Tom Colicchio

Tom explains the judging criteria and what he hoped for during the ranch challenge.

on Sep 16, 20090

I want to take a moment to thank you all for watching Top Chef and reading my blog. I also really appreciate that so many of you feel compelled enough by what you read to write a response. Though I don’t have time to reply to them all, when I see enough comments in a particular vein, I try to address them here. Since people are asking about judging criteria, I thought I’d give you some insight into how the show and the judging go down:

We shoot a season in 20 days, two days per episode. During that time, we judges are not allowed to interact with the contestants at all. So the whole “reality” aspect of the program? We don’t see it until you do. The “villains,” so to speak, the “nice guys,” the crowd favorites and least favorites … we don’t know the personalities. For example, we didn’t know that Mattin was lying at the Judges' Table about negging the asparagus in the volute in Episode Four. I learned about it the same way you did, by watching the edited episode. We have never made decisions about whom to send home based on who or what might be more interesting or “make better TV.”  We couldn’t if we wanted to … which we don’t, anyway. We judge the food, plain and simple, and it’s the food that determines who will be packing his/her knives.

So let’s talk about that for a moment.  Some people, assuming that we’re hungrier when we first sit down to judge than we are by the end, have wondered whether we are kinder to the first dish than the last. The answer is no. When we judge the dishes, we’re just tasting them, as opposed to hunkering down and eating. In fact, we’re still hungry after the last dish and often go out for dinner directly after judging! So the earlier dishes have no advantage over the later ones. Other people have wondered whether the dishes should be judged “blind” in order to ensure fairness in judging. Again, no, and here’s why. First of all, as I wrote above, we don’t know the contestants as people and so are not influenced by their personalities. Second, we quickly learn chefs’ particular styles of cooking from both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges and thus, even were we to taste the food “blind,” we’d still be able to tell, with about 90% accuracy, who made which dish. So judging “blind” doesn’t eliminate propensities for bias.

Here’s what does: judging the food on particular criteria. And here are the criteria we use: First and foremost, when tasting the food we look to see if, technically, it was prepared correctly or whether it was overcooked or undercooked. After that, we check to see whether it was correctly seasoned, by which I’m talking about whether it was salted correctly, because salt has the ability to bring out the other three types of taste you experience on your tongue, i.e., sweetness, bitterness and sourness. Then we look at how items are cut. Are they cut evenly?  If so, they will cook evenly. We look at food combinations to see if the proportions are harmonious. And lastly, we look at presentation, but usually only when it is particularly ugly. If veggies are cooked correctly, they’ll stay green; if not, they’ll turn brown. How something is cut will affect presentation. We also just take note of whether, as with all great chefs, a personal style is emerging in a consistent way, or whether they’re just all over the place. Often we’ve seen a chef come in with a particular style and then, part-way through the competition, begin mimicking everyone else. These chefs tend to flame out; they don’t make it to the final four, and, frankly, they’re not yet secure and mature enough as chefs to be there. We do look at originality, as with Bryan’s winning take on chips and guacamole in Episode Two, or Kevin’s bacon jam, which was utterly original, different, and very, very good. I knew exactly where Bryan’s dish for Joel Robuchon came from – he adapted a dish from Thomas Keller – but he did make it his own. And, even hearkening back to prior seasons, most of our viewers were not familiar with molecular gastronomy and thought that Marcel was innovating, whereas, in fact, his techniques had been around for at least a decade and he wasn’t being particular novel in his application of it but was solidly adept at what he was doing.

189 comments
jb
jb

Thanks for the excellent rundown on how you folks judge. I've always wondered how viewers think they could determine, just from watching the show, who should win a challenge. After all, it's a food competition. And food is all about taste. Some dishes look more appetizing, but since we here in tv land can't taste it, we really can't 'judge' it. Keep up the good work - it's one of the few shows I watch. And I agree you should have won the Emmy. I haven't watched Survivor since the second or third show of the first season. Just sayin'.

