Now, onto the food. First off, I do think this group made a much better dinner then the finalists on my season. I also loved that they had to make a dessert, especially considering that Hosea won last year by serving meat as his last course, and I was impressed with all three chefs' desserts. These guys certainly came prepared, but aside from that, only a few of the dishes really jumped out at me. Plus combined with the fact that I thought the episode was a slightly anti-climatic ending to a somewhat predictable season and I am left unimpressed. There is not a shred of doubt that these guys are incredibly talented, in fact probably the most talented group of finalists yet, but there was a certain something missing for me that I simply cannot explain. I kept waiting for something amazing to happen and it never quite did. As I said before, I loved the idea of Kevin's boyhood dish, and the piece of crispy chicken skin looked awesome, but I really thought the brothers V. failed on that course, Bryan and his notorious under-seasoning and Michael with his gnarly-looking fried broccoli bits. Neither looked appetizing. Hopefully they grew up eating better then that. Poor guys. As for the mystery basket course, I thought it was an odd selection of things to put together (as mystery baskets are... I once got one with mushrooms, delicata squash, pomegranates and Mexican chocolate—That blew), but I would have loved to see the chefs incorporate the crab more. I was really shocked that Michael was the only one that actually put the crabmeat on the plate, as opposed to just in a sauce. His dish was the clear winner in that round for me, and it would have been Kevin's had he not cooked his matsutake mushroom incorrectly, at least according to our esteemed panel of experts. Bryan, what did he make again? I forgot.
As for the main courses, this is really where the chefs had a chance to shine and show their true styles, and I thought all three did a great job expressing themselves. I have to say I really loved Bryan's venison dish. I thought it looked beautiful, had a perfect array of textures, and that piece of meat was gorgeously cooked. Michael also impressed with his squab, though I was confused about his "textures of mushrooms." I almost wish there was a little more explanation of that so I could grasp the concept better, but the idea of a pistachio cassoulet was an interesting play on words and a smart use of nuts. It really showed his creativity and skill. Sadly, my boy Kevin didn't pull through on his entree as well as the brothers V. did. I am a huge, huge, huge fan of all things pork. I wax poetic about bacon all the time, so I get it, but this was one time where I actually did agree with Tom. I thought his dish could have used another element for it to be a more well-rounded entree. To me, it looked more like a first course, not a final course. But, in the end I do have to give Kevin props for really sticking with his style and not being intimidated by the technical skills of the brothers. I can imagine in his position, it must have been really hard for him to stay on his path and focus and do his thing with that kind of pressure around. Plus, dude put bacon in a dessert! Love it. Sweet flavors and bacon are so good together. I'm glad he had the nerve to do that for his final plate. It was actually the one dessert of the three that I would really like to try, but, I am a fan of simple, and I like desserts that play off of sweet and salty, and Kevin did that with his.
So, this brings us to judgment. I haven't watched the ending. Based solely on what I saw, which was about 56 minutes of the episode, I am still tossed up over who I think is the winner. The judges were so split and divided it really is a hard one to call. My gut tells me my pick Kevin didn't win, just based on some of the comments that were made. So I think it comes down to a family rivalry, and because of Bryan's lack of seasoning in two dishes I am going to have to begrudgingly choose Michael. As cocky and arrogant as he may come across, he really is a spectacular cook. He thinks outside the box and constantly impresses, and at the end I think he was the chef who made the most impact in the finale. Either way though, I'm sure all their mothers are thrilled for their boys.
Thanks a ton for reading my blog this season. I really loved reading all your comments and feedback. If you ever want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter, as most of you already know (@chefjamielauren) or you can e-mail me at work at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps if there is another Top Chef tour this year I'll be able to meet some of you out on the road. Until then, can't wait for next season!
Thank you Jamie for all the great blogs! It was a real treat to watch an episode and then come and read your blog the following day to read your input. I thought your season (5) was a great one! I thought this season was really good as well. I was pulling for Kevin also and I hope that his future is full of great things.
Jamie, I just wanted to thank you for writing such a consistently interesting and entertaining blog. Yours and Toms were the two blogs that I looked forward to reading each week; and I have to say that I would read yours first. I thought you did a great job of balancing humor and honesty in your critiques. I wish you continued success in your career as a chef. I know that whatever you choose to do, you will do well. Cheers!
I believe you owe the Voltaggio brothers an apology. Because you were in the same situation when you competed, and understand the pressures of each challenge in a difficult setting, I felt your comments should've been more professional and not so reactionary to an edited version of a competitor. If I was to believe what I saw of you last season, you can't cook and drink too much. Fair?That being said, I am glad Michael won, just to shut you up!
Well, just got to comment on your last blog Ms.J, ..Its been truly a pleasure reading them all this season...It's like you had a crystal ball..and being a 'mom' I, too, appreciated seeing both Mom's there for the 'big night'...should be a TC tradition :-)..
Glad your writing education has not gone to waste!...great job, and being 'MOM', I'm very proud of you as well...
I think you are being way to kind when discussing the "draw knives" portion of the show. If they wanted to challenge the chefs one more time, why not give everyone a lack-luster sous chef? Would Mike or Bryan have done as well if they had to deal with Eve?
