Gail Simmons

Gail tries to answer the question, "So, who's fault was it?"

on Jan 16, 20130

Bravotv.com: How do we begin? We can start with the boys being down one number, and what you thought about the battle of the sexes overall?
Gail Simmons: 
Obviously we only have seven people left, and they’re all pretty strong. Actually, in a way, it was split well because there were strong people on both teams. I think Part 1 of Restaurant Wars really helped. It made the restaurants much stronger than they otherwise would have been—stronger in terms of concept, and delivery on that concept, than any restaurant has been in the past. It wasn’t just, “You have 24 hours—think of what you want to do and throw it together.” They still needed to throw everything together, and it was still 48 hours to get the food out, but their concepts were both well developed already. Of course it was still going to be a struggle for the boys, because they had one less person and an enormous amount of work.



Bravotv.com: Kristen was concerned that she had never led a kitchen for that amount of covers.
GS: 
I think it’s a huge challenge. We forget that Kristen is still quite young. She’s immensely talented, which we’ve established, but she’s still a sous chef—which means she’s the second in command in the restaurant, not the first. And there’s a huge difference. She’s usually not the one expediting, which means calling out and managing the timing of all the orders, and that’s the most critical role in service.

Also she’s a perfectionist -- she had such a clear vision and wanted to control all of it. Of course that’s the intention: you want it to be yours. But part of being a chef, too, is learning that you cannot necessarily touch every plate. It might be impossible. So what can you do as a chef to make sure the food still looks the way it should, and is tailored to your vision, but you are still empowering the chefs underneath you, to have the confidence to execute it without you guiding them every step of the way?  You need to give them clear direction, but you also need to give them responsibility. And I think she failed to do this in the end.

330 comments
franci
franci

Frankly, I think both Kristen and Josie should have gone home!  Did Josie cause problems, yes she did..was Kristen in charge, yes she was.  Josie should not have been there to start with and knowing how Josie is, Kristen should have made it a point to see to it that she was doing what she was told...She knew that Josie was unreliable but she refused to "babysit" her, even though thats what management is about.  That said, everyone seems to be focused on Josies faults and overlooking the fact that the dishes Kristen handled on her own were judged as not that great.  And as for last chance kitchen, what a joke that is. I can't help but wonder what the results there would be if the judge had to make hs choice not knowing who prepared which dish....don't worry, everyone knows Kristen will win no matter who she goes up against.

ginger_64
ginger_64

Kristen didn't choose Josie over Stefan. She had to choose between Micah and Josie and she chose Josie, leaving Micah for Sheldon. She also didn't choose Josie over the possibility of being short a chef. At the time the chefs chose their teams, they didn't know who would be eliminated. Josie had as great a chance at going as Micah did. Which would have been worse--having Josie or being short a chef? It's hard to say, but Kristen didn't end up with Josie for the reasons you cited.

 

Doesn't match matter though. Josie screwed up and shirked responsibility. Kristen was also culpable and fully shouldered it. It's clear who the better chef was/is, but that's not what always matters. I'm confident Kristen will return to the competition and is contender to take it all. I have thought for some time that Brook, Sheldon, and Kristen were the best chefs. I just hope that CJi isn't thrown into the mix too--I'm really not understanding the love for that guy.

 

NativeCA
NativeCA

Hey, I like Kristin too but I think the judges are correct that she's not the total victim. After all she did choose Josie to be on her team over Stefan or the possibility of being short a chef. This is a competition not the real thing so the chefs need to keep this in mind as part of their focus besides creativity and execution--not an easy task. Experience and talent are key but so is how fast they can think on their feet and adapt when the unexpected or unplanned occurs. What happened to Josh and his scallop noodles turned scrambled eggs is a good example. Granted Josie didn't give Kristin much time to correct her messing up the original concept but when Kristin saw this coming it was time to switch to plan B. Then the bouillabaisse might not have been memorable but at least it wouldn't have been bad. Who overcooked the fish and undercooked the scallops and let them get cold anyway? That's really inexcusable!

soclearwater
soclearwater

You had it right that Josie should go and Kristen should stay!  Why did you ever let Padma convince you otherwise?!? 

