Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons breaks down the final meal course by course.

on Dec 9, 20090

There is no exact science to choosing a winner of Top Chef each season. No scorecard or mathematical equation, no list of checks and balances. And no, our producers do not dictate our decisions (trust me, after six seasons, they know better than to interfere too much; we get pretty grumpy after 12 straight hours of shooting). I wish I could tell you the big secret as to how we determine these things, but the truth is, each season our decision-making process is a little different. Sometimes, we are able to judge the chefs’ dishes course by course, one against the other, and assign a winner based on whose dishes came out on top the most. Sometimes, one of the three finalists clearly falls short and the judging gets narrowed down, which helps streamline the deliberation. But more often than not, it is a process of taking apart the entire meal— bite by bite, chew by chew — to understand not just each chef’s intention within each course, but their overall success vis-à-vis the arc of their meal. We expect that by this point the contestants’ menus will tell us something about them and how far they have come in the competition. With a little luck, they will also give us a glimpse as to where they are going in the future.

Never before have there been three such equally matched finalists. Going into our final dinner, there was no way of predicting who would prevail. Between them, Kevin, Bryan, and Michael have won 12 of 13 Elimination Challenges over the course of the season and have each delivered some pretty incredible food. For me, what made this dinner so exciting was that while they are all so talented and clearly on the cusp of huge careers, they have extremely different cooking styles: Kevin with his deceptively simple Southern flavors and heavy (often genius) use of pork, Michael’s über-modern aesthetic and risky flavor combinations that constantly amaze and delight, Bryan’s refined classicism and graceful attention to detail. They all, I may add, have been true professionals every step of the way. They have supported each other, leaned on each other and applauded each other at every turn, save for a little sibling rivalry on occasion, but that is expected and was certainly fun to watch! All three deserved to win, which made our jobs that evening harder….

Now let’s get down to business: For the first course, which was thrown at them the morning of the dinner, they were to cook a dish inspired by their moms—each of whom came to Napa for a surprise visit—and evocative of their childhoods. Bryan’s Sardine with German Butterball Potato, Heirloom Tomato and Panko Bread Crumbs was a clever play on his mom’s tuna casserole, but most of us found it underseasoned and a little lackluster. Michael served us a Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with Cream of Dehydrated Broccoli, a bold statement that was just a little off balance, but creative and flavorful nonetheless. Both brothers gave us great stories and skillful presentations, but it was Kevin’s Southern Fried Chicken with Liquid Squash Casserole and Tomato that won me over. It was a rich, delicious and truly heartfelt ode to his past.

In another plot twist, the following course was to be created using ingredients provided from a mystery bag, allowing us to judge the chefs head-to-head in the most straightforward way. Using rockfish, Dungeness crab, kabocha squash, Meyer lemon, matsutake mushrooms and anise hyssop, our chefs produced three radically different plates of food. It was here, once again, that Michael’s ability to pair unusual ingredients in an intelligent, spontaneous way shone through. Every element was balanced and unique in his dish of Glazed Dashi Rockfish, Sweet and Sour Crab Salad with Squash & Meyer Lemon. Although delicate and elegant, Bryan’s preparation was far less original, while Kevin’s tough matsutake mushroom made his dish’s overall execution problematic.

85 comments
E Class
E Class

Gale I have to say you gays are killing me these season. I fell like I Know all of Chefs like they are my family and every time they have to pack there knives and go, well lets just say I cant watch the show around my girl our my kids.

fooddude04
fooddude04

It is time for a new top chef competition. Gail Simmons, and the rest of the "food experts" need to cook and show how they balance flavors, avoid a "one note" dish, react under quickfire pressure, use acid to compliment other flavors, and all those other famous words they use over and over each season to describe the real chefs.

