

                          I was thrilled Rick Bayless won- but I wish Keller hadn't come in third..... :(

                          How much do you think a seat at the final meal would go for if auctioned off? Thousands I bet!

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: QSheba

                            How lucky do you think the younger Top Chefs felt when they started eating those dishes? I know that if I could have afforded it, I would have paid just about anything to be at that table. Even Tom Colicchio seemed in awe of what the Masters brought.

                            1. re: araknd

                              If the chefs are smart (and I have to believe they are) they will offer this menu at their respective restaurants.

                              1. re: chicgail

                                I would hope that they would do that. I'd pay top money to eat there for that menu.

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  Actually, on Tuesday Rick tweeted photos of each course of the Rick's Life menu that they were rolling out at Topolo (actually, they added a 5th course of dessert)...then after midnight Wednesday when I started seeing the first official promos for the finale that night and saw what the challenge was going to be, I figured that was the cherry on top as the sign of his imminent win (the cake being that they started the blog root4rick.com, and then that he was throwing the big viewing party at Frontera including inviting a few lucky fans...can't see him doing any of those things if he knew he had lost).

                                  Doesn't mean I wasn't on the edge of my seat during the show though. :)

                                2. re: araknd

                                  Well, you can certainly get Chiarello's "polenta-under-glass" at Bottega.

                                  My wife remarked that that was a 12-course tasting menu that she would gladly pay for (as 12 courses is too much for her to eat).

                                  1. re: Reignking

                                    I was thinking I'd probably pay more for that meal than any other meals I've ever had. Priceless.

                                3. re: QSheba

                                  Oseland needs to get over himself. The magazine that he runs is very thin on content and more geared toward advertising rather than quality writing and culinary insight.

                                  Yet, in the end, it is just television. I've eaten at the restaurants of all three and clearly would return to a HK anyday.

                                  Happy viewing (and cooking)!

                                4. I was at such odds with myself while watching this finale. I wanted to be bayless, worship keller, and smack chiarello. I don't know that I could be a judge on this show, because I respect the chefs so much that I dont' know that I could say anything bad about these amazing chefs.

                                  Yet.... I could not believe that chiarello beat keller. That to me is amazing. I would have voted for bayless first, keller second, and chiarello third.

                                  1. Okay kids, I've got 2 requests...

                                    1) I have no TVat the moment, does anyone know if Bravo will post a video recap of some sort for tonight? I'm assuming they won't put the whole episode online (woudl they?)

                                    2) Can someone recap for me what the chefs actually did for each course.

                                    I am delighted that Rick won, tho' I really like Hubert a lot too.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. As mentioned throughout the series of TCM and really made apparent after watching TC6, the Masters are light-years ahead of the TC6 cheftestants. The Masters work collaboratively. There's no drama, no a-hole comments, no ink and no freaking out.

                                      I liked all three chefs, but cheering for Keller.
                                      Bayless winning is all good. He seems like great guy.

                                      The dish I would want to try from each chef is the Mole, the short ribs and the Keller's Monday stew.

                                      40 Replies
                                      1. re: dave_c

                                        Those 3 dishes you mentioned were exactly what I'd like to try as well, dave!

                                        1. re: dave_c

                                          "The Masters work collaboratively. "
                                          anyone else notice when Chiarello warned Bayless that the water for his corn husks was getting low? a cheftestant on TCA who noticed something like that would be much more likely to ignore it and let the water boil out.

                                          BTW, i'll take the mole, the pork, the short ribs, and the stew as well...but as long as we're being greedy i'd also like to try the polenta ;)

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Meant to comment last night re: the corn husk water - I noticed it as well. THAT is the collaboration that I'd hope that the TC6 chefs do as well. But I don't expect to see it that often - perhaps on a group dish only.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              A little different perspective when you are playing for a charity or money in your pocket. Put the masters up on a $1,000,000 winner take all and see if they act a little differently.

                                              1. re: beteez

                                                Perhaps. But that's not what this contest is about. And we *have* seen collaboration amongst regular TC cheftestants in the past, where one helps another.

                                                Unfortunately, more often, we get to see the nasty "I'm going to take all the protein [or whatever it was] that I know everyone else is going to want even though I'm not going to use it" attitude like Spike gave us last year.

                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              As much as Chiarello has come off as a jerk the past couple of episodes, he impressed me when he and Bayless traded dishes and he said he'd rather honor Bayless as a chef than care what the judges think.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                thank you for saying that - i've been trying to be as diplomatic as possible about defending Chiarello's abilities for the past couple of weeks because i really feel like he's gotten bashed a bit too much...but i was beginning to feel like i'm the only one here who doesn't hate the guy!

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Don't hate him, just didn't understand the ego of the last couple of episodes. Hubert and Rick were so much more humble across the board.

                                                  I still adore Chiarello. Even tho he's Calabrese (I'm Sicilian)!

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Don't hate him. Just was SERIOUSLY disappointed in the chest-thumping ego shown. As rocks said, Keller and Bayless just seemed more humble and willing to listen to people helping them. It was obvious that more of the past TC cheftestants wanted to work with either of them vs. Chiarello.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      i'm fairly sure 99.9% of head chefs at that level are full of chest thumping ego in teir own kitchens. it's how they get there. I'm willing to bet Hubert has blown a gasket more than once at underlings in his kitchen.

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        " it's how they get there"

                                                        Uhm no. They get there with talent,sticktoitiveness and perfecting their craft. Blowing a gasket or being pissed off every now and then has nothing at all to do with acting like an arrogant ass.
                                                        It's never a good thing for any Chef to have an entire group of younger Chef's saying NO I don't want to work with him.

                                                        1. re: Fritter

                                                          It's never a good thing for any Chef to have an entire group of younger Chef's saying NO I don't want to work with him.
                                                          Bingo. If you can't get relatively easy-going (and willing to learn!) Richard Blais to want to work with you, you're acting more arrogantly that others. Perhaps this is not his usual style. Perhaps he "snapped" for this one time - but unfortunately, it was on camera. Hey - even he said that Bayless and Keller were better chefs in that they were able to incorporate their sous chefs suggestions into their menus, whereas Chiarello just laid down the law his way.

                                                          Different personalities - I just wasn't particularly enamoured of Chiarello's towards the end of TCM.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            If you get a chance to watch the show again you will see Chiarello has a very smug grin when he is interviewing the other Chef's. He was clearly telling them they are just underlings to him.
                                                            Now the thing with Dale you could be right. Perhaps he just snapped.
                                                            One thing that even Rick Bayless noted in his blog was the difficult and early morning hours filiming day after day.
                                                            Personally I think in a competition that Richard Blais just might have shown Chiarello who is the boss. I really think Richard had a far better chance at winning that Art Smith.

