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Top Chef Masters, 9/25, FINALE (spoilers)

The chefs have to cook four courses: something old - the dish that started it all; something new - the dish that defines who they are today; something borrowed - the dish inspired by the person who was the biggest influence; and something sous - the dish that the sous chef made in the final Battle of the sous chefs.

The judges seemed to be pretty impressed with the food. I wish I could have been there!

And the winner is... Douglas!

I'm happy with the result. I think Douglas is amazing. I've come to love him as much as I love Bryan. Either would have worked for me but I think the judges were right. Bryan is so thoughtful and so technically brilliant. Douglas is also brilliant and thoughtful but he's also more mature and soulful.

Great season!

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  1. Okay. I am alright with the result, perhaps because the contestants were.

    I reminisced a lot about that first thing I made that brought me "here". It would have been the late 70's, and I'm not sure if it was Gourmet mag or the Galloping Gourmet, but I remember a tuna casserole with a mayonnaise and egg white topping, what must have been a strawberry sorbet ( interesting to me that I remember something like that when I must have been 14, but the flavor was amazing), and some jelly rolled sponge cake with peach and ginger. I think it was not easy to find ginger then and I couldn't believe it turned out like the picture. Must have been a Gourmet mag.

    Moving on.....

    I was intrigued by someone's,I think Bryan's, egg yolk that was like a custard. Looking it up.

    And how about the Top Chef commercials featuring "sexy" Padma? Sigh,but I'm watching......Linda????? You got this? You should set up a Pay Pal account and make somebody pay....but not me... :)

    8 Replies
    1. re: Shrinkrap

      And how about the Top Chef commercials featuring "sexy" Padma? Sigh,but I'm watching......Linda????? You got this?
      ~~~~~~

      What? I have *no* idea what you're talking about, Shrinkrap. :-P

      1. re: LindaWhit

        I just meant are you going to be "covering" this season?

        1. re: Shrinkrap

          I knew what you meant. I was teasing. :-) Yes. I'm going to try and muddle through.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Hell no . . . you *will* recap . . . and I will read before I even watch. It's tradition.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Hey . . . I know where you live . . .I'll hunt you down ;) (I mean, really, finding someone in the general Boston metro area can't be *that* difficult, can it?)

                And there are worse soundtracks to stick in your ear.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              I watch TCM and TC quite differently. I watched each episode of TCM, but didn't always pay complete attention. On the regular TC, I try to watch each episode twice before even reading your thread and making any comments. That might be a little OCB but it works for me. (I know you know how much we appreciate all of your efforts. It's too bad all we can do to reward you is to give you our warmest personal regards.)

              1. re: LindaWhit

                (Blushing...no wait;...embarrassed)

        2. As a San Francisco native and current resident of Sonoma County, I can't help but gloat that last year's winner was Chris Cosentino (from SF and with strong family ties in Napa/Sonoma), and this year's Douglas Keane, from Healdsburg in Sonoma County. How very extremely cool!

          8 Replies
            1. re: cmvan

              The other group of us that can gloat are those who attended Doug's alma mater, Cornell University. Go Big Red.

              1. re: cmvan

                I really liked Chris, too. I love the camaraderie of the TCM and their attitude about putting out good food, much more than many of the TC contestants whose only goal is to win.

                1. re: cmvan

                  Had an outrageous dinner at Incanto last April when I was in San Fran. Cosentino's win was no fluke. And he was so personable and humble. If you go, don't miss the house made salumi. It will change your life. :)

                  As for Cyrus -- well, you can't eat there any more. It closed a while back. Certainly hope Keane will open something similar soon.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Douglas Keane has Healdsburg Bar and Grill and DK Wings which is opening soon. I too am hoping that he opens up something similar to Cyrus.

                    1. re: JonDough

                      Keane alludes to plans for a Cyrus-level place in one of the articles linked on this thread. Here's hoping it's soon.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Let's hope the TCM win pushes the date closer to now.

