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Top Chef - Las Vegas - Finale Part 2 - 12/09/09 (Spoilers)

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(Have to say it was still a bit heartbreaking to see Jennifer so sad at her ousting at the end of last week's episode!)

OK, here we go! They arrive at Meritage Winery - they must cook a three course meal.

1st course - a box of identical greens and each green must be used
2nd course - cook anything they wish with anything in the kitchen
3rd course - they MUST do a dessert - rut-roh!

Meals are to be served at Cyrus. AND they get sous chefs - EVERYONE who was on this season! They get to pick two sous - one to prep today, one to help tomorrow. Knife picks...

Kevin - Preeti and Ash
Michael - Jesse and Eli
Bryan - Jennifer and Ashley

Interesting mix - I'm thinking Kevin got the worst of the lot on his knife picks. I think Bryan got the best picks.

Was that Michael who warned Kevin about his sauce? Very nice! That's why I like this group the best out of all 6 seasons - they still seem to watch out for each other, even in competition.

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  1. Agreed on the picks.

    1. Poor Kevin - his picks may end up hurting him. How lucky is Bryan to get Jennifer? I can't wait to see it all, but I don't want it to end!

      2 Replies
      1. re: elfcook

        'Top Chef: Las Vegas': Fan favorite is...
        Kevin "The Beard/Yukon Cornelius" Gillespie, of course! He didn't win Top Chef, but the title of Fan Favorite (and the $10,000 check that comes with it) is a nice consolation prize. And Bryan got a Corvette from his mom, so looks like all of the top three won in their own little ways.

        Thanks to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Food and More blog for letting us know. And boo on Bravo for not having any mention of this on their Web site when I checked a few minutes ago.

        This victory is redemption for all of us Team Yukon loyalists out there. What do you think of the winner? Did Kevin (or perhaps just his beard) deserve this honor?

        1. re: junescook

          Whooa, Have you guys heard that Kevin just signed with a literary agent (Lisa Ekus)?? Which means he is probably working on a cookbook?? AWESOME!! So excited to see where that goes..

          http://bit.ly/bsbvvV

      2. Kevin got screwed on his knife picks. For me this cheapens the entire competition as Kevin could lose based on who he randomly chose out of the block. My wife is absolutely ticked.

        6 Replies
        1. re: samlev

          Yeah, I'm kind of disappointed that they brought back ALL of the chefs - the last 6 voted off should be there, not everyone. The luck of the draw on Kevin's knife picks really puts him at a disadvantage. I can only imagine various blogs on Bravo blowing up about this!

          1. re: LindaWhit

            However, someone would have ended up with Robin if they'd only brought back the recently PYKAGed chefs, so this was a sly (although disappointing) way to address that.

            1. re: momjamin

              Good point.

              1. re: momjamin

                Robin *was* in the group that was brought back. This is the first time I remember there being extras that didn't get selected. She was among the group though.

                1. re: dagwood

                  That's what I mean -- by bringing back everyone, there was a chance Robin wouldn't be drawn (as it happened). (Equally, a chance Jennifer and Eli wouldn't have been drawn.) If they had just brought back the most recent, Robin would definitely been someone's sous.

                  1. re: momjamin

                    oh, I see. Sorry I misunderstood your post. Yes, you're right. It was a very interesting way to address that.

          2. And ZING! A 4th course that must be inspired by their mothers...you KNEW there would be another kink in the works!

            1. I love Kevin - bacon on his dessert! "I'm going to get an award by the Bacon Council!" LOL

              1. I think Bryan definitely has the edge with Jen as his sous chef!

                I love this show so much!!

                I don't know if I can stand the excitement!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                  Yeah, but they're REALLY trashing Bryan's first two courses - "underseasoned" and "it's like a blind date you don't want to go on".

                  His third course, however, they're raving over!

                  And like you, I just love this show WAY too much! (as evidenced by my constant postings! LOL)

                2. Kevin's first course sounds amazing. I like the idea of the tuna noodle casserole inspiration. The fried dehydrated broccoli is a great idea. But, I'd have to go with the fried chicken skin!

                  1. The has been a really great season. Sorry to see it come to an end. Any of these chefs (for that matter Jenn too) deserves to win.

                    It will be hard to top this Top Chef.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Withnail42

                      Agreed - definitely the best season, with the best Top 4 ever.

                      Although I really really REALLY wish they would have extended this episode to 75 or 90 minutes - I would have liked to have seen a LOT more of the cooking than we were shown. Magical Elves? Take note, please! :-)

                    2. So far I'd say edit goes to Michael. But as we know that doesn't mean much.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: AMFM

                        I agree. But I am hoping they are leading us down the path.....

                        1. re: AMFM

                          Yes, but Bryan won last week and his dish(es) were underseasoned, so I'm still thinking it might be him over Michael and Kevin.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Sounds like they liked Bryan's 3rd & 4th courses . . . but of course we know that what we hear is not the whole story.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              From the editing, it looks as though Bryan won. But as we all know that can not be trusted in the least. To me, Kevin's dishes looked the best but he the chef I am rooting for.

                            2. re: AMFM

                              And indeed it was his edit. It did seem like he won the night. All great.

                              1. re: AMFM

                                And I just didn't see it as him winning the night - they didn't seem to say a whole lot favorably about his dishes.

                            3. Why did they only talk to Michael about his dessert?

                              And LOL at Michael's "Why I should be Top Chef" answer - "I just don't want Bryan to be Top Chef." :-D

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                spoken like a true little brother

                                1. re: elfcook

                                  I LOL when he said that!!!

                                  1. re: elfcook

                                    Isn't THAT the truth! LOL

                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                    BEST answer to The Question, by far. Otherwise the answers were less-than-eloquent ramblings about "I cook my food, and it's good."

                                  3. As to Judges Table:

                                    1st course - sounds like Kevin wins
                                    2nd course - don't know - maybe Bryan?
                                    3rd course - Bryan wins that one
                                    4th course - Bryan wins that one as well?

                                    Which leads me to believe Bryan wins the whole shooting match!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      OK - TOm's blog has these rankings:

                                      1st course - Kevin
                                      2nd course - Michael
                                      3rd course - Michael - by a nose over Bryan's dish
                                      4th course - Bryan

                                    2. And Kevin seems to have Richard Blais'd it. Best overall chef but underperformed in the final EC. Very unfortunate.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: samlev

                                        That's a very good way to put it (although I think Blais and Stephanie were equals in the quality of their dishes - just as I think Bryan, Kevin and Michael are all equals this season).

                                        1. re: samlev

                                          yes, does not seem it was Kevin's night. I know he loves pork, but I kind of was hoping for something different from him. And his dessert was not up to the level of the other 2.

                                          1. re: elfcook

                                            I would love to know from the judges who they think "won" each course. I wonder if they calculate that way or just more on "overall best".

                                          2. re: samlev

                                            Kevin and Blais, both from Atlanta, didn't execute their pork belly well in the finale...and...banana scallop!!!!!!

                                            1. re: Reignking

                                              Wow -
                                              Great observation Reignking!
                                              Spot on

                                          3. the 2nd course - mystery basket - seemed like the least memorable for all 3 chefs. I think it maybe did not work as well as the producers would have liked. It seemed to be kind of a wash, with no one star for that course.

                                            1. Oh, poor Kevin!

                                              And, it is the brothers. Their poor mom!

                                              1. Awww, Kevin - I'm so sad for him! He *so* deserved it on an overall basis! But I'll bet he'll win Fan Favorite.

                                                WHAT? Michael wins? Wow. I wasn't expecting that.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  wow. and did you see the shot of their mom, hugging Michael but looking at Bryan? The Elves could not have asked for more.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    So sad. Not that it matters, but this was not the ending I wanted to see.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Right up to the announcement I thought that it was Bryan.

                                                      1. re: araknd

                                                        From last week's forum thread, someone pointed out Padma's head position, towards the middle contestant, when she made the announcement.

                                                        I usually don't pay attention to that stuff, but when I saw Michael standing in the middle... I was hoping it ain't so.

                                                    2. Ok. That was the tackiest shyte I have ever seen. They have never called out the loser like that ever and the producers obviously got the scene they wanted with the 2 brothers standing next to each other.

                                                      And Michael wins.....ugh.

                                                      83 Replies
                                                      1. re: samlev

                                                        Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Funny thing is, I'll eat at Bryan and Kevin's restaurants long before I look to eat where Michael is cooking. Shows what I know.

                                                        1. re: samlev

                                                          Yeah, while he's good - he wasn't the best IMO. Bryan or Kevin should have won. It will be very interesting to read Tom's blog about what their decisions was about.

                                                          This isn't a Hosea or Ilan win by any means (they just both sucked wind!) and I know we're not tasting the food, but wow - it just seems Bryan or Kevin should have had this.

                                                          1. re: samlev

                                                            The headfake announcement of Kevin not being the Top Chef by Padma just furthers my growing dislike of her (it is moving towards intense). That was cold and ruthless, Kevin's face rose and then fell completely and it broke my heart watching him. It was so American Idol cheeseball I wanted to puke.

                                                            1. re: samlev

                                                              That was probably the producer's doing, not Padma's. Oh, the producers must have loved the brother showdown. The thing with Jen and Zoe in Season 4 did not quite work out as they had planned.

                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                Of course Padma was directed to make the announcement the way she did. It's all about building tension.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  I really HATED that it was done like that - never before have they told a third-placer to PYKAG or "you're NOT Top Chef". I thought it incredibly cruel - especially with this season of the best chefestants they've ever had.

                                                                  Hopefully they do NOT do that again.

                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    100% correct. There's no way that Padma thought "hey, I really want to get Kevin's hopes up and smash them to pieces."

                                                                  2. re: samlev

                                                                    Yeah that pissed me off. They should've announce the winner with all three standing there. Poor Kevin, for a brief moment, had such a look of hope, then it was gone. That was just plain mean.

                                                                    1. re: jcattles

                                                                      He looked like he was going to cry out of joy, then cry out in disappointment. As was I. I agree, that WAS just plain mean, especially to do to someone who was so humble and nice and gracious throughout the whole season.

                                                                    2. re: samlev

                                                                      I realize that everyone loves Kevin. Had it been any other season and the third place chef had been called out, I don't think this many people would think that it's cruel. And remember, this is reality TV, they purposely want to keep you in suspense. Kevin did not have a good night, and did not deserve to win. It's about who won this particular challenge, and clearly, it wasn't Kevin.

                                                                      1. re: attran99

                                                                        "Kevin did not have a good night, and did not deserve to win. It's about who won this particular challenge, and clearly, it wasn't Kevin."

                                                                        Yes we are all aware that each decision is based on that particular challenge. And yes, Kevin did not perform his best. However, what we were talking about was the unfair treatment of calling his name, waiting longer than neccessary, and then finally telling him that he didn't win. They did it for drama's sake only and was completely unneccessary. They obviously wanted to show Michael & Bryan standing at JT together at the end. Yes, I would think it was cruel if it had happened like this on any other season. And, yes, again, we all know this is reality tv and that's why they do it. It still doesn't make it right.

                                                                        1. re: jcattles

                                                                          Very cruel. Have they ever done this before? I thought it was really weak.

                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                            I agree, and Padma did look a bit guilty while doing it. Low blow and a nasty trick dreamed up by the producers, I suspect.

                                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                                              Someone on the board mentioned that they have done it before. If so, I can't imagine those cheftestants getting the sympathy vote like Kevin is. And I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but it's reality TV, and they purposely want the drama. There should be no surprise that the show would choose to announce the runner-ups or the winner in any fashion. So it wasn't unfair and shouldn't be unexpected. There is no right nor wrong when it comes to reality TV.

                                                                              1. re: attran99

                                                                                First of all, if it's happened before, then please specify when or stop using that as an excuse. Second, saying this is "reality TV" is no justification for disrespecting a quality competitor like Kevin. I'm not one who complains about the editing -- head fakes are intrinsic to the genre. But this was gratuitous and made me sick. Top Chef purports to be a classier brand of reality tv -- they can't have it both ways.

                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                  Wasn't Richard eliminated, leaving Lisa & Stephanie at JT?

                                                                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                    I don't recall that, but am willing to be proven wrong. I just don't buy the vague "this has happened before so it's okay" excuse. Kevin deserved better.

                                                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                      If he was (I can't really remember) - it was done in a different way -
                                                                                      it certainly was not " Richard......you are NOT Top Chef"!

                                                                                      I did think that was awful...I was about to celebrate - so I can't imagine how he must have felt

                                                                                      1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                        I think Lisa was eliminated, I seem to recall that she wanted a pat on the back and Richard said, "Congratulations, you won the F***in bronze medal."

                                                                                        1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                          The bit with Lisa was in the semi-finals, when Richard and Stephanie were sad that Antonia was PYKAG'ed. Lisa asked for some congrats for still being in, and Richard -- in an interview, not to Lisa -- said the line about the bronze.

                                                                                          Project Runway, on the other hand, always sends off all but two before the final "you win" statement.

                                                                                        2. re: mojoeater

                                                                                          No. and if you could go back to that season, you would see that Lisa did NOT come in second to Steph. Richard did. I recall Tom's blog on the subject.

                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                            Tom's? Or Ted Allen's? But it's true. Another very misleading bit of editing that made it sound like Blais totally tanked and Lisa and Steph were closer than they really were.

                                                                                        3. re: a_and_w

                                                                                          "Top Chef purports to be a classier brand of reality tv " Have they purported this or is just wishful thinking on your part? I've never seen the producers saying they are any better or worse then other reality shows but then again I'm willing to bet the producers of "wife Swap" probably think they are doing god's work

                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                            I thought that was the whole reason Toby toned down his verbal bombshells.