                                                            1. re: Fritter

                                                              But Blais doesn't cook with LLLOOOOOVVVVEEE!!!! Like Art does.


                                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  Speaking of Art Smith and "Love", here's what Jay Raynor had to say in his blog on bravo.com:

                                                                  "As I've said before, I don't have any time for the emotionally incontinent guff about cooking with love (even from Art Smith). I don't want chefs to love me. Hell, they don't even have to like me. And nor do I expect them to harbour lascivious feelings for their ingredients. What I want them to do is use oceans of experience and technique to create fabulously distinctive and original platefuls of food. And throughout this competition, that's exactly what happened."

                                                                  Sounds like he wasn't terribly thrilled with Art's persona...

                                                                2. re: Fritter

                                                                  they ARE underlings to him, in this situation. NOT lesser human beings, not inferior people. underlings in his kitchen, able to follow his direction, as it is his call what is to eb done, and how to do it. TOP CHEF, not top NICE GUY

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    thew, there's a way to get what you want out of your sous chefs without ridiculing them, as Chiarello seemed to do. Keller's and Bayless' actions proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      I see your point. After all I'm sure every single one of the prior Cheftestants did not want to work for Chiarello because he carried him self in such a professional manner. Neither Keller or Bayless had any difficulty managing and directing the other Chef's with out telling them they were no more than gophers.
                                                                      IE; Fetch me a trash Bin.
                                                                      How do you pronounce my name?
                                                                      Cut a corrot.
                                                                      Lets try to remember that the sous Chefs in this situation are all accomplished Chefs.
                                                                      BTW You may have noticed that the TOP nice guy is also the TOP Chef.

                                                                    2. re: Fritter

                                                                      Fritter, I don't disagree with you - I recall that smug grin as well. There's that superiority attitude that definitely comes out with Chiarello. Is it warranted? Don't know, not having eaten at any of their restaurants.

                                                                      But I would love to see a Blais/Chiarello competition - Blais would definitely give him a run for his money! LOL

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        Indeed that competition would be fun. I have no doubt that Chiarello is a great Chef. I just think you have to really miss-step to have an entire group not wanting to work with you. To me he really showed that he was insecure about the younger Chefs and their level of talent. Chiarello's interview process was just inappropriate for this event and he managed to irritate just about every one.
                                                                        The other thing I noticed re-watching the show was Bayless mentioning that he has no culinary training.

                                                                        1. re: Fritter

                                                                          The sous chefs also know that they would not need to work with him outside of this one time plus they are also lookingfor a culinary education so that would also explain their lack of enthousiasm working with Chiarello.

                                                                  2. re: Fritter

                                                                    >>It's never a good thing for any Chef to have an entire group of younger Chef's saying NO I don't want to work with him.<<

                                                                    Chiarello's reputation preceded him into the Top Chef Masters show, and,
                                                                    I believe, colored the judges' impressions of the food. My sense is that Oseland was certainly hip to Chiarello's completely out-of-line ego and "downsized" him for that.

                                                                    Chiarello is well-known throughout the food industry as an abusive supervisor, who supervises with humiliation and shame. I know firsthand: I worked for him. I emerged relatively unscathed -- I had good skills and good technique -- but I heard verbally abusive, insulting language directed towards others so many times I'm cringing as I'm writing this.

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                      Thanks for sharing, marria lorraine. It's always good to get first hand information.

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Thank you very much maria lorraine. As KTinNYC said - it's always best to hear what it's like from someone who experienced it. Perhaps seeing how Keller and Bayless work with their staff, he might change - even a little bit - and become less harsh towards the people who work with him. And I used the "with" vs. the "for", as I would think that a kitchen should be a team working together in unison.

                                                                        Although I doubt he'll change at this point. He's just shown how he can be not just to the food industry, but anyone interested in food. Perhaps some people don't care about that, but obviously the discussion on this thread shows that many people do.

                                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                          sounds on par with a good friend of mine who worked for him. She can't talk about him without getting teary eyed. Not a legacy I'd want to leave behind as a chef.

                                                                          I find that kind of behavior absolutely vile. Bullies are cowards.

                                                                          1. re: pastryqueen

                                                                            Bullies gain power and control by making others feel bad about themselves.

                                                                            You're right, pastryqueen, it is a fear-based behavior. But it causes such damage.

                                                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                                                            maria, thanks for sharing...first-hand accounts are always more helpful & informative than hearsay or speculation. it bums me out because some of his food really did look wonderful so i wanted to like him, but there's no excuse for abusing your employees.

                                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                              Oh Maria, I am so sorry to hear this. I, like so many others here, want to believe that the Michael Chiarello we saw interact (??) with Dale, etal was just a 1x thing. I truly like his food, enjoy his take on Italian dishes so much more than a lot of other "Italian" chefs (hello Giada...). To hear he is a typical kitchen bully makes me very sad.

                                                                              Every time I had the luxury of seeing/meeting/talking to Rick Bayless, he just reinforced that hs is SUCH a nice guy, in and out of the kitchen. You can't manufacture that.

                                                                              And to whomever said this wasn't about being the Top Nice guy, would it hurt to be a little nicer to people you have to work with in a tense situation? Just because he's a good chef, that gives him the right to be a jerk?

                                                                              Sorry, but I've had enough of chefs like Gordon Ramsey. I want to watch someone cook who thoroughly enjoys what they do, and enjoys pleasing others with their food/creations. Just my humble opinion.

                                                                              1. re: rocks67

                                                                                i want to watch someone who can cook good food, and inspire me with new ideas

                                                                                1. re: rocks67

                                                                                  Chiarello gave me the creeps, but most restaurant kitchens I've been around have been profane places where "verbal abuse" is common. You are cramming a bunch of people from varying backgrounds and cultures into a very hot space with tight deadlines and constant stress. "Mr. Nice Guy" won't always get the results you need. Interested that both of those we're told consider Chiarello abusive are women--I also think there's a very macho culture in most kitchens and women find "abusive" what men may consider blunt criticism--as in military drill instructors. Just a theory, so don't freak out on me with allegations of sexism. As I said, I found Chiarello smarmy, and I wouldn't want to work for him. I just can't see a high-end kitchen working at its best with a touchy-feely ambience.

                                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                    Well we had a perfect example opposite Chiarello in the competition in Bayless. He didn't seem a hardass on TCM and he has never seemed that way. As far as I know his reputation is that of a nice guy. And yet, his restaurants are highly regarded and oh yea, he won. Touchy-feeley might not work, but that doesn't mean a jump to the other side of the spectrum is necessary. Discipline and being an a-hole do not have to go hand-in-hand despite what seem people believe.

                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                      I've been to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion a couple of times and they have an open kitchen that you can see from most of the tables.
                                                                                      I've been surprised by how calm the chefs and kitchen staff are. They just quietly go about their business and work with a definite focus.
                                                                                      Maybe that's Roy's vision of how a kitchen should be run. Very different from my brief restaurant kitchen experiences and what I've seen on TV as the norm but I think it shows there's more than one way go about it.

