Jamie Lauren

Jamie Lauren says what side she's on.

on Dec 3, 20090

So here we are...13 episodes in and it is down to the final four. The final four most of us have predicted since the show started back in August... can't say I am surprised, because I am not. They are obviously the chefs who most deserve to be in the finale, the strongest of the bunch, the creme de la creme, and an exciting part one of the finale it was. First of all, I was super stoked that the Magical Elves (I wonder how magical they truly are, like rabbits in hats magic? Or sawing barely dressed women in half magic?) chose to film  in Napa Valley. After living in San Francisco for the past eight years, it was really great to see the wine country showcased like that on national television. If you have never spent any time in the wine country of Northern California, then I am so sorry for you. It truly is one of the most amazing places I have ever been, and what a great treat for foodies. Mentioning wine doesn't even seem to be necessary because it's such a given. Though my tastes tend to run towards the grapes that are grown on the other side of the valley in Sonoma, I still love and appreciate Napa for what it is: gorgeous landscaping, great food, a place to lay back and step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and a perfect backdrop for the Top Chef: Vegas finale.

From the minute we saw the chefs waiting at the train I had a feeling something was up. Since I am fairly familiar with the neighborhood, and was actually given tickets on the Napa Valley wine train once, I had a feeling that was coming, and I can tell you that cooking on moving vehicles or trains, or ships is not easy! I did it for the first time this past year when I spent nine days on an Alaskan cruise trying not to throw up half the time. So I get it — moving and cooking without anytime to adjust? That's gotta suck, if you are one of the unfortunates that suffers from motion sickness. Add to that the pressure of being in the Top Chef finale (not that I would know, well a little, but whatever), having 30 minutes to cook and the possibility of perhaps winning a brand spanking new Prius? And by Prius I mean a hybrid car that is made by Toyota. That can be driven to the Meritage resort and spa while sipping on some Terlato wine, before wrapping oneself in Glad cling wrap and having dinner at Brix. OK OK, I'll stop, but that was some serious promotional airtime going on. Of course the idea of incorporating grapes into the Quickfire was bound to happen. Same reason why they made us use crawfish in New Orleans last season, but I did like how creative the chefs got with the grapes, especially Jen. I have to say I thought the idea of clams, grapes, and liver actually sounded totally vile together, but apparently the judges really liked it, but not enough for her to speed off in her very own Prius. That honor went to Mikey V., who after a nice long break, came back and was still a jerk. Glad to see not much has changed. It was interesting to hear him finally remark on the fact that there was a great deal of sibling rivalry between himself and Bryan and that he basically didn't care if it was his brother, that he would hunt him down, tar and feather him, and then throw him to the wolves just to win Top Chef. But, he did create a nice dish for the Quickfire, and he really was the one chef who embraced the idea of really using grapes. I thought it was a well-deserved win, and I would venture to guess he did too. Kevin and Bryan also both did a solid job and I liked that Kevin did a dessert, which sounded delicious to me, way more than clams and liver (I'm still gagging from that, though I am not a fan of the liver, so this isn't surprising). Oh and let's not fail to mention the reappearance of Mr. Chiarello, because he was SO well-liked on TC Masters and he had me running around like a crazy person when I was on the show. Wow, that man made me very nervous. But that being said, I did have the chance to hang with him over the summer at his place in Napa and I gotta give props where they are due. Man can cook. Um, I think I had some of the best ribs I have ever eaten at his place back in August. I just don't think I ever want to work for him again, because even after 30 seconds I was ready to throw up. One more thing, and I'll insert this here, because I really have been nice all season and haven't had to speak ill of the Padma, but, what the hell was that dress she was wearing at the Elimination Challenge party? That's all.

32 comments
Heart1311
Heart1311

You go gurl!! Love your comments. I hope Kevin or Bryan wins. Michael...I'm sure he's a great chef, but..ppfffttt so hard to get past his tude. I wonder who is worse...Marcel or Michael?? HA! Would be funny if both of them were in a competition together, or maybe even partners..laffs.

Nadzag
Nadzag

OMG! I'm completely in love with you! Okay... with your brain. But OMG! I've vowed never to "twit," so cannot help you subjugate the world via that medium - but if you're ever looking for a total fan replete with pom-pms, cawl me. And PLEASE keep posting your perspective some-frickin-where!

Aud
Aud

Not sure why all the Michael hate, he isn't that bid a jerk. I feel like he's this season's Hung. Who was also a great chef and knew it. I think he does have a rivalry with his brother, but I bet it is more benign the editors make it look. I guess we will find out during the reunion special.

Shahira
Shahira

Hey, you need to join Fans of Kevin Gillespie's Beard on Facebook! Love your blog. Hope you will be a guest again on next Top Chef.

George
George

Jamie, I completely agree with you on Padma's dress. I too will be nice, and not say much more...

jigglyonee
jigglyonee

rededye -- what about Stephanie in Season 4?