Viewer
Viewer

I always enjoy your blog, it's become as much a part of an episode as actually watching a TV. You understand food very well and have a clear passion for what you do but can communicate the important parts of a challenge very well.

Top Chef Masters was a very well done show except for the judging - none of the judges could ever say anything about the challenges that I could ever care about. The judges offered very little to the show. The same could never be said about this show.

Viewer
Viewer

after re-watching the episode a few times, i agree with the viewer who suggested that there may have been a language barrier issue with Mattin...i do think that he was less than completely open with the whole story with asparagus, but i can't say with confidence that he out and out lied about it, especially if you analyze how he uses the word "shot"...tom throws out the phrase "you shot it down" referring to mattin refusing to use ashley's idea of asparagus sauce and mattin replies with "it was our first shot"--he clearly didn't understand what tom meant by "shot it down"...while there may have been more discussion on this that wasn't shown to us, i think there was a definate language barrier issue...i do think that 1) ashley needed to be more foreful and her statement on tape that "he's the french chef and this is a french challenge" isn't how a top chef thinks and 2) mattin thought he could phone in the challenge and they'd hand him the win....i'm continually amazed at how history repeats itself...after 5 completed seasons, you'd think chefs would be analyzing the previous shows inside out before appearing, learning what to do and what not to do....a) have more than 1 dessert on hand b) always season your food c) never do more than 1 dish unless you're required to d) when working on a team or in a pair don't let the other person lead you to your own destruction (Manuel season 4 and/or Sara N. season 3) ...i've watched every episode of this show more than 5 times (except season 2's finale because i can't bear to see marcel get robbed AGAIN) and season 6 is clearly the cast to beat--i doubt ilan, spike, tiffani, casey, or hosea would fare well against the brothers V, Kevin, or Jen....

Kat
Kat

While watching this evening's competition, I got so sick and tired of the judges' tearing down and negative comments that I switched to another station. You guys come across as really hard nosed and tough. I really do not care about your opinions and your show anymore.

Nicole
Nicole

Tom thanks for the blog response...I am glad to see the judges kicking it up a notch ths season...been a fan since the beginning. I assist professors running food labs at our local college and the talk every Thursday in the lab is who got sent packing...Nicole from Rochester NY

ingrid
ingrid

Tom, Your blog explains the magic of this show beautifully. I love food and cooking, quite honestly don't understand half the dishes prepared, but I am awed by the process. The pressure these chefs face is unbelievable. I also loved the Top Chef Masters show earlier this year. It has given me a better understanding of what the guest judges are looking for, as I've seen most of them under the same crazy challenge circumstances. P.S. I have had to "break up" with you, as Hubert Keller is now my new crush:) The way he handled his team in the finals was masterful, and made Michael look like a despot.

Lisa S
Lisa S

Tom, a couple of quick comments. 1) The cowboy challenge in that heat was ridiculous....I get the outdoor cooking part of it, but why subject people to a potentially dangerous heat stroke! stupid!

2) If you really want to judge these chefs, why don't you ever have then all create the same dish with their own personal twist, and see who has the most interesting twist, or who can add interesting flavors or something. 3) I wanted to make Eli's potato salad but come on a serving size of 125!!!! Even if I was making potato salad or a family reunion I wouldn't been even HALF of that. Can't you give it to us in a serving size that would be useful to families?!

Michelle
Michelle

I saw it as well . . . hoping that it is not the case . . . However; if it is - I think Bravo will be the NEW and IMPROVED owners of the Washington Post, while Bonnie will be standing in line at the Washington shelter's FREE soup line (hopefully).

Brigitte
Brigitte

Tom, love you and love the show. I've been a fan since the very first season, first episode. Myself and 10 girlfriends travelled to Vegas from Tampa last week and stayed at MGM Grand. Had dinner at Craftsteak and it was the best steaks I've ever had, great waiters, ambiance, etc. A dining experience but we were bummed you were not there. After reading your blog, I understand why....the entire season in 20 days, quite a feat. Rooted for you at the Emmys....maybe next year.

