The season was taped during the month of April, a very busy time at Food & Wine magazine. It is not only when the annual Food & Wine Best New Chef awards are announced at a splashy gala celebration in New York, but is also just weeks away from the biggest event of our year, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen -- the production and management of which I am largely responsible for. At the same time, Bravo was looking for more ways to incorporate other judges into what is already a limited panel of only four seats. Putting Ted Allen in my place for a few weeks provided this opportunity, and allowed me to get back to New York and catch up on work at Food & Wine.
Now, on to Quatre (formerly The Garage) vs. Restaurant April and our friend Tre's unfortunate departure. Trust me when I tell you I was just as devastated to learn about it as I am sure many of you were. He was certainly one chef I had my eye on to win this whole competition. His impressive cooking talent and positive relationships with fellow competitors made him a favorite of everyone in the cast and crew. I am sure people are going to be outraged that someone so competent, accomplished, and clearly worthy of the title could be cut at this stage of the game.
To this, I can only stress again the complicated, but ultimately fair nature of the judging process. The judges must choose who wins and who loses each episode based on what is on their plates, as well as what they learn from the contestants at Judges' Tables during each individual challenge. It would be impossible to base choices simply on the knowledge that someone has done better in the past, even if we know they are capable of more. If that were the case, there would be no common standard on which to base our decisions and no consistency to the process. It would also negate the point of the specific challenges, which measure the different skill sets necessary to be a top chef.