                                                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                              I think Toby toned things down because everyone realised he wasn't funny and was coming off as desperate for a quip.

                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                All par for the course on less classy reality tv...

                                                                                    2. re: jcattles

                                                                                      "unfair treatment of calling his name, waiting longer than neccessary"

                                                                                      How much REAL TIME elapsed between Padma saying 'Kevin' and her finishing the sentence?

                                                                                      Unless you were in the room when it happened, or have viewed the raw footage, you don't know.

                                                                                      1. re: Tmrock

                                                                                        The whole final format is very familiar. In my recollection of this most recent poor Project Runway season 6, it was done similarly. 3 finalists on the runway -- Carol Hannah was called ... then 'auf'd', and left. Leaving althea and the winner... who, I forget. Moment to build the tensions. And winner is ID'd!!! *YAY*

                                                                                    3. re: attran99

                                                                                      I wouldn't necessarily say he was 3rd place...Padma just said he wasn't the winner. They were just setting up the brothers as the last two possible winners.

                                                                                      1. re: Reignking

                                                                                        By default, it puts Kevin in 3rd place. They've removed him from winning at all, essentially saying nothing Kevin did was good enough to put him into contention. That leaves the last two standing - 1st and 2nd place.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Interesting how the producer seemed to take Kevin down a notch or two in the sainthood rankings by airing his relentless carping about Preeti. I can't believe that she was that inept in the kitchen, she is a professional, after all. As someone who has cut up my share of kabocha, that is one rockhard squash with a very curved shape and it takes more time than almost any other vegetable to prepare, even tho I eat the kabocha rind. I wonder how many other of Kevin's rants were omitted to set up the "V bros vs. Southern-fried Saint" scenario...

                                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                            In his Q and A on the Bravo site and in the Q and A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he apologized for taking his attitude out on Preeti.

                                                                                            1. re: rweater

                                                                                              Good for him. He had a bad day, she was part of that day but he knows ultimately he's responsible.

                                                                                            2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                              Didn't diminish Kevin in my eyes one bit.

                                                                                              You can conspiracy theory yourself all day or just take the show as its shown and move on to the next.

                                                                                              What's next some sort of speculation that Jen is a raving lunatic who throws knifes around the kitchen and tried to kill Eli but they didn't show that because "the producers" wanted her to be seen as nice?

                                                                                              Seriously now, this whole "I wonder what we didn't see" can become farcical pretty quick.

                                                                                              1. re: Tmrock

                                                                                                Well, there was the line early in the season about how Jen makes boys cry... ;-)

                                                                                                1. re: momjamin

                                                                                                  lol

                                                                                    4. re: samlev

                                                                                      ugh indeed. the worst Top Chef finale ever. How anti climactic and not just because I couldn't stand smug Michael...just boring and frankly his food didn't sound all that fab. enough with the played out molecular gastronomy too. kevin was consistent throughout the entire competiton. that's how they should have been judged..overall performance, not just one meal. lame.

                                                                                      1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                        i think i love you.

                                                                                        1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                          There was no molecular gastronomy in the finale. To what are you referring.

                                                                                          1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                            i'd say all cooking is molecular gastronomy, when i think about it

                                                                                            1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                              I was speaking about Michael in general. His use of molecular gastronomy in past challenges and in general is far from creative.In fact it's a culinary cliche already. Kevin's simple approach to food was so much more original and creative in my opinion.

                                                                                              1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                If molecular gastronomy is such a "culinary cliche," why aren't there more restaurants devoted to it? I love Kevin and his style of food, too. But let's give credit where it's due (even if Michael wasn't secure enough to do the same for Kev).

                                                                                                1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                  I'd like you to point to particular usages of chemicals on Michael's part. I think you are grossly exaggerating.

                                                                                              2. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                "kevin was consistent throughout the entire competiton. that's how they should have been judged..overall performance, not just one meal. lame."

                                                                                                Too bad for you that's not how they've done it in any of the past 5 seasons. Maybe the should have just changed the rules for this season because Kevin was such a swell guy.

                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                  swell or not, Kevin was, as I said, the most consistent.

                                                                                                  1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                    Too bad for Kevin that the consistency didn't carry through to the final challenge, hence he lost to Michael.

                                                                                                    1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                      that is irrelevant. this has always been judged on a show to show basis, and there have been several people who were most consistent going into the finals that did not win the whole shebang.

                                                                                                      consistency will keep you from getting eliminated so you can make it to th finals. but everyone starts with a clean slate every challenge

                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                        and if you think about it, what would be the point of *having* a finale if one could blow it away and still not win because of some "points" you lost earlier in the season?

                                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                          What's the point of having the rest of the season if only the finale counts?

                                                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                            The one episode season was roundly rejected by the Glad family of products.

                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                              haahha touche, KTinNYC!

                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                Point taken LOL!

                                                                                                              2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                to cull the herd so only the best remain.

                                                                                                                you play 162 games of baseball to get t the post season too

                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  True dat -- I was being flip. Still, any statistician will confirm the playoffs are a crap shoot. And your argument still diminishes the regular season in that it exists solely to qualify teams for the playoffs. There is no intrinsic reason why regular season games shouldn't count in the determination of who's best. Many sports -- e.g., tennis, golf, boxing -- don't even have a clear annual championship.

                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                    Yep, says the Patriots. Played solidly all season and lost in the superbowl. I'm sure their fans would rather go by an undefeated record over the Superbowl, too, and give them the championship. Those sports you name also don't have a clear "champion" overall. They might have a seed or temporary ranking, again to be knocked off if they lose a match. The last game determines a lot.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                      Just to be clear, I hate the Pats. Go Niners!

                                                                                                                      The rest of your argument simply begs the question. You say the last game determines a lot, but that's precisely the problem. If the "champion" is the best team in a given year, then a single-elimination playoff is a poor way of picking the champion. Similarly, if the "top" chef is the best cook in a given season, then a single-elimination cookoff is a poor way of picking the champion.

                                                                                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                        So your problem isn't just with Top Chef but with the Olympics, Superbowl, etc, even Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Even getting a job is about your performance in an interview right then, not averaged over your past 10 interviews. That's life. We don't put every person in a position for a few months, see who performs best and then give that person the job. Terrible Interview--you blow it, you're done.

                                                                                                                        The exeption to this, as reality tv goes, is So You Think You Can Dance where you can not dance and still make it to the finales, as Ashleigh did, apparently not about performance in the last episode. Top Chef is about finding the best cook in each individual weekly competition. I don't think by any stretch of the imagination that the winner is the "best cook" and I don't know many people who do. I also don't think it's possible to determine that. I don't think Rick Bayless is lesser of a chef than Hubert Keller, nor vice versa. This is just a competition to pit one against another in one cooking competition. Do they ever say they're looking for the best chef or the "Top Chef" who is, as they've defined, the one left standing in the end?

                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                          >>"So your problem isn't just with Top Chef but with the Olympics, Superbowl, etc, even Throwdown with Bobby Flay."<<

                                                                                                                          Yes, my problem is with how those competitions pick their winners.

                                                                                                                          >>Even getting a job is about your performance in an interview right then, not averaged over your past 10 interviews. That's life. We don't put every person in a position for a few months, see who performs best and then give that person the job. Terrible Interview--you blow it, you're done."<<

                                                                                                                          Most people consider more than just the interview when deciding to hire someone. That's what the resume is for. I'd rather have someone with a long track record of brilliance and productivity who just had a bad day.

                                                                                                                          >>I don't think by any stretch of the imagination that the winner is the "best cook" and I don't know many people who do.<<

                                                                                                                          And you're right because the rules are poorly designed to determine the better cook. That said, I think many people (wrongly) assume the better chef will win, just as they assume (wrongly) the better team will win the playoffs.

                                                                                                                          >>Do they ever say they're looking for the best chef or the "Top Chef" who is, as they've defined, the one left standing in the end?<<

                                                                                                                          Again, that's irrelevant because I'm not saying they've promised to do any of this. The rules are exactly as you say. This is simply my proposal for how to make the rules better. Keep everything the same but allow judges to take past performance into account. Please tell me, what is wrong with that proposal?

                                                                                                                          PS: I don't watch So You Think You Can Dance, but Survivor does something similar. When voting for the winner, jurors can -- and typically do -- take performance over the course of the game into account.

                                                                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                            In So You Think You Can Dance, initially the judges ruled who would be leaving and they supposedly did it off the "dance for your life" which was essentially a dance off. It's evolved to the judges evaluating progress, past performance (and though they don't say it making sure the right people go on tour to bring maximal dollars). In the end, people vote. Last time, someone didn't dance because of injury and was voted through to the finale which is a farce. It's like awarding the championship to the Patriots, if they didn't play, because they were more popular.

                                                                                                                            As hiring goes, someone can have a stellar resume, and that will get them in the door. But, when the economy is the way it is, there are dozens of people who are qualified. One bad interview and you're out.

                                                                                                                            Curious, how would you re-do the Olympics, the World Championships, and all those types of competitions? Mary Decker tripped on Zola Bud but she's been faster than the others in the past so give her the gold? Serena was injured so lost but let's give her the Wimbledon trophy because she was ranked first? Michelle Kwan is better performer than Sarah Hughes, although outskated in the Olympics, and give her the gold?

                                                                                                                            "Keep everything the same but allow judges to take past performance into account. Please tell me, what is wrong with that proposal?"

                                                                                                                            At the end of the day, it's about ratings and if we knew ahead of time that Kevin had won more EC than the others and was going to win this, no matter how badly he floundered, what would be the point? Why would the other competitiors care then, if they knew that no matter how well they did, no matter how poorly the other did, they'd lose.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              exactly. the point is that by the end of the competition, just like in many sports, the quality of the finalists should be so high that it isn;t about anyone outshining the others overall, or by a vast distance.It's where a single mistake can doom you. it's the level of anyone can win it, and we need to see who does.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                >>Serena was injured so lost but let's give her the Wimbledon trophy because she was ranked first? Michelle Kwan is better performer than Sarah Hughes, although outskated in the Olympics, and give her the gold?<<

                                                                                                                                No, my point is that Serena shouldn't automatically lose her #1 ranking just because she's injured during one tournament like Wimbledon. Same with Michele Kwan's failure to perform in the Olympics. I'm saying the finale in Top Chef should similarly be one competition among several that figures in the choice of overall winner for the season.

                                                                                                                                >>At the end of the day, it's about ratings and if we knew ahead of time that Kevin had won more EC than the others and was going to win this, no matter how badly he floundered, what would be the point?<<

                                                                                                                                The point is would be that the finale performance would be one major strike against him, just not a decisive one.

                                                                                                                                >>Why would the other competitiors care then, if they knew that no matter how well they did, no matter how poorly the other did, they'd lose.<<

                                                                                                                                There would always be the chance that an overwhelming finale performance might vault someone behind for most of the season into the lead. There could also be some large award associated with the finale independent of overall winner. I'm just saying performance over the whole season should figure into the decision of who gets crowned "Top Chef," not that the finale should be irrelevant.

                                                                                                                                PS: You seem to be assuming that the winner would be determined simply by tallying elimination challenges. But that's only one of several ways my proposal might be implemented. It could be as simple as saying to the judges "you may now take past performance in the competition into account in your elimination decisions." As Tom himself put it, this was the first season where someone didn't "sneak" into the finale. Base eliminations on cumulative performance, and you would get more finales like this season, where all three chefs were great.

                                                                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                  The biggest problem with your proposal is that it has the potential for "fix" to be written all over it.

                                                                                                                                  A fan favorite; a judge's favorite and performance could easily be overwritten with a subjective justification that contestant X's performance was more consistent/exemplary/pleasing over the long haul. Sorry. We know s/he cooked a lousy meal in the finale, but we like him/her best overall.

                                                                                                                                  If Bravo wants to see its viewing audience really upset with the results, your proposal is a good one for it to implement.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                    That is a VERY fair point, though I note the current system doesn't exactly discourage such conspiracy theories. My favorite was the loony charge that Stephanie won Top Chef because Bravo wanted to appeal to women. Because we can't taste the food, and the editing can be so misleading, some viewers will always assume the fix is in.

                                                                                                                                    PS: Don't forget my earlier point that basing eliminations on cumulative performance might encourage more transparent editing. According to Tom, at least some of the deception is because their comments occasionally give away which chef had the worst meal (e.g., Jen's duck). But if no one meal were decisive, the editors could show us the negative comments without revealing who goes home.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                      If what's driving all this is your interest in "more transparent editing," maybe there's a better solution.

                                                                                                                                      I think what we all agree is that we don't see enough of JT and what we do see is so heavily edited that we have no real sense of what actually happened. Some earlier suggestions that there be a longer version of most episodes available either on-line or as a separately aired show (sort of like the Models of the Runway thing -- although hopefully not as vapid). It's been proposed on this thread somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                        No, transparent editing is merely one advantage of my proposal. I do love the notion of a longer unedited version that's aired separately or on-line. But it wouldn't address my problem, which is with how the competition picks its winner. My complaint echoes what countless others with knowledge of probability and statistics have been complaining about sports playoffs for years -- i.e., they do a poor job of rewarding the best team in a given season.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                          we can run around this bush as often as you want, but it's like this. when you get to the top level, in any sport or competition anyone at that level can beat anyone sometimes. If kev won or of michael won would not distinguish the unequivocal best. they are both of the same caliber. the differences are minimal and mostly stylistic. just as the yankees or the phillies could theoretically have won the world series, because they are playing at the same caliber. there is no platonic ideal winner here, there are a few chefs who have been whittled out of a field of contenders until 2 remain. either could win. if that wasn't the case the competition would be worse than meaningless. at that level of competition, in any sport (and this is a sport) they are pretty much equals. so it isn't about who is the best, but who brings it best at that moment. if the finals had been held 2 days later the outcome could have been different. if the rules were tweaked slightly, to amend time or ingredients, or whatever variable, the outcome could have been different. but they weren't and it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                          there is no platonic ideal chef. there are real people, at the same level of competence, with differing predilictions and strengths. and at that level it is as often who takes a misstep as who steps up their game that determines a winner.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                            >>when you get to the top level, in any sport or competition anyone at that level can beat anyone sometimes.<<

                                                                                                                                            Actually, it's possible in most competitions, including Top Chef, for the WORST competitor to beat the best on any given day through sheer dumb luck. I'm pretty sure there was at least one episode where Robin was among the best, and Kevin among the worst.