Let's line up Gail, Padma, Toby, The Creepy Food Critic Lady in the Hat, and the skinny gay dude judge on top chef masters. Now THIS will be something new and exciting to watch!

catherinerose
catherinerose

hello everyone this season is much better than the last season for me!!! first of all that i look forward again to richard to won in this compete and hopefully richard could be the topchef owner,....L,O,L,......JUST KIDDING ,...its just i love richard for being humble as i see on air,. hopefully in the reality too,..more power to you richard and take it easy i know you could won now and im looking forward to see you being one of the judges oneday in the more coming season we love you rich,...takecare and godbless you on your future career hopefully future of succes in life we all here was your big fun in every task that you have we are all praying that you can do it verry well and succes ,and and rich,pls, be carefull in the fish scale next time coz i know that is the only thing problem on salmon but possitively i know that its delicious one of your done dish ......and our 2nd love was dale performance he is awesome too and have a future in becoming a chef more power to have in all of you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!love you all and also the judges,.........................cant wait to see the next season

ILoveGail
ILoveGail

I love the show, but anytime Gail is on, I love it even more. I find Gail to be one of the most visually attractive women I have ever seen. The fact that she loves food and on one of my favorite shows, akes it even better.

avid watcher
avid watcher

GO Michael..it is so much eaiser to be on the oustide looking in. people write that your personality was lacking, but this show isnt a beauty or personality contest. The chef that won deserved to win..can't wait to see the next season.

MasTequila
MasTequila

Have to say AGAIN, this way of scoring the finale will not net the Top Chef. I was gobsmacked, truly. This is the first time I have not rewatched an episode and only today got aroung to reading what is on the website.

This is only nominally better than Hosea's win. Two crappy decisions in a row based on flawed methodology (don't even get me started on Lisa lucking her way into the finale). I loved this show, but you are beating it out of me. I'm actually thinking of not watching and I never thought I'd say it. Very sad day for me indeed.

LISN
LISN

Gail,

The reunion show was interesting and fun. However, when Laurine claimed that Jennifer should have been cut at Restaurant Wars' judging, your response sited her poor performance as FOH. Since you weren't there, how could you answer??? As much as I liked Jennifer, the fact remained that Jen's 2 dishes failed big time and put the team in jeopardy more than Laurine's part.

Cocophony
Cocophony

The finale was great. I think all of the final 3 deserved a TC win, so it is fine with me that Michael V. won the day. I just wish the edited finale reflected what we read here on the blogs. I am sure the editors want to preserve suspense and drama, but both of the finale episodes were edited in a way that was misleading to the viewers. It would be nice to not have to read blogs to understand why a specific winner was chosen. Isn't that what the show is for?

Instead, the past 2 shows have merely given me whiplash.

I encourage the editors to try to preserve some suspense without misleading...

BGirl
BGirl

Gail,

Your first sentence claims, "there is no exact science in choosing a winner..." Science is called for. Your reactions to each dinner is what matters. After watching the finale 4 times, the comments do NOT match the outcome. You all liked Kevin's "Mom inspired" dish best. The mystery box dish went to Michael. The "chef's choice" entree was best executed by BRYAN. Your own comments were that you found 2 issues with Michael's squab dish. The dessert course also went to Bryan. How did he NOT win? The only other factor was the question and answer to that question. Therefore, Michael's response carried more weight than the meal he prepared. Every season you judges claim that the decisions are based on the FOOD. Apparently not this year, not this finale. Michael and Kevin were both very strong throughout the season. However, for some odd reason, they both choked in the clinch. Bryan remained remained calm and created food that looked beautiful and had less flaws than his competitors.

Kate, the disappointed viewer
Kate, the disappointed viewer

This was so disappointing. I felt that bringing the mothers in was a low-point for the show, this is not Survivor. Let's concentrate on the food, not reality show gimmicks.

The manner in which Kevin was dismissed was truly disrespectful. This group of chefs has been very professional, there was no need to treat Kevin, one of the most talented chefs on the show, with such cruelty.

Bryan truly deserved to win. While one course was "underseasoned", that does not compare to a cake that was described as "way overcooked". How exactly do pumpkin seeds as a garnish redeem a dish? Apparently, the comment of a guest judge that the mushroom mousse was a "gimmick" had no impact.

It seems as if the judges made up their mind before they got to Napa. In the previous show, serving an undercooked egg to a pregnant woman would have gotten Michael kicked off.

feednotfatten
feednotfatten

I get rather ticked with fans who have accused the judges of making decisions based on producer-influenced drama . . .BUT I've been thinking for weeks that the show would exploit the brother dynamic and darned if they didn't. Bringing the Mom's in was not endearing or enlightening, but as Kevin said "distracting." Why is the brother thing so interesting anyway? Why is it anymore entertaining than any conflict or affection between the chefs?

