So there you saw it -- the two chefs left standing, cooking off in a head-to-head competition, course by course. Live. Before the judges, of course, but also before the nine previous Top Chefs, in the hopes of joining their ranks before the night was out.
I can imagine that the format of this final challenge placed new pressures on our two remaining chefs that they hadn’t had to contend with before, as they cooked in front of an audience, had to juggle speaking with the judges while overseeing the preparation of their dishes, and served the audiences (including their own families and friends, come to cheer them on), the judges and the nine Top Chefs. They also had the pressure of getting feedback on each course right on the spot, which could provide a shot of endorphins after cooking a winning course and a shot of nervous adrenaline after a loss.
Because we were giving Brooke and Kristen that immediate, individual judge-by-judge feedback, we judges did not discuss the dishes among ourselves to reach a consensus…which, in turn, means that you the viewer were not let in as much on what exactly we were tasting and what our thought processes were in the judging process as you normally are. And so here is my more in-depth assessment of the dishes placed before us:
I find it interesting that they both decided to start off with salads. Both were good dishes; Brooke’s was a more interesting dish. Its big flaw was that the ears were overdone -- they were fried too much. We thought at first that CJ was erring in how he was cooking them, but it turns out that no, this was actually how Brooke wanted them cooked. Curious. At this stage of the competition, you first look at the dishes to see if they’re even good ideas, then you look to see if the dishes were executed the way the chefs wanted them to be, and were seasoned well. If so, then you look to see whether there were flaws. Was the salad overdressed? Underdressed? Kristen’s dish was flawless, but Brooke’s pig ears were overfried. You can see that we all thought so, which is why the course was handed to Kristen.
Well! I am very behind on the shows, here in Mexico we are on the repetition of the shows middle of season 3, however please allowed me to say that I became addicted to the show, is fantastic, real, and serious, things that you dont find in much food tv programs, my family and I are captured. Chef Tom C. we really respect the way you manage the program (as a head judge) giving for us (the audience) a way to really belive in this program, I will keep watching each show (my daugthers, wife and soon ask me to record the program every day).
How did Kristen end up with the last 3 eliminated and Brooke ended up with folks eliminated early on...? The episode said they chose their sous chefs, but then Brooke said she was shocked and wasn't expecting help.... Rigged much?
I am one of those who finds the 'drama' of the Josies and the Heathers to be enough to stop watching. I know that Bravo thinks it makes people watch, but it is a big turn off for me. The cxamaraderie and good sportsmanship of this season made me want to watch more, and I was about done after Texas. This is what good competition should be. I hope the producers realize that we don't want to see ugly back biting. Cooking beautiful food, personal growth, good feelings, thats what I want.
This new format did not allow us to see all the dishes Kristin and Brooke had planned. I felt cheated that I didn't get to see their dessert round! Both chefs are equally talented & very likable. This sounds like a broken record, but Kristin should NOT have been eliminated in the first place. So glad she was able to redeem herself. BTW, where is the Top Chef Reunion show??
i might agree with the reasonable view that once you're out, you're out of top chef. but if you look at this season's chefs, each of the ones who made it to the top could have been ousted on more than one occasion in previous episodes. if kristen had stayed as opposed to josie after restaurant wars, brooke, unless kristen would have had an even worse day, could have easily gone home during the fried chicken episode. david chang felt she should have gone home. i am glad that instead of last season, when ed didn't get a second chance when ousted by beverly, that josh got that second chance. but if LCK is the reason there had to be a six month hiatus, then i don't know if it's worth it, as it took people out of the competition element, made them lose momentum, and the challenges and responsibilities of their day to day lives seems to have affected the outcome.
things i didn't like this season was how unfair of a burden it placed on winners of the previous challenge to be responsible for the concept of restaurant wars, how that unfair burden made it easy for someone to give up too much responsibility for their dish as well as for someone to take it-- although that's always been present during restaurant wars, this season highlighted it even more. maybe this is why the finale format was changed because otherwise, it would seem redundant?
the finale format- gross. this isn't iron chef. previous seasons and even up to this finale has been about cooking your own food. talk about pressure, especially if you lose the first round. also, i feel that judges should have written down their votes, instead of announcing one by one. i mean, what happened to deliberating for hours over the entire course of the meal? i understand not being swayed by fellow judge's decisions, but then take blind ballots please. what happened to being given the chance to cook all courses? for the most part, in the past, while there may have been an extra course thrown in as a curve, the proteins weren't picked for them. it was like 4 LCK standoffs instead of a finale that really gave them a chance to express themselves, creating their own environment, working with their sous chefs without an audience whooping and hollering.
that said, kristen is a fierce competitor and perhaps more deserved the win to have kept her composure so well despite this season's curveballs. brooke didn't go down without a fight and the chicken wings were obviously a misguided maneuver, and it's too bad we didn't get to watch the last course. it seemed like brooke had insecurities and hangups (fried chicken wings, wanting to show she could win with or without kristen being in the game) and kristen was riding a tremendous momentum. all in all, it was great to watch them perform, especially since i admire them both.
I enjoyed this season but hated the format of the finale. It's so gimmicky to do a "live" format. I agree with someone else that it was like "ready, set, cook." We didn't get to hear what the judges really felt about the food, and I agree that it was clear that Kristin was going to win because there was no time left. It should be 90 minutes and ditch the live version. The chefs shouldn't have to work around that. When is season 11?