 

Padma is NOT a judge, you are!  

 

Stand up for what you believe in and don't cave to Padma's lame reasons.  

 

Padma is clearly jealous and has something against Kristen.  I've never seen her react that way before.  It was so disgusting and off-putting to watch.  Not a fan of her anymore!  Get rid of Padma and hire Kristen!!

Tierney
Tierney

Gosh, it's a good thing that Last Chance Kitchen is there to correct for the judges' mistakes, isn't it...

charleswor
charleswor

I watched the episode, heard both you and Padma loud and clear, you gave into Padma, you have so much more audience respect, don't do that again please.

Kara759
Kara759

What is happening to Top Chef?  Telling Kristin to pack her knives has got to be the worst decision EVER on this show.  The judges knew that Kristin was 'biting her tongue'.  They were trying to make her throw Josie under the bus but she wouldn't do it.  History has shown that it never works as we saw again, but there is no excuse that the judges can manufacture that will justify keeping Josie. 

Mona_Munaki
Mona_Munaki

Gail, I have the greatest respect for you.  Your explanation for Kristin's elimination doesn't make sense.  In one sentence you describe her as a sous-chef; not experienced in giving orders.  You expected that Kristen would follow Josie's orders?  Really?  

 

Stefan was a poor host?  Restaurant Wars has always had an issue with hosts.  Despite your description of Stefan not being deferential to the judges, you got your food on time and it was good.  Stefan was not in charge of Urbano.  Sheldon was.  Why blame Stefan for the cocktails and people hanging out too long instead of Sheldon?  Would Stefan have been faulted if he threw people out and was discourteous to guests versus judges? Of course!

 

I love you, Gail.  Continue to be a voice of reason.  Please don't let my favorite show, Top Chef go off the rails. 

jono123
jono123

Total baloney. If the judges had done their job, Josie would have been gone weeks ago. She was always late and served upcooked food, but better chefs were always cut. To say Kristen is at fault for touching every plate is ridiculous.  The problem was Josie who did everything could to undermine the effort. She is impossible. On the men's side they set aside differences and combined efforts and won despitie two chefs with little or no experience in Filipino cuisine. The problem is Josie's total incompetence and the judges failure to see it. From what I have read only the judges were fooled. The viewers, on the other hand, saw right through her. Just like Josie, the judges blame everyone else for their total failure.

.

eviltimes
eviltimes

Easy answer Gail - the judges blew this one.  You have cost your show many, many loyal viewers.

Adavis74
Adavis74

Kristin's career will blossom regardless. Chef Josie (ugh, it hurts to type it and read it) is a delusional egomaniac. I think it would be impossible for her to "cook" professionally ever again, and THAT would be a good thing. Apparently, she wouldn't even cut it at KFC.  Happy Trails you big, obnoxious jerk.

beth.summer.9
beth.summer.9

I also think that Josie should have gone home because exactly what was Kristin supposed to do? How can she empower someone as egotistical as Josie? And while I understand a top chef has to do this, in a real kitchen, Josie simply would have been fired for not doing as she was directed. Was Kristin just not supposed to put any sauce on the plate? 

beth.summer.9
beth.summer.9

I thought Padma was rude and obnoxious as well.  And  the way you both told Kristin goodbye came off as condescending and false, like neither of you were sorry to see her go.

ethereal
ethereal

I continually heard that customers don't go back to a restaurant for a dish, yet Urbano won in spite of the horrible hospitality.  Josie, who should have been sent home a long time ago, was allowed to stay while Kristen was sent home.  Bad choices.  I don't trust the judges to do the right thing.  Last time I'm watching - ever! I've let myself get sucked in again this time, but it won't happen again.