I don't know. I feel a little conflicted. Michael seemed brilliant but lacking in humility, incapable of greatness. Kevin seemed to demonstrate a level of self-realization and accountability that makes him so much more appealing and worthy. And his food was brilliant too. Whatever.

Missy990
Missy990

Really disappointed that Kevin did not win. The brothers were total pains in the a##$s all season - and it would have been nice to see someone win who would really appreciate it - rather than expect it.

Totally agree with the sous chef selection being WRONG. Why on earth would you bring back Preeti? Wasn't she one of the first to go??

I think that the last 3 people to leave before the Final 3 should be brought back as assistants to the finalists..........not those who left 6 weeks earlier - that is just not fair.

Better yet - bring in totally unknown fully compitant assistants. That way the playing field is fair.

Of all 3 finalists - only Kevin will ever get my business at his restaurant.......and I would pay whatever he charged.

viewer808
viewer808

I like this show and will watch it next season, but I really don't understand why it can not be judged with a point system. 1-10 what is your immediate reaction to the food based on; difficulty (25% of total score), creativity (25% of total score), and taste (50% of total score). Each judges' score card added up and the numbers don't lie. What takes all night about it? Every hour that passes from when you ate the food your judging becomes more about who is the most stubborn, than about what you ate that night. At the elimination/winners table you could still grill the contestants to discover any mitigating circumstances and offer your critique. Also this will allow for the cumulative scores to be added up and applied to the final challenge as 50% of their final score, rewarding consistency a very important characteristic of any top chef. Because of the inconsistencies in judging what could for me be an awesome show about a very exciting and challenging cooking/chef competition, is instead (for me) just a show I like to watch.

Narci
Narci

Feel as a viewer that I must share my disappointment that Kevin didn't win. I would have understood even if Bryan had won. But Michael? I have read every one of your blogs and still feel confused by your logic. I don't understand why results of QF & Eliminations are not factored in. I felt that way last season when Hosea won over Stephan. So with this competition, it comes down to the last night in front of the judges and who has a great night. Than why put the chefs through all of the QF's & Elimination trials. Just have one episode and see who gets lucky. And by the way, the sous chefs performance do count. The great chefs like Battali & Keller, Flay....have top noch teams working with them like a well oiled machine. I think Kevin was hampered by Preti....

fan123listenup
fan123listenup

I was a fan all season and felt terrible that I had rooted and been dedicated to the chefs --- and then your last episode the sous chefs were SO unbalanced. Take note Top Chef: that was really REALLY unfair! And I felt like a fool for caring so much when you tipped the scale in the end--- not cool. I think Kevin would have come out ahead if he wasn't so stressed by his sous chefs - they can cook circles around me but Bryan and Michael's sous chefs gave those guys a huge advantage. Not cool! And based on what DID come out, Bryan should have won.

PastryPuff
PastryPuff

I think Bryan should have won, but I also think a great chef won the title.

I did not like the finale challenge though, lacked the wow that past final challenges had. Choosing the sous chefs was fair, but you should not have placed the truly bad chefs in the mix. Preeti? come on that was cruel.

I can't agree with all the facebook comments that Kevin was robbed, I just didn't see Kevin having the same cooking skills as Bryan and Michael. I am wrong in that one episode Kevin didn't know what Sous-vide is? I'm not sure and I forgot to tivo the episode that night.

pbr0612
pbr0612

I agree with the fact that the editing clearly showed that Bryan should have won... I was sure he was going to, and then he didn't. I was very dissapointed and felt bad for Bryan, nothing against Michael, I think he is an extremely talented chef. However, Bryan is also tremendously accomplished, yet he did not receive ONE single prize the entire season, despite his various wins. Michael on the other hand, won a car and $25,000 (plus the top chef prize money, the appliances, and what not). I just think Bryan really desserved to win, he worked extremely hard and got absolutely nothing. Oh and by the way, it is not the first time that the chefs are required to make a dessert though, Gail. Season 4 anyone? (Richard, Stephanie, Lisa) They HAD to make a dessert....

John A
John A

Thank you for this edition to your blog, Gail. As usual, it was incisive and intelligent, as are all of your comments during each season. I love all of the judges, but you're my favorite.