                  2. I was pulling for Bryan because I felt that if he didn't win, it might shatter him - a la Richard Blais. But I'm happy with the outcome. Doug seems like one cool and talented dude. I'll miss Bryan's laugh!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: KrumTx

                      you'll miss his laugh? really? it gives me the creeps.

                      1. re: linus

                        His laugh flipped me out at first, but it's so distinctively wacky that I laughed every time I heard it.

                        Looking forward to TC NOLA and hoping they don't repeat the bring-back-former-contestants wrench. Can't take another Josie. Rest up, LindaWhit!

                      2. re: KrumTx

                        I think Bryan will be ok. He doesn't seemed to be as neurotic as Richard.

                        I loved those old pictures. He turned out alright.

                      3. Ok, so I'm not a fashion critic, nor am I on top of the latest trends, but what is up with the hairstyles of the judges?

                        Who did Ruth Reichl's hair? She sort of got rid of her bangs, but her hair is still covering her eyes. I think she could use a make-over.

                        Lesley Suter would benefit from a new hairstyle as well.

                        The only thing I'll say about Jane Goldman's hair is that she appears to go to the same barber as does Bryan Voltaggio does in Frederick, Maryland.

                        Finally, what happened to Curtis Stone's hair? He looked like he has a low-flow shower head ala Seinfeld.

                        Now that the petty stuff is out of the way....

                        I thought all of the food looked pretty good. I'm happy with Douglas winning. I was sort of rooting for Bryan because of his placing 2nd last time, but I'm sure he can handle it.

                        I thought the cool thing was when they showed Douglas skydiving at the end of the program.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: John E.

                          "they showed Douglas skydiving "

                          They DID?? I missed that. That's nice.

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            He said something about competing in Top Chef Masters made him feel he could overcome other challenges in his life, including his fear of heights. Then they showed him jumping out of a plane like they did earlier in the season.

                            Here's a story you might be interested in.

                            http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                          2. re: John E.

                            Oh, I meant to comment on Curtis's slicked back hair. It was like his mother spit-combed it down. Realy bad look for him.

                            And seeing Doug do the skydive - nice ending. :-)

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Curtis's hair cracked me up.
                              I agree with everything everyone said. Jen ended up being annoying and not so nice to her sous. Bryan and Doug are cool.

                              I need a break before regular Top Chef and will wait to get into it til I return from a big vacation. Are any of those folks from Boston?

                              1. re: Joanie

                                It looks like we've got several, Joanie. First from Norwood, MA, except he's now in Miami. Worked at various Boston-area restaurants including L' Espalier, Kingfish Hall, Sibling Rivalry, and Chiara.

                                http://www.bravotv.com/people/bret-pe...

                                Second from West Newbury, MA, now in Philadelphia. Has worked @ Guy Savoy (Paris), Le Bec Fin, Union Pacific, Oceana and Lutece.

                                http://www.bravotv.com/people/nichola...

                                BUT - we DO have a hometown Boston girl back from last year - Stephanie Cmar - sous chef @ No. 9 Park.

                                http://www.bravotv.com/people/stephan...

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Thanks, was hoping for people that are presently working here that I might have heard of altho I might have eaten Bret's food at some point (haven't been to No. 9 in at least decade). There's never an abundance of BOS people.

                            2. re: John E.

                              <Who did Ruth Reichl's hair? She sort of got rid of her bangs, but her hair is still covering her eyes. I think she could use a make-over. >

                              Teehee! They really tamed Ruth's hair for this show. Half the time in NYC she goes around with it unstraightened (really wildly curly) and blowsy. My mom would have called it a "Hair-Don't." Everytime I'm in her presence I have a strong urge to take out a pair of scissors.

                              But I do love her writing.

                            3. Sorry Bryan didn't win. Glad that Douglas did. LOVED the very ending with Douglas finally jumping out of the plane! Would love to hear what made him finally decide to take the plunge.

                              1. I was happy with Douglas or Bryan. Thought Bryan might have pulled it out. Will have to read the blogs.

                                I thought Doug was smart in calling into Whole Foods to get his meat ready and wrapped so he could be in and out of the market within a short time, as he didn't have his sous to help shop. Gave him some time alone in the TC kitchen to prep, where he was DA MAN getting so much done on his own!