eviltimes
eviltimes

Gail you are wrong.  Kristen is the winner of this season.  Fix the rules that continue to screw up Top Chef.  Every season the judges blow it because "we haven't seen the show".  Well, may be you should.  Shame on all of you.

audsmith099
audsmith099

JOSIE...ANNOYING AS HELL!!!! She is  hard to watch, and she is very heinous!!!!

zaphodduke
zaphodduke

I agree that this show may have just jumped the shark.  Stefan or Josie should have gone home. Padma came off horribly at judges table and sent the best chef home.  It's fifty-fifty if I watch the show again.

fell
fell

what do you mean that Kristen did not give Josie the confidence she needed? Josie is over confident in everything she says and does. y'all just do not want to admit that y'all screwed up BIG TIME!! Josie should have been sent home when she served RAW turkey. she is all mouth no action and now so are all of the judges.

Myko
Myko

Why would the other chefs say anything on Kristen's behalf it's a competition and they wanted the competition to go home and she did.  We the viewers know Kristen was sabotaged by Josie but what really got me is that she (Josie) had the audacity to cry. WTH was that about?  Did anyone buy that I sure didn't but she had to sell her story and the judges bought it especially Padma, a lil ugly.

jade07030
jade07030

I guess my real problem with the Kristen elimination is something that I see all to often with the dreaded restaurant wars.   The "superior" chef, most often the one who took the head chef role, get's eliminated over the perceived inferior chef.  I genuinely think that Kristen is a superior chef to Josie because I've seen the execution, the thoughtfulness, and general appraisal by her competitor chefs.  But restaurant wars unfortunately - bills itself as a restaurant war but ultimately it's about the food.  I just wish that once, one the head chefs would "fire" a intransigent competitor chef.  I'm sure that Tom would have fired a chef that was clearly not pulling his or her weight.  Why should this be any different?

ChefNewOrleans
ChefNewOrleans

1.  Are we forgetting it's a contest.  Is it really about food or strategy?   It's IS a reality show.  And drama helps ratings.  Look how many people posted here.  "Oh the inhumanity!  How could Josie not be kicked off"! 

2.  If this was REALLY about the food then the judges would never know who cooked what.  Sorry but you have humans that base decisions on appearance, attitude, sex.  The only fair way to judge is to NOT know who cooked what.  How many woman (from past seasons) would have won if the judges didn't know who cooked it?

3.  Stefan should have gone home.  Having a bad host or waiters is the death of any restaurant.  You could serve 5* food but what people remember is the way they were treated by the staff.

4.  Kristen was in charge.  As was Sheldon.  So why didn't Sheldon know how bad Stefan was doing in the front?  If Kristen takes charge and the blame goes on her (which it should have) why isn't there blame on Sheldon?  

5.  Sorry Josie is a good chef.  She worked under Wylie Dufresne, Walter Hinds, Caroline Fidanza etc.  And I have had her food.  Caught her at Thee Parkside when I was in S.F. last month and it was pretty good.  Considering the Parkside is known for its insanity more then its food. Lol.

jasomoreni
jasomoreni

I think Kristen is the best chef this season, and i hope she comes back to the show from LCK. Having said that, don`t forget that she took all responsability, she didn`t say a word about what happened, how could the judges know? nobody said anything, i really didn´t see any other option for them.

crockakins
crockakins

First, I'm so glad you all abandoned the dreadful format of last season, which was a travesty and, generally, unpleasant to watch.  Going back to individual challenges where chefs really get a chance to cook, rather than watch chili cooking all night is a relief.

