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Welcome back! Thanks for tuning in for the launch of Season 6.
Did you know that Vegas, with its skyscape of neon, is said to be the only spot on earth so brightly lit as to be visible in outer space? It’s a great choice of backdrop for Season 6, not only because it is so iconic, with the large hotels, the glitz, and all that neon, but also because of the city’s rapid rise in prominence as a food town. Most every major chef – including French chefs – now has a presence there, and, with apologies to San Francisco for saying so, I think that behind New York, Vegas probably now has the best dining offerings in the country. Casino owners realized that visitors wanted more, that gamblers were coming from all over the world and were demanding more in the way of incentives to stay there, were asking for more sophisticated offerings in the way of perks and amenities. And visitors have responded to the rise in fine dining options: as of last year or the year before, food revenue in Las Vegas has surpassed gambling for overall revenue. So I think it’s safe to say that when you think Vegas and food, you no longer think “all-you-can-eat-buffet-for-$14.95.”
Vegas is also more than just casinos, shows and dining. While spending a month in Vegas gave me a chance to spend time at my restaurant and the MGM Grand, I was excited that shooting Season 6 afforded us chances to spend time off the Strip at cool locations like Nellis Air Force Base, as you’ll see in episodes to come.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, Episode 1: I loved that the Quickfire Challenge was higher-stakes than it’s been in seasons past, putting more emphasis on the cheftestants’ performances. In the past, folks could choose to stay middle-of-the-road, take no risks, and coast through the challenge. Not so, now …
The Quickfire started off with a relay race. I was surprised that Preeti didn’t simply say, “I’ve never opened a clam before. Don’t make me do this.” My guess is that it being the first challenge of the season, all the chefs were posturing for one another and for us, and no one wanted to admit to any shortcomings. But Preeti’s unwillingness to expose a weakness ultimately hurt her and her team. She took them all out of the running by not speaking up. She spent the entire race trying to shuck those clams; it was horrible.
By contrast, it was terrific having Wolfgang Puck as the guest judge for the Elimination Challenge. He is great to work with, so funny, and so apt (yet always good-spirited: at their worst, his barbs were never intended to be mean). You could see that he was cracking me up continuously. The first time that I ever met him, I attended a dinner he was at, along with a bunch of folks from Food & Wine magazine. I was not yet a chef at a place of my own – I was the sous-chef at the Quilted Giraffe at the time – and I was very nervous about just sitting at dinner with him, so I can well imagine how our cheftestants must have felt cooking for him. Especially as doing the first challenge is always difficult.
I think the chefs rose to the challenge exceptionally well (to create a dish based on their biggest vice), whether they wound up in the top four or not. Because all 17 chefs were competing in the first challenge, it was the lengthiest one of the season. This is why the chefs were divided into teams – it was more manageable and also easier for the viewer to absorb than simply watching a roster of 17 chefs presenting dishes one after the other. But it’s important to note that this means that the four “winners” in each team might not have been the four strongest dishes of the evening overall. A second-place dish in a team with four very strong dishes might have been better than the winning dish in another team. It was just the luck of the draw. Please keep this in mind as you start to reach your own conclusions about this new group of chefs – we certainly are. Just as the chefs themselves are eyeing each other to see where they all fall in the pecking order, the first Elimination Challenge gives us judges a chance to see who has skills, who has ideas, and how well they deal with the timing issue, with the Top Chef kitchen, which invariably is quite different from their own professional kitchen at home.
Tom, love you and LOVE THIS SHOW. It looks to be an exciting and interesting season. I do have to make one unpleasant comment. The tats! So unattractive and it would seem to me to a negative for a chef. I would expect professionalism and these tats just aren't saying that. Would this hurt them in their chosen field? And I agree, Top Chef does inspire me to do more. Except on Wednesday nights. Then I slam a quick dinner to be ready to park myself in front of the tv!
I agree that this is the deepest group of chefs ever, and I do feel that this season might be the most promising since Season 3. Also, the article Tom referred to was the NY Times Magazine, and like him, I disagree, certainly regarding Top Chef. Shows like this might make people get in the kitchen and think it's easy, then realize that knife skills exist to keep your fingers on as much as to dice an onion. But anything that gets you in the kitchen will generally keep you there. After all, another part of that article also noted that the more time you spend in the kitchen cooking real food, the thinner your family will be. So Top Chef, keep on cooking. America will be healthier for it.