Mary Ann
Mary Ann

Tom, I watch the show each week. My daughter tapes it to our dvr so that we can rewatch it the next day because it comes on so late (10pm). We are now starting to pick who we think will make the top four. We are enjoying see some of the Top Chef Masters chefs to be judging this season.

Thank you for explaining how the judging is being done.

Keep up with the good work.

Michelle
Michelle

Uncertain if this is appropriate place to post this, but I am so curious -

Tom -

Do you have certain chefs from each season whose food and cooking styles you gravitated to? I remember hearing you say once that Harold was a chef's chef.

I , like many I'm sure , just wondered if certain chef's food stood out - or made you want to see what they are making these days. I have the cookbook, and know what you said were your favorite dishes . . . but I mean all around food style - I guess you would call it.

For example - Shocked as I am . . . for me it is Dave Martin's from season 1, and Dale from season 2. I already know hands down for season 6 it will be Kevin.

Poor Kevin, the ones who do the foods that I cook over and over again are never the winners. The exception being Stephanie.

I find myself really wanting to experience more dishes from them.

Michelle
Michelle

Tom - Thank you so much for taking the time to write these blogs. The insight it gives answers a lot of questions.

I think your quandary of the way your cheftestants cooked at the camp-out may be explained by Padma's last words to them after the quickfire. "You can make anything you want AS LONG AS IT"S "HIGH END". I think that term is what stuck in their mind, and sadly, many chefs do not see meat & potatoes as "High End". They see it more as back yard barbeque. I was surprised that one of the guys who deconstructs everything - didn't do a BBQ bean Steak with Cognac sauce type deconstruct - especially having the Lonesome Dove chef there.

I'm not in the "biz" , but wonder if you Chefs have a specific definition of "High End".

As a patron, it is usually expensive that implies high end.

Lastly; doubting you will read this ever, but have to write it . . .

Throughout all the seasons; you have carried yourself through every episode with such GRACE. You are overwhelmingly kind while still doing your job. And I cannot help but feel that often, you are almost like a parent - disappointed, and upset that this or that chef would do this to themselves. That you are really routing for them all, and when one goes down - a part of you is right there with them.

Either that or you are one hell of an actor.

Thanks for the great show - and the Craftwich Cookbook- SO FUN!

dee
dee

Tom, I just read a disturbing article in the Washington Post by Bonnie Benwick, where I believe she reveals who the winner of Top Chef Las Vegas season is. I do not want to post the link here for fear of spoiling it for others.

I doubt she is allowed to do this. Surely her own common sense will prevail. I landed on the link by accident and it's ruined the whole show for me. For her to write this is devastating!!

d

Akuma2666
Akuma2666

It is very apparent that the culinary world is finally getting over the old idea of the chefs needing to be a conservative looking person. What I want to know is what Tom thinks of the idea to over look a well qualified and talented chef solely on appearance? My husband who's a chef of 25 years, worked his way from dishwasher to executive chef and worked under many talented well know chefs. Is being over looked for a position he's been doing for the past few months because of his appearance, which is not off the wall. He's always well groomed and professional looking every day he works. What's your opinion?

purple147rose
purple147rose

PS..... I am NOT talking about MC england.... AUSTRALIA is what I mean... They seem to have a much higher respect for the other contestants and others abilities.. Food DOES NOT need to be REALITY... it needs to be reality for cooking.. not for witchiness.... It needs to teach and INSPIRE others... Not insite arguements.... Food brings the world together.. Why not take the air time to teach simple dishes?? Proper ways?? Proper respect?? How to feed the hungry.. how to help?? THIS SHOW could help so many... it just needs to show how.. so many want to help... just don't know how... We all know it is a depression... but we can still help.. why not show how to help "cheaply" but well.... stop feeding mindless brains on the couch.. feed those that will get up and help. INSPIRE. Tom, Padma and Gail... I think you would agree with that... Life isn't about "sensationalism"... MAKE IT ACCESIBLE FOR ALL.