 

I read Gail's blog and Tom Colicchio's as well.  Yes, there are obviously things the judges don't see until the show airs, but it is horrifying that Kristen was sent home over Josie, who is an annoying hack, at best.  While I understand that you base sending people home, or keeping them, on single challenges rather than cumulative performance I honestly don't understand why you do that.  If a chef of Josie's low caliber can squeak by on each challenge, consistently landing in the bottom but not getting eliminated, she can conceivably make it to the final.  Whereas, a chef of Kristen's obviously high caliber who wins multiple challenges, both quickfire and elimination, makes mistakes in one challenge and gets sent home.  Where, then, is the Top Chef?  Josie????? 

 

I understand that we as viewers only see an edited version and that the judges actually deliberate for hours and hours.  If this is indeed the case, didn't any one of the judges have the presence of mind to say, "wait, something is really wrong with this picture.... we need to interview the chef's again" and really get to the bottom of the issue?  Kristen took the high road, fell on her sword and didn't throw Josie under the bus.  It just seems strange that based on the judge's knowledge of Kristen's past performance that they didn't sense that something wasn't right and continue probing into what really happened.

 

Also, I don't understand why being on a winning team exempts a lousy team member from being eliminated..... Stefan, case in point.  He was appalling and I'm surprised he wasn't torn a new one for the way he handled front of house.  He seemed to have toned himself down from his obnoxious behavior in his initial season but restaurant wars brought it out again in a triple dose!

 

Finally, what are Padma Lakshmi's credits that qualify her to judge beyond being the host?  She seems to equate herself with the other judges..... does she really have the credentials to do that?

linjeans
linjeans

This show has lost its integrity.  Jumped the shark.  Sold out to cheap drama ploys.  I was a real fan until this last episode.  It wasn't ONLY about Kristen going home - it was about catering to the reality show schtick of planted drama.  Josie was on Top Chef because of her abrasiveness - someone we're "supposed" to hate.  It gets old, and I really thought Top Chef was above that level of crudeness.  I'm saddened by that. 

usprimerbj
usprimerbj

I did not like the back handed comment above  " ...but she’s still a sous chef..."Kristen could run circles around 1/2 the Executive Chefs I know.  I know I have been a CEC and Educator for over 40 years.  No amount of rationalizing can justify sending Kristen home over Josie.  Eliteist attitudes have destroyed many  Chefs' and Critics

jbaker88
jbaker88

Gail, thank you for your intelligent and unbiased and truly descriptive view of the process and what happened in last night's episode. I have been a huge fan since Season 1 and have never felt the need to write before this, but I was just incensed at Josie's insubordinate behavior in last night's episode. I found her to be truly offensive, and the fact that she had a conversation on the deck with "the boys" and basically tried to tip them off to Kristen's strategy was not only horrible, but showed her true colors. I understand how the judges made their decision, and am happy to read today that if you all had the information that came out in the episode, the outcome may have been different.

Josie needs to go home and I hope Kristen makes her way back on Last Chance Kitchen, or some other way.

Best to you all - great television!

Joan B

raphael34
raphael34

I know Padma has a lot of input, but until this episode I didn't know she had an equal vote with the professionals.  She should just stick to host duties, she's OK in that role.

Myko
Myko

Now Gail you know Josie's slow ass should've gone home. Kristen thought Josie was going to tell the truth and be the stand up chick she claims to be WRONG!  Josie was already low on my poles now she's off my radar. She should be home watching the show like I am and that's just being real lol

joelbrazil
joelbrazil

I’m just piling on with all the rest. You’ve lost credibility with me. I can only think this was some kind of ratings scheme. No one in their right mind would have sent Kristen home at this stage; she’s not only insanely better than Josie, she’s appears better than all of them.

Joriko
Joriko

This latest elimination has brought back some old problems. I have read the blogs that try to shed some light into the reasons for this debacle (and haven't missed the fact that Padma hasn't said anything about it in her blog). I'm willing to give the judges the benefit of the doubt by accepting that they have no information on what goes on behind the scenes until they watch the aired episodes. However, that doesn't solve the issue as ti WHY they have no more information. There must be a way to give the judges more information.

