On a personal level, I was pulling for Hubert because he's awesome and a great guy. I was really pulling for him. What doesn't really come across is that, aside from Gail and Tom obviously, is that the judges don't come from cooking backgrounds. I don't think they picked up the amount of work and level of difficulty that went into every one of his dishes. They are much more complex and much more difficult to execute for that amount of people, and I'm sure he's making food that he serves in his restaurant, where he has a whole brigade of cooks. If you look at the level of difficulty it is to make the perfect Baekeoffe, and his fish is poached perfectly, and the way the filet is beautiful, it's so much work! Everybody else's dishes were great, but the degree of difficultly is not the same, and it's one thing where unfortunately it's not one of those things that's a part of the criteria of judging. At the end of the day it's like, you're not putting that in your mouth so I get it, but it's one of those things that never really comes across. His technique is unbelievable but unfortunately it did not come across in the food.
Look at the lamb: it was beautiful and perfectly cooked with a piece of garlic in the inside and then you have the veggie mouse that is beautiful and luscious and then you have blanched spinach that has crust around it and I'm like, "Are you kidding me? Do you know how much work that is?" But again, there were some things on the plate, like the garlic was raw and the sauce was a little over vanilla-ed as well.
Rick's pig dish was ridiculous and really good. And this was the course that was my least favorite dish from Michael, the fried fish. There were a couple of problems though: I mean the plate he served it on was too small, the head and the tail were hanging off and there was no discard plate to put the bones. It was problematic, it was hard to eat, and it didn't work. It was interesting that he was doing new world cuisine at the time or global cuisine and now he's doing some really nice Italian food.
Last dish: Michael's short ribs were slammin'. It was the best dish of that course. I was giggling listening to Hubert describe his dish because he used truffles and he mentioned how he was using humbled ingredients. He's got truffles on top of it! I was just giggling about it. We had that first and my sweetbread was totally undercooked but then the cheeks were very nice. But then next we had Michael's short ribs and it was like night and day. There wasn't much of a comparison which was surprising to me. His whole dish was slam dunk. Rick's dish for me was surprising because he put the foam on top and I thought it didn't taste like chorizo. It tasted like a soy product instead — you didn't get the true chorizo flavor.
I thought having the sous-chefs coming back was great. They needed some help because they did some pretty ambitious foods. I enjoyed it all. I had a great meal and thought the food overall was very classical, and I enjoy classical food so I enjoyed it. Michael made my favorite meal. Any given day it's more of a thing that's so subjective. I could eat Michael's food every day. I was in Napa in February and I went to his restaurant and he had the ricotta gnocci on the menu and I had to have it again. And Hubert's, it's just one of those things. I think he took a lot more chances. He put a great meal together. It just wasn't a course that I thought was amazing, it was just more of like a master of technique. But I think Michael got hosed.
To lilypad, debc, merrry and all those who followed, I have to shake my head. The point of this last blog post is to give us viewers an inside look as to what the food may have really been like from someone who....ACTUALLY TASTED THE FOOD! But no, Harold must be wrong and his palate must be off because I could tell from seeing the food, in a highly stylized and edited-for-t.v. kind of way, that Rick's food must have been better.
Please, none of you have any idea what you are talking about.
I don't really agree with you about James' palate but I do agree that he seemed to have it in for Michael. His scores for Michael were consistently lower than for the other chefs and I got the definite feeling that there was something more personal involved than just the taste of the food. It was also obvious that his scores for Michael were very different from the other judges and yet his scores for the other chefs were very consistent with the other judges, that's the reason I think it was personal rather than palate. If it was a matter of palate wouldn't his scores be consistently different from what the other judges scored? I just felt that overall he was a very biased and ultimately an unkind judge.
I disagree. Michael should not have won period and his food was not that different from so many chef's I've had experienced. Rick blew me away though I didn't taste it, I have eaten authentic Mexican food in Mexico enjoyed his segments. Maybe I'll try Harold's restaurant one day when times get better for me or maybe after his blog entry I'll just wait. James judging was spot on to me. Michael was not hosed he just didn't deserve to win.