I was disappointed that Kevin didn't win, but it was obvious - and a bit heart wrenching - to see him make some uncharacteristic mistakes. I was rooting for him all season long, but even though he didn't prevail, I still feel, as everyone does, that he has a stellar career ahead of him.

I can't wait for next season to begin!

mmc
mmc

So cruel to call Kevins name and then say You are not the winner. Please leave the three together and announce the winner only.After that the other two will know they are not the winner.Kevin should have won for the finale and the sum total of all the challenges.He will always be a winner in every way.Bryan should receive something in the way of a gift or money for being in the top three.Also ditch the pulling of knives to choose the sous chefs.So unfair. Let the three finalists write the names of two sous chefs , put all six in a bowl, shake them up and let the chefs draw 2 each.

mmc
mmc

So cruel to call Kevins name and then say You are not the winner. Please leave the three together and announce the winner only.After that the other two will know they are not the winner.Kevin should have won for the finale and the sum total of all the challenges.He will always be a winner in every way.Bryan should receive something in the way of a gift or money for being in the top three.Also ditch the pulling of knives to choose the sous chefs.So unfair. Let the three finalists write the names of two sous chefs , put all six in a bowl, shake them up and let the chefs draw 2 each.

Leslie Stavrowsky
Leslie Stavrowsky

In past episodes, you have given the contestants top sous chefs to help them with their final meal. This knife-pulling business for a sous chef is really extremely unfair from the start. If you get a bad sous chef, it can really effect you emotionally and put you off your game. I think that is exactly what happened to Kevin, and I think it effected the food he cooked that night. I think that is partly why he had a bad night. Also, calling Kevin out the way Padma did and telling him he was NOT the Top Chef was really in very poor taste. Is there nothing you guys won't do for emotional suspense? Come on! Show some class. If you were juding on actual execution, and not on potential, Bryan should have won Top Chef. He was clearly the winner for course 3 and 4, with his venison and dessert. This is very dissapointing.

Cat in the Hat
Cat in the Hat

Great season! All of the final four are excellent chefs and I would love to eat at each of their restaurants.

A few statistics to share with other readers: Kevin: Won 3 QF and 5 Elim Michael V: Won 2 QF and 3 Elim Byran: Won 0 QF and 4 Elim Jennifer: Won 3 QF and 1 Elim Eli: Won 2 QF Mike I: Won 1 QF Robin: Won 1 QF

As for being in the top or the bottom of challenges they did NOT win: Quick Fires Top: Bryan - 4; Kevin - 3; Michael V - 2; Jennifer - 2 Quick Fires Bottom: Bryan - 4; Jennifer - 3; Michael V - 3; Kevin - 1 Elim Challenge Top: Michael V - 7; Bryan - 4; Jennifer - 4; Kevin - 3 Elim Challenge Bottom: Jennifer - 4; Kevin - 1; Michael V - 1; Bryan - 0

For the money prizes: Michael V: $15K + $10K (share w/team) + Prius + $125K Kevin: $15K + $30K Jennifer: $15K Mike I: $15K

In conclusion - results if you add wins plus top finishes: Michael V: 4 QF and 10 Elim Bryan: 4 QF and 8 Elim Kevin: 6 QF and 8 Elim Jennifer: 5 QF and 5 Elim

MN
MN

I want to defend Michael's statement about Kevin's cooking that everyone is so upset about.

He said, "Kevin's food is the food he cooks on his day off". I don't believe that this was an intentional slam on Kevin's food, only that Kevin cooks simple food. Michael doesn't cook all his food at home sous vide. He doesn't perfectly brunoise his vegetables for a dish he's making for his daughters. On the other hand, he's incapable of making "bad" food. Even if he's more relaxed in his preparation and presentation, he will invariably make GREAT food. *This* is Kevin's food! Great food, simply prepared and presented... the food Michael makes on his day off.

Lisa S
Lisa S

WOW, I thought I was the only one and that I must have missed something, but most of us agree and based on your own standards, Bryan should have won! What happened! I thought Bryan or Kevin were really the strongest chefs but Kevin did not cook his best but I think Bryan won because two of his courses were the best. What did you choose the top chef on the one who had the best answer to "Why do you want to be Top Chef?" I thought it was supposed to base it on who created, executed and has the best tasting dishes?! I agree with Callan, this is almost as bad as when Hosea won last season. This was truly disappointing. I really had no favorites because this season the best chefs were in the finale but what did you use as criteria? Gail at least you were honest!