                                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                        Open kitchens I have observed have generally been the same, but I have to believe that to some degree, that has to do with the fact that the kitchen then becomes part of the restaurant's ambience. Not saying that the kitchens at Roy's restaurants aren't run calmly and with all-around respect regardless, but simply that when patrons are observing, restaurants aren't going to put on display franticness, yelling, profanity, or belittling behavior.

                                                                                    2. re: newhavener07


                                                                                      <<Interested that both of those we're told consider Chiarello abusive are women--I also think there's a very macho culture in most kitchens and women find "abusive" what men may consider blunt criticism--as in military drill instructors.>>

                                                                                      In my observation of Chiarello in the kitchen, he was an Equal Opportunity Abuser -- men, women, suppliers, dishwashers, etc. He was mostly abusive of men because there were more men in the kitchen. This type of abuse has nothing to do with sexism.

                                                                                      By the way, culinary students are now taught to NEVER work for an abusive boss or in an abusive environment. I remember the lecture clearly -- I was in my last term at school and nearly an entire class one day was devoted to abusive, macho bosses and that type of hostile kitchen environment. Essentially the Chef-Instructor said that a macho "European" environment reflected a dated, hostile management style that was no longer acceptable, legal or profitable.

                                                                                      Chef told us point-blank that if any one of us were to find ourselves in a job with an abusive, yelling chef-supervisor, to quit and to find a new job immediately. We were urged to develop such good skills that we would be highly marketable as kitchen personnel.

                                                                                      High-performance ANYTHING isn't "touchy-feely" -- a very inappropriate choice of words. Abusive and touchy-feely are at opposite ends of the spectrum and there are many productive behaviors in-between.

                                                                                      Like, a respect of and a genuine concern for both the employee and the person. Regular training and increasing competencies of all employees. Establishing a consensus spirit and team sensibility works great. Not namby-pamby at all but powerful and loyalty-inducing. These all make for a more PROFITABLE kitchen because employees aren't frequently quitting and needing to be replaced and continually retrained, aren't stealing out of spite (because they were mistreated), have less absenteeism, work harder rather than merely marking time, and are more forthcoming with new profitmaking ideas.

                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                        Maria Lorraine, marvelous post and spot on. It is counter productive to run employees out of the kitchen with inappropriate behavior. You are absolutely right that abusive environments not only are detrimental to the employees but expensive to run and do nothing to build loyalty or a team environment. Hiring and training is expensive. To perpetually be in that mode is draining and stressfull for everyone.

                                                                                        I once had a femal employee who graduated (Hyde Park) CIA in 1975. Her class was mostly men. One of the reasons she got out of the restaurant environment and moved into the non-commerical side of the business was the abuse that was heaped on her in male dominated kitchens. This was not a woman with a thin skin or easily intimidated, but as she said, after years of it you just get tired and need to take care of yourself and your own interests. I am delighted to hear that culinary schools are now stressing that work environments should be more even keeled and humane.

                                                                                    3. re: rocks67

                                                                                      I think it's unfair to put GR in the same category. If you've ever seen the F-word or the British version of KN, Gordon comes across much differently than what' shown on his US shows.

                                                                                      1. re: saeyedoc

                                                                                        I'm sure Fox wanted something a lot more profane and confrontational.

                                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                                  Blowing a gasket is at times appropriate. During a job interview is not one of those times.

                                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                                              I'm with goodhealthgourmet---I thought that was awesome of Chiarello. And I was equally impressed with notifying Bayless that his water was running dry.

                                                                              and I still like the way that Chiarello ran his test of the assistants.

                                                                        2. Wow, that was a great finale, and seemed like an amazing meal. I really liked the themes of the four dishes, those were great ideas. It was also fun to see their sous chefs come to help them out, and I loved that the twist was a helpful thing instead of something to throw them off their game.

                                                                          I also thought that Oseland seems to just not like Chiarello's cooking; it was interesting that his criticism was for the polenta, especially after Gail Simmons wanted to bathe in it (and other diners raved about it too).

                                                                          I wish I could have tasted those short ribs. And that pork of Bayless. Oh, and that stew of Keller's. Sigh.

                                                                          1. While I think this was the best episode of TC ever I could sum it up in three words...


                                                                            The food all looked incredible. Setting at that table to eat must have been like winning the lotto. Stephanie was a guest which surprised me a bit as this may have been her first return appearance.
                                                                            Congrats Rick!
                                                                            BTW did any one notice the sign at Ricks parents BBQ? At the bottom it said;
                                                                            "Let us cook your Goose".

                                                                            I think I might like BBQ Goose.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Fritter

                                                                              I was fixated on that sign also! :-)

                                                                            2. Not much to add from me. I thought this was a love-in. A proper celebration of food. It struck me, quite deeply, that this is what we all expected from these guys and they delivered plenty of it. Not much drama except for Chiarello, and part of it wasn't even of his own doing. I am glad to see Mexican food get the kudos it deserves, and maybe now we can move beyond the Speedy Gonzales special #3 routine.

                                                                              I thought Keller did get orbbed. And I thought Chiarello got screwed by Oseland, perhaps for his Saveur joke. But he deserves it. Topolobamopo and Fleur de lys it is.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                "And I thought Chiarello got screwed by Oseland, perhaps for his Saveur joke. "
                                                                                i agree with you that Chiarello got screwed by Oseland, which actually really surprised me because he seemed genuinely amused by the joke and not at all offended. in fact, it appeared as though everyone at the table appreciated the humor in the gesture.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  Well, he could react one way and think another. They are all aware that they are on camera, and you really don't see what his first reaction was when he saw the doily.

                                                                              2. So, the question is - has anyone heard of there being a Top Chef Masters Season 2? Can one hope that there are others out there who would want to do this as well?

                                                                                But the more obvious question is: would I be able to stand it if Eric Ripert, should he choose to participate, wasn't in the finale? LOL

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Hung is such an ass. Everyone was raving over one of the dishes and he says something about being undercooked or whatever. Ugh. Never liked him.

                                                                                  I hope there is a Season 2!

                                                                                  1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                    I had the same reaction about Ilan. I never thought much of the guy so every time he says something, it seems stupid to me.

                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                      And i wasn't that crazy about Hosea. At least there's Harold and Stephanie -- class acts both of them.

                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                        I'm surprised no one mentioned Leah on the show, just for his benefit.

                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                          Funny, I was surprised to see Hosea--I think I had blocked out completely that he had won. When I think of that season, I think of Carla!

                                                                                      2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                        It was Harold that said Keller's sweetbreads was way undercooked, not Hung.

