Not sure exactly what I expected from the reunion show. For starters, I was very excited to finally have the chance to get to know everyone and ask our chefs all kinds of things I did not have the opportunity to while we were taping.
I am well aware of the side of the "table" I am on as a judge in this competition. The producers have kept me, more so even than Tom or Katie (the other TomKat), as removed from the contestants as possible. As I see it, my job is to be the voice of the diner in the restaurant experience. Like a customer who sits down to eat, whatever goes on in the kitchen does not really concern me, as long as my food comes to the table hot, fresh, and as I ordered it. I have kept in the back of my mind at every Judges Table a few important questions on which I have based my judgments, namingly: Which of these dishes would I be happy to pay for? Which dish would entice me to return and eat it again? Which of the competitors is most fit to lead a kitchen and be successful at it?
Finally, I was going to get to speak with them off-the-cuff and without the Judges Table to separate us...
Truth is, in the end, there was very little opportunity for any of that due to all the screaming and yelling, the disagreement, and embarrassment I could tell so many of the chefs felt revisiting the show's most provocative moments. Of course, I had heard rumors about the antics, alliances and antagonism that have taken place behind the scenes, but until we all reunited to film this episode, I was witness to very little of it first hand.