 

There is another important issue with restaurant wars; an issue that has come up time and time again: front-of house. From all we've seen, a contestant CAN be sent home for doing a bad front-of-house job. There have been many examples of this, and in this very episode we know Stefan would have been dropped even with his food beeing good. However, we've also seen that a contestant CAN'T WIN for doing a stellar job! Remember Fabio's acing front-of-house during all stars and not getting the win even when also making a great dessert? Would Brooke have been awarded the win in this episode if Atelier Kwan had been on top? I don't think so... the win would have gone either to Kristin for being the exec, or to Lizzie for the soup.

 

There is, however, one way for BOTH issues to be solved. Have a person with knowledge and front-of-house skills as a guest for RW. Have said guest do front-of house for both restaurants (past seasons have showed us that it's not necessary that both teams serve at the same time, nor even the same day). That will give the judges an insider's eye in both restaurants. and let all contestants focus con cooking. After service is done, LISTEN to the guest. ASK questions like "What happened in the kitchen?", "How did the exec manage the staff?" and "In which of these two restaurants would you rather work if this was the real world?"

grndzro.ygtbfkm
grndzro.ygtbfkm

If josie had pulled her own weight most of the problems with Kristen's dished probably would have dissapeared. It was an ambitious menu that needed all 4 people working hard to succeed. Josie clearly sabotaged Kristen.

 

Josie pissed everyone off ans when you are pissed you lose 1/2 of your critical thinking. Josie should never have gotten this far.

jorgeadolfo13
jorgeadolfo13

The decision to kick kristen out is the worst decision i have seen in top chef, i am so disappointed that i will stop watching the show.

shysharon
shysharon

Gail, as  much as I'd like to punch Josie, you guys were wrong in picking the girls' team. Insulting guests trumps too little sauce. You would revisit a restaurant that served too little sauce, but never revisit where you've been insulted! 

 

And by the way, you guys did eliminate a team for the front of the house performance before, or lack of.....Italian kid, Blondie, lived in Vegas, season 1, maybe~the wine guy...can't think of his name!! That's going to drive me crazy now,

greatnanny
greatnanny

I have been such a fan of your show but to vote of Kristen was such a big mistake. She was an excellent chef. I will not be watching anymore of this season.

SonomaGuy
SonomaGuy

Dear Gail:  While I appreciate the rigor the judges and you undertook while evaluating the quality of the food, what is happening within your viewership is outrage/dialogue about the validity of the Top Chef franchise itself.  I also can't help thinking that somewhere Padma is seething that several hours of judging was reduced by the editors to her arguing one position.  Obviously what took place was far more complex.  What I believe Top Chef needs to do is to establish some sort of stable, repeatable judging methodology for "Restaurant Wars."  Maybe each contestant gets one "chit" for the quality of their food and the Wars' two leaders get an addition chit for having taken the lead.  Let each be judged for  their food and the leaders additionally judged for their leadership.  Whatever you decide, for the sake of your franchise you need to communicate, with transparency, some sort of change that prevents judgments such as this from occurring again.  While I don't think any of us believe that contestants are the "top" chefs in the world or the U.S., they always include "really good chefs who hold great promise."  We savor the art and craft of cooking and hope that what we're seeing results in the emergence of the best of those who are competing.  The feeling I am left with right now is that I'm watching "Mediocre Chef  Who's A Really Good Politician."  I can turn to CNN for the latter part of that.  What resonates from this  episode is that Josie was like the guys I went to high school with, the ones who didn't do their homework or study for the final, but who pleaded with their teachers and were able to get their grades raised just enough at the end of the school year to keep from failing.  The Top Chef franchise deserves better, as do its followers...as do you and your fellow judges.  It's time for a minor course adjustment.

icefan
icefan

I have watched Top Chef since the very first episode in season 1 and yes, today is my very day of posting on any Bravo show.  In all of the seasons, the decision to tell Kristen to puykag while keeping Josie was the absolute worst decision ever in all of Top Chef history!  

