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First, I need to start by addressing some of the comments on my last few blogs. I know that a lot of you think that I am all about scallops, and sadly for the rest of my career I will always be associated with that joke. I must say, it makes me cringe when I hear it, much like it makes me cringe when someone asks me about Stefan and Team Rainbow, but this is my life now and I gotta roll with the punches. For the record, my blog is a matter of my opinion ... just like all of you are entitled to yours. If you don't like what I have to say, then don't read it. That being said, I love getting feedback from fans and will continue to try and address whatever questions you all have. My life has been an amazing ride this past year and I owe a great portion of that to Top Chef. I would definitely not be in the position I am now if it wasn't for the show, but, aside from all the jokes and teasing I have to say that I am lucky to be here because I know that there is a certain flip side to the show, and if a chef performs badly it isn't always great for their career. Think back on past seasons ...d o you remember chefs like Ken, Nimma, Lauren, or Valerie? I think this week Hector and Jesse are right in thinking TC was bad for their careers, because for them it may very well be just that ... or not ... I guess it all just depends on what happens next, and I hope it's not the curse of being eliminated early. I'll take being called Top Scallop/Stefan's Wife/Rainbow coalition anytime over being without a job that I love.
Anyway ... moving on to this week's episode ... all I can say is: FINALLY— An episode that actually had me on the edge of my seat! First of all, let me start by saying that I am classically French trained, and I lived and cooked in France when I graduated from culinary school. This is definitely an episode that I would have loved to be a part of. I think the idea of using snails quickly made up for the potato challenge last week. Snails are not easy to work with and they can be really awful if not cooked or paired properly, and let's just talk about someone being eliminated in QF! Craziness ... damn, talk about raising the stakes. Guess it just took them four episodes to do it. The QF challenges were always hard enough with their time constraints and forced ingredients, but to throw in the possibility of going home over snails ... that's the ultimate suckage. With the way the shots were edited it made it obvious who was in the bottom and who was in the top. I, for one, was a little bummed that we didn't get to see some of the chefs' dishes, but I loved the idea of Kevin's dish. Big Brussels sprout fan here, and their earthiness seems so smart with snails. I totally get why he won ... and Jen pairing snails with yuzu was also super smart. Citrus works great with the little creepy crawlies (they are kinda gross-looking, aren't they?). And then the twist,cook for your lives in the bottom three ... wow. I think I would have had a major anxiety attack. Talk about pressure ... 20 more minutes between staying or going. The thoughts that must have been going through those three ladies' heads. .. and as if someone read my blog last week and willed it to happen, we lost Jesse. Hate to say it, but it was time for her to go. I get how the pressure of being on TC works ... trust me ... once you are in the bottom it is really, REALLY hard to bounce back. There was a time last season when all I wanted to do was go home. I just beat myself up over and over about the undercooked egg, and then the raw scallops. It is a terrible place to be in and it definitely makes you a little vulnerable. I think that's why we lost Jesse. I don't think her head was ever fully in the game, and I also think she was incredibly outmatched by some of the other contestants.
Once the knife pulling started, I knew the elimination was going to be something really cool. I love the idea of the chefs pairing up in teams, and it was definitely obvious who the top four were going to be ... the brothers V. and Mike and Jen. They were smart to pair up together, and maybe a little lucky. As much as I hate to say it Mike Isabella was right when he said that they were the ones to beat. At this point I am starting to think that these four are the ones to beat. And you too, Kevin ... you lucky little guy! Sitting at that table with those luminaries ... I can only imagine how that felt. I am lucky that I have the privilege to call Hubert Keller a friend, and I know how incredible he is. I hope you had a chance to talk with him. He's not only an amazing chef, but also an incredibly sweet, generous, giving person ... and a great DJ! Also, in my opinion Kevin got a really good advantage of being able to taste the other competitors' dishes. That's an important thing that contestants rarely get to do. It's helpful to know what you are up against. Though I would have welcomed hearing his opinion a bit more.
Thanks for your blog. You're very entertaining, but also spot on in your assessment. And, you're right, if people don't like what you're writing they don't have to read it. I for one, though, look forward to reading your perceptions every week - so please, keep it up!
Jamie, I just wanted to say how much I love your blog entries for this season. They're definitely among my favorite and I look forward to them each week.
I agree with you that going on this show is a major risk, but as a fan of the show and of food in general, I know that all of the chefs chosen for the show have to be unbelievably good. Jesse was portrayed as weak through the season and we all knew sooner or later she was going home, but I would love to eat at her restaurant (and any other "cheftestants'") any day of the week. Don't beat yourself over the scallop persona, or the raw bar incident on Top Chef Masters. Us viewers judge on what looks delicious and to be honest, Absinthe is one of the few restaurants I looked up after your season.