purple147rose
purple147rose

I find it very interesting that viewers are finding the "problems" with the "contestants" not interesting to watch... We View on each week for the food... not the HYPE.. that is something that makes Masterchef Australia very good.. I realize that MC Aus. is learing from us and England..... why is it that they are doing a better job of "show casing" the food? Maybe Top Chef could make one extra show a week... show how the top Quickfire and Elimation dish are made.... if too difficult.. (due to Nitro or ..... something the home "chef" would not have) come up with the next best dish.. Hosted by Tom of course! Padma on occasion if warranted.. or someone else... I LOVE this show... but it is getting too controversial for most.. it used to be about cooking.... NOW>>>> learn from other countries... TEACH it too!

Viewer
Viewer

Has bravo ever considered doing a making of the election process to be on Top Chef. It would really be interesting to understand how these chefs get there. Also is it me or "what is the sexual tension between Padma and yourself???? Is there anything going on ??

Mom with Boys
Mom with Boys

Tom, My 3 sons and I love watching the show. I now love the blogs... just discovered them this season! Finally there were some recipes that we were eager to try... the Georgia Style Braised Pork Shoulder and Eli's Potato salad. Imagine my dismay when I discovered a recipe for 125 people! We did some math and made it work, but I would hope that when posting recipes in the future, size might be considered.

Viewer
Viewer

hi Tom!!! i looove the show and i might have a little crush on you! i hope kevin wins! he's talented and seems like a great person.

Iron Skillet
Iron Skillet

Tom, I love this show so much I've been liveblogging it over on Open Salon. I have been a fan of the show from Season One, Episode One, and have been very happy with the judge's choices most times, even when I am not sure why they came out the way they did.

My thoughts on this episode were basically two fold (read the blog for the realtime impressions) (1) I am so sick of seeing these chefs do ceviche it's almost killing me. There are other preparations out there. I know ceviche is popular when it's hot, but seriously, you're doing a ranch challenge and you don't plan to cook on a grill? How dumb do you have to be? (2) Mattin has from the beginning has been more into being French than actually demonstrating the artistry that is French cooking. His time had come. Keep up the good work!

Viewer
Viewer

Mr. Colicchio,

Firstly, thank you for a clearing up some things for the viewers about how you all judge things. However, there is still some things that you haven't clarified about how you judge. You did NOT speak about when tasting food and discussing the dishes, whether overall finalizing of the loser is based solely on this one dish or a history of poor dishes.

Based on Hector's elimination, one has to assume that it is only the current dish and has nothing to do with their overall performance in the competition up until that point. This is most accurately shown by Hector's elimination since he's only been on the losing end once which you then decided to eliminate him altogether, while Ashley has been there for just about all of them and she remains.

If that is how all of you feel you should judge, that's fine, I just want to point out where that might not be the best way to do it. First off, all of you understand the ramifications of what you promote when you say "Top Chef" meaning that this person is a amazing chef who always delivers and has undergone a significant barrage of tests. Judging like this(not considering history and overall performance) means that your just as likely to choose someone who just got "lucky" since you never consider the past and only the present. Secondly, yours would be pretty much the ONLY chef competition show that judges this way whereas other shows like Hell's Kitchen, the overall winner's history and performance is always considered when up for elimination. Lastly, judging in this manner shows the viewers "levels" of errors or bias that are apparent even at the judges tables. I remember you saying above that you don't see the contestants ever and you only know certain things until you view the episodes later however you were present at the judges table when you talked about who should go home and what the chefs admitted about their own food. In the episode where Hector was eliminated, Gail made an obvious comment about "whoever cut my meat" was going to get it. Mind you no one else at that dinner really commented about how the meat was cut. Then during the actual judges table all of you talked about it and decided that anyone can cut meat better. It was obvious to the viewer that this decision was a bit biased and never once was his attitude to acceptance of his first and only mistake up to this point( which is usually mentioned for the others and in other episodes) or that this is the first time he's been here was even mentioned. It seemed more important that Gail's threat be fulfilled than Hector's overall performance or other's performance be judged accurately.