I'd like to hear your reaction to the way they dismissed Kevin. I found it to be very petty. Clearly the producers wanted a "reality TV Gold" moment with the Volts and their mom, but kicking Kevin out that way was a very low point.
Thanks for a great blog!!! loved the comments especially the rambling! will miss it.
If you read Michael's interview it is interesting to note that he pre-planned to simplify his food - letting the flavors shine. Especially with the editing of his comments on the show where he dissed Kevin's "simple" food.
good luck and hope they rope you into writing it in the future.
Hi Jamie, loved your comments.All I can say is get rid of pulling knives for sous chefs. It was so unfair.There was enough stress on the finale without having to deal with a sous chef who was so slow and could not get out of her own way.I think Kevin was at a true disadvantage but he still managed to come up with some great dishes. In my eyes he should have won.I loved the Moms being on and hope they'll do that again. What a great season even though the outcome was not my choice.
"I can't believe her so long to do just two simple tasks." Isn't that what Anita said of you at the TC Masters challenge? Pot meet kettle.
Great blog as usual, and yes Mike won. Hard to say he didn't deserve it, I just wish he hadn't won. I have to say I hated the sous chef thing, I mean Preeti and Ash? That had to be painful for Kevin. Preeti is the head chef for Google HQ or something too I think, cannot imagine how on Earth she got that gig as she seems like an awful chef. All in all a great season with a downer of an ending, kind of like last year; only this time the winner was actually worthy of the title, just kind of a douchebag.
I was so surprised that it was Michael instead of Bryan. I really felt like the producers pulled a fast one on the viewers! The worst part was when Padma called Kevin but then said "you are not top chef". I think there was a collective "WTF + groan" heard around the country. I enjoyed your blog very much this season and I hope you'll continue to write for future seasons!
Hi, Jamie, thanks again for all the insightful, funny and great blogs. Hope you will participate in a future reunion show. Would love to see you cook again. Best wishes for a warm and happy holiday season. And, I still think you should have won the last TC. :-)
I have been watching the majority of the Top Chef episodes from the time you were on until the present. I see bias against women that mainly comes from Eve, and even moreso now from Padma. This bias can be seen in some of the conversations when women are discussed. Also, I need to ask a question, are the women's food generally tasted last? It seems so. If that is the case, does that mean that it is not as hot or as fresh as the others? If so, then that would affect the outcome. If they want to be fair, they would need to change the tasting order each time. In any case, this is what I have noticed about Top Chef. I thought you, by the way, was the best. Soplie
The first thing I said when they brought out the sous chefs was "Oh great, they brought back Mike I. to ruin the finale." So I'm glad they randomized it in that sense at least.
Great blogs this season. I looked forward to your frank humor more than the other blogs. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
First of all, how cute is your mom? Hi to Jaime's Mom, you are a lucky lady to have such a talented and fabulous daughter!
I agree with everything you said JL. This season was anti-climactic and Michael is an arrogant prick (who can cook, that much I can see). My heart lay with Kevin, he is such a cute little fur-ball of love, I was sad to see him get knocked-out and def think he got the short end with the crappy sous chefs. I will cross my fingers for a more exciting season next time. Thanks for your posts Jaime, see you at Absinthe sometime soon!
Thanks a ton for the great blog!! Yours was always the first one I read!
I agree, this season was quite predictable, however the finalists were some of the best I've seen on TC!
Great job and I wish you continued success!
pS - I was rooting for Kevin also!
Jamie - I met you at the Heirloom tomato festival in Sept. and have been following your blogs. Your comments were spot on and if you remember me, I was a big Kevin fan from the beginning (also Jen). After seeing Preeti work in the final episode, it seems ridiculous that she made it to the show at all. I can cut vegetables better than that and I have no training. I think the sous chef problem really proved to be a psychological downer to our boy. I look forward to see what these guys do. I might even come over for the Pigs & Pinot event in March to see Kevin cook. Good luck with everything you are doing! I will definitely come to your restaurant the next time I'm in SF.
Jaime, Your "ramblings" have made for one of the best blogs TC has had.
Don't really know what to say about the finale. MV is an exciting and talented chef and in the end, I guess he simply deserved the win. It was a great season.
I'll miss coming here every week and hearing from you. :(
Chef, you are spectacular. I hope to find you in the media everywhere. Wanted to ask you to marry me but thought it just a smidge over the top (and a little too "Stefan"") - so am just wishing you the very best. Thank you for your brilliant wit, gleaming honesty and unique insight.
Chef, you are spectacular. I hope to find you in the media everywhere. Thank you for your brilliant wit, gleaming honesty and unique insight.
Hello Jamie. I really think you owe Mike V. an apology. Yes, he made a few comments that seemed pretty insensitive, but you and a whole lot of America can't judge him just from edited cuts of the show. Like Marcel from season 2, he seemed like a pretty big jerk, yet in real life he's probably a pretty cool person. So in my opinion, Mike V. truly deserved the win, and his arrogance may not be as bad as the show portrays.
Congrats to Padma and her husband, on the birth of their beautiful baby girl. We all know how important it is for a child to have a mother and a father. A 2 parent family is the backbone of our society. Padma, I know how how you love your husband, and that your child was created with love, and God. Best wishes! I know you honestly care for, and respectyour husband, and that you didn't just choose him as a sperm donor, since he's so wealthy. I know that you're not shallow, nor vapid.