Lisa S
Lisa S

WOW, I thought I was the only one and that I must have missed something, but most of us agree and based on your own standards, Bryan should have won! What happened! I thought Bryan or Kevin were really the strongest chefs but Kevin did not cook his best but I think Bryan won because two of his courses were the best. What did you choose the top chef on the one who had the best answer to "Why do you want to be Top Chef?" I thought it was supposed to base it on who created, executed and has the best tasting dishes?! I agree with Callan, this is almost as bad as when Hosea won last season. This was truly disappointing. I really had no favorites because this season the best chefs were in the finale but what did you use as criteria? Gail at least you were honest!

MichelleC
MichelleC

It was a close one, yes, but everyone who thinks this blog says Bryan won, read the other judges as well. According to Toby, he and Tom were rooting for Michael, Padma for Bryan and Gail wasn't totally convinced on Michael hence this entry about her perspective. (Also, please note, Tom IS the head judge.)

It seems like they were undecided on whether the squab or the venison was better (Tom liked the squab)...and Toby sees Michael as the winner of the first course, so it isn't necessarily Bryan: 2 courses, Michael: 1.

I also feel one needs to look at the overall meal. Bryan had 2 lows in the first 2 courses (pretty much his only lower points in the competition and thats cuz I'm sure they were nitpicky). Michael didn't really have any major lows. His cake was a little overcooked, but they still loved the flavors.

Michael's risk taking does lead to some mistakes, but I want a Top Chef winner who is exciting and makes me curious. His highs are very high. With all due respect to Bryan, in this case, I prefer interesting and exciting over slow and steady.

With that said, they are all amazing and I would check out any of the top 4's restaurants if I were in town.

Oh and beccajoy, Michael was in the bottom once. And unlike viewers who never taste the food, it is not their job to reward personality.

MichelleC
MichelleC

It was a close one, yes, but everyone who thinks this blog says Bryan won, read the other judges as well. According to Toby, he and Tom were rooting for Michael, Padma for Bryan and Gail wasn't totally convinced on Michael hence this entry about her perspective. (Also, please note, Tom IS the head judge.)

It seems like they were undecided on whether the squab or the venison was better (Tom liked the squab)...and Toby sees Michael as the winner of the first course, so it isn't necessarily Bryan: 2 courses, Michael: 1.

I also feel one needs to look at the overall meal. Bryan had 2 lows in the first 2 courses (pretty much his only lower points in the competition and thats cuz I'm sure they were nitpicky). Michael didn't really have any major lows. His cake was a little overcooked, but they still loved the flavors.

Michael's risk taking does lead to some mistakes, but I want a Top Chef winner who is exciting and makes me curious. His highs are very high. With all due respect to Bryan, in this case, I prefer interesting and exciting over slow and steady.

With that said, they are all amazing and I would check out any of the top 4's restaurants if I were in town.

Oh and beccajoy, Michael was in the bottom once. And unlike viewers who never taste the food, it is not their job to reward personality.

CindyA
CindyA

I still think the judges have gotten it wrong the last two seasons. Bryan, for a multitude of reasons, should have been the winner for this season.

I was surprised whem Michael was mentioned as being professional - obviously the judges did not see what went on behind the scenes. I realize editing plays a part - but he was only in it for himself and even at the final judges table the first sentence out of his mouth was that he did not want his brother to be Top Chef - that had to sting - kidding or not.

So, like others have stated - Kevin wins first course. Michael wins second course and Bryan wins the last two but Michael wins...

Rationalization is wonderful... And I do think it came down simply to the Michaels pity party speech about food being the only thing he knew - when he said that I knew you would pick him.