                                                                                                                                            >>If kev won or of michael won would not distinguish the unequivocal best. they are both of the same caliber. the differences are minimal and mostly stylistic. just as the yankees or the phillies could theoretically have won the world series, because they are playing at the same caliber.<<

                                                                                                                                            And that's all well and good when everyone in the finale is worthy. But you still are missing the point, which is that clearly inferior competitors -- e.g., the 2007 Giants -- not only make the finales of single-elimination tournaments, they win them with some frequency. There's lots of empirical research from pro sports on this point. The reason is that factors out of the contestants' control (e.g., weather, injuries, etc.) play a larger role than skill in determining the winner.

                                                                                                                                            Top Chef hasn't been around long enough to make similar empirical claims with any certainty. Again, however, Tom said it himself that, in most years, some contestant "sneaks" into the finale. (What do you suppose he meant by that?) And mark my words, one of these "sneaky" competitors will someday win the whole shebang because the other two chefs have bad luck. Say hello to Top Chef Robin!

                                                                                                                                            >>and at that level it is as often who takes a misstep as who steps up their game that determines a winner.<<

                                                                                                                                            You mean...clutch? Again, the question I'm asking is whether such minor missteps SHOULD determine the winner when they are so often out of the competitor's control. If Stephanie and Richard had both broken their hands during the finale, should Lisa have been crowned Top Chef? The rules say yes, but I disagree, especially since there's a manageable alternative.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                            Last season Toby Young argued long and hard for your rule, which would have made Stefan the winner.

                                                                                                                                            http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                              Not surprisingly, I agree with Toby that Stefan should have won. My proposal, though, would take Toby's rule even further and allow judges to consider cumulative performance up to that point in EVERY elimination decision they make. The trade-off, of course, is that an underdog like Carla (whom I loved) might not make it to the finals. But I'm willing to make that trade to increase the odds that the better chef will win.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                        don't think of it as once competition, think of it as 15 competitions, each one a little harder between more experienced contestants

                                                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                          It's interesting this discussion of how the rules should change has gone on so long, since there's little chance of that happening. BUT I do think that while every meal is supposed to be judged on its own, that is not always the case. The same judges (plus one guest judge) taste the contestants' food throughout the competition. It is just human nature to think about what that person has done in the past. They might only openly debate the current offings, but in the back of their heads is always "he has cooked much better" or "this is the best thing she's made." Otherwise, Jen probably would have been eliminated before she was.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                                                            You could help avoid the bias by having the judges taste the the dishes blind. In other words not letting them know who cooked what dish. I'm sure cooking styles could give away the contestants but I think it would make for a more interesting show.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                              I have wished from the beginning that they judged blind, and agree that it would make for a more interesting show, something I think we saw when they did the one blind-judged EC last season (I don't remember the details of the challenge, but remember the judges' discussion being interesting/.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                Totally agree -- blind tastings would be much more interesting.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                  I agree, too. That would make for an interesting show--although discerning Bryan's dishes from Kevin's would be pretty simple.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                                                                flipside to Mojoeater's post is when a guest judge comes into the show mid-season and *pans* a strong contender's dish on a bad day, leading to her/his elimination-- see also a. bourdain's elimination of dale (season 3).

                                                                                                                                          2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                            "The point is would be that the finale performance would be one major strike against him, just not a decisive one. "

                                                                                                                                            Not really because he did poorly here compared to Michael and Bryan and you still are saying he should win because he's done better in the past, i.e. it doesn't matter how poorly he did this time, you still think he should have won. Maybe the judges did take past performance into consideration here and Kevin's was that much worst. We don't know.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                              I don't think I said that, and if I did, then I misspoke. Looking at their scores throughout the competition, all three were pretty evenly matched going into the finale, with Kevin slightly in the lead. To clarify, I would have awarded Top Chef to Kevin because, while Michael's finale performance was better, it wasn't overwhelming enough to surmount Kev's slight lead overall. Tom himself said that Kevin won the first course. Perhaps if he'd been shut out, I could see one of the Voltaggio's overtaking him.

                                                                                                                            2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                              What's the point of having a regular season of football when it is followed by playoffs and a Superbowl? Or the basketball season followed by playoffs and the championship?

                                                                                                                              The rest of the season counts. It's how the finalists get determined.,

                                                                                                                              The design is that best of the best remain for the finals and then they compete among themselves for the "championship" or the title of Top Chef (to quote Padma).

                                                                                                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                all good points yet I am still bitter Kevin lost. It's ok tho..what really happens to the winners after they take the cash prize and the title....hung who? hosea wha?

                                                                                                                                1. re: HabaneroJane

                                                                                                                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/nyr...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                    I think Centro has recently closed

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                      I don't think that is correct but Leah has left her position there.

                                                                                                                2. Colicchio's blog is up - called "Bait-and-Switch" - "Tom Colicchio explains that the ultimate outcome may not have been as close as you think."

                                                                                                                  http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                    certainly explains the outcome a lot better

                                                                                                                    1. re: elfcook

                                                                                                                      Yeah, but I'm still not as happy as I would have been had Bryan or Kevin won the finale.

                                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                      Which is why I'm done with this show for good.

                                                                                                                      I am sick and tired of the editors playing with our emotions like this. I do not need this in my life.

                                                                                                                      I will never watch it again. Over. Done. Out.

                                                                                                                      1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                        We'll see. You'll get sucked in again. :-) (Hey - that's what editors DO, dmd!)

                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                          Ha ha! You know me better than I do...

                                                                                                                          Actually, though, I have to say I am truly disgusted with the subterfuge in the editing this time. Reading Tom's blog, the actual cooking contest was pretty much cut and dried.

                                                                                                                          And even though I know fully it's not Top Personality, I'm simply sick of arrogance winning this show time and again. I've viscerally **detested** every winner but two in its entire existence, and I've gotten way too involved with also-rans who were clearly over-praised in the editing process because they were such nice people.

                                                                                                                          I'm truly done. I deal with successful jerks in my daily life all too often. I don't need to watch them on the teevee.

                                                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                            Couldn't have said it better myself.

                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                              No offense, but you may simply be ignorant of what the restaurant world is like. It isn't filled with Kevins.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                <No offense, but you may simply be ignorant of what the restaurant world is like. It isn't filled with Kevins.>

                                                                                                                                I AM familiar with "what the restaurant world is like," and there are many chefs of Kevin's stripe in it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                  Are they all Kevins? No. So don't expect the chefs in Top Chef to be all Kevins.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                    Not that either need defending, but where does ChefJune say she expects all chefs to be like Kevin? She doesn't. Nor did dmd_kc - s/he just doesn't like the arrogance.

                                                                                                                                    "There are many chefs of Kevin's stripe" doesn't mean ALL chefs are like him. I'm sure having worked in the industry ChefJune is more than fully aware of that. She's most certainly not ignorant of the restaurant world, based on her past posts about it.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                    Just to clarify, what is a chef "of Kevin's stripe"?

                                                                                                                            2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                              I share your frustration, but I know I'll be back. darn.

                                                                                                                          2. I haven't read all the comments but ...

                                                                                                                            I registered to comment on this discussion. I almost cried (and I don't) on these results. I don't think Mike V was the villian as presented. I was cheering for Kevin but I found the results to be amazing. Go V brothers. I didn't see the dislike between these two - they seemed like the kind of brothers I would like to be mom to if I had 2 boys (and I don't). Go V brothers. Any of these 3 could have done it with cheers from me. Off to cry more now.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: KimMae

                                                                                                                              There WAS no 'villain' this season... which is why I liked it. They were all three very equally matched and it could have gone to any one of them. Kevin had bad luck in his choice of assistants and I'm sure that affected his results... As they served the dishes, Michael's seemed the most refined by a nose. I would have guessed that he was the winner, whatever the editing tried to do. But bravo to all three of them! (I admit I dozed off and missed the judge's table interrogation... I opened my eyes just in time for the closing credits and asked DH who won. But I wasn't surprised...)

                                                                                                                            2. Who saw the clips for next week's "reunion"? Did you notice Kevin saying he compromised his integrity- what is THAT about?!?!?!

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: QSheba

                                                                                                                                Missed that one! But will watch the reunion show, most definitely.

                                                                                                                              2. Totally ridiculous result.
                                                                                                                                They did not really praise Michael all evening - so between tonight and the past shows, I can't for the life of me figure this one out.

                                                                                                                                My boyfriend said, "he took the most risks". Well, so? That can mean crappy food - and often did.

                                                                                                                                That said, this was by far THE BEST season ever. I could deal without the high stakes and crap, but the talent left - which we mostly all identified from the get go (though I think Ashley was better than Eli), was by far the best top 4 ever. There was not one let in to the top 4 that 'just got by' like there seems to have been every other season.

                                                                                                                                Even though Kevin didn't win, he earned his place as one of the rising culinary stars in this country and won some great money/prizes to continue on his journey.

                                                                                                                                End result was BS tho.

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Jeserf

                                                                                                                                  I have to disagree that the result was "Totally ridiculous" or "BS". IMO Tom's blog does a great job explaining the decision process, and I am comfortable with the result in light of his comments.
                                                                                                                                  That said, I do feel manipulated by the editing - what's new right. Many of the posters to this board watch TC as a "cooking show" first, and not as reality tv. But it is what it is.
                                                                                                                                  This was the best season of TC as a "cooking show", and I will continue to be an avid viewer. However, if you are not watching for the reality show appeal the Bravo blogs are a necessity.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pierate

                                                                                                                                    That's funny. As I watched it last night I wasn't at all surprised that Michael won. So I don't think the editing went *all* that way--

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                      My husband thought Bryan got the "win" edit, but I was sure it was going to be Michael. It seemed clear to me that Michael had 2 best dishes based on the edit, so it was not surprise to me.

                                                                                                                                      Once Jen confirmed that editors were creating Michael's personality, I eased up on him. His emotion at the end was all I needed to see to make me happy he won. Although I, like most of you, would have been happy with any of the Final 4 taking the top prize.

                                                                                                                                      Bravo, Bravo, for an excellent season!

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Jeserf

                                                                                                                                    Interesting. Watching the meal and the judges' table, I assumed Michael had won. My order of preference for winning was Kevin, Bryan, Michael, but I was very confident they were giving it to Michael when they came back from commercial. I guess we all see things differently.

                                                                                                                                    Agreed--best season ever. I wonder if they can live up to it next time around.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                                                      I agree completely...I said to my husband that Kevin won the 1st course, Michael the middle two and Bryan the dessert...he disagreed, saying that Bryan won the 3rd course...and then Michael was awarded the win .
                                                                                                                                      While I hoped Kevin would win, it was obvious from the start of the meal that he wasn't going to. Yes, the editing is done to create drama, but I certainly don't feel manipulated or mislead.
                                                                                                                                      Great season....

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sibeats

                                                                                                                                        sibeats, I totally agree with you. I thought it was a fabulous season and LOVED that the top 4 were each deserving of the title. I'd have been quite happy with any of them as Top Chef. I LOVE this show, and can't wait for more!

                                                                                                                                  3. I don't recall who said that Kevin "Blaise'd" this finale but I agree. He was my favorite going in to it.

                                                                                                                                    As for the winner, Michael... True, he was not the most pleasant person throughout the season and he definitely wasn't who I hoped would win tonight. However, I loved that he showed real emotion (and described it with saying that he never realized you could feel every emotion at the same time). When he hugged Bryan, it seemed genuine and real. I think it ~almost~ completely excuses his assholishness (new word, coined by Ima Wurdibitsch tonight) during the Top Chef season.

                                                                                                                                    I'll be back next season.

                                                                                                                                    I'll be there for Top Chef Masters.

                                                                                                                                    I'll be there for Top Chef Junior.

                                                                                                                                    I'll be there for Top Chef Pygmies vs. Miss America, if they have it.

                                                                                                                                    Well played, Magic Elves. Well played.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                                                                      ROFL! OK, Ima, I *do* think I'd have to step back - WAY back - and really think about the last Top Chef Pygmies vs. Miss America. Even THAT is going too far. <vbg>

                                                                                                                                      Lots of "Burning Questions" blogs - with Michael first:

                                                                                                                                      http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

                                                                                                                                      And then with Kevin, Toby, Bryan, Robin (!) and Jennifer (click on "Next Post" at the bottom of each Burning Question blog).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                                                                        I want a facebook like button for your post.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                                                                          I agree on all points. Sad that Kevin "Blaised" it, yet Michael kinda won me over.

                                                                                                                                          Interesting that there seemed to be more restrictions in this finale than usual -- it wasn't "cook the meal of your life," but only one of four courses was without restriction. I think Kevin got the short straw in both his sous draw and in the mystery box -- not being very familiar with the mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                          But Kevin's going to be just fine, with the Bocuse d'Or trials to look forward to, a few other "small" prizes, and, I'm predicting, a good shot at Fan Favorite.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                                                                                            hahahahahahahahahahaha
                                                                                                                                            a good laugh to heal my broken Kevin pig heart.