I think for the season finale this a a fan of the show should be picked to help judge the food. Because we are the people that they are going to cook for when they open their own restaurant. I would be happy to be the first one to take this vip position. I have been the biggest fan since season one. It would be an honor. I'll even wash my hands and face before I come.(my fair lady) thanks Jennifer nelson
Hey Tom! So happy that you are back! It was a great first episode and you have a group of very talented chefs to deal with. I think Top Chef is absolutely inspiring people to cook more. I am a personal chef in NYC so I am biased because I am so passionate about cooking..but I have friends who have been totally inspired by watching the show..Top Chef ia a huge deal and has a following all over the country. People actually have Top Chef dinner paries on wednesday nights..its just such a great thing to lift spirits and a chance to spend quality time with friends and loved ones...again, so happy that you are back!!!
I find it a bit odd that a Top Chef contestant has to proclaim his homosexuality in his intro...the fact that "he is the only chef here who has a boyfriend" is simply not an issue...nor interesting...newsflash to Ash: nobody cares that you are gay...just cook the freakin' food...
The REAL contestant one season one are real and got rippped off, they worked there asses off and got nothing , now its all aboutadvertsing and money , theses contestant have it way to easy.
Ive been searching the top chef site and i can not find hubert kellers Salmon Soufflé. I want to know how to make that delicious looking cream on top of the salmon! Did i miss it, or will it be posted!? please let me know!
Looking forward to a great season, but I have to say that I was really disappointed and I think it was a mistake that you used the relay race in the first episode. I love the relay races, but since I was unfamiliar with any of the contestants, I was so NOT invested in the outcome. I just didn't care who won.
It's always hard to judge without the taste factor; but looking at the choices it was definitely a close call on the last four contestants.
As far as feedback on folks cooking more or less, I say MORE! Everyone I know that watches the show has a new zeal and appreciation for culinary techniques as well as increase in open mindedness when it comes to creating dishes/flavors/presentation and the like. For me it allows a permission to experiment and test the waters on combinations with textures and tastes. Bravo to Top Chef!!
Tom, Im so in love with Craft at the MGM Grand. We ate there for my engagement dinner this spring and it was truly the experience of a life time. Im a diehard fan of the show. I think you all made the right decision eliminating who you did, the dish looked a mess so I can only imagine how it tasted. I'm excited to see the challenges in my favorite city. I believe the article is extremly off base, I have watched an episode of top chef and been inspired to experiment more and try new ingredients.
I would agree with you that Top Chef likely brings more people into the kitchen. I am a server, but until I moved to Portland a few years ago, I had no fine dining experience. I learned A LOT once I started working in a nicer restaurant...and I get to apply a bit of that knowledge (be it only for my own gratification) when I watch Top Chef. Watching the show has helped me to start learning how to utilize that knowledge a bit. And, as a FOH person, has made me appreciate BOH a bit more :) I'll keep watching...as long as it's on...but when are you coming to PDX? It's a small city, I know, but pretty effing foodie.
I think that most every cooking show (with the possible exception of anything involving Mr Nasty aka Gordon Ramsey) whether it be a competition, educational or just plain entertaining inspires people to get into the kitchen. I believe that holds true for home cooks at every ability level. I really can't imagine another time in history when young girls and boys dreamed of being a chef...they do now thanks to the exposure of shows like Top Chef. I don't watch many TV shows regularly, but am smack dab in front of it every Wednesday and sincerely hope there will be another TCM as well as a season 7 of TC!
Tom, I have to say that Top Chef inspires me to cook. As I live alone I just tend to grab something fast. Your show makes me want to cook and share with my neighbors and friends. I purchased the Top Chef book and have done a few of the recipes there as well checking out the online recipes you have of the the winners. I love Leanne's th Wong Way to cook. I don't try to do it fast,just right. Season 6 so far looks good. Regards, Dinah
I read the article and agreed with it whole-heartedly. I think what the author was saying is that cooking on TV has become more of a spectator sport and less of an education. The article paid tribute to the way Julia Child's show actually taught us how to cook, gave us the confidence to do it.
Don't get me wrong - the whole family loves Top Chef and we've watched every season. But I hear a lot about the perfectly cooked scallop; no one has actually shown me how to do it home. Granted that's not the format of your show, but the author still has a valid point.
Instead, I find that the competition shows make my kids more open to trying foods they hear about on TV. They want to go to the top NYC restaurants now, and when I take them, they order the guinea hen or the pork belly!