I just want to convey that it is important to remember you are the judges of these people's lives since they had to leave their lives for this show and give up alot to be there. Knowing this it should be always kept in mind that they deserve a fair and accurate judging at all times.

Thank you.

SonomaFan
SonomaFan

I've never missed an episode, and now I never miss a blog. The show is the best that TV has to offer and your blog is the icing on the cake. I love them both! Because of the blog I went out and bought your books, and now my whole family is "Thinking Like a Chef", so thanks for that, too! We were all rooting for you in the Emmys last night. You should've won, but you were up against big network shows, so even though you didn't we're still really glad you were nominated. Great to see you getting air-time there. I'm sure it'll bring more viewers who will love you and your show as much as the rest of us already do! So congrats on the nomination and thanks again for your great work on the show and the blog!

Viewer
Viewer

Just wondering - almost every season I have seen (I have only seen this show since season 4-Chicago), the chefs always have a problem with making desserts and almost all of them seem to say, outloud, that they are NOT pastry chefs (and they make it sound like pastry chefs are beneath what a "real" chef is). Why is there so much animosity towards making desserts or asking to make a dessert? I would think a good chef SHOULD be able to make a good dessert. I always eat dessert after dinner and I grew up in a family that always ate dessert after dinner. I find it refreshing to finish off a heavy meal with a light dessert (fruit & yogurt, a cookie, ice cream during summer, whatever). Sometimes, on a special occassion, we order dessert in a restaurant if we go out to dinner (unless the food and/or service is so bad that we want to leave as soon as the meal is done or we are full after eating dinner). I would think that making a dessert would be harder than making an actual meal.

KarenZipdrive
KarenZipdrive

Being from Texas and recently surviving two months of 100+ temperatures, that ranch challenge made me nervous because of the heat, plus grilling, might kill someone. I thought, like you, beef would be a natural in a ranch challenge. I would have grilled some bone-in ribeyes, fresh corn and a big pot of borracho beans (pintos with beer and spices). And I would have won that sucker.

pattyh
pattyh

Tom, would you address issues concerning the camping episode? I was appalled at the conditions to work in extreme heat. Exposure to 100+ temperature is dangerous. Some people can collapse (or even die) depending on their tolerance. This was an incredibly stupid episode. 1. Extreme desert heat 2. No refrigeration (food safety issues) 3. Guest diners sat in the open sun, no canopy, while the judges were in the shade. That was so rude! Cowboys should be given the same courtesy as fancy French chefs.

Viewer
Viewer

Tom, I love the show and your Craft restaurants in NY and LA though lately my visits are reserved for special occasions based on my recent lack of an expense account. But this time around on the Show,the chefs seem just so so - maybe it is too early to really "judge"..... But for one thing, I could not understand a word the little Frenchman was saying .. simply indecipherable, at least to me!

debby
debby

Your information concerning the judging process was great ! Nice to know. In addition, your insights into a particular show is wonderful to read. Thanks !!

BruceMpls
BruceMpls

I'm perplexed over a contestant's ability to lie and get away with it. Top Chef, I would hope, has standards far beyond that of, say, Survivor or Big Brother, where lying is an expected part of the "game". Also I realize that the other contestants can call them on it, but as in the case you mentioned, it was not.