                                                                                                                                          2. I had some issues with the structure of the finale. First of all, bringing ALL of the former contestants out and leaving it to chance to see who will be the sous chefs? Kevin totally got screwed on that one. I preferred it when they used celebrity sous chefs and they were not allowed to give any input but just to do execute what the contestants wanted them to do.

                                                                                                                                            And I did not like the mystery box. I prefer it when the contestants have greater latitude as to what they would like to prepare for the final challenge. If I were a judge, I'd like to taste their best possible creations, not a "Chopped" course.

                                                                                                                                            And after reading Michael's interview on bravotv.com, I do have an issue with Padma being a judge while she's pregnant as she told them that she would prefer it if they didn't cook raw seafood. Come on! What if we've got a contestant whose crudos are his or her strong point? That contestant would be at a serious disadvantage. While Padma said that she'll eat whatever the contestants prepare for her, reading between the lines, I think most contestants would attempt to try to make their dish "Padma-friendly." If Padma wants to host the show, that's fine. But if she is telling contestants that she would prefer they not cook raw seafood, I think she's got no business judging.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                              I agree with Miss Needle on all counts. My thoughts are elaborated here:

                                                                                                                                              http://ihatemydvr.blogspot.com/2009/1...

                                                                                                                                            2. After reading the blogs on Bravo, I was struck by how more than one of the finalists commented on the inferior quality of ingredients in the Mystery Basket. In general the quality of ingredients seems to be high- I wonder what the problem was with the basket items? I have to admit I hate the concept of the Mystery Basket for the Finale. Shouldn't that be more for Quickfires (or Chopped)? I wish the Finale was just "Cook us the best four course meal of your life"..."and include a dessert.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: QSheba

                                                                                                                                                They definitely need to 86 the Mystery Basket and just let the final 3 cook what they know. But I do think they should all have to make a dessert - that requirement I didn't mind.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                  When the were given the mistery basket I was wondering if I had the channel wrong and it was an episode of Chopped on TFN

                                                                                                                                              2. I was rooting for Kevin all season and didn't like the brothers much, but have to admit adding the single mom/background story kinda softened my view. So... not so bad. They will all do well in their niches.

                                                                                                                                                I was also very impressed by the good sportsmanship and professionalism displayed. Unlike most other contest shows, and some previous seasons of TC, they all worked together as if they were on the same team, letting the food decide their merit.

                                                                                                                                                1. Best season ever.
                                                                                                                                                  Lots of powerful money at the final table and 3 contestants that are very bankable.

                                                                                                                                                  Just hoping the next run is as good.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I like the concept where the final three battle it out. It leaves an extra wild card in the mix.

                                                                                                                                                    However, I never liked the former cheftestants as sous chef format, but the knife draw is a good way to add a little randomness to the selection. I would prefer "famous" chefs to be the sous.

                                                                                                                                                    The mandatory dessert is a great addition to the finale.

                                                                                                                                                    Overall, this finale was very low key and seemed heavily edited to the point where you really didn't see how the chefs used the mystery box or cooked their food.

                                                                                                                                                    This season has restored my confidence in the show.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I knew Michael had it in the bag when he gave that speech about how he'd never done anything but cook and he would never do anything else. Tom practically swooned on camera. Kindred spirits, there. However, I have to say that the frat-house machismo (what was with all the tattoos on display in this episode?) and arrogance on display in this season left me with a jaundiced view of top-end kitchens. No wonder so much mediocre "creative" food gets thrown on plates at "top" restaurants and served with such contempt for diners. With guys like Michael, Mike I. and Eli in the kitchen, I wouldn't be shocked if they spit on each plate.
                                                                                                                                                      Oh well, tat's all, folks.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Not saying that I am going to stop watching, but not going to invest as much into this show anymore. Very very poor editing. Manipulative and condescending.

                                                                                                                                                        72 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                          I was highly annoyed at the editing last night. After sleeping on it, I'm much angrier.

                                                                                                                                                          I feel this was the most manipulative and dishonest episode I've seen on the show, and my resolve not to watch future seasons is even stronger. I actually turned it off the second they announced Michael as the winner, and there's no way on this earth I'll watch the reunion.

                                                                                                                                                          The show is not Top Chef. It's Top Meal. The fact that a great chef can be eliminated while total bozos can hang on to the end is a stupid way to conduct a contest. That's how they get people like Ilan and Hosea winning. And, again, I'm tired of arrogance being rewarded consistently by the judges.

                                                                                                                                                          It'll be good to have one TV show fewer that I'm hooked on. I should spend that time cooking.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                            I understand your anger at the editing; I wasn't happy. But it's not going to prevent me from watching the next season, provided they have top-caliber chefs on again.

                                                                                                                                                            And again, we're not there. We're not tasting everything. We're not arguing with the judges until 6am (that's how long JT went this time, per Gail's blog) about every little minute detail of every dish. So we'll never know everything they discussed and why they chose the way they did - other than the blog explanations.

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, it still stinks that their overall record doesn't somehow account into how they decide the winner. But I understand why they can't do that. Don't like it, but I understand it. But I'll still watch.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                              It would be nice if they posted film from the entire JT on their website. Or have a 30 min follow up show like Models of the Runway. It's hard to remember that it is a reality TV show/competition first and cooking demonstration second.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                "It would be nice if they posted film from the entire JT on their website."

                                                                                                                                                                You would watch hours upon hours of discussion at judges table? You are a bigger fan then I.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm content with what they show now and reading the blogs. But it might shut up those who believe that the judging is unfair or manipulated by the producers.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                  I like the 30 minute follow-up of JT - not sure I could watch 5-6 hours of JT. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely -- we aren't there at the judging, and Gail's and Tom's blogs make that crystal clear. At least in the past, we as viewers have known pretty clearly that when a contestant such as Casey has completely screwed everything up in her final meal that she had little chance. Last night, that was not the case. So again, for me it comes down to nothing more than dishonest editing to punch up the drama.

                                                                                                                                                                  Well, that and the fact that they've now crowned four winners whom I find revolting personality-wise, regardless of their culinary credentials. My disgust with this show is probably a culmination of my being totally fed up with the whole "reality" competition genre. At least when you're watching a skank on a dirt bike in a tube top, miniskirt and no underwear (http://www.theonion.com/content/video...), I have the reasonable expectation that I'm being spoon-fed pablum. Top Chef had previously convinced me otherwise. Now I know that's not the case.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                    Well, hopefully the producers/editors will get a ration of shite about how this one was edited, and Bravo will realize that to diss the 3rd place winner as they did by having him leave (Kevin) and to edit as they did (entire finale) is NOT what most of the viewers want to see, and will (hopefully) get them to edit it more honestly. Have some suspense, fine - but do not bullshit us into believing (and the head judge wonder as he watched what he took part in!) that someone else was going to win!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                      The dishonesty in editing was what set me off. I wanted kevin to win but I was OK with him not winning, its this manipulation that gets old. I I wanted this kind of aggravation I would stick to real life.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed - this show is a reality show. I get that. Give us a bit of suspense as they did with the Blais/Stephanie/Lisa finale in TC4. But to manipulate it in such a manner as to blatantly lead us down a different path - that's just a poor job of editing.

                                                                                                                                                                        With everything they've filmed, I have to think that they could have done a better job of editing this finale to give us that suspense but not make the majority of us believe Bryan was going to win. You can't tell me the judges didn't say ANYTHING good about Michael's dishes and that the editors couldn't have given a hint of that in what they chose to show?

                                                                                                                                                                        The fact that Tom Colicchio himself said upon watching what we all watched was he wondered if they were showing the same thing that he had participated in is very telling.

                                                                                                                                                                        (And I want to apologize for my run-on first sentence in my previous post. LOL!)

                                                                                                                                                                4. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                  I like how they judge based on that days challenge. I think it was TC who said that they do it that way because customers usually give a restaurant/chef one chance. It doesn't matter to a customer that 9 out of 10 times the chef presents a perfect dish, if they are that 1 time it is sub-par they are not going to go back. To me it seems more fair than Project Runway where they keep designers because of what they did the previous week, and what they might do in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm a Kevin fan and calling out Kevin as "not the winner" was an insult to everyone. A cheap misdirection ploy.

                                                                                                                                                                    However, the final three all deserved to be their. This season those three owned the elimination challenges so all three proved they were top chefs... even Michael.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                      This season was not "total bozos." Michael is clearly an incredible chef. You simply don't like him and let that impact your judgment.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                        Bravo to that. He might seem arrogant and mean (I believe all chefs yell and demand perfection in the kitchen from their staffs) doesn't directly take away from his skill level as a chef and cook. I look forward to visiting The Dining Room at the Langham soon, and hope that, if you can, you all can take a trip there and judge him solely on his food and not his demeanor.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                          Well, gee -- I didn't call Michael or anyone else this season a total bozo. I do, however, think Ilan and Hosea both are, in every way. And I think Hung is a hot-headed but proficient cooking-school technician who played the judges like a fiddle and benefited from two competitors who were in way, way over their heads.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'll state it yet again, since you took two personal potshots at me based on things I didn't write: I don't happen to find Michael likable. He is creative but extremely insecure and immature, and that manifests itself in arrogance. But I didn't call him a bozo. I'm certain he could outcook me blindfolded with both hands tied behind his back.

                                                                                                                                                                          So again, to reiterate: My real beef is with the fact that the head judge wrote on his blog that the editing of the finale didn't reflect the food that the judges ate or what they said about it at JT. It wasn't even really a close contest, yet the Elves gave viewers exactly that impression to heighten tension. That is what I object to.

                                                                                                                                                                          This finale had the least emphasis on the food itself of any season we've seen thus far. In fact, I'd say that was a trend for much of the season. Like "Project Runway," the Elves seemed to have gone out of their way to hide the "reveal" until the end this year. I like cooking process, and didn't get much of it this time.

                                                                                                                                                                          I've been a media professional for over two decades, and I know exactly what misleading editing is. I had thought this show had more integrity than your average VH1 "dating" show. I no longer feel that's the case.

                                                                                                                                                                          And for the record, a large number of my friends work in the service industry (I was a theater designer for the first half of my career, so I know from wait staff and bartenders), and I am quite familiar with the egos, tempers and bad behavior that thrive there. That doesn't mean I want a TV show about choosing a "top chef" to reward that. I have two good friends who are chefs at much-acclaimed, long-established fine-dining restaurants, and they're both demanding of the people they employ, but they're also extremely centered and humble. Neither one of them would ever talk trash on national TV like Michael, especially at his age.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'd prefer the show if it took a variety of factors, including demeanor and leadership, into consideration instead of only the food served at the individual challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                            "I'd prefer the show if it took a variety of factors, including demeanor and leadership, into consideration instead of only the food served at the individual challenge."

                                                                                                                                                                            I agree, and to me those are just two of the many additional qualities that differenciates a "chef" from a "cook".
                                                                                                                                                                            I feel that many of the challenges during a season of TC are designed to test those qualities.
                                                                                                                                                                            Sadley, however, the finale seems to come down to who is the best "cook" that day.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                              It's "Top Chef" and not "Top Personality" and as long as they don't try to physically assault someone (e.g. Marcel) then it's fair game. It annoys me that people will complain, for instance, about the personal drama stuff, e.g. between Hosea and Leah, while then focusing on personal drama stuff for people like Stefan or Michael V. ("I don't like him" "he's arrogant" etc). You can try to have it both ways: a cooking show, a personality show, but those of us who watch this show for cooking, and wish cooking would be more heavily emphasized, get annoyed when people's comments are all about how likable the person is rather than how interesting their food looks. For instance, Michael's squab dish looked like a Frank Gehry, and yet no one is commenting on that. Instead they talk about personal drama crap that to my mind is wholly irrelevant, and ought to be excised from the show. I don't need these interview asides where the chefs reveal that they are a jerk, or a good guy. Let their actions in the kitchen show that, and show us the damn cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                I think you have two things collapsed here.

                                                                                                                                                                                The drama stuff (e.g. shaving Marcel's head or the relationship between Hosea and Leah) is irrelevant to an individual's ability to be a great chef. It doesn't impact how they cook and it doesn't impact how they manage a kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                Personality, however, is demonstrated by their actions in the kitchen. It does impact how someone manages a kitchen, how other people in the kitchen relate to them and it could actually have an impact on how they cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                I realize that the cheftestants are judged on how their food looks and tastes and not if they are likable or not. However, as other threads here (e.g. TCM) have indicated, personality has a lot to do with how a chef interacts with and keeps a satisfied staff, how well they manage people and ultimately how good the food is that they present.

                                                                                                                                                                                Can you be a jerk and a great chef? Demonstrably. There are plenty of them out there, but it's the difference between who would rather work for Sam than for, say, Illan or Marcel.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                  What I meant in my post was that, to me, the winner of TC should be the contestant that most displays the qualities of a "Top Chef". Chief amongst those are the ability to cook, however, leadership and other qualities should factor in, at least in part. During the course of the season the various challenges are designed to test a variety of these qualities (restaurant wars for instance) - all within the context of the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with you that the personal dramas have no place in the show (and IMO detract from it). However, how a chef conducts themself in the kithchen should matter. I am sure there are many good/great cooks that have failed at running a restaurant because they did not posess these other qualities.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pierate

                                                                                                                                                                                    Leadership is indeed part of the job description. But total jerks can be great leaders. It is flawed to infer from a competition show how well one might lead a kitchen. The opportunities to truly "lead," in the sense of being given a definite hierarchy, with clear cut subordinates, are basically non-existent, up until the finale. I can think of only one other example in this season, when Jen was selected as "executive chef" and she ran the kitchen (well).