Eliminating someone on the quickfire isn't new. They did it in the last round in season 1 and the first of season 5--your season. Do you not remember it?
Jamie, Try not to get too discouraged by internet trolls and the whole "Top Scallop" thing. I did think that it was an amusingly biting and good natured jab at you when it was made by Fabio, one of your peers, in the midst of the competition. But it's obnoxious and unfair when used as a taunt by commenters here who haven't undergone that experience or shown their own cooking chops, and who are protected by the anonymity of the internet. I found you charming on the show and was always impressed with the food you put out, which looked far more sophisticated than what was prepared by nearly all of your competitors. I was rooting for you, and I agree with your previous post that it would have been great to see you in the finale.
As a side note, I was able to dine at Absinthe last time I was in SF. My brother, a local, eats there all the time. I loved it. The food was fantastic- delicious and refined yet simultaneously fun and unpretentious. Keep doing your thing!
Jamie, just went and read some of last week's comments on your blog. Yeesh. I for one would have LOVED seeing you in the final with Stefan. And when you were sent home, I went on for days about how I thought the judges should take past challenges into account in order to get the best chefs in the final. In fact, I'm pretty sure I actually wrote Bravo about it at the time! Anyways, you rock and I know you can take the trolls here. Keep up the great blog posts!
Gotta love an insiders outside perspective! Speaking of sibbling rivalries.....I like Michael V for the win and my brother is rooting for Bryan V to take home season 6.... on the line? A dinner at any TCers restaurant (i chose absinthe if i win *blush* haha)
Interesting insights into the mental side of the game, feeling down if you get put in the bottom and having that affect your food. Loved this episode which showed off the extremely high level of talent this season. With Jen, the bros and Kevin, it will come down to who takes risks, makes a mistake, or gets worn down under pressure as the competition continues.
Re last weeks blog, would be great to have a special mini-season of TC all-stars including you, Stefan and Blais.
Loved your comments. I live in Baltimore where Jesse lives and ran into her this weekend and wished her well (I do not know her) and by the way she looked at me I knew she was going home this week. At least her dish looked pretty. it is great to hear about the show from someone who has been through it!
Huge fan of the show and you and Team Rainbow (yes...I bought the t-shirt even!). LOVING that they have you blogging this season. Would love to see you and LeeAnn Wong pair up and cook sometime....that would be incredible.
Your blog has been great so far. You say what you think...no apologies. Your impressions and opinions are dead on in my book. You also have the eye of someone in the field and can spot and point out things that most of us lay people wouldn't think to look for. Add to that your having previously been on the show and we have a winner of a blog!
Right now my faves on the show are Jen, the Brother V, Kevin and Ash (I admit, I have a crush on him). I am sure Michael I. is a talented chef but his comments, thoughts, opinions leave a sour taste in my mouth.
Kudos to you and your blog! Looking forward to following it for the rest of the season!
Jamie, Thank you for you insights. I enjoy reading your blog. You bring some good insight into the challenges.
Wow, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this blog wasnt all about you, but rather it was about the show. Interesting. Waiting to see if this is a new trend or just a slip up
Always a pleasure to read your blog. Love your ability to weather the storm of feedback. The scallop ribbing is a bit sophomoric, imho. Thanks for the link to what’s going on in your world these days. I will however, respectfully disagree with the assessment that Mike I. belongs in the “chefs-to-beat” category. To me, it seems like he’s ridden the VoBros coattails in the last 2 ECs. Also, related to your topic of resilience, I think I have formed an impression on how I believe some of the greener female cheftestants seem to compete differently than some of the male ones. A couple of the women this week seemed to fall into a rut (Robin’s salad, Ashley’s asparagus) and didn’t manage to do what you did, roll with the punches to figure a way out on the spot (like Ash’s custard from last week).
Jaime, In the absence of Leann, you have taken over as my favorite TC blogger. Your assessments and insight on the challenges and the contestants are very interesting. Please keep blogging!
But how will we know if we will like or will not like your blog unless we read it? nevermind. I enjoy your blogs everytime, you are a gifted writer.
I love to hear your point of view on TC. I know since I am not a cook/chef I am really clueles on what people like you go thru. But try to apprecieate the troubles and the high points of the show. thanks for writing !!!
You write really insightfully and clearly about the show, both from your perspective as a chef and as a former contestant. Worth reading. Thanks.