Shouldn't there be rules within the contest regarding this? I know at times there can be a fine line between lying and omitting the truth and you don't want to have Big Brother watching over them but it seems the contestants should be instructed to be self-governed in these cases and not be threatened with appearing to have thrown someone under the bus. Or perhaps such rules are in place and were not used in this instance. Yes/No?

PeachPie
PeachPie

I'm posting so many days late, this probably wont be read, but here goes:

Well, you answered a question I posted a bit back about th e advantages the chefs might have who were classically trained. I had no idea you didn't go to culinary school!! My question has been answered! You're an inspiration. And I agree about the sauces. As a home cook, I know about and have made (notice I didn't say "mastered") many French sauces, including the mother sauces. I would expect any contestant to know how to prepare these.

The only complaint I have to make about the chefs is STOP WITH THE CEVICHE! Grrrr. Enough already.

Lynn in Indiana
Lynn in Indiana

Are the brothers into a rivalry that much. When one of them wins a challenge, the camera always shows the other and there is never a congrats type of look....just mad and jealous looking. Does cooking over a propane fire in 100 degree heat really determine a top chef. This was not one of my favorites....about as bad as Project Runway with the designing of dresses made out of newspapers. On a positive note...it was great to see the top chef winners and contestants at the Kentucky Derby earlier this year. The traveling show is a great idea and I enjoyed visiting with the chefs.

Viewer
Viewer

Tom I was rewatching Season 5's bridal shower for Gail and someone credited you with saying there is no blue food for the blue category. What about blueberries? They were the last course of the meal and a blueberry cheesecake would have been nice, also bleu cheese souffle, and maybe something sweet done in the style of chicken cordon bleu. Also for the new category - Gail;s being married would have been new - love, hearts come to mind - artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, celery hearts...it seems like the chefs had brain farts for that one.

Viewer
Viewer

The whole explanation regarding the blindtasting and the reasons why not are bogus because you have a blind taste competition in every season for the cheftestants! It would be too obvious to know what's on the plate if you could see it. Same goes for the dishes. There is no way that the judges could guess 90% of the times which chef cooked what dish. I dare you guys to do put this to the test! And as much as you explain not interacting with the cheftestants, you cannot tell us that you don't judge by how they act, how they come accross. More then once have you guys talked about somebody's attitude. There is not a person in the world that will leave perception behind when it comes down to judging people.

Tennisgirl
Tennisgirl

My husband and I are fans of Top Chef since day one. Our take on the contestants?...well, the brothers are definately the offspring of the Stepford Wives, wierd is not a strong enough word to describe them. We like Jen (her Philly attitude is refreshing) and, honestly, all the others are quite forgettable. Ron is a fraud, and that caterer has to go too. Ceviche is this year's foam. Boring.

Sally
Sally

I can't tell you how much my husband and I both enjoy the show - we are avid fans and have been watching from the very beginning. We were shocked at the number of contestants who decided to make fish dishes out on the range - especially ceviche! We appreciate your letting us know about your judging criteria. I (correctly)assumed that the person who would be going home would be the one whose food you had to actually spit out, but obviously there was more to it than that. I only have one question for you, and that is what happened to Anthony Bordaine? He was always one of our favorite guest judges and I would love to see him on an upcoming episode. I was also disappointed that he wasn't asked to be part of Top Chef Masters, but thoroughly enjoyed it anyhow.

Rachel F.
Rachel F.

First of all I have to let everyone know that I'm a true Las Vegas native, born & raised. I was very excited when I found out that they were going to be cooking outdoors on a ranch in Sandy Valley this week. This is something that we natives do for fun. After watching the episode, however, I was severely disappointed. What a bunch of whiners! "It's too hot" "All we had was fire pits" "I had to sleep in a tent". Seriously?! They had propane fire pits. They didn't even have to make a fire. They had nice cast iron dutch ovens & pans. And what was with all the fish? This is a desert, of course it's going to go bad if you don't keep it cold properly! I'm being extremely critical of this episode because this is something I've done many times. You can make great food and keep food at the proper temperature outdoors in the Vegas heat. Next time I'll do the cooking.