Pennagirl
Pennagirl

Bryan was robbed. Sorry Gail, just as Michael's dessert was a little dry, Bryan's first course was just a little underseasoned. Stefan DID NOT win last year because his dessert was too gimmicky..just like the mushroom mold mousse that Michael served. Undercooked prawn, you dismissed Kevin over undercooked pork belly. Bryan had 3 out of 4 of the dishes, no matter what Toby or Tom says that it was 2 out 2 split. Execution not probable creativity should be the sole judging decision. Sounds like each of the judges are now CYA to justify giving the win to Michael. Same as last season, Hosea winning over Stefan for doing a gimmicky dessert and Hosea's lack of one (showing no guts to go for it)...now Michael over Bryan over similar circumstances. This is my last season, unless TC fairly and consistantly starts judging. REVAMP please!

Mschrisshipley
Mschrisshipley

Having read all of the comments, as well as your blog I am convinced that I simply am no longer watching top chef. What a horrible way to have the chefs pick theif sous chef for the finale? Plus what do you mean feeling? Past episodes execution was the lone factor for picking a winner. I am done with a show that I can't help but get a "feeling" is way more producer controlled than you admit.

Nor
Nor

Gail, you've convinced me: Bryan is Top Chef.

I wish Kevin had not been hampered by such poor "assistance" and that he had not had an off night because of it. PLEASE give the finalists only sous chefs who are equal to each other in ability; you can make them equally bad or equally great--but just equal, please.

For me, Kevin, Bryan, and Jen were the clear stars of this entire season.

I can only think Michael somehow took the honor because you were all so delirious at 6 a.m. that you got the brothers' names mixed up. Or maybe you were worried Micheal would soap your car windows if you didn't let him win.

David S
David S

I think everyone knew that the three best chefs went into the final episode. I also thought that the chef who made the best meal would win out in the end. Based on what I saw and read, it really surprised me that it was Michael in the end. He is a top notch chef but it appeared that in the end, Michael was rewarded for being bold vs smart. I would agree with that logic but unfortunately the food did not live up to the boldness. Bryan should have one this because it really appeared that he deserved it.

Viewer 123235225
Viewer 123235225

Ugh.

Poorly done finale, once again.

Why don't you understand that we do NOT WANT DRAMA???

I don't want stuff about their family. Their presence at judges table / the event was distracting and annoying.

More importantly, it is all well and good to throw a "curve ball" but not one that was unfair. You KNEW that this season had some terrible, terrible chefs. To include them in the knife draw was a huge detriment to whomever drew their knife, in this case, kevin. Not having a competent sue chef is a huge ordeal and that drastically undermined Kevin. Last time I checked, in the real world, you get to choose your sou chefs...

Please stop taking time away from the cooking and the food to show unrelated nonsense. Save it for the reunion show, which I will happily not watch.

christina p
christina p

Ah so this is tom's influence. he liked michael's answer the best i guess because it was clear that bryan won the dessert, and everyone said his venison was spectacular but not all liked all the components of michaels.

i was rooting for kevin but it appears that bryan was the one that was robbed.

VaViewer
VaViewer

I really believe that the answer to the final question to each of the contestants was the deciding factor. It was almost like a coin toss. Michael had the perfect answer. He basically told a sad story of how he flunked out of highschool and all he knows is food, etc. and that he wants to win to finally do something better than Bryan for once. That was what got him the win. Who could turn down that story, especially when the judges probably could relate to michael's response??

Margaret E
Margaret E

This is my first season of watching Top Chef and it has been crazy and disappointing. I was a die hard Jen fan and unfortunately she was eliminated. I think the reason for her elimination was crazy but I was rooting for Kevin in the finale. However, I have to agree with so many other posters here.

If there is no clear system on how you judge a winner, then how do you judge a winner? While something may have potential to be great, it's not great until it is. Bryan was the winner in two of the four dishes. I don't know anywhere in the world 1 is more than 2. Who cares if Michael's dessert could have been good. The fact was Michael messed it up. I understood why Kevin was the first one out but I knew Bryan had Michael beat. Good thing I didn't bet on that one.

I hope you actually read these and share what people say with the other judges. Maybe you all can sit down before season 7 and work out some kind of system of judging that doesn't fluctuate between seasons. In all the challenges, I never saw someone win a challenge because you knew where that person was going but he or she didn't get there. The winner always had the best dish. What a let down this was for me.

Danska
Danska

Thanks Gail. Your blog confirmed what I thought based on what I saw: Bryan should have won, even when Kevin was my favorite, but I did realize that this was not his best meal.