I think America would love to see a real cooking show again - with someone like Tom Colicchio as the instructor. (We're all dying to see you cook.) Your book, "Think Like a Chef" taught me a lot and improved my cooking. I'd love to see a show based on that book showing people exactly how to cook your roasted tomatoes with garlic, and then "now here's a bunch of things you can do with them. Watch, I'll show you."
Whaddya say, Tom?
Tom, My boys all watch the show...12,11 and 8. They all try to cook now! We were out to eat one afternoon when our 11 yr old tried his dad's fish...then judged it!! It was seasoned well and had a good texture! We all love the show and the way that you and the other judges explain the dishes. Thanks and keep up the good work!!
My family is cooking more because of Top Chef. We have even had our own version of Top Chef, a three course meal prepared by different famiily members. We didn't have knives but we drew course order out of a bag. I (the Dad) had first course, Mom got second course and the kids (15 year old boy and 18 year old girl, at the time) had the third course. We put dibs on our proteins (no repeats allowed) and each of us were allowed to declare one food off limits. The only other rule - everyone had to try everything.
First course - crab stuffed homemade ravioli (first time ever making pasta by hand) over a sweet corn hash
Second course - vegetarian Indian samasos with two dipping sauces
Thrid course - bison burgers, with a mango ketchup and a home made barbeque sauces served with Pomme Frites.
We had a week to determine recipes, shop and get ready. The meal took around 6 hours including cooking time (only one course cooked at a time). IT WAS A GREAT SUCCESS. WE WILL BE DOING THIS AGAIN.
First off, let me congratulate you, Tom, and your wife on the birth of your son. Now, here are my thoughts...I really did like the first show of the season, yet I find myself wishing for cheftestants that are not sous chefs or such. I think that more "home" cooks/chefs make it more dynamic in that it makes people at home believe that they can do this...they can cook. Top Chef doesn't make me want to go to fancy restaurants or such rather than cook; actually it makes me want to try to make some of the dishes. With the exception of Perillo in NYC, or any of the Craft restaurants, I doubt I would try a fancy restaurant. Cheers to a FANTASTIC season.
I read the article you are speaking of, and somewhat agreed with it. I love to Top Chef, and its has inspired me in the past. But, if you dont know how to cook at all, I dont think that Top Chef will teach you.
But I took his article as a challenge. I decided to start a blog, thewinningdish.com, where I will cook both the quickfire and elimination challenge winning dishes from each episode, so that Top Chef will improve my cooking. Trying, if possible, not to use any information other than what I was given on the show (and maybe from Fabio, if im too confused)
I'm pretty excited to start with Jen's Ceviche and Kevin's Arctic Char tongight!
I find myself cooking a great deal more than I did before watching Top Chef and challenging myself to come up with new and inventive dishes. I am already excited for the season after the first great episode.
I hadn't planned watching TC6, but it was sandwiched between the diving Top Chef Masters. So, what the hey - I watched. And already, I could see how unimpressive it will be. Adding a higher number of cooks to the pot won't help it either. The only bright spot was Wolfgang Puck's humorous comments. I still don't feel Sin City is innovative. After all, the TC1 finale was taped there. So, big whoop!
Just do away with all elims and tell these people to cook their favorite meal and award that person the title, "Top Meal" (just like you did for TC5's talentless Hosea)...
Since I discovered Top Chef, I have definitely been inspired to cook more than ever. I can't say that I make anything super fancy, as my tastes are fairly tame. But watching the show gives me ideas of how to experiment with flavors more than I ever have. My brother, who knows how to make spaghetti and toast and that's about all, is so impressed by these simple but tasty dishes, he tells me that I should either try out for Top Chef or come live with him and be his personal chef. Unfortunately I am more realistic, and I'm pretty sure the 5 different marinades I have for grilled chicken wouldn't cut the mustard at Top Chef! Lol. But definitely, the show has got me thinking about cooking and interested in trying new things.
Top Chef has engaged a new group of "foodies" that are learning while enjoying the excitement of well prepared meals. I recently had the pleasure of dining at CRAFTSTEAK in CT. and had the best meal of my life...really far better than I even expected...now I am ready to try making Top Chef recipes at home...this is what Top Chef is doing to America
My 10 year old son is learning to cook because of Top Chef, and thinks he may want to do it as his career. We all cook more now, not less!
Our whole family are hardcore Top Chef fans. My youngest son (10) is big into making his own dipping sauces. The best thing parents can do is always have the family eat together. Also, we have always gone out to eat as a family, whether its for pizza, sushi or one of Jose Andres places.