Jack
Jack

Thanks Tom for all your claifications and comments, I thoroughly enjoy reading them and look forward to it after each episode. You have stated in previous seasons very similiar if not duplicate comments and it is good to refresh the minds of those who either have forgotten them or are first time viewers. So far this season is my favorite. Not so much because of the challenges but because of the Chefs. They seem more orginal and respectful and as a whole more talented. It seems some are fading but maybe it won't end for them too soon. You have made great decisions and really curious about the prospective final four! Keep up the good work! Thanks Jack

phan
phan

This was a great/informative blog for the viewers. We are only able to "look"/see the food and listen to what is presented by Bravo on film from the two days of filming an episode. So, who are We to judge the judges? This gives a very nice introspect as to how the contest plays out. And, all should realize that the judges do not pick the challenges or ways that they are to be carried out. You are all just there to taste and critique. It was also very informative to list the criteria that you are all mandated to follow for your opinions and thus, why and how you can all come to agreeable conclusions in the end of a segment. This blog gave me a better insight as to how the chefs are judged and how the judges are able to judge!!

phan
phan

In the Tom "quiz" on this Bravo site, they said that you worked at "Evelyn's Seafood" restaurants. Was that the Evelyn's at the Jersey shore? I am dying to know.. as, I worked there for a few summers during an after college when I was pursuing and after i began my teaching career..back in the mid to late 1970's. What a great/fun place...during the days when we could go to the Stone Pony after work and see Bruce Springsteen play and he'd sit and have a drink with us after his shows.. He was an unknown jersey guy then!! Please let me know!! I just wonder if we had both worked there during those same years! ha!!

Annie
Annie

A fan posted that you have brothers that look like you. If this is true a Colicchio brother episode would be great. Are they married? The viewing public could use more Colicchio's!!

mmc
mmc

I loved the last episode and really have to commend all the chefs for giving it their best shot under less than ideal circumstances.I don't know how they could function under that intense heat and with chef coats on.Shorts and a tee shirt would have been my uniform till the judges came.I agree with Mattin going home . If he truly thought his dish was good and it wasn't he really has a problem. I would think knowing when you messed up would be one of the requirements to become a top chef.I cook a lot and love it, but i know when my dish is not good just as I know when it's great.I do wish all the Chefs good luck as they are a delight to watch and maybe learn somrthing too. Thank you Tom for your interesting blogs!

HMelling
HMelling

Tom, I was just catching up on the last few posts of your blog, and, as usual, I find your voice to be even handed and refreshing. It is so easy to get emotionally involved with television characters, which is what the cheftestants are to us viewers. You provide, not only insight into their humanity, but a strong voice of reason. I find everything you write to be so consistent and fair; I envy you your perspective. If I ever need a mediator I'll wish I could get you.

HMonsour
HMonsour

Tom,

I have to agree with a lot of the posters on here, you are doing a FAR GREATER job at retaining your fan base than many other show hosts - you have a passion for what you believe in, you are respectful, respectable and respected. You have all the elements to own anything you touch with fairness and equality.

This is the first time I have landed on the blogs area, I am slow in catching up to everything :) - but I sincerely appreciate your time and efforts, especially since you have so much to manage, and you do these blogs for us .... for whatever it is worth, I read honesty and passion and definitely zero bias or favoritism. Great job.

C in C-ville
C in C-ville

Seafood at the Ranch? Really? I look forward to the day when the chefs are instructed not to use any seafood in their challenges. A million scallops and Arctic chars have given their all to TC over the years! It's time to move on! The chefs seem to rely on the same "high end" ingredients over and over. Yawn.