                                                                                      3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                        Linda every time I see you post about the Ripert I have Joe Jackson singing Pretty Boys stuck in my head the rest of the morning!



                                                                                        1. re: Fritter

                                                                                          LOL!!! Well, that's not the worst song that could get stuck in your head, I suppose!

                                                                                      4. If I was one of the contestants I'd be very offended to be judges by the likes of Ilan. That's just wrong.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                          Hurray for our hometown boy, Rick!! I was pulling for him the entire time. I love his restaurant, miss it now that I'm working in the burbs. I used to see him almost every morning on my way in to work (his restaurant was around the corner from my office). He always looked so serious, but would smile and say "Hi" if you did to him.

                                                                                          I also met him about 8 years ago (also the year Julia Child almost ran down my husband and I in a golf cart, LOL) at a chef's event at Chicago Botanic Gardens. really nice guy, signed a book for my husband for our anniversary.

                                                                                          I totally want that Black Mole and those tamales. Not to mention his bbq look amazing.

                                                                                          I too was a bit surprised that Keller was third. Is it just me, or does Chiarello have a totally over-inflated idea of himself?? Shame, as i used to love him. Now? Not so much..

                                                                                          Nice to see SOME of the TC winners, but really, Hung and Ilan, were those comments necessary? I'm sure Stephanie was thrilled that the hometown chef won!

                                                                                          1. re: rocks67

                                                                                            The food looked incredible, best food of any Top Chef episode, ever. Only problem I had was the tremendous waste of food, gimme the scraps! They should've just done tasting portions, instead of full on entrees.

                                                                                            I don't get all the ill will w/ certain winners for this ep, none of them said anything terrible. They simply pointed out weaknesses in the dishes, w/o any malice. They were paid to judge, by the producers of TC. If you felt they didn't deserve the privilege, take it up w/ Magical Elves.

                                                                                            It seems your anger is clouded by your dislike for certain contestants rather than their actual words. I'm not a fan of Ilan either but I found his comments were more than fair.

                                                                                            Hung mentioned the marinara sauce (Michael's gnocchi) was "a little bit under seasoned, but still excellent". How is that in any way over the top? His analysis of Keller's lamb dish was spot on. Much more useful than Hosea's oohing and awwing.

                                                                                            Me thinks some folks are overreacting.

                                                                                          2. re: Withnail42

                                                                                            I'm going to stick up for MC, Kelly and Hung.
                                                                                            MC rocked it. I'm not a big fan of his personality but you have to give credit where it's due. I have no issue with him finishing a half point ahead of Hubert in that challenge.
                                                                                            Kelly received a lot of criticism this season and let's face it, no one can fill the Padma role and live up to her standards. But Kelly seemed like a nice enough person to me and I thought she did a good job.
                                                                                            Hung: He said the sauce for the gnocchi was under seasoned in his opinion. That seems like a reasonable comment to make, especially (if memory serves correct) he likes food spicy. Nothing wrong with that.
                                                                                            I really enjoyed the Masters season, I hope they do it again. I'd like to see Ming in there.

                                                                                            1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                              I really enjoyed it too and thought the comments were pretty mellow, compared to regular TC judging. Best TC ever!
                                                                                              And Jay needs to come back in some form: First he said something about spandex, then used the word "luscious," then lost his mole virginity! His appearances should come with a warning ala "No Reservations": "This episode may contain scenes dangerous to the marriages and heart health of middle-aged females."

                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                I had forgotten about Jay's molé virginity - while I think he was initially taken aback, Bayless looked very pleased to have been able to do that for him! LOL

                                                                                                1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                  Let start a campaign to replace Toby Young with Jay Raynor!

                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                    I read elsewhere that Tom Colicchio introduced Toby Young to playing craps, I think - and I guess he lost the money he got for being on TC6 already (not a small sum!). So perhaps showing that stupidity will prompt the TC producers to switch to Jay Raynor for TC7! LOL

                                                                                                  2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                    I think for Tom Colicchio's heart health, it would be a good idea to keep Raynor, Bourdain, and Puck from ever appearing together at the same JT ;-)

                                                                                                    1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                      ROFL! What a GREAT panel of judges that would be, huh?

                                                                                                  3. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                    tofu, i just made a comment further up-thread that i was beginning to feel like the only CHer who thinks MC hasn't gotten the credit he deserves. i guess there are a few of us after all!

                                                                                                2. After the show ended, I asked my wife if she could only try one of the many wonderful dishes served that evening, which would she pick. She and I both agreed it would be the Mole.
                                                                                                  If it were one from each, the Mole, Monday stew, and the gnocchi.

                                                                                                  My other observation, I was somewhat annoyed by the fact that the only comments on Keller's lamb dish was the tiny sliver of garlic. Okay, you don't like the garlic, but how was the rest of the dish?
                                                                                                  That lamb looked fantastic.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                    IIRC, Hung commented very positively on the lamb dish -- how perfectly everything was cooked and the spinach was still green.

                                                                                                    1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                      That lamb looked beyond fantastic - I did hear someone comment that the lamb was done perfectly medium-rare, I thought. But was it all three judges who commented, or just Gail and Oseland re: the "raw" garlic? (If he blanched it twice before putting it in the lamb, how in the world could it have been raw?)

                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                        Who thinks of blanching garlic in three waters? Fantastic look into technique.

                                                                                                        1. re: Reignking

                                                                                                          IIRC, Thomas Keller does it in the French Laundry cookbook (Veal Breast recipe).

                                                                                                    2. I thought the show was great and the reasults very fair. I definitely favor Michael Chiarello, but Rick Bayless was outstanding. I did not relate to Hubert Keller as much.
                                                                                                      I thought it was brilliant of MC to bring cuttings from his own vineyard, and extremeely important that he made gnocchi and they raved about it, especially Tom Colicchio.
                                                                                                      I love MC's personality and his story. I think the viewer voting against him has as much to do with his charity as anything else.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: laliz

                                                                                                        I disagree - I think viewer voting had everything to do with Chiarello acting like a jerk on camera last episode.

                                                                                                          1. re: Reignking

                                                                                                            I agree - I was SO disappointed in him last episode. The other guys were so classy and professional, and MC looked like a raving jackass. Certainly turned my opinion of him.

                                                                                                            HK - I didn't know much of him before this show - he makes me want to learn french cooking. There was so much I saw I would love to try on my own.

                                                                                                            RB - I have eaten at his restaurants, and his food is even better than it looks. I was happy he won, but sad HK had to lose, if that makes sense!

                                                                                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                              In reference to Keller - it was nice seeing Harold Dieterle saying exactly what you said re: wanting to learn French cooking after tasting his food.

