Hello for the last time this season, my little burnt pig ears. Well, we now have a new Top Chef, and I for one am exhausted. For this final episode, we changed up the format a bit, putting finalists Brooke and Kristen head to head with their previously selected sous-chefs. Watching the episode gave me a serious hankering to re-watch this year's Bocuse d'Or and Hugh Acheson's hilariously sleep-deprived live-tweeting of this year's event. i could have used a dose of Thomas Keller and some angry Frenchmen...
Both chefs were tased with creating five dishes and the only requirements were to use scallop for the second course, snapper for the fourth. Otherwise, they had all the freedom they could ever ask for, which should be a good thing. Ultimately, though, this may have been to Brooke's detriment. To win, one chef has to win three out of five courses.
"Are you ready to share your tiara?" Gail asks Stephanie Izard. Oh, she's ready. It remained to be seen if Brooke and Kristen were ready. I think Brooke was pretty nervous, which was made painfully clear when she couldn't remember all her ingredients. And, seriously, who wouldn't be? Let's dive into the dishes.
In general, I'm pretty happy with the judging. I've yet to see a show with such high standards and such legends as guest judges. The judges aren't the only ones making the decisions, so I wonder if perhaps the Josie drama and possibly some of the LCK winners were chosen by the producers & network.
Oh and please don't bring back former Top Chef contestants who didn't make it the first time. They can be on the Top Chef All Stars or something. I agree with another poster that it was disrespectful to the people who worked their way onto the show to have to battle these other chefs who already had their chance. We want up and comers, not people who've already lost one time around.
And - where was the Seattle chef? Since it was Top Chef Seattle, I really wanted to see a local Seattle chef on there. There are plenty of them who are spectacular, why didn't even one of them make the show?
I think the finale this time around seemed a little more gimmicky and rushed. Knowing the length of the episode and the "first one to 3 wins" took the suspense out of it (rather than add to it). It's great that the Top Chef team are experimenting since so many of the ideas you guys come up with are great. But this one I think came up a little flat. Producer Tom, please pack your studio finale and go back to the drawing board.
While I applaud the choice of Kristen, this was perhaps the worst produced and edited Top Chef episode ever. The format didn't allow us to see the chefs planning - and barely executing. We didn't see them select their teams. It was over-filled with recaps we'd seen many times, and the judging format defied rationale. The judges didn't get to confer - and watching them do so can be half the fun. And the contest was over before the meal was - and could have been a course earlier. The live format meant we had jarring voice-overs from Padma throughout. I know that being live was supposed to add drama - and maybe it did for the chefs, but it failed for viewers.
The last episode was missing 15 minutes of footage. How did they choose their teams? What was the last dish? Did the judges really make calls within such a short time period?
LCK: People who dislike it have clearly never been involved in a double elimination competition. Or were sore losers. I love LCK because everyone has "off" weeks and clearly only the top skilled get to the end. Josie wasn't there, was she?Nice Iron Chef feel, poor execution.
I absolutely agree, the decision came down to the same judges each time...not quite fair. It has always seemed that Tom, as the head judge, sways the decision, this time being "live" it was blatant.
I had dvr'd the program and kept going back, thinking I had missed how the previous contestants were choosen by the finalists to assist them, which is always part of the fun, but that was missing as well!
I was very disappointed in this finale, both contestants were talented, gracious and well deserving of the top chef title, which they proved during the season. The finale should have given both of them their time to shine, but it fell short!
Probably the first time since I started watching Top Chef that I wasn't rooting for one chef over the other. And the audience knew we were in for a treat because both chefs throughout the season and in LCK proved themselves to be incredible chefs. I knew I'd be heartbroken and thrilled at the same time.
Look, Kristen didn't step out of LCK into the finale. She still had to battle Sheldon and Brooke in a challenge. And had Sheldon not stumbled by focusing on going beyond his comfort zone, he and Brooke would have battled it out in the finale (well I think so anyway). And had Brooke not chosen fried chicken as her 3rd course, it could have gone to the dessert round. It's a competition where even the tiniest misstep cost them dearly and the new format did not allow for any recovery.
And yeah, about that format... Split second decision (on a course by course basis!), the flash backs, interviews? Forget Iron Chef, felt like I was watching American Idol. Blah! At least the elves listen to the fans and hopefully that'll be the last of that game show format.