Tom's comment that he didn't understand how Ron's dish related to a "vice." Perhaps, there was a language miscommunication here. Ron may have translated "vice" as a "hang-up" or stumbling block to getting on with his life. Understandibly his path to the United States was so tramatic that he has difficulty putting it in the past. Looking forward to this season. It would be helpful if you would explain the criteria for a "Top Chef." Is it just about the food or does the ability to "run" a kitchen, relate to the public, etc. enter into the mix? I ask because sometimes the greatest cooks seem to be the nastiest people.
Good morning, Chef Tom. Wonderful opener for the new Top Chef season! I loved that we got to see more of each cheftestant, except Robin, for the first episode. Is it just me or is the caliber of chefs really upgraded this time around? Executive chefs...James Beard receiptants...Michelin...wow!
I already have my favorite and the one I like the least... Can't wait until next week!
I think it's safe to say that Preeti was pretty awful shucking those clams. She was worse than Casey up at bat chopping onions. What a fool not to inform her team that she had never done that!
I enjoyed the premiere of this season. They all seem like great, enthusiastic candidates, and they have a lot to live up to after the past seasons.. so, it looks promising and exciting.. It is fun to see all you back.
Season 6 is going to be another great year! All of the chefs have wonderful abilities and the blend of personality always adds to the excitement. I say, let's make sure we judge them on their cooking abilities and not on their personalities. They are separate things! I loved Mike Isabella's confidence. Some posts say he is the arrogant jerk of the season. I believe your thoughts are creations - if you think and act confident, it will show lead you to success. Stay true to yourself Mike! I see amazing dishes coming out of your mind!
I agree with the article only as it refers to Food Network. What a travesty! It is now an entertainment network with food as the props. And discriminatory? All the women cooking real food in the daytime and raging testosterone in prime time; men behaving badly. Not so with the Public Television shows of Ming, Lidia, Nigella etc. I love Top Chef as the only way I'll be able to afford those meals is to cook them myself. Suggestion: Less team stuff as the leader is so often penalized. I don't think this is fair because he is not really the "in charge" in the sense that a chef is in charge of his staff. He has no authority and is supervising people whose interest is in making him look bad rather than supporting him. You've lost too many good people too soon because of "teams" Love Puck as Judge and these young chefs should take note of the great behavior of the Masters.
I really enjoy the challenges of TC. My conern is with the character of the cheftestants. For the most part they seem to be foul mouthed and nasty. I do not see the chef judges acting in any way that is distasteful. I guess you show all the fighting and foul language because you think that is what the audience wants and needs (how sad). I think the show would be better if everyone acted with professionalism--like the judges act. It seems that one of the requirements of this year's cheftestants is massive tatoo artisty and piercing..
From your last comment? I have a hard time understanding how your show has created "less" time in the kitchen? That does not make sense. Top Chef has created inspiration for people to at least, try, to cook and create more interesting/healthy dishes at home. Kids are now inspired to cook...or at least listen and learn about what good, fresh food is and how to make it tasty? It is also an inspiration to kids with an artistic endeavor.. Not all kids have to go to college and excel in academics to do well in the arts.. Cooking is an art.
Thanks for your blog, Tom. I read the Times article and I think that while it had some interesting things to say about the role of food and cooking shows in popular culture today, it was not right to suggest that the competitive nature of shows like your prevent people from being in the kitchen. I love to cook and I love Top Chef- obviously the former interest was what drew me to the latter. I don't think people who have no inclination to cook in the first place will necessarily be drawn to the kitchen instead of glued to the couch, but I also don't think television has the responsibility to change people's domestic habits. That said, I think the way in which your show engages with all things gastronomic is inspiring, and it has no doubt altered some people's relationship with food for the better. Great premiere.
I don't think that shows about cooking discourage actual cooking, I believe it is in fact the opposite. I find that " Top Chef" and other shows open up a dialogue about food in a very thoughtful way. There are people I work with that might not be as experienced in cooking as they would like , but they are opened up to the potential and adventure in cooking after watching the show.
My husband and I both are former restaurant managers and he wa a cook in the Navy for 18 years..so we are food junkies...we love the show .
Greetings From Houston
I think it's really important that TC not lose its focus as a cooking show. I could do without some of the drama and I think this can affect the shows credibility. Hell's Kitchen is all about the drama and I've really lost interest in it. I want to see chef's cook. The Food Network has quickly lost its focus and I think Bravo has a wonderful opportunity to attract "foodie" viewers interesting in a cooking show and take advantage of TFN's missteps.