                                                                                                              And Kelly's and Oseland's blogs are up at Bravo:



                                                                                                        1. re: laliz

                                                                                                          Chiarello's chosen charity is a good one -- Clinic Olé -- which provides medical care, prenatal and pediatric care, and mental health care to those in the Napa Valley who cannot afford it. This includes the farm laborers, who are the engine of the wine industry. It's an outstanding organization.

                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                            Thank you for this info, Maria. I was not aware of his charity. And you are correct, a truly noble and needed charity indeed.

                                                                                                        2. Hubbie and I wonder who the winner was from Tom, Gail, and Padmes vote... wouldn't that show how individual each food experience is? I was super happy for Chef Bayless, however it was nice to see each of the top three do so well!

                                                                                                          1. Has there been any talk of this series coming out SOON on DVD?

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: shallots

                                                                                                              I don't know about DVD, but it is already out on Itunes (which I happily purchased yesterday).

                                                                                                            2. Ahhhhh
                                                                                                              I have soooo many thoughts running through my head as I just read through these posts.

                                                                                                              First thing I'd like to say is - Am i the only one who thought that ALL of the chefs have gotten better looking with age?
                                                                                                              Some of their old photos were really funny!

                                                                                                              Secondly I just love Bayless - He is a gentleman and a litle boy...and so talented.
                                                                                                              I didn't have a preference between he and Hubert so I'm happy...
                                                                                                              When Kelly was explaining their challenge - he repeatedly used her name. "Hello Kelly" "Thank you Kelly" - it just show his impeccable manners.

                                                                                                              I am sure I can check on this - but did the chefs change their charities from their original ones?
                                                                                                              I vaguely thought that last week about one of the chefs and again last night - I don't remember Bayless charity to be for the farmers... I could be 100% wrong but I thought I'd ask.

                                                                                                              The food...Oh my God the food!!!
                                                                                                              For one thing I loved the challenge and I loved how much the chef's loved the challenge...I have to say I had a joyful smile on my face the whole episode, and I was enjoying it so much - it just flew by...
                                                                                                              The food looked sublime. I wanted to try every single dish that was served.
                                                                                                              I have recently fallen in love with Cochinita Pibil and would have loved to taste Rick's version..as well as his mole... Chiarellos dishes looked great too - the gnocchi, the polenta....welll maybe not the fish....I don't know how he beat Keller, who was gracious, but I think really crestfallen that he came in third. As for his food - I thought it looked fabulous...so refined and elegant...
                                                                                                              Yes that menu had every kind of wonderful food you could wish for.I hope the TC winners appreciated their good fortune.

                                                                                                              I love TC, but this series was a whole different thing for me - a different kind of enjoyment...sheer joy in watching these masters....most of whom seem to be kind, passionate and so intelligent...it was really just a joy to watch!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                I thought the same thing about them getting better with age. Lesson--mary the high school nerd who likes to cook! Oh...and the food gets better, too.;-)

                                                                                                              2. Rick Bayless commented at the end of how he thought his
                                                                                                                father would be proud of him winning Top Chef Masters.
                                                                                                                IMO, I think he'd be more proud of the quality of Rick's character
                                                                                                                and humility.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                                  Agreed. It wasn't really until the end of the show that I really saw any type of humility from Chiarello. Now, keep in mind, this is a chef I TOTALLY enjoy. I just didn't understand the ego. And at final judges table, I thought it was kind of cute how giddy and excited MC looked, thinking he had won it all.

                                                                                                                  Honestly, I didn't even know what MC's charity was. I would have killed to be on that panel and eaten this food, however. Yummmy!!!

                                                                                                                  1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                                    Agree, Bayless is one fine, well rounded human being, I first became aware of his passion for what he does with his PBS series, if I ever get back to Chicago, I so want to eat his food.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                      Interesting on the "ingredient negotiation" comments - he needed a whole pig, Keller needed truffles & sea urchin, Chiarello wanted rabbit livers...so they called the producers and negotiated for it since they knew WF wouldn't have them! AND because they all had $ left over from their shopping, they were able to buy wine to serve with the meal and for themselves while waiting for judging to be over. Fun!

                                                                                                                      I take it that he was just able to change his blog URL once he had won? (I know nothing about blogs other than reading them.) I was a bit taken aback thinking he had bought the URL "rickwon.com".

                                                                                                                      ETA: for peppermonkey, who thinks that Bayless doesn't know Mexican cooking, I present these two paragraphs from his blog:

                                                                                                                      "And, of course, I had to make Oaxacan black mole. From scratch. Cooking from my heart, not my head. I had no recipe to follow, just what has now become my Mexican cook’s instinct. It involves pulling together 27 ingredients, charring some of them to near-burnt (but NOT burnt!) and combining them with precision and balance and skill. In the pressure of that competition, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off.

                                                                                                                      But I did. And at the end of that 5 hours, when I was packing away my black mole, I was prouder of my cooking skills than I ever have been. I proved to myself that I’ve mastered one of the hardest dishes (one of the hardest cuisines) on the planet."

                                                                                                                      He pulled an extremely difficult dish together from memory. 'Nuf said.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                        this episode was AMAZING!!! i wanted to eat so many dishes. and i am so glad overcooked seafood didn't bring him down!

                                                                                                                        1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                          Amazing. Wow. Superb. There are countless words to describe the entire episode, but I think those three really say it all.

                                                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                          Just a quick note about his blog naming. Remember that the competition was done much earlier in the year, so they had plenty of time to purchase the domain name and switch it over prior to air time.

                                                                                                                          1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                            True. That's what I originally assumed - except his blog is hosted by Wordpress - and all previous blogs are within the "rickwon.com" domain, so I was assuming he just renamed it via Wordpress, without any domain name purchase, keeping the entire blog intact.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                              the blog was formerly root4rick.com, both url's work concurrently post finale.

                                                                                                                        3. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                          The meanest thing Ned... I mean Chef Bayless has said so far "... the less-than-professional service staff jostled most plates beyond recognition..." Fudgsicles!

                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                He did say something in one of the "interview" segments in last night's episode about people using truffles to make a dish elegant but really it just makes a dish expensive (I am paraphrasing from memory so those aren't his exact words). They cut that in when Hubert was showing off his truffles to Michael. I think it was more funny than mean though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                  Ricks comment about having plenty of money left over for wine...Good wine for each other was great.
                                                                                                                                  As I've said many times in the past he is a class act.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                    i definitely didn't think his comment about the truffles was mean-spirited, and i actually laughed and said "good for you!" when i heard it. i think it was something of a reflexive response from someone who's accustomed to making comparatively humble food...and sometimes feeling as though he needs to defend it.