I must say it's not easy to please everyone!! There are always complaints about the secretive judging process and confusing discussions between the judges in the past season finals. But now when the comments are open and judging are quick, people complain, too. The complaining really needs to stop, people! I really enjoyed this season's final, and I really appreciate the show's producers for always trying to make top chef more exciting.
Tom, we got to see a Sheldon and Brooke back home and at their restaurants. And it was amazing. But I really wish we got to a little more of Kristen at her restaurant and her family. Don't you think it's silly that the Top Chef winner didn't get the same treatment?
I don't usually read this blog, as I am most interested in Tom and the other judge's comments. However, since the production team may have more input on the final product shown to the public, I want to plead with you not to totally gut what makes Top Chef one of the most watchable shows on television. You don't have to totally remake the series each year. It's great to get to meet the up and coming chefs, see different regions of the country and their special food, have inspiring visiting chef judges and learn about great food. LCK was a fun innovation, but I think having a "chef favorite" join the ranks is a little disrespectful. Bring those folks back for another All Stars. LCK is about fighting your way back and skill - period. Bringing back former season winners could have been utilized a lot better. We already like them, let's hear from them. I don't particularly care how many restaurants or awards they have; but I would like to hear their points of view. Finally, don't short change the finale with spectacle over substance. If you cannot do it in 60 minutes, extend the show. Bravo has a gem here, and I don't think an extra 30 minutes is going to break the bank.
I seriously hated this finale. I think the contenders deserved better that a game show format. I truly hope top chef returns to the format used in seasons 9 and 10.
@mjn It seemed to throw Brooke off completely....i saw the panic on her face....i agree, the format was kind of like a medieval jousting match....the adrenaline that caused was completely different from being in a busy kitchen...i don't think it was that fair to a person who had panic issues....
I have watched Top Chef since its beginning. Although I agree Kristen is a great chef, I totally disagree in bringing someone who had been eliminated. Her or any one else. Second chance kitchen, should be, in any case, a show in itself. Sheldon and Brooke had stayed on top of the others, and it should have been the two of them competing head to head. It was not fair to bring an eliminated chef back to compete. They were the top chefs of the season( Brooke n Sheldon) , and the finale should have been between the two Top chefs. After all, isn't that the name of the show? It was very disappointing to see the new format. Very unfair!!
I totally agree, it seems like everyone got a second chance except for the final three, the three who did well because they were the ones left in the end. It is not fair at all. Perhaps the winner of LCK should come back earlier and not to join the final three, that's just too unfair.
Oh thats just great, we get to the finale, and the jolly green giant burns the pig ears.....so special
What happened? The new format was so BORING. Geez. I wished I had recorded it on TiVo so that I could fast forward. I hated the judge voting. Some good tension is built up when the judges discuss among themselves what was good and what needed work. This was just flat. I liked both finalists so I wasn't disappointed in the result. But the show was disappointing. All of the cuts back and forth... Snooze. All of the chit chat with past top chefs... Snooze. All of the clips from earlier in the season... Been there, seen that. Not exciting at all. What a letdown. Please go back to the old format. You took something that wasn't broken and didn't fix it. You made it boring.
I love Top Chef & look forward to each season. However, I did not enjoy last night's finale. I am sure it was fun for those in attendance, but watching it on television was a bore. I would have preferred seeing both chefs prepare their entire meal, followed by the usual discussion among the judges. I hope you will consider returning to the old format next season. I am not fond of the Last Chance Kitchen concept. Although Kristen is obviously an excellent chef, the fact that she was eliminated, but ultimately won the title of Top Chef is questionable. I think she should have fought harder to stay on the show, the night she was originally eliminated.
I really liked the food centric nature of this season and hope that continues. It would have been nice to introduce the teams, but if you've been watching, you knew who was helping out. The one big issue I had was the lack of discussion about the dishes and why the judges were voting the way they did. I would have liked to hear some of that instead of little interludes of banter with the other Top Chef winners etc.
I really really love Top Chef, but I seriously hated this finale, which was really disappointing because I was excited about the 2 finalists. We've all come to accept the occasionally absurd twists and turns that occur during the season, but before this year there was always this unwritten rule that the finale would be gimmick-free- at least that was my understanding as a fan, and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment. This year, however, you broke that rule and the result was frustrating.
Many others have pointed out specific flaws, and I agree with most of them- the lack of introduction to the teams, the fact that you new Kristen was going to win in the fourth decision (the worst offense for me), the lack of input from 2 out of 5 judges for 3 of the votes, the lack of discussion amongst the judges... The list goes on and on. By the end I wasn't excited and full of anticipation like I've been every year (half the fun is trying to guess who won!), I was literally yelling at the TV.