THANK YOU, TOP CHEF AND EVERYONE INVOLVED!!! Thank you for not compromising on production or talent and for putting out a quality program, season after season. It's true with television much as it is being a chef....keep it simple and stick to the basics. It's a fantastic recipe :-)
I agree with most that Season 6 looks even more promising than seasons before it. Not because it is in Sin City, but in spite of it. The Chef's seem interesting, intelligent, and focused. If they can not show too much drama, bring in new contests, and eliminate all the nonsens and be professional this season will rank as the highest yet. I agree with the first elimination and have a few guesses who might be going in the next few episodes.
Just wanted to respond to Tom that the show was a big inspiration for me to take up cooking, take classes, study and practice.
Not only is Top Chef entertaining, especially when it is more about the food and less about adolescence behavior between some chefs, but makes me revel in food and its preparation!! When I share a cooking tip with my husband, who loves to cook, he always says, "Where did you learn that, on one of your cooking shows?" And my 5 year old daughter plays cooking shows with her playdough. She also cooks with me in the kitchen, whether I am baking or cooking. She has even learned to dice things with her kiddie knife. She was very proud of herself!! And yes, she watches Top Chef with me, every week. So poo poo to that fool who expressed such a silly idea. Long live Top Chef!!
Chef Tom, first I just have to say how spectacular TC Masters was. Wow! That show delivered! It was an honor just to watch those guys. And it was great to see Rick take the win. He is perfection personified!
I'm very happy with the first cut for Season 6. Just to not have to look at that hideous tattoo!
I'm pulling for Kevin. He's talented and thoughtful and brimming with good intentions.
Go Kevin! xo
Hi Tom, Just watched the new episode last night, shaping up to be a great season just like all of the rest! Love the venue, we are planning a trip to Vegas and its great to see some of the restaurants there. Looking forward to the rest of the season. By the way, hit me up sometime we talked years ago before the season started. I want to invite you to the Gulf Coaast of Alabama, great fishing, specs are numerous, reds too! Hope to hear from you Mark firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Chef has been an inspiration for me since the first show. To be "behind the scenes" in the kitchen makes you appreciate the timing, talent and congeniality that is necessary to put out good food that is presented well and tastes excellent.
I feel like I have a private cooking class each time I watch the show. Your leadership along with the other judges provides the viewers with valuable information and an understanding of the food industry on so many levels.
Vegas is such an over-the-top experience. A terrific choice for your venue this season.
Tom, you always present your comments and suggestions to the chefs in such a caring, direct (and some times humorous) manner, which is what I respect the most about you. With you at the helm, they cannot fail. They all come away with so much from having such a unique experience.
I am hopeful on my next trip to NYC to experience one of your restuarants. That would be totally awesome.
i wish you would have kicked off mom butt/40 year old curry dish. I can overcook shrimp and make curry, and I burn grill cheese. The girl that took the relleno risk should have stayed. Except her earrings did make me physically ill. I am still mad that Richard Blais did not win. PS.
After season 4's finale I was sadly disappointed. I thought the reasoning behind her win was unfair. Throughout the whole competition it was "you can win today, but tomorrow's dish may sink you." And for the finale to end with the discussion that she won because her "overall" performance was good and not so much her dish, was disheartening. So I applaud you all for Hosea's win in Season 5. Purely based on his final dish, not the season past. Way to go!! I almost stopped watching, then Top Chef Masters came, I was pleased Rick Bayless won, what an awesome chef!! Always happy, calm and collected and TALENTED!!
Great opening show, with strong contestants. I just hope the drama is kept to a minimum and the cooking amped up.I think all of us TC fans watch the show for the cooking and not the drama so there really is no need to add it just to get ratings. I don't really care abouut the tats and the piercing I just want to see cooking, I hope that this season will focus on that and not everything else that the past couple of seasons have.
Want a cool idea for the next Top Chef. Take these well trained chefs and put them in the middle of no where. Have them cook for the ordinary person who cannot afford the trip to the "big city" and have those expensive meals. Give them a taste of the rich foods and then challenge the chefs to create a meal that is simply "home cooking". Can the chefs step back and lose the spices and multiple ingredients and let us taste the beef!! (so to speak) Because lets face it, everyones palate is different and what might sparke Tom C's fancy may be too much for the ordinary eater. I would love to see them wow a panel of farmers from Central Iowa or Minnesota. Or some small town housewives who could teach these chefs a thing or too about the best chili in town.