Soaplover
Soaplover

Jamie out of all the blogs to read yours is the one I have the most fun with mainly because you tell it like it is. Never stop being you.

ITA on feeling Kevin aka Yukon Cornelieus to take home the Top Chef prize.

Ruggerducky
Ruggerducky

Hmm, two of my favorite contestants of all time go out because of too much salt. I would have loved to see both Jamie and Jen make their finales, but since that hasn't happened I'm still delighted to see Kevin doing well. Despite Michael V's assertions, he is a fantastic chef with quite a bit of talent.

arin
arin

i liked season 5 better this season is boring as crap but i just want to say that jennefir didnot deserve to go home instead u even have heard on the show that micheal did worst and jens dish looked more apeetizing to eat and to look at. While micheal shoudve packed his knives and went and also wanted his brother to go what a dousch. I also think you shoudve stayed at least to the final four in topchef. thanks for writing blogs(urs is the only one i read). Im sick of the judges trying to be stereotypical and want drama between micheal and bryan. its so pathetic

rededye
rededye

Jamie I like your comments on your blog, for me I am disappointed that Jen did make it to the finale, all this rivalry between the brothers is just for ratings in my opinion, someone said whoever Tom likes is the winner, I think season after season there hasn't been a female Top Chef, and why is that? it is always the men that win!! there are a lot of talented women, but you would never know that, with the outcome of men winning all the time, the women were dropping like flies, and here the final three are men again GMAB. the women needs to be represented as being Top Chef, I'll hold my breath on that one, maybe next year??????

CatWay
CatWay

Jamie, I have to admit that when you were on TC I was not a big fan, but you have won me over with your blogs. Prehaps the editing of the show did not do you justice.

This may be the case w/ Michael V as well & I believe he probably has a great sense of humor...doesn't anyone remember him singing the circus calliope song & saying, "hey Eli, look I'm in the circus".

The Voltaggio brothers appear to be consumate professionals regardless of their natural sibling rivalry & I wish they could both win. I feel fortunate that I will get to sample Bryan's food in a couple of weeks at Volt!

hihihi
hihihi

Hi Jamie, I appreciate the commentary, but you should really hit "Enter" and "Tab" a little more frequently. You can break up that GIANT block of text anywhere, and it's so much easier on your readers.

Jason in San Diego
Jason in San Diego

I'll admit that after the first episode of the season, I picked Jen to win the entire thing. While this opinion shifted a bit after she "burnt out" near the end of the Las Vegas run, I'm glad to see the time off served her well and she had such a strong showing in Napa, despite being the one packing her knives. I honestly didn't want anyone to leave at the end of the show, and kinda hoped they'd just send all four to the finale to duke it out.

Camusman
Camusman

Jamie, I love the way you don't hold back and just swing away in these blogs. I know it must not have been easy to have contributed as often as you have this season. Your thoughts have been a nice addition.

Karen  M
Karen M

Oh like someone else said Tom picks the winner and its going to be Kevin,look at the ones that have won, I like Kevin and Brian,but I'm rooting for Michael,why cause he doesn know how to cook,has attitude,hey thats what makes a good chef,and he very talented! Everyone knocks him the most guess I go for the underdog then!

gerry
gerry

just love your humor and feedback on your blog. i must say although the chefs this season seemed more experienced than in the past they were also boring. few of them displayed emotions or personalities. part of loving top chef is feeling you get to know them and care, along with their cooking. i really hope next season has more of both. please keep blogging.

PeachPie
PeachPie

Jaime, I would love, love, love it if you would blog next season, too. I realize they usually have one of the prior seasons contestants just do a 1 season run, but I sure wish you could continue. Hell, I never read Malarky's blog. They should replace him with YOU.

As always, as I read your blog I think of things to comment on that you've said. And, as always, by the time I'm finished I've totally forgotten what all my thoughts were. So I guess I'll go with just this: Any of these guys could and should win. They are all amazing.

The cooking aside, it's a pity Michael V is allowing himself to get named this years douche award winner. If he'd been a little less liberal with his snide comments, he could have easily let that honor go to Mike Isabella.

Well, it's going to be a really, really hairy show next week and I can't wait.

As for twitter....well, I don't twit myself, but I'll check out your postings. Have a great week!

mmc
mmc

Jamie, I like Michael Chiarello and I wish you'd give the man a chance.So he's intense.He really is a good guy and a great chef.As for the final four I hated to see Jen go,but once food is oversalted the dish is ruined.It was either her or Michael and since we only see snippets of the judges table Chef Tom explained a little bit more on his blog.I love Kevins food,simply done, deliciously cooked, and wonerful to see.I think I'm om his side to win.He's so consistent and I asked myslf if for the rest of my life I could only eat one Chefs' food who would it be?The answer always was Kevins.Having said that, I think Bryan is so good too, not as flashy and arrogent as his Brother, but better. If he wom I'd be sad for Kevin but happy for him!