Please never do this again. Seriously, if this is how every season will end I will stop watching the show. DON'T try to get creative and fancy with the finale- just put the finalists in a nice kitchen, don't rush them too much, and let them cook their dishes. Don't vote after every dish, and let the chefs finish every course. Seriously, although this wasn't the case this year, voting by dish is a terrible way to decide- If chef one squeaks out a victory on three dishes and chef two dominates the other two, then chef two probably had the better meal.
And just a little P.S.- screw Tom for being so pretentious about the chicken wing. If something taste amazing it shouldn't matter what it's made of. And frankly it takes more skill to make a chicken wing taste amazing than plopping down some raw uni on a dish and letting it "speak for itself."
Enjoyed most of the season...the calibre of chefs was great, and totally enjoyed the tenor of friendliness (other than that twit John) amongst the chefs.
A few comments. The finale should have been 2 hours, and included the picking of the sous chefs (shocked! that Kristen ended up w/Lizzie, Josh & Sheldon...never saw that coming), as well as all 5 courses of the meal.
Liked the Kitchen Stadium thing...although there's enough pressure that the chefs should have been cooking for maybe 60 people only...judges, past winners, family & friends. Send the chefs backstage for the judging. Perhaps give the past winners a "collective" vote. The judging discussion is an important part of the show for us viewers!
The "bios" should have been scheduled last. (They were nicely done). All courses should have been served before judging. The immediate judging up or down, without conversation amongst the judges, didn't work well. It should have been a "cook your ideal meal" challenge....specified ingredients could have been included. I didn't mind the chefs introducing their food and concept...to me, it's an integral part of the challenge(s).
I like the LCK format. It separates the wheat from the chaff, and makes up for drunk judging fiascos (YOU Padme). It's a good insurance policy.
I hate team challenges early on. Too many of the best chefs get eliminated, while the mediocre ones like Jose (and alas, Josh, nice guy, but!) get moved on. These challenges in a team should be head-to-head, member vs. member on opposing teams, for high/low spots. Weed out the losers for their stupidity...not sacrifice the team leader.
The BEST QF's are the ones that demonstrate SKILLS to your viewers (we're foodies). The two favorites that come to mind are the Bourdain fish fillet and also in Stephan's first season, where he had to filet different types of seafood (eel). Cleaning/prepping veggies & fruit (peeling apples, chopping onions, opening oysters, etc.) Oyster challenge this year was GREAT! Teach us viewers, via the QF, great tips and ideas! We want information and inspiration!
Finally, great job to your production team....for ALWAYS bringing us the great locales (and locals). The helicopter/dog sled episode was awesome. As were the guest judges this year. Loved Emeril & Wofgang Puck, so kind and empathetic and encouraging. Tom cracked me up in his own kitchen.
On the whole, a great season....but there IS room for even more improvement.
I was very confused when I started watching the finale last night--it went straight into the stadium competition and I thought I'd missed an episode, or at least 15 minutes of footage somewhere. I like to see the contestants pick their teams, and at some point there was a reference to "Team L.A." which only made me feel more out of the loop.
As others have mentioned, it was obvious Kristen was going to win when the episode was almost over and they were voting on the 4th course.
I was happy for Kristen to win, but I'm not sure how I feel about LCK when there's only one judge (no offense, Tom!). As for Save-a-Chef, that just seems silly--how many "second" chances do there really need to be?
It would have been better if Kristen weren't eliminated in the first place. I've seen the judges do a much better job of eliciting information on what went wrong, but maybe that footage ended up on the cutting-room floor?
This was the worst finale show I've ever seen. On any BRAVO show, let alone TOP CHEF!!! I LOVE Top Chef, and for the season to end like this was just such a let down. Please don't do this anymore. I hated the way each chef was judged on each course! It was terrible! Leave that format to the other cooking contest show. I cannot say how much I hated this. I have to say, if this is to be the new finale format, I will no longer watch the season.
This finale was such a rip off of Iron Chef. I hated the live format, not being able to see the thought process that went into each contestants meal. Also Bravo needs to get rid of LCK. It is completely unfair that an eliminated contestant got to walk right in to the finale. Brooke and Sheldon should of been in the finale. Also, how unfair is it that Sheldon was eliminated but never got a shot at LCK?