                                                                                                                                                                                    For instance, we know Michael has an arrogance, in particular versus Kevin. His being a jerk (or honest) in this instance tells us nothing as to how effective he would manage Kevin as his sous chef, or anyone else for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                      you'd be ok with your boss being a total jerk?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                        Well apparently the staff who work for him and have helped him earn a Michelin Star didn't mind too much, nor did the staff at the Langham that seem to be working well under him

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                                                                                                                                                                          Bingo.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know enough about how those kitchens and how they operate to judge what the staff think about their boss (for that matter, I wasn't asking about any particular person or opining about whether any particular person was or was not a total jerk).

                                                                                                                                                                                            However, iis quite plausible that if there is a Michelin one star kitchen run by a total jerk that the staff's real feeling is that the place might be two or even three star if not for the jerk. )

                                                                                                                                                                                            And you actually didn't answer my question. No bingo whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                              "However, iis quite plausible that if there is a Michelin one star kitchen run by a total jerk that the staff's real feeling is that the place might be two or even three star if not for the jerk."

                                                                                                                                                                                              Think about this statement. If not for the jerk... said kitchen would be without a chef. Or any stars at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I just don't think you can spin it so that he is not an effective leader in the kitchen. You could maybe say that he might be an even better leader with more humility. Who knows. But his results speak for themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I still think Michael was probably not the asshole the edit made him out to be. You saw the most contentious moments of a stressful month for an admittedly competitive person. The other chefs by and large did not seem to act like he was some huge asshole, And they saw a lot more than we did.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                              "The show is not Top Chef. It's Top Meal"

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm with you, dmd. Even "America's Top Model" (don't ask ;-) bases their selection process on the cumulative portfolio of models throughout the show.

                                                                                                                                                                              With a show like Top Chef, it is ridiculous not to do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TatyanaG

                                                                                                                                                                                A chef is only as good as his last meal. Who cares if a chef made a great meal yesterday if the one you are served is mediocre.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously? Thomas Keller is still Thomas Keller even if he has an off day. There simply is no sensible argument against a larger sample size if the goal is really to reward the top chef. To use a sports analogy, the NY Giants were not a better team than the New England Patriots just because they won the Super Bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                    If I was the one paying for the meal I don't care about the name or the reputation. I want the 4 star meal I paid for not something I heard about or not the great meal he made for the other guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ask the Patriot's fans if it makes them feel any better that their team won 19 in a row but lost the Super Bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                      And I would sympathize with you over the money lost, but that's not the point. It's about which chef is the best, and any such judgment based on a sample of one meal is unreliable.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                        We'll have to agree to disagree but I think any chef will tell you that they are only as good as their last meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                          Fair enough, but I've come to realize people say a lot of things that (a) they don't really believe, and (b) don't really make sense when you think about it. No reputable food critic would rate a restaurant based on just one visit. And if they did, I'm sure the chef would be the first to complain.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                            But restaurants critics do rate on 1 meal, just like a theater show is rated on one performance, or an academic final exam. There was a recent article on how a Michelin reviewer operates that said as much. They do order as wide a variety as they can manage, but still the coveted review is based on only one meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                            OTOH, here we, and the judges, do have more than 1 meal, body of work to ponder. I will still give Michael tops for his range, mastery, creativity over Kevin who is awesome at 1 type of food. But I admit that is a matter of preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dach

                                                                                                                                                                                              Then you should take the Michelin Guide and theater reviews with a huge grain of salt. And last I checked, the final exam is typically only one of several grades over the course of a semester.

                                                                                                                                                                                              PS: Chefs complain about the unfairness of Michelin ratings all the time. Didn't some recently return their stars in protest?

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                      If a team were better all season but lost the Superbowl, should that team be awarded the championship anyway? That's what the season finale is, the Top Chef Superbowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                        No, I'm saying that one game like the Super Bowl is a dumb way to pick a champion.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                          But they have playoffs leading up to that, so the champion isn't chosen by just one game. In the same way on Top Chef, they have many opportunities to keep themselves in the game for the final round. I think it is well understood by the competitors that Top Chef does not judge cumulatively. Also this season, unlike most of the others, on any given day, any one of the finalists could have won, so it would be impossible to pick one of the 3 as the best chef. The only thing to do is pick a winner based on that day's competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sharonlouk

                                                                                                                                                                                            Let me preface this by clarifying that I'm not making a fairness claim. I know the rules say each meal must be judged on its own merits. I'm saying the rules are not designed to reliably reward the "top" chef in any given season.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hence my analogy to the Super Bowl, which is supposed to determine the "better" of two teams by having them play head to head. The problem is that, on any given Sunday, an inferior team can beat a superior team through luck -- e.g., Giants and Pats. If those two teams played a hundred times, I guarantee you the Pats would prevail far more often. Accordingly, having two teams play head to head only once is unreliable.

                                                                                                                                                                                            The same is true of Top Chef. If anything, the problem is exacerbated by randomness that the producers deliberately inject into the process. Imagine if NFL coaches were forced to pick their starting lineups by lottery in the Super Bowl. In my opinion, therefore, the final meal should simply be one data point among many if the goal is really to determine the best chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                            PS: I note that my proposal would also decrease the pressure to edit deceptively. Part of the reason they deceive us is that each meal is decisive, so negative comments will give away the ending. But if judges could take into account past meals, the editors would not have to hide negative comments about the current meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                              It doesn't matter if statistically one team or chef is better then the other all that matters is the performance on the given day. Why bother even playing the game if you "know" who the better contestant will be?

                                                                                                                                                                                              Even if we use the premise their should be cumulative scores I can argue that the chefs had 4 courses to show what they could do and according to the judges Michael won 2 while the other two won 1 each so it wasn't a one and done contest.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                No, that's like saying the Super Bowl is reliable because they play four quarters. And I'm not saying we shouldn't play the game, just that no one game should be outcome determinative if the goal is really to pick the "top" contestant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And I'm saying the Super Bowl is reliable. If we only look at past performances we would say the Buffalo Bills were the greatest team of their generation because they made it to 4 consecutive Super Bowls. The clincher is they won none of those Super Bowls so they aren't generally considered a dynasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the 1990 Buffalo Bills played the 2007 NY Giants in 100 games, I'm confident the former would beat the latter the vast majority of the time. But by your logic, the Giants are still the better team because they lead in Super Bowls 1-0. Does that really make sense?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Similarly, if Kevin and, say, Robin faced off 100 times, I'm confident Kevin would outcook her the vast majority of the time. But there would inevitably be occasions where she outcooked him by sheer chance -- e.g., because he had a bad day, etc. Nevertheless, Kevin would still be the better chef. Why? Because he outcooked her in most other challenges. A larger sample size is more reliable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    PS: If it helps, think about it from a different angle. Is Kevin really the best choice to represent the US in the Bocuse d'Or simply because he won one challenge? Of course not. Michael would be a much better choice because, in the vast majority of challenges, he demonstrated a style of cooking well suited to the competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The structure of the TC "season" is elimination of the poorest player of the day until there are only 3 contestants left. And those, by dint of the previous eliminations are the best. Then those three go head to head, not to eliminate one, but to determine who is best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In every elimination challenge -- as in every football game -- there remains the possibility of someone having a bad day. And that possibility is also true in the competition for the championship.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Olympians also have one shot at the gold. An Olympic figure skater for example has just one four-minute performance to show his/her stuff. If they have the most brilliant practices possible and if they blow the actual competition, they lose, no questions asked. It doesn't matter if they usually skate better than anyone else. The only thing that matters is that one four-minute period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      And dealing with the pressure of that one-time performance is part of what distinguishes a champion from just another great athlete -- or chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "And dealing with the pressure of that one-time performance is part of what distinguishes a champion from just another great athlete -- or chef."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        So, if Thomas Keller loses to Bobby Flay in one episode of Iron Chef, the latter is a better cook?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                          He was on that day and in that competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "He was on that day and in that competition."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Exactly. It says that -- and nothing more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                            No. It doesn't mean he's a better cook. It means he won that day. Nothing definitive about any of this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                              not the better cook, the winner of the competition

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not the better cook, and certainly not the "top" chef. We can keep parsing the semantics of it forever. But the fact remains, if the goal of your competition is to reliably determine the best chef in a given season, this is a poor way to do it. That is my only point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can argue that it's more entertaining to have an entire season boil down to one meal. That such a system leaves room for underdogs and upsets. I can respect those arguments. But if that's what you believe, don't kid yourself -- those things necessarily make it LESS likely the better chef will win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the goal is not to determine the best chef of the season, it is to determine a winner of the competition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The competition exists to pick the "top" chef. In my opinion, that should stand for something more than just "chef who happened to be better on one given day in the competition."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please tell me, what is wrong with keeping everything the same but taking performance over the course the season into account? How would that hurt Top Chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "If the 1990 Buffalo Bills played the 2007 NY Giants in 100 games, I'm confident the former would beat the latter the vast majority of the time."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well we'll never know will we?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think a better analogy is any of the tennis grand slams. If player A is seeded number 1 and player B is seeded 8 if B beats A in the finals of Wimbledon then B is still the Wimbledon champion even though he won't be seeded number 1 at the next tournament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            As far as the Bocuse d'Or goes, I don't care if Michael would be a better representative. He didn't win the contest so he doesn't get the opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tennis is a great analogy. How is the "top" tennis player in any given season picked? I'll give you a hint, it isn't by a single-elimination tournament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Being the top tennis player is useless if you can't win the Grand Slams. Golf has a similar ranking and you can ask Greg Norman how it felt to be tops with no major win to his name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hey some of us are not sports fans at all and don't know if wimple-town is the be all end all shiny trophy for badminton, golf or crulling. mmmm. . . crullers. . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  y'all are losing us w the sports analogies. or, uh. . me :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then think about it in terms of chowhound, soupkitten. Doesn't it annoy you when someone pans a place you know is great based on a single bad experience?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But their experience with that restaurant is their experience. It's not right; it's not wrong. It's just their experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What's the difference is someone posts an adoring review of a place you or I know stinks most of the time?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely no difference. Both reviews are equally unreliable because each is based on a sample of one, in contrast to mine and your numerous experiences at the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But they were accurate for each of those people. I've been to restaurants that people have raved about -- consistently -- that I thought were horrible, overrated, overpriced or rotten service. My experience is valid. May not be the whole picture, but certainly as accurate as anyone else's. And I probably won't go back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed -- people are irrational in that way. But the point remains that a single-elimination tournament is an unreliable way to pick the "top" anything. Indeed, the fact that Greg Norman never won a major is proof of my point. And that's precisely why some sports -- like your own example of tennis -- base rankings on cumulative performance, rather than a single-elimination tournament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And top chef is also forces artificial constraints that handicaps everyone's true talent differently. It could even be Kevin is really relatively weaker at creating a 4 course given 6 hours compared to when he is tasked with making 1 or 2 course with 3 hours. Or it was just an off day. But it does remind me that Kevin did not forsee his Restaurant Wars team failure to plan properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Every competitor has their own sweet spot parameter they compete strongest under. Like, you may be greatest at swimming 100m ... but change it up a bit, it doesn't mean you'll be the greatest at 400m or a different stroke. A great software programmer may not make a great software architect. Closer to TC, there was a Project Runway favorite in season 3, who made awesome designs one challenge at a time, but when it came time for the finals, no restriction, for him to create his own complete line in a couple of months, he produced trashy, tacky garbage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is not a empirical science experiment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The result of the TC competition is not the determination that Michael is the best chef of all however-many there were at the first episode and he is the best forever and ever and in all circumstances. It's that he won that competition in that time and place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, they're crowning the Top Chef for that season. The fact that you are better on one day in one competition says nothing about who was the "top" chef that season overall. You yourself admitted as much above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I totally get your point of view, and I'm not going to argue about it. I would loved to have seen Kevin win, but he didn't ace the finals. Michael apparently did and he won the title for that season. End of story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: dach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's called "Top" Chef, not "Luckiest" Chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here's the thing, a_and_w, it's a specific contest with certain rules. You win or lose each leg of the competition by the rules. You win the finale and they call you "Top Chef." It's a made-up contest and a made-up title and it doesn't mean you are forever and always the best chef of everyone you competed against. It just means that you won that particular contest by those rules in that time frame. Period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Totally agree, chicgail. This is just my suggestion of how the rules should be changed to more reliably pick the top chef in any given season. Keep everything the same -- even the finale -- but base elimination decisions -- including the final one -- on cumulative performance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A and W, under your schema, you could easily have a chef whose overall performance so outpaced his/her competitors that the final episode/competition is meaningless. For example, often the Tennis rankings are set enough that the result of the final grand slam event in Tennis wouldn't make a difference to the rankings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It would be interesting to award a final episode winner (say $50,000) and an overall winner (the other $50,000). One would be the Wimbledon Champion and one would be the 'top ranked'. Often the two positions would be one and the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  >>A and W, under your schema, you could easily have a chef whose overall performance so outpaced his/her competitors that the final episode/competition is meaningless. For example, often the Tennis rankings are set enough that the result of the final grand slam event in Tennis wouldn't make a difference to the rankings<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's a function of how tennis rankings are computed, not a problem intrinsic to my proposal. You could easily use some different ranking system to minimize that possibility. (See, e.g., the poll system in college football before the BCS.) But yes, as I admitted elsewhere on this thread, there is a chance you will have one competitor who is clearly better than the rest for that season. I'd rather see that than someone clearly undeserving back into the win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  >>It would be interesting to award a final episode winner (say $50,000) and an overall winner (the other $50,000). One would be the Wimbledon Champion and one would be the 'top ranked'. Often the two positions would be one and the same.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Agreed -- that's precisely what I proposed elsewhere on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in this case, it means you win the bucks. the final top chef prize. a great advantage, to be sure-- but many times the contestants who don't win this prize can certainly capitalize on their newfound fame and their real talents to get them where they wanted to be, had they won the title/cash. will kevin's career be helped by going on top chef and then *not* being awarded the final prize? well yeah!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is all a good discussion about something inherently so subjective that it's almost impossible to make "fair."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There's another element we almost never see addressed on the show: Regardless of how open minded the judges are, there are simply some foods they're going to inherently prefer to others. In my case, if someone served me superbly-prepared braised celery and good but not exceptional cabbage, I'd still be much more likely to prefer the cabbage -- because I really just don't have much of a taste for celery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's why we keep seeing chefs pick expensive meat and seafood so often, I'd guess. Myself, I'd take a hangar or skirt steak over the most expensive filet any day. That's just another vagary in the show that has frustrated me to my breaking point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "The problem is that, on any given Sunday, an inferior team can beat a superior team through luck "

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Do you really think luck has anything to do with it? Teams practice & train for months, weeks & days. They work their asses of to be the best. When it comes to the playoffs and ultimately the Super Bowl, it's a contest between the best team(s). They earned the right to be there. Every fan knows that once the game is over, the winner moves on & the loser doesn't. Why is this any different? Luck has nothing to do with it. It's whoever played the best game that day ONLY. Maybe someone missed a field goal, threw an interception, fumbled or got flagged & cost the team the win. Maybe the other team blocked the field goal, caught the interception, picked up the fumble, or cashed in on the flag. Who played the game best that day? It is not cumulative and to say Top Chef should change it's format after 6 seasons, is just wishful thinking.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Michael really grew on me last night. And Kevin definitely blew it :-( but he was gracious. They all were gracious. I loved having the Moms there. And love that southern food got it's due all season.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Overall a very good season and look forward to next year.