Lake County Girl
Lake County Girl

Fantastic blog, Jamie. I'm convinced the folks at Bravo sent Jennifer home so they could highlight a sibling rivalry in the finale. MV should have gone home. Kevin rocks and has amazed me from the begining. Loved the cameo of Anne Gingrass-Paik. Brix is my fav Friday stop. Awesome.

Debbie Peebles
Debbie Peebles

Wow was that really your Ma? how cool if it was.. Your a great blogger and I too,hope your back next season! You really do do a great job,now dont let your head swell!! I agree with you on a lot but gonna have to pick BV to win it.Had to change it cuz from day one I picked Jen..

Pat Jamison
Pat Jamison

Very unfortunate Jennifer is out. It should have been Michael!

TT44
TT44

Can you blog about another show when TC is over? I enjoy your insights every week. I am Team Kevin too! LOVE him! I'd be happy with Bryan too. I liked little brother Mike in the beginning, but his attitude quickly changed my mind, I just don't want to root for someone with that attitude. And your comment about Padma's dress made me crack up at my desk....WTF was that???? Go Kevin!

xvantx
xvantx

CFVD, I believe it was Michael Voltaggio that said something along the lines of Charlie Palmer is a real American chef, unlike Tyler Florence who just plays one on TV.

I don't think Chiarello was referenced prior, but maybe I'm mistaken.

NY GAL
NY GAL

Jamie, bravo on your blog! I hope Kevin wins but if it has to be a brother, it better be B. I like Kevin's ideas about food. Unfortunatly, Atlanta isnoton my radar for awhile. I know Michael C. isa tough boss but the viewers love him and I love his food. I laughed about your comment about the clothes certain judges, Gail too, wore this season where are those Project Runway designers when you need them. Keep up the great work!!!

Jackie's Girl
Jackie's Girl

Jamie - Thank you so much for your blogs this season. Love, love, love your humor! You are so "spot on" about all the product placement, and that bit about Michael hunting Bryan down and tar and feathering him was hilarious. I surely hope that you'll be blogging again when the next season comes along.

By the way, I recently watched a rerun of the episode last season where you and Leah were wearing the headbands - and drunk as skunks! Got such a kick out of that. I was so sorry you didn't stay longer.

Dina
Dina

"It was interesting to hear him finally remark on the fact that there was a great deal of sibling rivalry between himself and Bryan and that he basically didn't care if it was his brother, that he would hunt him down, tar and feather him, and then throw him to the wolves just to win Top Chef."

Huh? He admitted that he'd be "relieved" if his brother didn't make the finale, which just said to me that he thought Bryan was his biggest competition...which he's said all along. But, different strokes, I guess. Much like his food, Michael may not be to everyone's taste, but I'd expect someone who was put through the TC ringer, and admits to being called everything Michael's been called, to be a little more circumspect.

topchefer
topchefer

Hey Jamie, love your blog. I was really disappointed that the judges glossed over Kevin's carrot top puree. I thought it was really innovative and really wanted to know more about it. To the Bravo Editors, please realize that this audience is all about the food and we could care less about the drama. It's not one of those ridiculous Housewives shows, we really are interested.

I am also a little perplexed as to how Ciariello could praise Jen's dish in the quickfire and pick Michael for the win. Liking the guy less and less.

BGirl
BGirl

Hello Jamie,

You are funny. Lots of tongue firmly planted in cheek humor. However, in your season, you were edited to repeat your mantra, "I like to cook the foods of the season!" over and over and over again. Perhaps that has happened to Michael V. His negative comments have been repeated by editing for dramatic effect. Haven't you noticed that for the most part, this season's chefs get along rather well by offering advice or a helping hand? As for the winner: Tom has shown his hand in earlier blogs that he hearts Kevin. Whoever Tom likes, wins the title. And so it goes.

Marcia
Marcia

Hey Jamie, thanks for your thoughts. I too thought that the judges kind of glossed over Kevin's carrot top puree. I would love to know how he made that. Bravo editors, please wake up and realize that we are here for the food, not the suspense. This is a totally different audience from the idiot Housewives shows. Keep on keeping on Jamie.

Mighty Mouse
Mighty Mouse

Chef Jamie, I wrote you a comment on the blog you wrote last week, if you can check that out. The main problem is I don't know how to follow you on Twitter, is this how we would chat? Confused...thanks...

cfvd
cfvd

didn't one of the brothers suggest he didn't think of Chiarello as a real chef earlier in the season ...

Jamie's Mom
Jamie's Mom

Ok, I've been good all season..not commenting here, but I must say, I'm going to miss these blogs from you...and I especially enjoyed this one. The last few sentences had me LOL at work...

You were 'right on' as usual and I'm with you, Kevin FTW!

Can't wait to see you soon! xoxo Mom