I was rooting for Kristen, so was overjoyed with the outcome. I liked this year's finale. I think it's smart to limit the chefs to the same protein in two courses. And this finale was superior to the year Hung was named "Top Chef" live on air. I would have preferred the finale to be a little longer, though; I would have enjoyed more feedback from the judges, and perhaps how/why Kristen and Brooke chose the sous chefs they did.
This finale was not suspenseful in the least, and the "new format," seemed stale from the beginning. There should have been at least five courses, and I did not like the course-by-course judging. And, if they have to cook for that many people, than why not have more of the diners judge the food as well. It would have been more interesting to w-a-i-t a little bit for the final outcome. Also, why didn't the winner of LCK face one last challenge before being selected for the finale? Didn't seem quite fair to the other chefs.
Additionally, I have some real issues with some of the ingredients utilized by TC, including sweetbreads and pigs ears-- and who the hell seriously wants to eat bone marrow and liver? No wonder the liver has to be transformed into a "mousse," to make it palatable.
This is the 21st. century--how about utilizing more sustainable ingredients, and perhaps try something not so 1970's? I used to see those types of dishes on menus when I was a child living in the Bay Area. Something new please!
Unlike many here, I did enjoy this episode. I thought the live format was fun. But I do agree that my DVR tipped me off to the winner when I saw how much time was left. I knew there wouldn't be time for another course. That was a little disappointing. All in all, though, I appreciated seeing a different spin on the finale.
Congratulations to both Kristen and Brooke. Just getting to the finale is a major accomplishment. And I loved how humble and gracious they both were on Watch What Happens live. Kristin is Top Chef, but both those ladies are winners in my book.
LCK while fun to watch was a 30 minute challenge of 1 serving of 1 dish. Since Kristin won Top Chef it almost invalidated every episode of the TV show after her elimination. Almost fulfilling Brooke saying if she lost everyone (including judges) would say she "only won her challenges because Kristin wasn't there". LCK is 1 commercial and 6 minutes on line. Now is that what we should plan to watch instead of the regular show? If I was a commercial sponsor I wouldn't like that. I think if L C K continues they need to make it harder each time and not give equal chance if they get back on the TV show.
I was glad both Brooke and Kristin made it to the finale, but am thrilled Kristin won. However, I truly hated the format of this episode. It had the promise of something potentially awesome to watch but it completely missed the mark. If next season's finale has the same scoring course by course and no actual judges table deliberation, I'll probably skip the episode and just read the blogs the next day. This was so disappointing.
I was a fan of both chefs, while I was pulling for Brooke, Kristin got it done. However, the final challenge format was awful. Tom said in his blog (and I paraphrase) that some decisions can be changed after discussion. Kristin would have probably still won, but I would have like to see them all do the complete meal.
Also, I love LCK and the whole concept of getting back in, but Tom should not the only judge. Say what you want, he did have favorites.
Also, I watched WWHL....why didn't anyone ask about Stefan? I loved his and Kristin's relationship, the way he called her wifey. Did anyone notice that during the final he said that he had picked out the color of their baby's room? I love that guy!
I agree with many others - loved the season, not wild about the finale. One of my favorite aspects of the finale is (usually) seeing the final 2 cook their best, inspired and excited. In this live format, losing unanimously the first round really intimidated Brooke (which is understandable).
Also, in round 2, why did Padma vote before Hugh? Hugh is a judge; Padma is a host. She should have been the tie-breaker.
Seriously I cannot even begin to say how much I absolutely DETESTED the live finale.
What a total let down that was. I about you never ever do that again. I hate the live stuff and it was so unfair to the chefs and also to be judged like that on each round rather then the over meal was a joke. I hated this show. A bunch of filler stuck in and it was just awful to me, hate hate hate it. What a total disappointment to a very great season. I beg of you to never try this again.
This was a good season with a lousy finale episode. I didn't like the "Iron Chef" format with howling spectators, and I especially didn't like the lack of suspense at the end! With five minutes left on the clock we knew immediately there was no fifth round and Kristen won. Very poor programming choice by the producers. As a personal note, I wasn't crazy about Emeril Lagasse as a judge and hope he's not invited back. His remarks and critiques are inarticulate and he seems to follow the crowd rather than expressing a distinct personal view.
