Tom Colicchio

A Top Chef is named! Tom explains Harold Dieterle's win.

on Dec 15, 2008

Nonetheless, I do get a kick out of the theories swirling around cyberspace about the decision process: There is the ever-popular "producers pick" theory that suggests Bravo's producers told us who should win, with an eye towards creating drama. If that were the case, Ken would have made it much further than he did (the man could single-handedly ignite WWIII), easy-going Harold never would have made it this far (no drama there), and the finale would be down to prickly Tiffani vs. arrogant Stephen. On one occasion that I know of, Bravo's producers were less than thrilled with our choice (OK, I'll spill -- they loved Miguel). But they never interfered with our decision to let him go, or suggested we change the outcome. If they had, I don't think I could have stayed with the show.

There's also the 'Judges-are-biased-towards or against-certain-people' theory which mystifies me. For one thing, Bravo kept us from mixing closely with the chefs in order to keep us as neutral as possible. The funny thing is, I learned most of what I know about our contestants from watching the episodes like everyone else, which was when I got to see those one-on-one interviews and much of the behind-the-scenes drama. If anything I may have grown fond of a few contestants because they struck me as good people -- Andrea and Lisa come to mind. And yet you'll notice I didn't hesitate to vote them off when their work didn't cut it. So much for that theory.

And my favorite theory of all: the "Tiffani-turned-down-her-opponents'-burners-and-that's how-she-got-this-far" theory. I hate to break it to the Tiff-haters, but there was a room full of crew and four cameras shooting simultaneously during the challenges, capturing everything. I seriously doubt anyone would have taken the risk of being caught on film blatantly sabotaging an opponent. The truth is Tiffani never needed to turn down anyone's fire to win a challenge -- when she won it was because she was good. Plain and simple. The same holds true with Harold, but thanks to his popularity, his integrity was never called into question.