Please guys. Check your editing room and let the final episode without twists and turns. Let them cook the best meal of their life and let them pick their Sous Chefs.

toni mtl
toni mtl

Thank you Gail, for your insights all season long. I always enjoy to read your informed critiques :)

Happy Holidays, and congratulations to all of this season's cheftestants (especially the final four, who were all amazing), and of course, the new Top Chef, Michael.

Viewer2369
Viewer2369

Lame finale show. Super lame that they didnt get to pick their suschefs, even more lame that they didnt get to cook what they wanted (after all this last show is supposed to be about showcasing their food personality), and the lamest that you forced them to make a desert. What a waste. This show gets more and more "extravagant"every season but keeps moving away from what the competition is actually supposed to be about. Bring it back to the oldschool way and have it be about the food....not about the drama. Kevin had such a disadvantage by getting 2 lame suschefs. He probably would have won if he didnt get shafted like that. I also agree with the last comentor about the fact that Bryan supposedly won the last two courses but magicaly didnt win over all? Fake fake and more fake.Boring show and a waste of what these chefs can do! I will not waste my time watching this show next season!

John B
John B

I'm so disappointed with your choice of Michael Voltaggio as the winner this season that I'm not going to watch your show any more.

Whether he received unfair editing or not, his onscreen behavior was unconscionable and unprofessional and unpleasant to watch, week after week, especially when compared to Bryan and Kevin.

I didn't need Kevin to win, although he should have, considering ALL the factors necessary to be a great chef-- including the ability to shine as a person-- but I did apparently need Michael not to win.

I'm just one viewer among millions, but this is the only avenue I have for protest, so I'm taking it.

Good bye.

John

clone73
clone73

It's supposed to be about execution but you chose on concept. Michael served a raw egg to a pregnant woman last week and this week served an overly baked dessert. Basic cooking skills should be a factor since others have been sent home based on their inability to complete simple tasks.

JR
JR

gale says it best. Every chef is different.

Do you prefer WD-50 (Michael), Eleven Madison (Bryan), or Gramercy Tavern (Kevin). I like Gramercy Tavern, therefore if Kevin keeps improving over the next 5 years, his restaurant could ultimately become my favorite.

Lori B
Lori B

Gail,I have a question for you. I have been watching Top Chef for a long time and i was so shocked and felt so hurt for Kevin when Padma looked at him at said your "Kevin(LONG PAUSE) your not Top Chef" he looked so embarrased. Why did she do something like that to him, I don't remember any Finale sending home the 3rd. runner up home like that. How mean of her to do that. I know she is pregnant but please, to be that hurtful! And in front of that arrogant, Spoiled Michael V. who I feel did not deserve to win. It was a sad ending to a great season. Padma should apologize to the audience that viewed the show last night, but I doubt if she will think she did anything wrong. Shame on Bravo

Randy Wilson
Randy Wilson

Just a few thoughts. These really relate more to how the challenges are designed, and how the show is edited, than any disagreements I might have with the results...

- To my thinking, the final challenge is not really the best time for mystery-ingredient zingers, random sous chef shenanigans, or unrealistic time-crunch pressure. By this point, the chefs have shown their ability to think on their feet and deal with curve balls. These last-minute roadblocks did *not* appear to me to be geared toward creating a situation where the chefs will create the best food that they can. I expect the finale to be an opportunity for the chefs to really shine, completely on their own terms. This finale was practically guaranteed to put one chef or another at an unfair disadvantage.

- I think the fact that Michael, easily the least popular finalist, pulled out the win actually speaks to the impartiality of the judges. They don't see what goes on behind the scenes, or how any particular chef has been edited to appear on the TV show. They are just tasting the food, something that us viewers obviously don't get to do. I was pulling for Kevin *big time* and not just because of the personality he seemed to show (again, at least partially the product of the editing room). But I can accept that, if Michael's food was the best then he should have won. When I go to a restaurant, I don't particular care if the guy cooking the food is a nice guy or not.