I think Mike Isabella will not be one of the final four, and I'm not worried about him ending up at the top. He was lucky to be paired with Bryan but then essentially played sous chef to a more talented contestant. What a cliche that someone with so much machismo and such little regard for women is so comfy in a submissive role. (I should add that I've eaten at Zaytinya and have an axe to grind against him.)
My guesses for the season stars are the Brothers Voltaggio, Jen, and Kevin. Jen in particular is consistent like nobody has been since Richard Blais. I think Eli and Ashley could emerge as formidable contestants later in the season (Carla-like), too.
Jamie- I wasn't thinking your season when you said that about a weak dish. I was thinking season 2. Seemed like it had fewer super-talented chefs than the others (although Marcel and a few others were right up there with anyone).
are you single? you are HOT with or without scallops! holy moly, oh nevermind, you are too young anyway and live by the "other" ocean.
Love the blog, love your comments, and was bummed out you end up leaving last season, I was really hoping you would beat Hosea and Stefan. And....'who cares about scallops'??
it seems like every season the caliber of people gets higher and higher on this show. I personally don't cook besides the ordinary, an occasional inspirational day but always with backup plan B, but I still LOVE the show. Also, just the THOUGHT of "liver" or "escargot" makes me wanna die. I rather eat bamboo in China with the Pandas. Gourmet is not for me.
Love the "french" episode, and already had guessed the french guy would be on the bottom with the "usuals". i think the only time i made anything french was chicken crepe with bernaise sauce (it was edible, no plan B necessary), and a killer tomato bisque. I am big fan of the french cuisine, but I stick with my usual american, and my familiar portuguese/brazilian/italian dishes.
Eli looks like he could be on my team (geeks/computers), he does not look like a cook AT ALL, but he is good too, i think he could just come and surprise everybody in one of the episodes, might be on the finals.
My "money" is on the brothers, but I am pulling for Kevin or Jennifer!!!
geez as I am trying to write my comment,can't get my eyes from Tom's picture below, just got this KILLER stare on his picture, dang,for a breeder, Tom is VERY GOOD LOOKING..sorry could not help to notice.
Jamie, please don't knock yourself about the scallop thing;I loved you on TC and I came away knowing you are an awesome chef on many levels. I knew you were a strong contender from the beginning. As for scallops, I am learning to love cooking them, and one of the reasons is because of watching chefs like yourself make them look so great. I love your blog and I am glad you are one of the faves that have emerged from the TC lineup.
Thanks for your insights. I'm not sure how far Mike I. will go. On the one hand, he has some triumphs, including in the QF when he wasn't teamed with a Voltaggio, but he did seem to use his teammate's recipe for the deconstructed sauce and then didn't seem to admit that at Judge's table. I know you didn't see that part in the episode you previewed, but...
I definitely think this season is exciting. I do feel badly for the chefs who don't perform well. I imagine that one can be an excellent chef in a restaurant setting, but not a good chef in a cooking competition.
Look forward to reading your commentary next week.
I had no idea that early elimination on Top Chef actually affected people's careers. Interesting. Maybe it really just televised their subpar food. When people eat out, they're not paying high prices for food they can make just as poorly at home.
I love your blog and reminisce fondly about Stefan, Fabio and Hosea and wish this season had such cool characters in the kitchen.
Do people still comment on your failed scallop dish? You redeemed yourself with the next challenge. Besides, I have never cooked a scallop right except in a ceviche which isn't really cooking. Those little puppies are hard.
How come the women in your season were so much better than this season?
Mike I. puts himself in the top tier, but so far has mostly glommed onto better chefs and tried to take as much credit as possible. He seems like a good assistant though!
Good summary. Thanks for posting. My only disagreement is around Mike I. His primary skill seems to be hitching his wagon to more experienced chefs. Note that he had no involvement in either the trout or the conception of the sauce. Individual challenges may expose him a bit (along with a hot temper).
Hi Jamie, I really enjoy your blog and am thrilled Bravo enlisted you. I actually wondered last night if you were happy a male contestant was finally sent home (of course, so was Jamie but we could all see that coming.) I didn't like the Vegas motif much at first but I'm warming to it. Particularly after last night's QF.
Jamie, I appreciate your insight and have been enjoying your blog. One item, though: Mike (not the brother, the other one) is an idiot. He also seems to be slimy but cunning in that he manages to get himself paired with one of the Brothers V (who are clearly talented) in order to ride their coattails to success. Any time he's made something by himself, has it been any good? Let's not allow him to put himself in the caliber of Kevin, Jen, Brian and Mike until he actually shuts up and proves with his food that he deserves to be there. Sorry, i lied, one more small, technical question, if you possibly have time to answer: On early seasons of TC, when there was a multi-course dinner, they would show that the teams were essentially given staggered timing, which makes sense since no one would want the last course to have to sit there on plates for 45 minutes while the judges ate the rest of the meal. But on the last few seasons, it makes it seem like everyone starts at the same time and gets done at the same time. Do you know how this works these days? thanks for your thoughts!