                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                And while I didn't mind the moms being there for a little bit, I thought it took too much time away from the cooking. This entire episode seemed very rushed to me - not enough cooking; not enough of Judges Table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The editors really did a bad job on this one - even Tom Colicchio said in his blog that he wasn't sure he was watching the same thing that he participated in!

                                                                                                                                                                                                I really hope they just allow the final 2 or 3 just COOK next season. None of the gimmicks with moms, mystery boxes, additional courses, etc. Tell them - 5 courses, one must be a dessert - you have free rein. Do your best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                THAT is what the finale should be, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Definitely. The judges talk regularly about the "arc" of the meal, which was impossible in this series of challenges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And the box thing, what is up with that? Its a Food network gimmick. I was expecting Ted Allen to jump out screaming: "You're Chopped!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I didn't mind the idea of the box, but thought what was included in the box was very strange. I think a better box would have been a better addition to the challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                        See, now I *loved* the box...or more precisely, what was in it. Rockfish is a nice mild, buttery fish that can hold up to a nuanced sauce and Kabocha might as well be candy. My complaint is none of them took advantage of their cumulative earthy flavors. And somehow, fried mushroom sounds rather awful, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was surprised it wasn't a 1.5 hour show. All went by too fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haven't the finales been two hours in the past, or am I just imagining things? I rushed home last night and was upset that I got home at 9:15, thinking I missed the beginning. It did seem rushed, especially for four courses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Technically, the finales are two hours, but are split between the 2 finale shows. I don't think any of the Part 2 finale shows have ever gone over the hour time limit...even though I wish they would.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. If you tweet, here is Andy Cohen's handle on Twitter. @BravoAndy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bryan Voltaggio: @bryanvoltaggio,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Michael Voltaggio: @mvoltaggio, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kevin Gillespie: @topchefkevin

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I just hope in the finals that the chef had more time and just cooked themselves. This way the results would be all their own. There Would be no talk of bad knife draws. Bad help like last season. Or sabotage as in season two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It would be nice the to see the chefs do what they can when left to their own devises and are cooking their own food and menu. They've dealt with all the challenges and twists just ket them cook already!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Or maybe even more interesting, let them bring a sous chef of their choosing - someone from their restaurant, maybe, with whom they already have an established rapport. That would truly give us a picture of how they work in the real world. Now that would be interesting to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree. I understand it's TV and the curveballs make for good entertainment (or at least the producers think so). But at this point, the remaining competitors have all demonstrated that they can handle the curves, so why throw them in? The box thing seems more like material for a quick fire or early elimination (I know they did it in season 2, but I can't remember if they've done a box challenge since then).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've always thought of the final meal as being the chef's opportunity to make herself or himself shine when left to awesome ingredients and their own devices. If they screw up at that point (salad dressing balls, anyone?), it's really no one's fault but their own. Pure talent and skill and nothing more. Guess that doesn't make for the best TV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Did anyone else notice that Padma literally said nothing (other than agree w/ Tom/Gayle/Toby) during deliberations last night? I'm sure we can thank the Elves for that, but still...she didn't voice 1 opinion! I wonder if she limited herself in tasting all of the foods because she's pregnant? Or if in the editing they just wanted the other 3's opnions to be the focus of discussion... just weird because we usually hear at least one or two things from her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, I was a Jen and Kevin fan, and really did not like Michael at all, but the last few mins of the show last night really gave me more respect for him - he truly seemed humbled by the win, and I was glad to see him almost more happy that he and his brother were the final two, than he was about winning. I thought it was funny how he threw it out to Gayle too "Here's the emotion you've been looking for" when he was crying at the end. I'm happy w/ the results, and am REALLY looking forward to the reunion!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: becky315

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Read the Burning Questions blog at Bravo with Michael - I guess he asked Padma if there was anything she couldn't eat - she said she would taste everything, but would appreciate it if they didn't prepare raw fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: becky315

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I noticed that, and that they aired a few cuts of Padma basically saying, "right, I see" or other such filler. Perhaps they're preparing us for a change of host. After all, Padma's baby daddy is rumored to be a billionaire. She may no longer need a day job.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: becky315

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yup - I noticed that too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: becky315

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would be very happy if they replaced Padma.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No! She's much better than whomever was the host Season One!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I too felt this episode was very rushed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I liked the bit with the moms, but it's true - it did take too much time away from the cooking.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The whole thing just felt rushed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I kind of enjoyed the "mystery box".....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think because just saying "Cook the meal of your life " is just very subjective....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But to have the same ingredients and see what the chefs do with them is to me a great idea - to show off their individual creativity.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I often have wondered why they didnt do that more often...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As much of a Kevin fan as I am - I was really dissappointed with his menu....I don't know if simple is the right word, but the entire menu just didnt seem "finale" worthy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I did get a bit teary when he was sent packing...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And again when Michael got teary after the win....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For me - once Kevin was out - I didnt have a preference of which brother won...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Very satisfying season!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pork belly as the main dish was a bad choice for Kevin. Even when it's cooked fantastically, it's a huge risk. I know many people who find it too fatty to enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was also disappointed he went with the trendiness of putting bacon in a dessert. I'm an extremely adventurous eater, but I'm beyond sick of bacon in sweets. I like a bit of sweet with bacon sometimes, but the other way around is just gimmicky and way too of the moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was his to lose, in my opinion, and he lost it by a couple of bad choices and a stupid forced second course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        " Even when it's cooked fantastically, it's a huge risk. I know many people who find it too fatty to enjoy."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've never heard of a foodie who has had a bad thing to say about pork belly. A couple of years ago it was on the menu of nearly every big restaurant in the country. Colicchio's incuded. Probably still is I may just not be noticing as much because of the ubiquity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know if I'm a foodie, but you can count me as one who enjoys it perhaps once a year -- and even then, it has to be cooked just right and served in a small portion as part of a very carefully considered overall menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think I would have been been so into it in Kevin's presentation, especially if it was tough (meaning it seems to me the skin wasn't fully cooked and the fat didn't look rendered enough) and followed by that heavy dessert. I love the boy, but he was off his A game for the finale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here's his recipe. http://www.flyingpigsfarm.com/freshbe... Someone sitting near me at Craft ordered it, I ordered something else, and when the waiter brought our plates I wanted to jump up and grab his, it looked so good!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I seem to recall the #3 getting the boot in previous finals. I was expecting it so I'm thinking it must have happened before.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought Michael deserved the win, he had a great season, Tom in particular seemed giddy over cooking from the beginning.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Didn't like the sous chef draw or the mystery box but the thing that bugged me the most was requiring a dessert and then more or less dismissing it as insignificant. If you're going to require a dessert, give it the same weight as the other courses. These are minor complaints though, I thoroughly enjoyed this season.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Based on what we saw of the food throughout the season the chefs whose cooking I would most like to try are (in order) Bryan, Jen, Kevin, Michael.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Late comment on this topic but I like Padma's bangs, reminds me of Morticia Adams.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My heart sank when I heard "pork belly"--didn't Blais also flame out on pork belly? I think it's become cliched and the judges may be extra-critical of it for that reason. The NY food world is very trend-concious and the judges have jumped on items for that reason in the past.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Actually I found this season underwhelming in some regards. While the talent was probably the best, I just found it rather sterile in regards to the editing and cooking aspect. Season 5 in NYC was also a mixed bag IMO due to the lack of a NYC element to the challenges and the Hosea and school-girl cheerleader known as Leah. I just would like to see more cooking rather than household drama (yes I know it is TV; especially Reality TV and Bravo.....).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I"m not terribly torn that Michael won, yet the editing was indeed off and I agree with many others that Kevin deserved better at JT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I often was suspicious that Michael would also win because he, unlike Kevin and Bryan, does not have his own place. I wonder how much that factors into the decision by the producers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I'll preface this by saying I'm a Kevin fan and thought he was poised to win throughout the show. I dislike how the entire season is tossed aside for the finale and that's ultimately what determines the winner. Michael was hardly the best chef....I think what he proved (even in the finale, crap editing or not) is that he's driven, he's creative, and he takes bold choices. He had many, many failures and truthfully, I don't see the same sort of love and respect for food that his brother or Kevin seem to embrace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And I also thought it was such a dick move to trick Kevin like that. Color me not impressed with the ending.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, and FWIW -- Ashley rocks. I've sung her praises before but she was a freakin' godsend to Bryan for the finale. Not that it ended up mattering much...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It has been said over and over that the only meal that counts is the last one you present. That's the way the show work, no cumulative scores, no goodwill. As far tricking Kevin goes, it's a TV show, it's a reality TV show, how is this not to be expected?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's how it works in the Olympics too. You might have set a world record in a practise session but that counts for nothing if you lose the main event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    True, but that's not across the board. I don't know shit from shinola about The Olympics but in many other sporting events it is cumulative -- more of the sum of an entire season rather than hedging a bet on one event.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I realize this is the way it is in Top Chef but I truly think this method of choosing a winner combined with the piss poor editing detracts from the overall enjoyment of the show as intelligent entertainment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's unrealistic to expect chefs not to have an off-night. In the real world it happens. If this weren't a show that drew us in to each one of the contestants, both as individuals as well as professionals, week after week and instead it were one of those lame Food Network cook-off specials then I could understand putting so much emphasis on one plate. But I'd like to give Top Chef more clout and as it stands I just feel...gipped. Kind of like I did when Hosea won. Déjà vu all over again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Same thing for most sporting events. Even if you are seeded number 1 and you lose one game or a series you go home. Win or go home is the motto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ok. Bad analogy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Still don't think Michael was deserving according to what I saw in the finale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It doesn't matter what you see, it's what the judges taste that matters. Remember they don't see what is going on in the kitchen or at the house/hotel. All they see is the dish and only they taste it. But I do agree, I thought that Bryan had it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This all goes back to what we were talking about in the first finale thread. The judges taste for us and on behalf of that they ought to make their opinions more clear. I'm not even going by Michael's assholish attitude or Kevin's dorky cuteness or Bryan's lack of charisma. I'm going purely by what I was shown in terms of their talent. I disagree that it doesn't matter what we see. It's television and if what we as viewers see is an afterthought than what's the point?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "It's television and if what we as viewers see is an afterthought than what's the point?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They show you what they choose to show you. The are knitting together a story from hundreds or hours of footage and multiple cameras.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In that case, why even bother with a finale?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Very upset with how they treated Kevin at the end. Yes, he didn't serve his best meal, but to demean him like that was terrible. They did that just to set up the two brothers at the end. Why not have them hold hands like the finalists on Miss America pageants.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kevin was a class act the entire season, and deserved to be there on the floor as an equal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can live with Michael winning, but this callousness with Kevin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    has really turned me off on watching the show in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pacheeseguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Very good point. I also thought it was a little elementary schoolish to send Kevin out of the room like he was a bad little kid. 'Go wait in the hall and think about what you did wrong.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You didn't see them pull that crap for the final three on TC Masters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I'm most likely having my wedding at Bryan's restaurant, Volt, memorial day weekend, so needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. Bias aside, I do think Bryan seemed like a more talented chef than his brother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Count me in on not liking last night's episode. It felt rushed, and I was not a fan of the editing. In season's past someone was eliminated after the QF, leaving 3 cheftestants and having a true 2 part finale. This allowed us to see more of the cooking, JT and what their sous chefs had to say. We didn't get to see any of that, I think last night's finale would have benefited greatly if it had been extended to 90 minutes. I also agree with those that think the mom stuff took up too much time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I definitely think Kevin drew the short end of the knife on his sous chefs. Although it didn't seem to hurt him, I wish the playing field was a little more even. If they were going to bring back all the former cheftestants, then they should have had two knife blocks one with the first half of those that were told to pykag and a second block with the latter half, and the finalists would choose one knife from each block.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't mind the mystery box, but they did throw a lot at them, mystery box, dish inspired by mom and dessert. This really only left one dish up to their wildest dreams, and I would have liked to see more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You know, when I saw the knife block come out, I was hoping so much that Michael would draw Robin's name. Poetic justice, or something...... ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think the producers were hoping the same thing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought the same thing. I would have loved to see/hear what Michael thought of his team after picking Robin. I would have also loved to see exactly how she was as a prep cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <I would have also loved to see exactly how she was as a prep cook.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm sure she could hold her own. She wouldn't have lasted as long as she did otherwise. But she created so much controversy, and Michael was certainly one of her detractors. To their credit, the others in the Top Four -- if they had negative feelings about her, kept them to themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "I'm sure she could hold her own. She wouldn't have lasted as long as she did otherwise"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She lasted as long as she did because someone else always managed perform just a little worse then her not because she did any thing particularly well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One thing to remember is that these folks are all professionals, and I would expect them to perform professionally in this instance. The roles have also changed. As sous chefs they are not still vying for the limelight anymore, they are supposed to be there to be the assistant, a role all of them have assumed at one time or another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, if you were questioning capabilities, that is another discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Speaking of the sous chefs; based on what we saw it looked like Ashley totally rocked the prep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not surprised at all. Ashley was a strong contestant. Any other season and she would have gone much further.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That wouldn't surprise me a bit. Based on what we saw in the season, I believe Ashley went home too soon. And it could be argued that she might not have gone when she did if she had laid the blame on Eli for oversalting her gnocchi, but she took the high road and didn't throw him under the bus because she put the teamwork ahead of her self-interest - something that to my mind says she'd give her role as sous her all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting that Kevin was worried about having Ash as his sous, but hen said Ash just totally knocked all the work out, and fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's shocking how similar our first 2 sentences were....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree that Ashley should have stayed longer. I was impressed with her and her integrity. If she had been a competitor who was willing to throw her partner under the bus, she might have lasted longer but she left w/ her integrity intact, which is far better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Interesting Q & A from Kevin:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/20...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wow...very interesting, especially the part about splitting with his wife of six years just before the show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Very interesting! And it explains a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dagwood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes it does!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh no - just last week (or maybe the prior episode) Kevin was talking about how much his wife means to him -UGH
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No wonder he wasnt on top of his game - and he hug between him and him mom seems more poignant to me now.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I know...this just makes me sadder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh wow. I'm so sorry to hear he's split with his wife. But it sure explains a LOT. And yes, Nelly - his Mom hug is now definitely more poignant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am SO glad that the "magic elves" of editing did not include anything about Kevin's separation in the show. At least they allowed that to be private.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Agreed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          but maybe he didnt even mention it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is a thought thing to deal with at the best of times. Must be even more so when doing it on TV and trying to win an important contest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I did notice that when they showed family photos there was one of Kevin at his wedding yet no picture of his wife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Mystery box challenge to chowers! I recall ingredients as rockfish, Dungeness crab, kabocha, matsutake, orange...what else was there? I would have done a Japanese okonomiyaki-type pancake with fish and crab with a salty-sweet kabocha/orange sauce and dehydrated-soy marinaded matsutake "bacon" on the side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Meyer Lemon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Even better. Definitely Japanese ingredients--I'm surprised no-one went that route except Kevin with that kombu broth. I guess none of this crop has much Asian-cuisine background, but perhaps they could have tapped the knowledge of their sous chefs a bit more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I seem to remember in an old New Yorker that matsutake's flavors are best extracted through water rather then oil and browning like other mushrooms. Any one know if this is true or if I'm misremembering? Because if it is it can explain why Kevin didn't succeed with his preparation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Over on his Bravo Blog, Tom said something about always slicing matsutake thin and often serving it raw. Kevin admitted in his interview that he had no idea how to prepare it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just googled and the New Yorker doesn't have that article online just pictures from the article. I think I threw out all my old New Yorkers so I won't be able to check. It was in the Aug 20, 2007 issue. Fascinating article about wild mushroom pickers in Oregon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wait...this does ring a bell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I thought Asian, too...I love how mushrooms/pumpkin/fish pair with coconut milk so I was thinking more Thai, less Japanese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    well I was in the wrong other thread to discuss this topic I was told. so now that there is a new top chef I should see if anyone is happy/sad/disappointed/or delighted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    my only thought for right now before reading this whole thread is I'm sure everyone was happy they didn't pull the Robin knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought all would be chosen but didn't realize it was literally the pick of the knife who was left behind.......imagine the winner getting Robin as his side kick he'd have been ticked no end