                                Jennifer's constant chatter would drive me nuts. And she seemed WAY overboard with Jorel in nitpicking every last detail. Doug and Bryan seem to have a lot more trust in their sous chefs than Jennifer does. She kind of got a bit condescending when Curtis asked a few questions - didn't she call him a "boy"? Ugh.

                                Pretty amazing dishes all around!

                                28 Replies
                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Yep, my real takeaway from this finale was "I sure wouldn't want to work for Jennifer." I forget what she said exactly, but it was something to the effect that Jorel was a boy and needed to be told what to do at all times. Sheesh, reverse that with a male chef referring to his girl sous and I'm sure outrage would have ensued. And that constant chatter of hers . . . yikes.

                                  And I'm really happy for Doug. At the start of the season I was rooting for Bryan, but I fell in love with Doug over the course of the season. And I thought it was cool that he was competing for a charity he founded and is actually hands-on in.

                                  And I absolutely loved the final sky diving scene.

                                  Now get some rest LW . . . you have a big season coming up. They're starting with 17 chefs. Two are from Philly, so I'm looking forward to it.

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    Here's an excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle about this:

                                    "But in the wake of his successful leap into television, Keane's most gratifying moment might have been a more literal plunge.

                                    On the first episode of the show, the cheftestants were challenged to skydive. Keane was the only one who chickened out ("fear just froze me," he recalls). It was a decision that bugged him during the rest of the show's filming.

                                    "Afterward, I came back home and I contemplated the reasons why I did actually win: I got over my ego, my fears and all that," Keane says. That reflection prompted him to drive up to Cloverdale and go skydiving on his own accord, sans Bravo camera crews.

                                    "It wasn't scary at all. The only thing that hurts is the cord when you pull it," he says with a laugh. "Then it was peaceful and mellow. It was a great experience, and I feel like I conquered something." "

                                    1. re: gaffk

                                      When does the TC season begin? I kinda lost track of Masters and quit recording it, but I'm glad to hear David not only won, but decided to do the airplane jump, as well--good for him!

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        Oops, Douglas. For some reason, "edit" won't let me in to correct.

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          Wednesday, October 2, 2013. That's this Wednesday. I always thought they had a bit of a gap between these shows but not this time.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Thanks--this time I WILL set up the DVR.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              Yeah, I was kind of shocked they didn't give us a break,

                                        2. re: LindaWhit

                                          "something to the effect that Jorel was a boy and needed to be told what to do " Yes. This was in response to what I felt was a VERY diplomatic comment from Hugh about how she was treating Jorel.

                                          "And she seemed WAY overboard with Jorel in nitpicking every last detail."

                                          At one point she said something like "this is Jennifer time, not Jorel time, got it?", and he said something like "loud and clear".

                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                            Yeah I also thought Jen's treatment of Jorel was obnoxious.

                                            I cracked up at Doug's gushing over the "huge trunk of the Lexus whatever". Did they have his arm twisted behind his back as he was saying that, or what?

                                            I was rooting for Bryan since I figured it must be tough to come in second twice, but it looked like Doug deserved it. Bryan certainly got lots of good publicity for Volt (not that he really needs it)

                                          2. re: LindaWhit

                                            Jennifer seems to be a control freak who cannot just delegate. Jorel must be used to her constant banter. He also must be quite tolerant and easy going. She treated him in an emasculating and condescending manner.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              If I had to work with her, I'd go mad. The constant noise.

                                              Poor Jorel, no wonder he didn't make it on to the last Top Chef. He can't think for himself or make any decisions because she is constantly on his case. He was probably so lost when he had to cook on the spot (I think it was eggs? for Wolfgang?)

                                              1. re: chefhound

                                                remember, there's the editing. When I was watching, I was thinking- the way they are editing her in this challenge, she's definitely going home.

                                                However, she did say some pretty bad things- that you note above.

                                                1. re: chefhound

                                                  I don't remember him on Top Chef. What season was it? Who was the winner that season?

