Gail Simmons

Gail explains why she thinks Harold Dieterle deserves the Top Chef title

on Dec 15, 2008

Before I get into the final challenge of Top Chef, I wanted to say a word about last week's episode. Many viewers seem upset at the outcome and are questioning our decision. Please understand that so much of what you see has been edited a great deal to fit into a one-hour time slot. As much as we all like Dave and know he can cook, he lost two of the three Room Service Challenges fair and square. After hours of discussion about their work that day (only a few minutes of which viewers get to see), we came to the unanimous conclusion that he was just not at the same level as the other two finalists. We were not counting who won the most, but who lost the most, as this was an elimination. We set specific standards for each challenge, and he simply did not measure up this time. It was not an easy decision, but we stand by it.

On to the Grand Finale:

Now, I have been known to eat my fair share, but consuming two five-course tasting meals, complete with wine pairings, in one morning (we had to film dinner in the AM to allow enough time for Judges Table that evening) was definitely a record. Our fellow diners made up the perfect round table of industry experts, starting with my Editor in Chief Dana Cowin, our fearless leader in all things food, style and trends for over a decade. Restaurateur Drew Nieporent, creator and owner of Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates many of the best restaurants across the country including Rubicon in San Francisco as well as Montrachet, Tribeca Grill and Nobu in New York. Michael Mina, chef of Restaurant Michael Mina in San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as Nobhill and Seablue among others, completed our celebrated chef contingent with Tom and Hubert. Finally, Lorraine Bracco lent her newly imported wines and passionate knowledge of viticulture to the finale -- what a thrill to hear her food and life stories. Suffice to say we had plenty to talk about between courses.