Yknow, for some reason I've had a soft spot for Jesse since the beginning of this season. So while I definitely understand why she should have gone, I still felt badly for her.
Jamie: Hopefully you will give an answer to this question. What is with the worshiping of French cooking? Reading Tom and Gail's blogs, I hope they were wearing their Depends while describing French cuisine and its' history because it's as if it were some type of demigod. I can understand acknowledging the beginning of something innovative and new but their devotion is akin to putting Henry Ford on a pedestal and saying all things automotive are because of him.
There are so many types of cooking in the world I find it hard to believe the reverence that French cooking receives. However, I suppose if America had been first populated from Asia, we would now be reverent to the wok, bok choy and the terminology used in Asian cooking.
I realize you also mentioned French cuisine and your training but why all the hoopla with so many other types of food in the world?
I really enjoy your blog. You have a unique perspective and a great sense of humor.
I do have one piece of advice. Paragraphs are your friend. Please embrace them.
Another good blog entry.
I've been curious about one thing in this week's challenge: how many ways could the sauces and proteins be paired? It seemed like the combinations used were the most likely / traditional. Was that really the case? Was there any combination that you would have liked to have seen used?
Your blog is the only one I make a point to read every week because you keep things honest. I agree with your comments about Mike I., he's far too obnoxious and I'm tempted to mute my television every time he's interviewed.
I look forward to reading what you have to say next week! Oh, and I LOVED your photos for H8, by the way!
Jamie, Great blog!
As far as Stefan/Scallops/Rainbows are concerned, let me just tell you this... Shortly after your season ended, I checked out the various restaurant web sites I could find for the contestants. And I want you to know that after looking at the menu for Absinthe, I came away with a very different point of view of you. Wow. What a menu. Everything sounded fantastic. I think it gave me a better idea of you as a chef than anything I saw on TC. I wish I was on the West Coast.
BTW, are you still at Absinthe, or have you moved on?
In your private life you might be the greatest chef ever but you are judged based on what was seen on a reality TV show. Reality TV has been going on long enough for you not to be surprised to be getting criticized based on your performance on the show. You cooked a lot of scallops - live with it, own it. We want to read your professional opinions about the current version of Top Chef - not why you should have been in the final two of the last version. Only 30 people commented on your last blog - rise above it, ignore your supposed critics - or just stop blogging if it's just too much.
Jamie - Love your blogs. I watch Top Chef with my 12yr old daughter, and you are, by far, her favorite!
I disagree with your assessment that Michael Isabella will be amongst those to beat. Let's get real. He almost goes home for his shrimp Greek salad, and he following Michael Voltaggios' instructions in making the deconstructed bernaise. He was a good commi... If memory serves me right, even though he has been in winner's circles, he has never actually won anything. He will be lucky to make it to final five.
jamie by the way im a very big fan of yours and was very upset when u were eliminated. but anyway i strongly disagree with u. i dont think that mike i. will be in the finale or that hes one of the ones to beat. i think hes gonna be like geoff was in your season making it a good ways in and then losing. hes not that good of a chef or person, with all those sexist comments i just want to get into the tv and slap the crap out of him. i think that the 4 that will be in the finale, where ever it is going to be, will be kevin, mike v., bryan, and jen. those four are basically the only four who havent come close to going home. and im with u about the brothers. being someone with 3 older brothers there will be an episode where those 2 just lose it and fight like bitches and that will probably be the episode that one of them will go home, if one of them goes home.
Jamie- No doubt you've had fill of "scallops, Stephan, Rainbow" comments. Just the same, I'll add one more: As a viewer - there is a "camera chemistry" between you and Stephan. By that I mean, the two of you (paired on camera) have strong viewer appeal. Bravo ought to look at a new show ,, featuring Jamie and Stephan. We enjoy your blogs ,, keep it going!!
Jamie- I enjoy your blog as well as the show. However, I think it's unfair to say Hector has done nothing by being on the show and that it was bad for him to come on TC. As a chef you know that the kitchens are FULL of Latinos, and yet that is not represented at the top or on TC. By the reaction of judges to the differences in cooking from Ep. 1 it is clear that that is at least part of the reason. However, Hector was a good cook and a good guy and we appreciate him representing the basic life blood of kitchens across America. Maybe his dish should of sent him home, but by no means was he the worst cook, as other chefs in the TC go on to confirm. Way to go Hector!
Thanks for your time.