Which brings me to the cactus...Haven't any of these folks visited a Mexican grocery? If so, haven't they been in the least bit curious? I'm not a chef, but I once made a very delicious dish with cactus thanks to a Rick Bayless recipe. Yum! (Not to be unkind, I know these chefs can't know every ingredient.)

confused
confused

I have watched this show since the first episode five seasons ago . I am at a loss why in "Vivre Las Vegas" (episode 5) Jen was allowed to sauce Chef Joho's plate tableside as Mike V was explaining the dish , she was using a spoon and a sauce pan . Earlier she commented that she didn't know how she got the sauce on each plate as time was running out....obviously she did not sauce each plate .Why was this team allowed to add value to their plate tableside when other teams were not ?

confused
confused

I have watched this show since the first episode five seasons ago . I am at a loss why in "Vivre Las Vegas" (episode 5) Jen was allowed to sauce Chef Joho's plate tableside as Mike V was explaining the dish , she was using a spoon and a sauce pan . Earlier she commented that she didn't know how she got the sauce on each plate as time was running out....obviously she did not sauce each plate .Why was this team allowed to add value to their plate tableside when other teams were not ?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I love the show - but I have to say I get squeamish whenever the challenges push the boundaries of food safety. In the Top Chef Masters series, the challenge where they cooked in dorm rooms and rinsed pasta in the communal bathroom was not something I wanted to see a chef do! This episode also made me uncomfortable as I did not like watching everyone -- the cooks, judges and guests -- in the heat. But it is my favorite reality show and really enjoy the Blog. Keep up the good work.

Andrea from Australia
Andrea from Australia

Tom, I'd just like to thank you for your blog entries. Not only do you write with great flair, you also give us a great behind-the-scenes look at the show, which adds greatly to my enjoyment of it.

Next time I'm in the US, I'll make a point of eating at one of your Craft restaurants, especially because you don't treat vegetarians like second-class diners! Good on ya (as we'd say in Australia)!

Viewer from Chino Hills
Viewer from Chino Hills

Tom, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Top Chef. I watch it every single Wednesay, then the review on Thursday and no matter if its a re run of season 1 I watch it any time I can get. I even watch it on bravo.com here at work!! HAHA I love to cook and I love seeing what these talented group of people can create under a minimual amount of time. I can barley cut up my meat in 15 mins let alone cook a whole dish!!! You are one of my favorite judges and I love reading your blos. Keep up the good work!!

BJFerguson
BJFerguson

Dear Tom,

Okay, so I'm a fan of this show and may tend to gush...fair warning...

I actually look forward to this show each season, which may rightly indicate that I have an overly boring existence, but at least I don't sit around waiting with baited breath for other shows like "I love New York", which I checked out once because I thought it was a travel show..I swear. Nonetheless, this competition is as fairly presented as this type can be, and I never doubt the judges or the conclusions you all come to. In my opinion it looks to be a wonderful experience and a bit of a culinary journey, which most of these chefs undoubtedly benefit from, regardless of whether or not they win the whole kit and kaboodle. That must be the reason so many try out for a shot at performing on Top Chef.

I'm not a great chef but have fed many quite well, through the years, and I completely enjoy seeing the remarkable dishes these cheftestants can create. Cooking beautiful food is nothing less than an artform of the most generous kind, and this show allows many of us a small but lovely glimpse into a fantastic world defined by creativity and ingenuity. I will continue to look forward to each new season...Thanks. BJFerguson

Cameron
Cameron

Thanks for the insight into the judging. Two more questions around the show that have always plagued me.

1. I know you constantly reinforce that cheftestants are judged solely on their last meal, but I still can't get my head around it. I have visions of Brian just getting totally nailed by some unforeseen circumstance or ingredient and ending up getting sent home in the next couple of weeks. How do you as judges reconcile that. 2. When the chefs are preparing food for a small group, is it fair to assume that they aren't all working against the same clock? Obviously the way the show is edited it looks like they all stop working at the same timer, but it would seem that they must actually all be a little staggered so that the plates are going out fresh with each round of courses?

Thanks.