                                                                                                                                2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                  re Bayless' blog: very interesting that he notes that they edited out a heated 'discussion' by the diners about using tuna in the mole. I questioned that myself, and would have enjoyed hearing the discussion. Of course, as hubby reminded me, it is very hard to 'judge' without being able to taste the food. Wish I could have been there (don't we all?).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I thought that was interesting too, because that was my biggest question about the mole; I really wanted to hear them talk about how the tuna worked/didn't work in it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                                                      One of the best dishes at Zarela in NYC back in it's heyday was Tuna con Mole which was outstanding.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                    Very interesting comments about last minute changes he made, like adding the chorizo "air" they disliked, and that his planned sunchoke pavé fell apart, so he turned it into a very successful puree.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                      Speaking of which; what exactly is chorizo air? A chorizo infused foam?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                        I thought it was what I tend to produce after a big Spanish meal...

                                                                                                                                  3. Has anyone ever had this black mole? What does it taste like? Any good recipes out there? I"m dying to try it but I'm not sure anywhere nearby would have it.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                      I did a very quick google search for "black mole sauce mexican cuisine" and got a few hits from Saveur, Food network, and other recipe sites. In Spanish is "mole negro". And most of them had at least 20 ingredients in them.

                                                                                                                                      I remember that Maestro Bayless mentioned that it took him 20 years to perfect this particular mole. I think that it's very much like sauces from other cuisines, where there is a basic technique and you add or subtract ingredients and measurements to your own taste until it is the way YOU want it. I would hazard a guess that none of the diners had ever had a mole negro before and that this was an entirely new flavor profile for them.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                        Mole Negro is quite famous. It's FABULOUS and as Rick states, difficult to master and turn out well. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of innate culinary instinct. The chile seeds have to be burned to black but not burned and then flamed to get rid of the volatile oils.

                                                                                                                                        I'm pretty sure he's got a Mole Negro recipe in either his first book Authentic Mexican or Mexican Kitchen. I can't remember which. Susan Trilling has a dynamite Mole Negro recipe in her book Seasons of My Heart. There is probably at least one Mole Negro recipe in the myriad of Diana Kennedy books. It can be an acquired taste for the uninitiated. It's not my favorite mole (that goes to Chichilo) but it's probably in the top 3.

                                                                                                                                        There are many, many versions of mole that vary by region and town from a simple mole de olla or mole amarillo to the complex and haunting Chicilo, Mole Negro, Mole Poblano and even Mole de Xico.

                                                                                                                                        Mole paste (and powders) is (are) widely available in Mexico and can legally be brought back into the U.S.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                          Bayless' recipe is on the BravoTV.com website titled "Oaxaca Black Mole with Braised Chicken, Plantain Tamal, and Grilled Nopales". Substituting tuna for the chicken is a variation.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LabRat

                                                                                                                                            A link - http://tinyurl.com/mky6jf Gives some chile substitutions/improvisations as well.

                                                                                                                                        2. just got a chance to sit and watch. What a wonderful show. My only quibble is that Keller came in third to Chiarello. . I think he should have been second. I would have been happy if Bayless or Keller won. . .

                                                                                                                                          What a wonderful theme! I would have loved to sit at that table. My favorite comments came from Harold who always seems to have respect for other chefs and for food in general.

                                                                                                                                          Keller's first course was beautiful. . .what a great story!

                                                                                                                                          I am a giant mushy marshmallow - when Bayless talked about his dad being a pit master, etc. .. I got teary eyed. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. Ok - I'm a bit late posting since I couldn't see the "live" finale and downloaded the version from ITUNES. While there were indeed some fantastic moments in this finale, I thought the editing and commentary from judges table was a bit over the top. Frankly, I think that Chiarello got screwed out of the prize by the low vote from Oseland. By the way, I cancelled my subsciption to Saveur a few years ago because I was tired of reading more advertisements than quality writing. Even the recipes and writing in their magazine since he has taken over is sub-par.

                                                                                                                                            I've eaten at Frontera and I must say that I thought it was mediocre at best. I think that Bayless got a break for the overcooked shellfish.

                                                                                                                                            Yet, let us not forget that this is REALITY TV, and they need a villain at any costs, and I suppose that was MC this season.

                                                                                                                                            Happy Cooking!

                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: vinhotinto75

                                                                                                                                              I was thinking about that too... I believe Oseland gave Chiarello 3 1/2 stars....
                                                                                                                                              Even if Oseland gave 4 stars (more realistic), Chiarello would have still lost and 4 1/2 stars (which is a stretch) would have been a tie.

                                                                                                                                              It would have been great to see a tie and what the tie-breaker would have been.
                                                                                                                                              Hmmm... Cook a mystery ingredient? Dueling chef knives? Dale Talde gets to pick?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                I would certainly like to hear Michael's off the record commentary on Oseland. I'm sure he felt Oseland sandbagged him.

                                                                                                                                                Oseland giving the verdict made for good tv, gave me a good chuckle.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                  I agree that it would have been great to see a tie but I see no need of a tie breaker---

                                                                                                                                                  just give each of the final three contestants the same amount of money for their charity.........

                                                                                                                                                  its not like the sponsers---who were they again???---can't afford it. And imagine the good press.....

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jenn

                                                                                                                                                    Remember at one point where Chiarello said something about how they'd all agreed to split it 3 ways? Probably just joking...

                                                                                                                                              2. What a phenomenal-looking meal! Imagine - three top quality chefs, cooking the food that they love, with the ingredients that they want, without an eye to cost or pricing! Hubert Keller made me cry with his backeouf and Rick's mole made me wish to be as talented as he -

                                                                                                                                                1. I ate a big dinner, watched the finale, and then got hungry again...:-)

                                                                                                                                                  I have to admit that I was rooting for Bayless all along (and no, I didn't see the spoiler here that someone mentioned). Having lived in Mexico, I understand how wonderful and under-rated the cuisine of that country can be...love to see Bayless promoting it so nicely.

                                                                                                                                                  After watching the show I regretted that I had turned down an opportunity for an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago next week. I've been traveling a lot, and it was kind of hard to get out of work with such short notice...but I could have gone if I wanted to..and maybe had dinner at one of Bayless' restaurants..(.I had reservations to do so last time I was in Chicago a couple of years ago, but fell ill while on the trip and had to change my plans....and before the illness the Cubs game I had tickets for was rained out....so I could have maybe made that one up too....Damn, I wish I'd been given more than two weeks notice on the potential trip....).

                                                                                                                                                  1. On Rick's website he said that the chefs couldn't figure out why they were starting out so early the day of the EC, since they already did the QF. But I can't for the life of me remember there being one! Was there a QF?

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmjordan

                                                                                                                                                      No - Kelly had told them that they had already done the final quickfire - that was the one that Anita Lo participated in. I believe that's what Rick was referring to. No QF for the actual finale.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                        Got it. Thanks! I thought I was going crazy.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I don't think any one has mentioned Chiarello cutting out pages from Saveur and burning them for place matts. It seemed a bit condescending or disingenuine when he presented his dish. Since the judge from Saveur only gave him 3.5 stars that did not appear to be well received by the judges.