Thanks for the honest blog. I definitely sensed that there was something personal that influenced Oseland's rating of Michael's meal. That kind of thing ruins the whole show for me. Here are contestants who have just worked so long and hard on this challenge, and then it's like the whole idea of the "competition" didn't matter because one person cannot put aside some personal feelings when it's his job to do so. Maybe it was a completely honest rating, I don't know. It certainly didn't seem that way. It deserved an elaboration, more than he gave or was shown.
James said the polenta was over-seasoned, not that it needed to be cooked longer. Rick Bayless tasted the polenta and agreed it was too salty. Sorry, Harold, but that makes me question your palate more than it does James's.
omg i felt the same thing.michel should be the winner. i don't know what kind of agenda was running in James mind.i was schocked when he gave 3.5 stars,just could not believe it.
I could not taste the food, but Hubert or Michael should have won. I love Hubert's attitude, being Italian I love Michael's feistiness! His food (Michael's) Spoke to my heart. Hubert what technician and I loved his story! I totally loved this Masters Top Chef, you could see the respect for each other and that rocked, how they helped each other out! The BBQ was also a good story, and I disagree that there are no classical Mexican food other than Ricks, Here in California there are many. For what ever reason I didn't care for either of the men judges. The Lady mm ok sort of. it was like a grudge match between them and Michael the whole way through. Harold your still the best!
Harold (The First and Foremost Top Chef Winner),
I enjoy getting your insider's critique of the meal none of us could taste. Due to editing, it was hard to tell whether Michael "got hosed" or not. The critics' comments on air were not very effusive of Michael's meal (except for the short ribs). From your comments here and in prior blogs, it seems as though you have a soft spot for Michael more than James O has it in for him. Maybe you just prefer Michael's food because you prefer Italian style cooking more than the other two. Either way, it's your opinion (which I appreciate). The critics had their opinions and went with Rick. Originally, I really wanted Hubert because his food is thoughtful and beautiful. However, I knew that I'd be satisfied if any one of the final three took the title. They each were deserving. Thanks again for your time and thoughts.
Harold, I'm sorry but I totally disagree. Michael has either hit the challenges totally out of the park or he has struck out. From your own review, it seems he struck out twice and homered twice. In your own words, neither Rick nor Hubert had that poor of a performance.
Classic Italian fare is commonplace for the American palate. Neither classic Mexican nor classic French are as well-known. Perhaps your bias is because your palate is more closely tuned to Italian fare.
I congratulate all 24 of the contestants, all 6 of the finalists, all 3 that were in last week's challenge...and I congratulate Rick Bayless as the champion of them all.
I really don't see it as Michael getting hosed. That would seem to indicate that he was by far the superior cook, when that was not the case from what we were shown. It looked like a really tight competition. I will say though, that if his burning the magazine cost him some fraction of points, he can only blame himself. It was an unnecesary risk to do something that may anger or be taken as an affront by a judge.
I am not buying into the Michael getting hosed theory; it is no surprise Harold favors Micheal - they seem to have a very similar style. There is something I have noticed and am surprised there hasn't been mention of - the lack of discussion regarding Rick's pork dish at judges table. The full four courses of Michael and Hubert's dinners are discussed. Yet only three of Ricks. I think had they included this in the final edit there would be no nah sayers out there. It is labeled "Rick's winning dish" on the website, Kelly and Jay both write high praise for it yet virtually no mention of it in the final edit we see. If anything let's get after Bravo and the producers for some lousy editing.
Harold, it's been so nice reading your blogs and seeing you at the final dinner w/ the Masters. There is something very special about you that shines through the TV screen. May the Lord God continue to bless and keep you.
Yes, you were right! MIchael got hosed. James O. failed as a judge. James could've squeek through it smoothly if he just gave michael 4 stars and nobody would really notice. but by giving 3.5 stars he wanted to make sure MIchael has no chance in Hell winning. It showed James had a personal vendetta against michael.