                                                  1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                    Season 10 (last season) - Kristen Kish was the winner. He got eliminated in the Qualifying rounds (this is the season they had 24 cheftestants to start).

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

                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Chef...

                                                  2. re: chefhound

                                                    FWIW, Jorel is the executive chef of a very successful restaurant, and one that Jennifer surely spends less time in than her "flagship". I agree the editing made it look bad, but I suspect she gives him a lot more freedom than it appears. Perhaps the "nitpicking" came from the fact that he is the EC at one of her restaurants, and hasn't actually been her sous for quite some time. If Bryan or Douglas still regularly works the line with his sous, of course they're going to be more seamless. Just one alternate possibility.

                                                    1. re: LurkerDan

                                                      That is certainly a possibility.

                                                      She could feel less connected to his thought process and felt the need to micro-manage him. However, I feel that if her 'boy " comments are indicative of her management/leadership style, it probably has some effect on Jorel's confidence.

                                                      I believe that Bryan does work with Graeme regularly on the line but I wouldn't think that Douglas would work with Paul as much since he closed Cyrus.

                                                      1. re: chefhound

                                                        Although I think Jenn treated Jorel poorly, I think she would micro-manage any sous chef without regard to gender. I don't know if she would incorporate the sexual harrassment aspect to a female sous.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          That's my feeling about Jen, too. She treats her sous chefs as her servants while the others saw them as equals who help carry the team with much more respect.

                                                      2. re: LurkerDan

                                                        Quite frankly, I think that calling a male over the age of 20 a "boy" is insulting. Period. And implying that a young man "needs to be told what to do" is insulting. I don't really care what the context is. It seems she's trying to take an alpha dog position by denigrating her staff. Bad idea.

                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                          Maybe I have a different perspective as I live in the Denver area and am familiar with both Jennifer and Jorel in the local media. I certainly agree that the statements were silly and dumb, and also agree that the editors certainly wanted to show you her different treatment of her sous, but I just can't help feel that a) it's just editing and b) y'all are drawing rather large conclusions about her character from it.

                                                          Locally, she has 3 excellent yet different restaurants. And while they are clearly hers (with a co-owner), she gives the people she employs the opportunity to shine. The "face" of Euclid Hall in the media has not been Jennifer, but rather Jorel, even if it's clearly a Jasinski restaurant. Same for Bistro Vendome, which was (until recently) spearheaded by Dana Rodriguez.

                                                          Again, the statements were silly, and I realize we all know that editing plays a large role in our perceptions of these people, but I figured sometimes it's good to remind folks of that. I mean, in a kitchen headlined by a successful female chef-owner, there might be lots of silly banter about men and women and their "place", and while that kitchen banter probably should remain just in that kitchen, Jen may have slipped and said some of the things on air that they joke about in the kitchen. Some of the conclusions y'all are drawing seem rather absolutist and just don't jibe with what I read here in Denver on a regular basis.

                                                          1. re: LurkerDan

                                                            I guess I just assumed that these incidents were isolated editing and sort of dry humor under pressure. Jen didn't seem particularly condescending throughout the competition, so that doesn't seem to be her style. Also, I can't imagine that she would have brought a sous that she considered a little boy that needed to be told everything.

                                                            It just didn't seem to me that she was serious, but I certainly could be mistaken.

                                                            1. re: LurkerDan

                                                              < I certainly agree that the statements were silly and dumb, and also agree that the editors certainly wanted to show you her different treatment of her sous, but I just can't help feel that a) it's just editing and b) y'all are drawing rather large conclusions about her character from it.>

                                                              I agree with you LurkerDan. And I don't really understand why the elves would want to give Jennifer such a negative image.

                                                              I don't know her well, but I've met her as a colleague in several social situations and she doesn't come across AT ALL in the way she was portrayed on the show.

                                                              Regarding the micro-managing, remember also she was in the stress of competiton -- the finals, no less -- and no woman has yet won TC Masters. She wanted to be sure everything was "just so." I know I can relate to that...