                                                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fritter

                                                                                                                                                        It was only not well received (based on scoring) by the one judge it was directed to. The other judges and diners clearly had no issue with it.

                                                                                                                                                        I admit I don't get all the Chiarello hate....and at the end of the day no one can argue that he did not hold his own.

                                                                                                                                                        I am so happy for Bayliss.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                          ???????? The Saveur judge slammed Chiarello with a score of 3.5. That was much lower than what the other judges gave him so it is indeed possible that move cost him a win.
                                                                                                                                                          Then again I have to wonder if the Judges don't all agree on a winner and then adjust their scores to reflect that.
                                                                                                                                                          In either event (IMO) it was pretty clear the Saveur judge is no fan of Chiarello.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                                                                                                                            Didn't say otherwise...my issue was with your use of the plural "judges" when it was clear that the other two had no issues with him.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                              i thought he acted like an ass in the last episode but don't get the hate either. thought his food looked good in this episode. think the second place was deserved - was actually afraid he was going to win because rick's last dish was his worst but i think rick's been the strongest the whole season. so imho the right chef won.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                I think the mole catapulted Rick to the top....and rightfully so by all accounts. Rick was definitely consistent throughout the competition and a hell of a nice guy from all observations.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Fritter

                                                                                                                                                              "Then again I have to wonder if the Judges don't all agree on a winner and then adjust their scores to reflect that."
                                                                                                                                                              BINGO!!! I think thats exactly what happened---otherwise how can you say something is the best thing you've ever tasted and still give the person a 3.5?
                                                                                                                                                              or have the winner be the guy with the over cooked seafood even though everyone else with overcooked seafood got ripped a new one?

                                                                                                                                                              Its TV folks and nothing more.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jenn

                                                                                                                                                                I expect that's the truth as well and if it is then your really have to appreciate the humor of the Saveur judge giving him the 3.5. It seems fairly obvious to me the judges talked about that and probably got a bit of a chuckle out of throwing Chirallos "humor" right back at him.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jenn

                                                                                                                                                                  "how can you say something is the best thing you've ever tasted and still give the person a 3.5?"

                                                                                                                                                                  Because that was one out of four dishes? Oseland apparently felt that two others were misses (http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...)? If the total score were an average of the four dishes from 1-5, let's give him a 5 for the short ribs, a 4 for the gnocchi, a 3 for the polenta, and a 2 for the fish, that averages out to 3.5 Just guessing, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                  Oseland's blog has comments on the fish and the polenta:

                                                                                                                                                                  "or have the winner be the guy with the over cooked seafood even though everyone else with overcooked seafood got ripped a new one?"

                                                                                                                                                                  Because that was one out of four dishes, and three others were spectacular? 5 for the mole, 5 for the BBQ, 5 for the pibil, and a 3 for the rice? Even 5, 4, 4, and anything greater than 1 would have beaten MC, as least in Oseland's book. Again, just guessing with these numbers.

                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, with a little basic math, it's easy to see how you could say that one dish is the best thing you've ever tasted but still feel that the entire meal wasn't the best meal you've ever tasted.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: youngho

                                                                                                                                                                    thank you. i felt that way watching it as well. they were REALLY raving about 3 of rick's dishes and their new way of seeing mexican cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Fritter

                                                                                                                                                              I thought that was a bit childish on Chiarello's part. I didn't detect a bias on the Saveur guy's part, but I wasn't really looking for one. And as a print-loving person, it always pains me a bit to see wanton destruction of the printed word. But if that affected the judge's scoring, that was equally petty, imho.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fritter

                                                                                                                                                                I’m not sure if this has been brought up before (though I’m guessing that it has, considering the minutiae covered for each and every Top Chef episode (which I delight in reading)), I’ve been wondering about the stars judging system. Do the judges commit their stars to paper or tell the producers, or is it possible that based on how things are going that the last judge can tip the scales?

                                                                                                                                                                And in case you were wondering, having met Buzz Aldrin I believe we did land on the moon 40 years ago. :-)

                                                                                                                                                              2. For anyone who might be interested in a little background on Chiarello, here's a link to an article on him (including recipes) from our local Savor Magazine (Sonoma/Napa).


                                                                                                                                                                That should take you to the first page of the article.

                                                                                                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                                                                  Interesting article - thanks! And the Forever Roasted Pork sounds very good.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                    That article is a huge whitewash job -- it doesn't show Chiarello as he actually is at all.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                      I just read your post above...and sadly, knowing you have firsthand experience with the way he treats his staff, I'm so disappointed to read this. Too bad.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                        I know what you mean. There was recently an article in a local Sonoma magazine about my former employer at a winery. Talk about a whitewash job! They even covered up how he met his new wife.

                                                                                                                                                                        Many times, it's who's doing your PR for you, controlling the spin...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cmvan

                                                                                                                                                                          I hope we will get a TCM2 because I loved TCM. I was impressed with the decency of most of the chefs. Even MC, who I don't love, showed some class by letting Bayless know about his water getting low.

                                                                                                                                                                          I thought it was really telling that while Bayless was disconcerted about his SC overcooking the seafood he didn't yell or place blame. All in all a good show.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'd love to see Bourdain as a chef on next season. I've always wondered whether he could actually cook or was all talk. He's dissed a lot of other chefs, I'd like to see how he did under pressure.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: toonie

                                                                                                                                                                            Did you see the No Reservations episode where Tony returned to Les Halles and worked the line with Eric Rippert? He admitted it kicked his rear end, but he can definitely cook.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't believe I saw that episode. I don't really care for his show because I find him arrogant and pretentious. I saw an episode several years ago in France but I think he just hung out with butchers and ate innerds. In the recent Les Halles episode was there someone there to critique his food? And did he actually have to plan and use certain foodstuff in a short amount of time? Because I think TCM requires more than being able to work the line...not that I've ever cooked professionally.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: toonie

                                                                                                                                                                              He has pretty much said that he is done as a professional chef. The episode on Les Halle showed that he could barely keep up on the line. He has also said that he never considered himself a top of the line chef, witness his reverence when he is in the same show as Ripert, Keller, Adria etc. He has said that he could never be that original and creative. But there is a difference between creativity that works and creativity just for the sake of creativity. Most of Bourdains most snarky comments come from 1) a lack of execution and 2) Some one getting too full of themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                If you want to get a flavor of Bourdain, get the audiobook version of "Kitchen Confidential", the book that brought him into the spotlight. It's a memoir of his career in the kitchen. He reads the book and you get a real picture of why he is the way he is.