- I'd love to see the show's producers focus more on the food, and show us more of what the judges actually have to say about the food. We get so much of the BS backstage drama that the actual judging is jammed into these tiny, almost incomprehensible sound bites. I'm not watching Top Chef in order to find out if Michael made a bunch of snarky, cocky comments, or how much Robin was disrespected by her co-competitors, or who kissed who, or anything else. I'm watching to learn how creative people cook under challenging circumstances, and how the judges respond to what the contestants produce for them. Please, Bravo, consider making two versions of the show: one for the soap opera crowd, and another where we actually get some real information about the preparation of the food. And please PLEASE don't edit the actual judging of the food down to three or four minutes of disconnected chit chat.

Cris23609
Cris23609

Thanks for the comments Gail - although it sounds like Bryan was the winner based upon what you wrote. Not being able to taste the food, there is no way anyone can determine the winner from this side of the TV but based upon the comments made (and that could be editing) it certainly did appear that Bryan would be the winner. I admired him and Kevin both for their work and talent on this show, but on top of that, I greatly admire the people they were, great integrity, confident without coming off as arrogant, etc.

Congrats to Michael for winning and to all the great chefs on the show. I'm glad I didn't have to be a judge! I really wanted Bryan to win but Kevin was a close second in my book. I definitely also favored Jen over Michael and that egg dish last week made me queasy.

Thanks for a great show! Suggestions for next time? Let them pick their own sous chefs, have the finale be a two hour show - yes the fans will love that! And do not make one of the final three leave the room while you announce the winner. They all worked hard to be there and they should all be there - that just was incredibly disrespectful to Kevin - at least in my humble opinion.

But all in all one of the best shows on television!

Donna A
Donna A

This season finale featured the best chefs of the season. They are all talented and creative. The way the show was presented last night, Bryan should have won. I surmise from Tom's blog that it was the editing that made it appear Bryan topped Kevin and Michael. Reading your blog, I get the impression that for you Bryan DID top the other two contenders with his dishes, but Michael won because he showed more dimension even though his execution of 2 dishes was faulty? Hmmnnn...

For me, Michael's win is not as bad as Hosea's win because Michael is waaay more talented than Hosea. I just feel that it was not fair to Bryan. How many times have the judges made decisions emphasizing successful execution? It appeared last night that Bryan successfully executed 2 dishes against Michael's 1.

Michael B
Michael B

The comment filed by LA at 12/10/2009 - 10:42am is spot-on in almost every respect. I'm a professional journalist and chef and have watched Top Chef since the first season. My picks were Jen and Kevin, but I knew that he had an off day. But do re-read closely and analyze how insightful LA's remarks were about the dishes in the finale: Bryan should have been the clear winner,and judges should not reward unexecuted risk. The winner was decided by rhetorical rather than gastronomical prowess.

HES
HES

Sorry, from the comments made tonight by the judges and the visual appeal of tonight's food, it appears that Bryan was the overall winner of Top Chef.

I believe that you change your judging standards to match who you want to win. Which is more egregious...a dish that some felt needed more seasoning or a dish with undercooked prawns.(Prior contestants were sent home for undercooked shellfish.) Also which contender did not display the character of a Top Chef...Michael!

I am done with this show! Oh, BTW I have hired many chefs when I was working. I would not hire a chef with Michael's attitude.

BGirl
BGirl

Gail,

It is clear that the rules of the game change from season to season. From the S-1 finale that included midling Dave because he had one top meal to Hosea who skipped dessert for another entree to round out his sole top meal, the judges swoon over the saddest sob story. When Hung made a perfectly executed chocolate cake, you pitched a hissy fit because you didn't think it was interesting. Yet, Michael's overbaked dessert cake hit the right note! Are you kidding us? It seemed as though each S-6 cheftestant had flaws to their dishes. Yet, Michael was chosen over his brother because you judges "knew where he was going..." So now the judges are psychic and decide the future for one lucky chef. His win appeared to be random and therefore undeserved. Did you have a coin toss to help decide the winner? When Michael blows threw his winnings on fast cars, you may eat your words.

Nellie
Nellie

Gail,

Very disappointed in last nights finale. Bryan has proven to be the most consistent the ENTIRE SEASON, and it kind of bothered me to read in your blog "the answer was more in a feeling I had when we talked it over together a few hours afterward, having been given little distance from the meal'" which makes me wonder who would've been your choice based on taste and food and not a "feeling." I didn't know "feelings" took part when tasting and judging food. I almost felt Bryan was snubbed because he was the most humble and refined, and the judges felt he could handle the loss.