Gail Simmons

The judge breaks down each course.

on Feb 27, 2013

What an extraordinary, historic win. Kristen literally battled her way back from elimination and took it all, which is why Last Chance Kitchen was made: to give people that final chance. It’s unconventional I know, but like any challenge we need to change and grow. Starting in our ninth season, we wanted to do something new, and I am so proud of the result. Not only did I think we got better food than ever because of it, but also because I think Kristen truly deserved it. I believed it back when we eliminated her from Restaurant Wars, and I believe it now more than ever. I have no doubt that Brooke, Sheldon, Lizzie, Josh, CJ, Kuniko, Stefan and the rest, will all go on to do great things, and I expect great things from all of them, I’m so proud of all of them, especially Brooke. In a way, Brooke accomplished something beyond just competing through the finale: Brooke conquered an enormous amount of challenges and fear this season. That really can’t be overlooked or underestimated. Planes, trains, boats, automobiles, helicopters, Brooke has proven that she is one of the strongest chefs I have ever met, and I mean that truly. 

But Kristen, she just awes me. I think she is such a strong cook and such a strong leader. I know when she is ready she will go from being Barbara Lynch’s protégé to becoming a great woman-leader, and a great chef regardless of her gender, in this country. She has that magic. She understands food, how people want to eat, she has patience, grace and undeniable focus. I think that is what makes her so special.  

Congrats to them both! And hooray for a second woman Top Chef winner! Now we have two of 10, or 20%, which I will say is probably higher than the restaurant industry average. After 10 seasons, I think we have a pretty great overall track record for talent. Something to savor indeed.