                                                                                                                                                                                I think he has a great respect for good chefs and great disdain for those whose opinion of themselves is greater than their ability to provide good food and good service. He certainly has respect for the people that he has worked with, if they prove themselves to be competent. He just doesn't suffer fools well.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: araknd

                                                                                                                                                                                  The irony about Bourdain is that his fame is from his writing not his cooking. Yet, he acts like God's gift to the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                    I disagree re: AB acting like he's God's gift to the kitchen. He never put himself on a chef pedestal. He's always said he's a cook - a decent cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                      Linda, Bourdain has said he is a chef in that he knows how to run a kitchen, order from purveyors, keep cost down, etc. etc. He has never claimed to be a great chef but he is a chef in every sense of the word. I don't think he has every claimed to be a great cook. Even in the Kitchen Confidential episode where he goes back on the line he calls Les Halles a "turn and burn" operation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                        It's what I thought I remembered reading in Kitchen Confidential or some follow-on interview with him, perhaps linked here on CH awhile back.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've lent my copy of Kitchen Confidential to a friend but I have the episode of the No Reservations where he goes back to Les Halles. This is what he has to say about Carlos the new chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                          "This is the guy who has my old job. Carlos. The Chef. The guy in charge. His responsibilities go well beyond what you see him doing in the kitchen. Expediting. He is in charge of scheduling, ordering the food, figuring out the logistics of prep, what to cook, how much and when, among other things."

                                                                                                                                                                                          So clearly he felt he was more then a cook. It is entirely possible he said something else in an interview or in KC but this is what I remember because I just watched the episode last week ; )

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                            No, I remember that from the No Reservations episode as well. I just swear I remember him saying he didn't call himself a chef (despite doing what a chef does).

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                              FYI, this is from Bourdain's Bravo blog posting about Howie in season 3:

                                                                                                                                                                                              "I was never a creative genius as a chef. Far from it. I was a journeyman. God knows, back in the day, I ran to the freezer many times during the Christmas party season, looking to bail myself out with frozen spanokopita, the case of Durkee bits, the frozen baby quiche -- or made a quick retreat to curried chicken salad on Belgian endive leaves -- when extreme measures were called for. But I never deluded myself while doing it that I was Escoffier. I wasn't "Top Chef". I was "Desperate For Something Else to Feed the Hungry Mob Chef"." (the blog posting is here: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nettie

                                                                                                                                                                                                So he called himself a chef - albeit a "journeyman." Thanks, Nettie.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                      How so? Please cite an example of how Bourdain "acts like God's gift to the kitchen."

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                        Not to stifle discussion, but this thread might be better served in a topic of its own, before the mods forcibly move it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm having a great time with Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I think he was/is a much better chef than he gives himself credit for.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. i don;t get the lack of love for MC here. honestly i like him more since TCM, not less

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. i just happened to spot Harold Dieterle's blog about the finale on the Bravo site, and the title - "Michael Got Hosed" - pretty much sums up how he felt about the results:


                                                                                                                                                                            it sounds like those of us who questioned Oseland's scoring of MC's dishes weren't necessarily crazy to wonder what was going on:

                                                                                                                                                                            "...I don't know what the deal is between James and Michael. I really thought Michael should have won, and I've got to be honest, after sitting and eating a meal with James and listening to his comments I don't want him to come to the restaurant because I question his palate. I couldn't believe the things coming out of his mouth. I didn't think we were having the same meal. I couldn't remember him making a positive comment about Michael's food and I thought that was bulls--- because for me I thought his food was the best at the end of it all. I couldn't believe he only gave him 3 1/2 stars. I thought we were having different meals and were at different tables."

                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                              I also liked what he said about Keller's dishes and the difficulty to put them all together they way he does, but the judges don't "see" that as much.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                I liked that, too, and I also was interested to see him mention that Bayless's watermelon salad was made by first compressing the watermelon. I would love to taste that.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe on Bravo's site says: "Dice watermelon, cryovac, open bag remove melon and season with salt and sugar" which doesn't seem to give me enough info on doing it. Also, wasn't there a garnish that the judges remarked on?

                                                                                                                                                                                  I was also looking for the recipe for Bayless's cochinita pibil, and it doesn't look like quite the same dish (literally, the photo is of the seafood dish with the foam). Didn't he describe taking the cooked pork, making cakes out of it, and frying it? They didn't remark much on this (it sounded delicious to me) and the recipe doesn't include that step.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nettie

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the cryovac'ing (using a Food Saver) might be enough to compress the cubes of watermelon, since it sucks the air right out of the bags. Makes sense to me as to how they'd have accomplished that - I hadn't been able to figure out how they might have compressed watermelon when I read that above.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. It seemed to me that TCM differs from regular TC (should that be TC-TOS?) in that chefs are not penalized for failing to cook away from their strengths. On TC, chefs are often reminded (reprimanded?) that they need to show an ability to work in a variety of styles and with different foods (Mularkay cooked too much fish; Jamie and her "Top Scallop" dishes; Howie and his pork). Here, the challenges didn't really require working in a style a different than normal (even the offal challenge allowed them to just incorporate the ingredients into their favored cooking style). The challenge of taking another chef's dish and reinterpreting it is another example -- it might have made for an interesting test to see if one chef could actually duplicate another's dish). I think Bayless is helped in this regard, because to many "Mexican cuisine" seemed so exotic, while French and Italian cooking is more familiar. That said, Bayless acquitted himself well in the final with his essentially non-Mexican BBQ dish and his complex mole, which demonstrated his technique.

                                                                                                                                                                              Has anybody tracked who won the most quickfires and elimination challenges? I thought Chiarello did well in that regard. The fact that he might be gruff or overbearing or anything else not criminally bad shouldn't impact the results of this show -- there was only one challenge where staff management was involved (from what I recall) and even the results of that challenge seemed based on the dishes, rather than what went on in the kitchen. In most jobs outside of a restaurant, you will find all sorts of bosses and all sorts of employees with different styles. Some employees actually respond better to tough treatment; others do not. For football fans, some players can handle playing for Bill Parcells and respond well. Others prefer Tony Dungy. But both coaches created winning products, which is really the point, just as it is to the diner at restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: abrocadabro

                                                                                                                                                                                Here's the Progress Chart:


                                                                                                                                                                                In the Champions' Rounds, Bayless took two QF, as did Chiarello. Keller and Lo each took one. Bayless never took an "Elimination Round Win", whereas Chiarello, Keller and Lo all took one. But Bayless also had three "Highs" to Keller's one "High".

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                  interesting to see. that was my feeling as well. it seemed to me that michael's last meal was really great but that across the board bayless had done better.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AMFM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I felt as though the judges were in part judging based on the whole season (which I think is fair, but it's not clear that's what they always do).

                                                                                                                                                                                    I also think Oseland's palate seemed to be off from other people's a few times, but that doesn't mean he was (or wasn't) out to get MC.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                    i know. hot chocolate and churros.... if there was one in my neighborhood i'd gain 400 pounds.