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It was Michael who went the Asian route with the mystery box ingredients, not Kevin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  asian is heavy bias for michael, who had a hit udon shitake dish at the cowboy challenge. Michael has shown a variety of food mastery -- japanese, diner (buffalo wings), greek (stuffed grape leaf). I'm sad his detractors don't seem to notice that. He's like a genius with 4 PhDs. You don't notice how exceptional he is if you only focus on 1 creation at a time. But as a whole package he has mindboggling breadth + depth, encyclopedic mastery of all things culinary, plus his own creativity. On a related gripe: so I don't think he was lying when he claimed he can make Kevin food -- I'm sure he knows how... even if not to Kevin's level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There was also anise hyssop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anise Hissop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lee Anne Wong talked about the box in her blog post. Interesting discussion in paragraph three.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Here's an interesting Q & A from Michael and Bryan prior to the finale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. just a general question: Is it just me, or did Tom seem a bit nervous in this episode? I was wondering if it was because of all the heavy hitters dining during the finale? Can't quite put my finger on it, but he seemed ,well, a bit off and nervous for some reason. (or am I imagining it?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm sure he was quite excited, happy, proud, nervous etc to have the quality all the way around: This little show has become a Very Big Deal. Then a bit worried that someone would screw up badly and and embarrass themselves. And then the dread of having to tell two of the contestants that their dream would not be coming true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have judged a few contests so I don't envy Tom or the others one bit. Well, a little bit: they get to actually eat the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I saw the same thing during the meal. He kept furrowing his brow and making weird faces. He seemed less talkative and more pensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps because the food simply was not as good as it had been on previous occasions. I got that sense from watching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. After spending the day thinking about it and reading various interviews with Michael, Bryan & Kevin, I have to say, I'm ok with Michael winning. I adore Kevin and was really rooting for him. While watching the show, I thought Bryan was the winner. I was very surprised when they announced Michael. I was never a Michael hater like some others, so really I don't mind his winning. I think Kevin put it best, saying something along the lines of: All 3 could've won on any given day, it's just who performed the best that day. All 3 realized how close it was going into it and I believe they all acted like gentleman. They helped each other out. I liked seeing them talking about their dishes and offering tips to each other. I haven't seen that with past seasons. I didn't really like the mystery box or the knife pulling for sous chefs. I'd like to see them have free reign over what they make with ample time to complete it. I also did like that they required a dessert this time. I think it's important for a chef to have at least one in their bag of tricks. Just my 2 cents. Let's hope next season brings the same quality of chefs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Excellent comment and I couldn't agree more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wasn't going to add my comments until I read your post. I thought TC was going the way of all other reality shows after last season and *almost* decided not to watch this season. After the first episode, I tagged Michael, Bryan, Jen and Kevin as the final four (with Kevin as my fav) and then held on for the ride. It was a great season with some episodes of immaturity. Overall, every chef put their heart and soul into their food and it showed. The finale was awesome and gave a glimpse of how chefs can work together without bickering. It was fabulous and while I was disappointed that Kevin didn't win, Michael cooked his butt off. It was a deserved win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also have to agree with Tmrock; I think Tom C. was exceptionally proud of the talent they recruited this season and was anxious to show it off. All four of the finalists were exceptionally talented and would have made any "papa bear" proud.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now if we could just get the editors to do their job and present these talented individuals in their best light instead of infusing drama. Let the show be about the talent and food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Dee S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dee_S, I agree with you completely regarding the calibre of cheftestants and the fact that they truly did work very hard to express themselves on their plates. I, too, wish there had been more cooking and less drama...I did not appreciate the amount of pettiness they showed amongst the cheftestants and the living conditions inside the house...show more cooking, Bravo! But I truly loved and appreciated the talents of the top 4 and would have been very happy to see anyone of them win. I hope they can keep the calibre of cheftestants up...because we are in for some wild rides and exciting food porn if they can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree w/ all you said and I'd throw Jen in the mix, too. The quality of the top four this season was so much higher than in the past. It was great seeing the respect and camaraderie among them and that they didn't resort to Spike's tricks to try to win. They each wanted to win because they were the best, not because they played the best game. And, that comment that any of them could win on any given day is true. It just rolled against Kevin that night. I would have been fine with any of the four winning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. I was surprised when Kevin said at the end that he was the underdog from the get-go because people here and on other web forums had pegged him as a potential winner from the first episode, but then I figured he was referring to his cooking southern foods and having a less-flashy cooking style than the brothers V.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lee Anne's blog is an interesting read, full of dish. Such as: the producers asked her if the sous knife draw would be fair, and she approved, but Mike I. was pissed because he assumed he'd get to sous; some of the restaurateurs at the dinner got full-on drunk, and at least one was "loose lipped"; Bryan was the easiest of all the contestants to work with, and all the female producers loved him. (She has very nice words for Michael, too; apparently, she met him when filming TC Masters at Bazaar.) She calls Kevin "Yukon" and Michael "Slim Shady." And she's very harsh on Kevin's dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Misogynist Mike" LOL! Whateva whateva! Fascinating stuff, especially the comment about too much hickory powder in Kevin's dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I thought the finale was cooked well, texturally pleasing, right amount of acid, but perhaps slightly underseasoned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I watched it again yesterday just to see the dishes. They were shown for only a few seconds. Focusing on them, I could see how wonderful Michael and Bryan's dishes were. They have just put those photos online. http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/photo... I'd like to know more. I'd like to know how Bryan prepared each vegetable two ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      About Padma's preganancy. She has endometriosis. She is 39. For her, it's now or never.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Are you implying that some of us think that she shouldn't be having a baby because she's a judge on Top Chef? If so, that is so far from the truth. I'm happy that she's able to have a baby. But I don't feel it's fair that she be a judge (especially as she verbalized that she would prefer that the contestants don't use raw seafood in their menus). If they are indeed going to tape the next season while she is pregnant, she really should step down and take a role like Kelly Choi who hosted the show but had no say in the judging process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          According to Tom, they are beginning filming of the next season 1 month after Padma has her baby.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/watch...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lizzy, thanks for the link. On the one hand, I'm glad that they decided to do that. On the other hand, Aghhhh!!!! This means we have to wait a lot longer than usual for the next season of Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lizzy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And I'm glad to read this again:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I'm very happy that Bravo and the production leave the decisions up to us completely. They have absolutely no say in who stays and who goes," he said. "The second someone forces me and says, 'That person has to stay on the show,' I leave."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So SFO, Hawaii, TX, and DC are all in the running. They still haven't gone fully Southwest, fully Deep South, or fully Northwest in their location choices. Wish they would.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interesting that they're considering returning to a previous location (SF, season 1; here in the Bay Area SFO really only refers to the airport, BTW). There are so many cities with great food scenes that I'd rather they keep going to new places than repeat, even though I'd love to have them film in my area, as I lived in NYC when they were in SF, and the Bay Area when they were in NYC. I would also like to see them in the Northwest and the South - why not Atlanta, which has a developing restaurant scene, or Seattle? On the other hand, it matters less as the seasons go on and they could be filming anywhere, as all they see is the inside of restaurant kitchens and Whole Foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry about the SFO moniker - that's a habit after 25+ years of booking travel for my bosses. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And yes - I agree with you re: all the great food cities out there, which is why I'd love it if they tried other cities vs. San Francisco again. But we also don't know the parameters of the "other places" they try to get to and what might be available to them or not. In Vegas, they were able to use other kitchens; they did the cooking out in the desert, several catering type situations (although I'd assume they could get those done for local charities in almost any city).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But who knows what production crews are dealing with - other than Lee Anne Wong and her group - but she's leaving the show to do her own thing. So there might be a lot of other parameters as to choosing a city that we're unaware of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am sure there are plenty of constraints - they have to find a certain number of local restaurants they can clear out and film at, other local venues that are interesting, local chefs as guest judges, etc. - in addition to things we don't know, as you say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    P.S. Didn't mean to call you out re SFO, more a heads-up; there are lots of locals touchy about all the things not to call San Francisco (SFO, San Fran, Frisco), but I'm not really one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I knew re: Frisco and SanFran - didn't realize SFO was another. I guess it's how like Boston doesn't like being called Beantown. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lee Anne was great in letting us know via her Bravo blog about the "background" of set-up and all the behind-the scenes...I do hope someone steps in and continues to give that perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd be both amused and pleased if, given the recent attention to the Oakland culinary scene, they chose East Bay!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, that would be fun (she says as an Oakland native and current resident again), but I don't see them passing up SF for the East Bay. In S1, before they locked the shopping in WF through sponsorship, it was fun to see them shopping at Berkeley Bowl (they didn't name it, but it was easy enough to recognize).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was thinking Boston.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They have plenty of options. They've only done six cities. They don't need to repeat any just yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed. Bryan's box dish is stunning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: isadorasmama