 

While I understand that the judges did not have all the information they needed, this should tell them that the format of Restaurant Wars needs to be seriously reevaluated!  As many others have said, the current format is that you pick the best chefs to become executive chefs for RW, thus grading them on a higher scale and higher set of responsibility (and thus higher risk) but then you blame them for the failures of other contestants without equally recognizing them for the successes of others.  You are grading the executive chef as though this were the real world, when in fact the Top Chef executive chef/contestant can't fire, remove, or replace the failing chef as you would in the real world.  

 

 

VanSpatula
VanSpatula

It was so sad to see Gail get it right during the judges' discussion, and then see Kristen sent off. Josie has no business being there at this point, and it was her irresponsible approach to the preparation of her dish that caused the breakdown. Someone on that team should have been honest and thrown her under the bus. It's really annoying to see her skate every week.

gini98382
gini98382

Once again "good guys finish last".  I am so disgusted that Kristen was not rewarded for not only taking the high road with Josie but for her outstanding performance so far.  She is an amazing chef and made a serious mistake by choosing Josie for her team.  I yelled at the TV when she made that choice!!  Josie is not a team player, shows little personal integrity and just brings down the overall competition.  She is a mediocre chef at best and makes me want to slap her...  She brings nothing to the competition but controversy.

I dont watch the show for controversy - I enjoy watching the cooking and the new techniques.

How sad that you compromise the integrity of the competition for ratings.  Very disgusting and disappointing.

Rosie1949
Rosie1949

I cannot believe Josie is still there.  She has made more mistakes than any other chef and always blames someone else.  She needs to go!  Kristen should have been saved!

nana4_1
nana4_1

 @ginger_64

 It would have been better to have been down one as to get one that would not take orders. Josie should have been gone way before this.If you are the boss then you are to act like one.My daughter had a place and her help was the pits.SHE was not the Boss.You cannot be friends with your help. You have to be a boss.

ginger_64
ginger_64

 @NativeCA

 Kristen didn't pick Josie over Stefan or over the possibility of being short a chef. I think Kristen was actually hoping to get Stefan (even though he wasn't her top pick) since she let out a groan when Sheldon chose him and she was left with Josie or Micah. Kristen did end up picking Josie over Micah, but she had no idea who was going home at that point. Josie's food wasn't good in that challenge so  in choosing Josie, she could have easily been setting herself up to be down a chef--she just didn't know. It's just unfortunate that Josie was even left for anyone to choose. So many better chefs have already been eliminated and probably any one of them would have been an improvement over what she got.

Mona_Munaki
Mona_Munaki

 @Tierney Not at the cost of other good chefs.  LCK is like quickfire with the same judge over and over and over.  Lousy idea.  Funny post, @Tierney 

shinyfirefly893
shinyfirefly893

 @zaphodduke You're absolutely right!  My ultimate question is, why were they even there to begin with?  They had their shot.  Why should they get a second bite of the apple when there are thousands of talented chefs vying for a chance to be on Top Chef?

Camillybug
Camillybug

@Joriko Excellent! Finally a solution to the front-of-house restaurant wars ongoing issue. You're right! Hopefully, someone at Top Chef ill hear this and take it to heart.

raphael34
raphael34

 @Joriko Good idea!  I've never liked that chef's are judged for service or front of house.  Unless all take a turn during service, not fair to whoever gets stuck with the thankless job.

 

Mona_Munaki
Mona_Munaki

 @shysharon Disagree!  Stefan made sure that all of the food arrived on time.  He failed to explain ONE dish.  The judges are not royalty and should consider themselves the same as other customers.  If other customers are hanging out and not wanting to leave, it shows that Urbano was a success.

shysharon
shysharon

 @KristenMcK Kristen, That's it! Good mmory! Stephen A....was I right? Didn't he get eliminated in Restaurant Wars?