So — back to Branford. Branford is not only a jazz musician, he is also accomplished at performing classical music, pop, R&B, hip hop … you name it. This type of versatility is rare, even among world-class musicians. I’m making this point for a reason. Most musicians, even the most brilliant, are not as multi-faceted as Branford; they have been trained as befits their genre and have honed those particular skill sets their music requires. As with musicians, some chefs are stronger at “improv”-ing on the spot, while others are stronger at planning out a menu, testing it and tweaking it. As with classically-trained musicians, the chef that needs prep time to create fine dishes is not a weaker chef than the one who, like a jazz musician, is more comfortable creating on the fly. I love to do both, personally, but I also know that however successful it might have been, a dish that I created quickly can almost always be improved with more thought.
Our season finale, in which they have very limited time in which to create a three-course meal, asks of our chefs that they be jazz musicians. If you recall, in our first and second seasons, we narrowed the field down to two finalists, who prepared five-course meals. I, personally, think that the suspense is more heightened and interesting when viewers choose between only two contestants. Season Two’s finale ratings were the highest of any season’s finale — clearly, we were doing something right. Whether we return to the two-finalist model as I, for one, would prefer, or keep it at three, I would love to try to find a feasible way for us to challenge future finalists to create a five-course meal. I’d require that one be a dessert (I have always believed that one of them should be a dessert. These aren’t my rules; I just play by them!) And I’d permit them to plan and prepare two of the courses in advance. It would be great for viewers to see them in their home/restaurant environments developing those two courses. I think this would provide a great balance between the “classical” and “jazz” chefs among the finalists and would even the playing field.
Congratulations, Hosea, on your Season Five win. Congrats, too, to Carla and Stefan for making it to the finale and for all of their hard work and fine dishes. And thanks to you, for watching with such enthusiasm and for your heartfelt and thoughtful comments.