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that those dishes were the best-looking food ever seen on Top Chef. Worth checking out those food photos. And for photos of people.... try the new Voltaggio Brothers website! http://www.voltaggiobrothers.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. This season of Top Chef has really brought skill, talent, ethics, and diversity into the kitchen. Overall I had a feeling Michael was going to swoop in on the win over his older brother. I had such high hopes for the underdog in technique, Kevin. I realize now that he has a bit more maturing to do in the kitchen, then we will be on the star level no doubt. He needs to listen to the judges and learn to take the criticism that their putting out, not disagree. Also how can you send out a toothy pork belly!? In the finals non the less. DISAPPOINTING! goodjob though Michael and Bryan your techniques and dishes were magnifique!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. There's so much bitterness in this thread rofl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I picked Michael from day one so I'm happy he won. LOL @ people saying they will stop watching because of the editing and villains winning! Maybe they're villains because of the editing to begin with. Sounds more like sour grapes to me. My contestant didn't win? Boohoo I won't watch anymore. I'll bet 10 dry aged porterhouse steaks that had Kevin won, no one would even be talking about the editing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As some have already said this is top chef not top personality. I don't give a F if the winner is an A hole or not as long as his last meal is the best out of the 3.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If Ann Coulter cooks a tastier dish than Obama and Mother Theresa in the finale, she deserves to win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Evilbanana11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to disagree. I'm a big fan of Kevin's cooking style. I had him as my #1 pick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If Padma announced him as TC, I would have been floored, especially with what he cooked when compared to the other chef's dishes. That would have been a total deception via editing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, as Kevin mentioned, on any given day, any of those three could have taken it. Kevin had an off day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now... How do I pick up my 10 dry aged porterhouse steaks from the bet? LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. The last two seasons of Top Chef has been a mixed bag because they truly did not embrace the location. Then again, it is Bravo, and they do aim for trendy and gentrified in their approach. I was really disappointed in Season 5 (NYC) as they really did very little to get people into the "streets." Yes, I know the first challenge of that season was the different "ethnic" neighborhoods, but that season could have been shot in a studio in Sri Lanka for the most part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Las Vegas Season had the best talent, yet the editing and production was really lackluster. I have written it before, but I really think Michael partially won because he did not have his own restaurant like some of the other contestants. I'm sure that probably factors into the decisions of the producers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: vinhotinto75

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sure that probably factors into the decisions of the producers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yet *again* - Per what Colicchio has said many, many times: ""I'm very happy that Bravo and the production leave the decisions up to us completely. They have absolutely no say in who stays and who goes," he said. "The second someone forces me and says, 'That person has to stay on the show,' I leave."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Other than the fact that Colicchio is an executive producer, the OTHER producers have no say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Its a game Linda:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) Argue that its not right to decide a winner on "one meal" while purposefully ignoring the nature of the elimination contest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2)Argue that the producers manipulate the contest through various means, including overruling the judges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3)Ignore the written statements of People Involved (like Tom) and just label them part of the conspiracy to hide some truth as yet uncovered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4)Bash Padma for <insert petty complaint here>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tmrock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "1) Argue that its not right to decide a winner on "one meal" while purposefully ignoring the nature of the elimination contest."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This comment makes no sense. To say that it's wrong to decide a winner based on "one meal" is to critique the "nature of the elimination contest." No one is "ignoring" anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A wonderful idea! Bravo, are you reading this? Your ratings will go through the roof!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They should air the finale live, or, if this is impossible (in case one of the judges says something like "this tastes like [expletive] mixed with [swearword]!"), tape recorded but in real time. Then foodies across the nation and even the world could hold viewing parties. When the challenge is announced, the foodies could cook dishes at the same time as contestants. They could eat these dishes at the same time as the judges are eating the contestants' dishes. Then comes judges table. Bravo could list the wines being drunk by the contestants waiting for the judgment. We could sit in front of the TV, swilling bottles of those very same wines as we watch the live judges' table. Excitement mounts, people get livelier as the bottles empty, scintillating conversation with repartees to what the judges are saying. In those medianoctal 3 AM hours which on most nights for most people you can expect nothing better than what Fitzgerald called "the real dark night of the soul", on this night words worthy of Proust or even Nabokov are bandied about like shuttlecocks. Eight hours into judges table, as the clock approaches 6 AM, Padma says "I think we're all agreed. Let's call them back." Dawn breaks, the sun shines over the rooftops, a new Top Chef is crowned. Nabokov says that some of the childhood events in his novel Ada are remembered in crystal-clear detail by the characters 80 years later. This evening will be like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They could make the finale a separate, live broadcast, pay-per-view event, then a week later run the edited show on Bravo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sounds fun, but I'd likely still be watching in my jammies while eating a bowl of cereal. LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I just have a feeling that what I and my foodie friends cook and eat wouldn't hold a candle to what the contestants cook and the judges eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Plus it would be really hard to TIVO. Just saying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Otherwise, sounds like fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I know this an old thread, but here goes: I think I'm over Top Chef. It seemed like an inventive and interesting take on reality TV when it first came out. Having a background in food prep/service made me more intrigued; could they really suss out the qualities and strengths that make a great chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But when your contestants include a cadre of executive chefs, and this season a Michelin star-winner, what's the hook? These people are already top chefs. Was it really a surprise that Michael was there at the end? Like many, I rooted for Kevin, and perhaps my disappointment with the program is colored by my dismay that he lost. But, it doesn't change my feelings about the direction of the show. I feel battered by the endless product placement and constant hammering of promotion after promotion in every screen bug and graphic. I know it's commercial TV, but jeez, when the balance of the programming slips from content to advertising, I got better things to do... especially when the drama and format seem more bland and predictable each season. Throw us a curve that isn't totally manipulative and overblown once in a while, why don't cha'? Michael's dry dessert? Over emphasized on the air to make us think that he might be in trouble, but clearly not such a big deal to the judges. He's probably a nice enough guy in real life, but his arrogance was blown out of proportion to add a kind of bad-boy drama to the brother against brother sub plot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            More and more Bravo's editing seems to purposefully mislead the viewers as a substitute for a more creative approach to determine the best chef. As a viewer, that tires me rather than engages me. I've seen numerous examples of chefs seemingly saved from elimination, not because they cooked well during that specific episode, but rather rewarded because they had done well in earlier challenges. Probably not the case in real life, but that's the version we were fed. That kind of editing doesn't illuminate, it frustrates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And what do these things have to do with being a Top Chef? That's what I was curious about, and why I tuned in originally. It's also why Top Chef is becoming more irrelevant these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know Colicchio wears like a badge of honor the producer's promise not to interfere with the judging, but when the end result of the contest rewards, as often as not, chefs (Ilan, Hung, Hosea) who seem pretty far from anybody the cooks I know would want to follow in the kitchen, what's to be proud of?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Loaf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Interesting post. Of course it is up to you whether you are interested in watching the show or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose I'm not there yet. I like aspects of the show enough to keep watching. But a lot of people have been making complaints about the show, and your post seemed to hit up many of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The complaint that interests me is your gripe with the editing. You and others complained that it is deliberately misleading. While my initial thoughts on the matter were along the lines of "well, duh, it's reality television and it's their job to up the suspense," I'm now starting to agree with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It seems like the shows producers don't have a firm grasp of what makes the show work. Is it a suspenseful contest of skill and personalities? Or does is it really about the food? In other words, would could the show still flourish if it showed the nuts and bolts aspects of food preparations and critiquing, even though that might make the winner obvious before it was announced? I know that I personally would rather watch that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Seriously - go read the recipes posted on bravo's site from this season. Many of the dishes (Michael's especially, IMHO) had both minor touches and major elements that were never mentioned or alluded to on air. Some of these missing elements were amazing - they are in part why I have such a high opinion of the chefs this season. And they almost always were informative to me as both a cook and a spectator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Next up, try reading the blog written by top chef's producers, also at the bravo site. From this blog, it seems apparent that the producers have no actual knowledge or interest in food or its preparation - what seems to interest them about the show is the human drama that I couldn't care less about (I know this sounds arrogant - its my honest impression and I mean no offense). It's no wonder that the drama and tension are played up at the expense of accurate and informative depiction of the food showcased.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Was it always like this? Maybe the high level of talent this season just made it more apparent that the editing wasn't doing the food preparation justice? I don't know. I suspect this board is biased in terms of being interested in the food over the drama, but I wonder whether the show really could ax the drama entirely and still keep its fanbase. Maybe I'm wishful thinking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd actually imagine the show's producers know better than we do what makes the show work for MOST people -- not necessarily those of us who are into cooking. In fact, I'd say that the majority of folks I know who watch the show don't cook or have any particular interest in food. I can easily imagine those people losing interest, especially if the editing focused on the nuts-and-bolts of how the dishes are prepared. It'd be a big "who cares" to them, I suspect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They've always been bad about simply identifying dishes and ingredients with even the correct spelling, and the focus has been less and less every season on the actual process of cooking and more on highlighting largely-artificial drama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess those psychopaths who were cast in Season 2 set the bar for misbehavior so high that the Elves have to find a way to satisfy their jones even when they've had reasonable human beings in subsequent casts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As I said upstream, I'm done with it too, for all these reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "I'd actually imagine the show's producers know better than we do what makes the show work for MOST people -- not necessarily those of us who are into cooking."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely! There is a reason that everyone who actually cooked complex or even simple-yet-perfected cooking is gone from Food Network. Clearly, there is more of an audience of those who are interested in the competition that the drama than the food and the technical details. I recall a print interview with the head of FN where he specifically said something like 'the Julia Child model' is dead and that they want talent and shows that are as different from actual cooking instruction as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I might miss David Rosengarten and Ming Tsai on FN and I might actually cook my way through Alinea and French Laundry cookbooks; but, people like me, are not a viable target audience (apparently).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: The Loaf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                " I know it's commercial TV, but jeez, when the balance of the programming slips from content to advertising, I got better things to do.."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                just as xerox is not in the copier business, they are in the toner business, television is not a medium for distributing content supported by ad revenues, it is a medium for distributing advertising, with programming as the bait. and as more and more of us watch television DVR'd, more and more of the advertising will have to be integrated into the shows, as fewer and fewer of us do not fast forward through the ads

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh so true. Did you see Leno tonight? They actually incorporated an ad for Kay Jewelers into the show itself. Had that creepy singer guy do "Every Kiss Begins with Kay" and everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also agree that showing the nuts and bolts of cooking and reducing the personal drama would turn many viewers off. People want to root for/against someone and if you don't understand or care about the food how would you choose your faves? It's easy for CHers to forget that we are the minority. Bravo is also home to those Housewives shows and there are similar audiences for Top Chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know many people believe that is the model for new advertising, but it has some negative side effects, and I'm not convinced it's the inevitable direction television will take.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I still believe in the power and potential of the medium to inform, entertain, inspire and educate. At it's best, it still does, though rarely. If there is a balance of content to ad minutes (including every cut away or reference to the "Glad family of products," etc.), then Bravo is pushing the envelope in the amount advertising it thinks the audience is willing to endure. For me, it's way too much. After all, I don't think any of us tune in to a program to watch the commercials--with the possible exception of the Superbowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My wife, despite her interest, won't even watch Top Chef unless she can see it On Demand. That's my favorite way to watch as well. So Bravo is actually driving us away from the regular commercial ads, because they've already piled so many into the content itself. I'm not sure the companies that pay for those broadcast commercials would appreciate that. Of course, that may be what Bravo wants. Who knows? I don't pretend to be a media expert. All I can say is the amount and type of advertising on Bravo in general, and Top Chef in particular definitely makes me more reluctant to watch their programming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But hey, my expectations are way out of whack. I mean, we're talking about reality TV, right? We're all prolly thinkin' jes a lil too much 'bout this stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Loaf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i'm a huge cheerleader for the potential of television - don;t get me wrong. when people proudly proclaim they don;t watch TV, i ask them if they also proudly exclaim they don't read books. But we also live in an increasingly Corporate-oligarcal society, and i need to accept that *their* ideas of what TV can and should do are different from mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Loaf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you that the advertising direction taken in TC may not become the future model. I think a recent study showed that even when something is DVRed, about half still watch the ads. The On Demand shows typically have commercials both online and on the TV. Product placement has been going on for ages, but it's been more recent that it's gotten so blatant. I find it to be almost intolerable in TC as the product placement seems to take over every aspect of the show. I remember watching an old Law & Order from the mid-'90s that had subtly placed Westlaw paraphernalia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What amazes me is that I can watch the awful Chef Academy and it has almost no product placement. Tabatha's Salon Takeover is also the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And as long as we're talking about placement -- and I remember the days when the TV show would have to PAY for the right to use the name of a real product, which is why Guys and Dolls has a Paean to Mindy's cheesecake -- how about commercial placement? Not only are there so many of them, but they often have an 8 minute long block of commercials all stuck together, which seems foolish from their point of view, since people walk the dog, visit a friend, get back in time for the last commercial.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now I think it's even longer since Bravo has that 30-second or so segment they sandwich in between 2 4-5 minute commercial breaks. That 30-second segment isn't at all relevant to the show. Even when I didn't have the DVR I'd switch to another show during the commercial, so it is not like my viewing habits have changed at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Kevin made the semi-finals of the USA tryout for Bocuse d'Or

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But didn't he already make that when he won the TC mini Bocuse d'Or? Wasn't that his prize - making the semi-finals? I know we've talked around and around about this, but now that it's been mentioned several times as he "made the semi-finals", I'm confoozled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We know Kevin wasn't yet *the* winner of the USA Bocuse d'Or, but I thought, as Tom's blog said "He won one of the coveted few spots to compete for that spot." I took that to mean that by winning the Top Chef competition, he was automatically one of the finalists that were announced on December 7th that would be competing in early Feb. 2010. No?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Linda, you are right in that nothing has yet changed. He is still just competing for a spot on the team. He hasn't won anything since winning the opportunity to compete.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          OK, thanks for confirming I'm not losing brain cells faster than I thought, KT. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          confoozled is now my new favorite word. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I"ve never heard of any of the semi-finalists. Here's the list: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co... Some of the semi-finalists work at top-notch restaurants (example: Eleven Madison Park, the Modern), but they are sous-chefs. How can the US win if top chefs don't compete?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sous chefs aren't automatically inferior in cooking ability ot creativity... there are many reasons why they're the sous chef. Besides, they probably have more recent line (i.e. cooking) practice than the executives which is pretty important in a time constraint and maybe the head honcho has other responsibilities to fulfill