Hi, everyone, hope you have all had a great week! Gail, Johnny, and I had so much fun celebrating the premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts last Wednesday here in New York. We really missed Hubert, who, like usual, was hard at work at one of his magnificent restaurants (it’s hard to keep track, but I think he was at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco), but he’s promised to come visit soon, and we all get to enjoy him in his role as permanent judge in this week’s episode. He brings so much wisdom, patience and thoughtfulness to Judges' Table, and really is that superbly wonderful all the time.
The premiere was a big success, with 1.6 million viewers! That’s thanks to all of you—thank you SO much for watching, for reading, and for all the insightful comments about the first episode. I’m working on finding answers to your questions (I want to know who designed the loft, too) and will share them as soon as I do.
Like you, I think Top Chef in any of its iterations has always been so compelling to watch because it’s about the food, first and foremost. It’s about seeing chefs test their mettle under highly stressful circumstances, and about judging what’s on the plate. It’s not a personality contest; it’s a cooking contest. I want to assure you that the mission is the same for TCJD. As judges, we look at and taste the food presented to us and evaluate it based on flavor, texture, composition, and how well it meets the stated challenge. We don’t think about whether the chef who made it was a jerk that day.
But sometimes, like on tonight’s episode, personality-driven things happen that have to be addressed on the show. I’m sure all the cheftestants wish they had been able to concentrate on both the penny candy Quickfire and the cocktail Elimination Challenge without all the frenetic energy, drama, and distraction. But no one could have predicted Seth’s meltdowns. Unfortunately, they happened. Sadly, they turned the atmospheres at The Tar Pit, the kitchen, and the loft really tense and uncomfortable. I so wish he had been able to hold it together, and that kind of behavior is never justifiable, but Seth just doesn’t seem equipped to handle the pressure. The chefs are up and working and being interviewed from the crack of dawn until late at night. They hardly sleep, they don’t have a second to themselves, and they are working harder than they ever have. No excuse, but it gives some perspective.