                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                          I agree that she was controlling and patronizing, but "emasculating"? I don't see where that's coming from. I mean, we've seen male chefs boss around their sous before and nobody says it's emasculating.

                                                          1. re: piccola

                                                            I was referencing her calling him a 'boy' and 'little boy'. The context seemed to fit exactly what I wrote.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Exactly. As I noted upthread, she said he was a boy who needed to be told everything. Reverse this to a male chef referring to his sous as a little girl and there would be outrage. (And, FWIW, I am not a guy.)

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Fair enough. I didn't catch that part.

                                                        3. I wanted Bryan to win but am happy that Douglas did, too. I thought James Oseland had a good point that Bryan could spend time w/ a grandmother in Italy to learn to cook from the heart. I don't see Bryan at all like Richard Blais. Bryan is obsessed with putting out perfect food. Richard was obsessed with winning. I think Bryan summed it up well when he said he was happy to make the jump from TC to TCM and do well.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            I don't think Richard is obsessed with winning for winning's sake. I think he needed the validation that he was good.

                                                            Bryan knows he's good.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              I don't agree with the comment about cooking from the heart thing in relation to Bryan. He just doesn't do 'family style' which is what an Italian grandmother does or what Kevin Gillespie did in TC6, but I don't think that should diminish Bryan's cooking.

                                                            2. I thought the dishes in the finale were amazing, clever, personal and a tribute to all three chef's skills and intelligence. I liked this whole group of chefs immensely: generally smart, hard-working, humorous and balanced people. I would have been happy with a win by either Bryan or Doug, both of whom performed with consistent brilliance. I think Jen did some great cooking but does lack the "centered" confidence that both Bryan and Doug displayed. I also liked the genuine gratitude and affection that Bryan and Doug show their sous chefs and it feels like it is returned. Altogether a rewarding season.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                You are right about the season being rewarding. I remember some tension in seasons past that I didn't see this year. I didn't think the banter going on between Doug and Sang was real animosity. I think they just really liked giving each other a bad time.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  One of the funniest TCM blogs was Doug talking about his bromance with Sang: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef-maste...

                                                                  1. re: gaffk

                                                                    Nice link, gaffk, thanks. Showcases the Doug K sense of humour that made me a fan almost from the beginning. I don't really follow chefs so it took me a while to clue in that he was Cyrus, one of the restaurants in the Bay Area that I really regret not eating at. Delighted to hear he is thinking of Cyrus 2.0...

                                                                2. re: teezeetoo

                                                                  I loved the closeness of the sous chefs and Bryan and Doug, too. And, that was Doug's second sous!

                                                                3. I agree. Though my heart was with Bryan I love Doug and he deserved the win. Also, his charity was dogs!!! Gotta love that!

                                                                  1. I just watched the finale and I'm so glad that Douglas won! I was rooting for him as my favorite meal I've had in the States was at Cyrus. Not a huge fan of the whole Michelin star rating, I preferred my meals at 2-starred Cyrus over 3-Michellin starred places like French Laundry, Le Bernardin, etc. His flavors really jive with my palate. He also seems like such a sweet thoughtful person. I was shocked when I found out that he's only 34 years old! Even Bryan V is older than him! I've eaten his food when Douglas was in his 20s. He is way beyond his years. I can't wait to see how his food changes as he continues to mature. I just wish he would open up another restaurant like Cyrus.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      Wow I didn't realize Douglas was so young.

                                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                        You got me curious about Douglas Keane and his age. I found out he was born in 1971 so that puts him 5 years older than Bryan Voltaggio.

                                                                        http://www.foodandwine.com/best_new_c...

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          You're right! I just found another article stating that he was 36 years old in '07. Guess this source was wrong.

                                                                          http://yodale.org/douglas-keane-bio-w...

                                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                            Hmmm . . . I referenced the yodale site as well, But I'm glad he's in his 40s (I'd have hated falling in love with a guy so much my junior ;)

                                                                      2. I was wondering about the whole "something sous" thing. It seems that Douglas went way off the original idea of his sous for the dessert, while Jenn was much closer-- it seems a bit unfair to let them *really* change the original concept.