Great show, terrible final format, IMHO. When you are judging the fourth course at 10:55 PM, you get the idea you aren't getting to the fifth course. Plus, Top Chef is NOT all about the food. The judging is, the show isn't. You actually learn to care about these people, at least how they are edited. Stefan is a great example: a villain in his initial season, here he's a good guy. So you do have to understand the manipulation. But, since we do care about the people, how were the sous chefs selected? How did they interact? Why bother to bring in the 9 previous winners and get so little of their comments? To have so many covers, with so little to really distinguish what they did made it different. And yes, it's needed to stay fresh. But not this way.
DarylMR I agree. I would have liked to know how the sous chefs were selected as well. Why would Brooke choose CJ? He certainly did not help her with the first course, after burning "pigs ears." And, it would have definitely been great to hear more of the previous winners and their comments. It seemed forced and a little weird.
I'm sorry, but I feel the judges felt an attack of conscience for eliminating Kristen (especially after they viewed the episode) and did everything they could to keep her in the competition. Brooke won challenge after challenge which was certainly harder than one dish at a time once a week in LCK. Sorry, folks, but I think Brooke was robbed.
It just doesn't seem right that the winner of last chance kitchen had equal advantage to win TC. In order to be fair, I believe there should have be an additional expectation to enter as an equal finalist. After all, the battles that Brooke went through as she advanced through the season were much more challenging than Kristen's LCK weekly challenges.
bravobomber Then the judges shouldn't have sent Kristin home in the first place, and she could've continued her winning streak.
Brooke only started winning AFTER Kristin got sent home unfairly.
bravobomber I totally agree. It broke my heart when Brooke said she "wanted to prove to herself that she hadn't won all of those challenges simply because Kristin had been eliminated". Brooke was so much more deserving.
totally wrong...LCK is one on one and one goes home. In the regular show you just have to be better than the bottom chef. You can have a bad night and still skate through...As evidenced by josie and josh lasting so long.
Wasn't wild about the format. Setting aside that the stadium atmosphere seemed forced and contrived, I have two suggestions for improvements. First, if part of the task is cooking 160 covers and impressing past champions, factor that into the scoring. How about instead of just the 5 judges voting, their is a past champion vote and an audience vote, each based on a simple majority? Second, don't reveal the scores until the end, or let each judge pick which contestant did the best overall, rather than judging course by course.
No problem with the winner, but extremely poor format. The run time lets us know if there's another course or not, so no suspense on the verdict. The "best of 3" with 5 judges means we do not always get each judge's opinions. I'm not referring to the lack of smoke room "deliberations", it's fine to have their comments off the cuff like that, but we want to see each chef comment at least. Half the fun of being a chef is knowing how other people like your food, and that's something you didn't let the audience share in this go around. Way too much filler of the past contestants. Personally in finales I like seeing the build-up to the meal, knowing whether they got the sous chefs they wanted, whether it was a dish they'd just thought up, and how available or unavailable ingredients influenced a dish's conception. Well, we didn't get that either. Not well thought-out at all, please do not do again.
I completely disagree with Vic. Top Chef is my favorite show (even beats Modern Family and Big Bang by a hair), and I've watched since mid-way through season one. The Josie Drama was more than enough for this year, and this excellent final episode showcased exactly what I hoped to see: two driven competitors battling for the prize with minimal interference.
I love this show, and loved this season. This is a bittersweet moment for me because while I was on the edge of my seat tonight, it'll be a long, long, long wait for next season. Hoping that I get Masters to tie me over until then, and also really looking forward to the Psychs in LA show. Hope it isn't *too* melodramatic!
Tom is excellent and embodies (at least on screen, and hopefully in real life) what I admire in talented cooks/chefs, Hugh is still hilarious but seems to be a bit too thrilled with dressing salads, Gail is insightful and I am glad to see Padma taking an ever-increasing role from her debut.
Top Chef inspired me to try new food for the first time in my life, and I'll never have enough good things to say about the show. This season was the best, even better than all-stars or Year of the Voltaggios. Please continue to conceptualize and implement challenges like the first and last; while I thought it was ridiculous to see Kristen's co-worker fail to make it through the initial round based on television drama (I DARE you to say otherwise! Double Dog Dare you. Seriously), it was AMAZING to watch Tom's group and this last episode.
So from one grateful viewer, thank you! This show has honestly changed my life in a very positive way.
I have to agree with Vic. I'm happy Kristen won, but the format was horrendus. Top Chef turned into Iron Chef for a night. Weak. Also there was no suspense. If there's only four mins left in the program then obviously, no fifth round. Really terrible idea by production staff. Good season overall just a pitiful way to end.