I dont get you guys..you complain about Kristen being sent home and now your complaining about her winning LCK and Top Chef......I dont understand whats the fuss about every comtestant who was eliminated had a chance at LCK and Krsten who is a great chef happen to win.....I am pretty happy with that even if Brooke would of won i would have been happy love both ladies.....CONGRATS KRISTEN YOU DESERVE IT :)
How about a longer finale, 90 mins, going back to first/second season format of five courses and the chefs control their entire menu. I was so disappointed when it went to a three person finale with 3+ a "surprise" course, then season six was worse with the mothers sprung on the chefs and then not staying for the entire meal, and then season 7 had Colicchio and Ripert picking proteins. Go big and let the chefs control their destinies, whatever they may be. The judges are more than capable of picking the best with different proteins.
I enjoyed the family interviews and the feature spot on previous winners - but I would have skipped those, happily, for more depth of judging & more discussion among the judges. Maybe the judges could take notes for each course, without revealing their choice? Then have judges' table afterwards. I wanted to see them cook all of the courses, and not know who won until it was announced.
I hope the live finale was an experiment that demonstrated the previous way to judge finalists was more thorough in evaluation and engaging for the viewers. Seems inappropriate for the judges to have to make a call on the spot with the stakes so high--as if it were an extended quick fire challenge. And there was a curious lack of drama and tension, it all seemed too arbitrary. The interviews with family members was a major distraction and unnecessary. Emeril waffling between Brooke and Kirsten on one of the dishes made me doubt his judgement. In fact, the assessments of the food by the judges was cliche laden and uninformative. "Depth of flavor" could have qualified as a drinking-game term. Hugh Acheson's comments were border-line rudimentary. And DVRing the episode and watching it the next day made it clear after 50 minutes or so that Kirsten was going to win because there were only a few minutes remaining in the program. I'd recommend reverting to the prior format where the finale had more gravitas, and make it between three chefs again.
I like the idea of the final episode but overall how it was put together and edited made it difficult to watch and left me upset that so much seemed left out. I was pleased to see the Chefs had good help instead of the mixed bag that is usually offered up(I would have been so pissed if Josie was there). It was not a surprise that Kristen crushed Brooke. I am not sure why you were surprised by the chicken and then also surprised by "sides" that didnt' match, all Brooke seemed to do all season is cook simple meats really well and add a pickled beet that stood out like a sore thumb. I think it would have been more interesting with Sheldon but I think in the end it wouldn't have change Kristen winning. Congrats to Kristen.
Gorgon-Zolla AugustaGa Gorgon, it seemed that Richard was probably better than Stephanie in his year. He certainly had won more challenges but he lost that competition to her and noted that he deserved to lose it.
Gorgon-Zolla Wow, you're really not much of a person are you. Stephanie the Caucasian won by the way. Brooke only won one dish and even then she barely won it. I'm sorry that for you the best food has to be White European food but there are other types of great foods in the world.
loved this season!! Great chefs, challenges, it was more about the food which was great. The finale was such a let down though. What an awful format, it just ruined it for us. The talk to the family segments were painful, there was not enough talk about the food and of course we all knew who was going to win due to timing.
I agree that having this season food focused and not the drama was more enjoyable. Loved how the chefs got along and besides a couple, there were very talented chefs. Looking forward to next season!
Tom, you need to wear more casual clothing....the show needs a less formal tone....i didn't watch all of it this sason, because of the pomp and circumstance.....I can understand wearing a suit for the finale, but my Aunt said you look like a trial attorney on the Bravo tv ads....suits are business attire..that signify formality....when you are invited into a viewers home via tv, we would like to see you looking more approachable and comfortable...why dress in a manner that you would not wear into a kitchen....then we have the contestants who look sloppy....they should wear Top Chef T shirts and khaki pants, to show some uniformity...they are a mess with their denim pants.....you can wear denim as a judge, but they need to be in clean looking pants...
FlutterBy You have shown that you're not in the demographic for this show. That's not a criticism; just an observation. It suggests to me that perhaps <i>Top Chef</I> isn't the program for you. Many of us find it 80 percent appealing just the way it is.
I love Top Chef, and have watched every season. I know that the producers wanted to change things up, but I really disliked the final episode format. I prefer the old way, where they cooked their 5 courses, and you judged them between yourselves. The new way just made me feel like I was watching "Ready, Set, Cook". I also found the interviews Gail did with their families extremely cheesy. Also, the little movies about how they got there were stupid. We already know their background stories. I sincerely hope that the original format returns. I don't think i will watch the show, take the time to become invested in a chef, and have the finale become an old 90' cooking game show.
Unlike many others who have posted, I liked the format of the finale with the exception that the clock running out revealed the winner. Kristen and Brooke are both very talented chefs and I would have been happy with either winning. I loved Shelton! Regarding LCK, I like the fact that it provides an opportunity for chefs to redeem themselves. It needs two improvements:
1) there should be more than one person judging 2) when the show tells us to watch LCK online, sometimes the delay is 10 to 15 minutes...since it's filmed already it should be immediate.
i absolutely agree, it was obvious who the winner would be because of the time....overall I enjoyed the finale it was pretty cool and different. I think they should have let the chefs cook all 5 courses and they annouce the winner at the end of the show the judges jus vote each dish privately before revealing it ould have made it a lil different.
Don't like the "last chance kitchen" concept. Brooke got to the finale by competing with a tough group of chefs each week, while Kristen not only lost one week, but then only had to compete with one chef to move on. Finale format removed all suspense. Presenting Iron Chef style would have worked better.
@Knance You are mistaken. K competed against 5 chefs in LCK. she beat them all soundly and one of them twice. She clearly earned her way back in and clearly won the final. Congratulations to her.
I disagree (not just with you, lol, but with anyone who talks about LCK)- to me, in the LCK there's nowhere to hide. You have to cook, your dish is judged against another dish. In the regular competition, you just have to have the dish that isn't the worst- you can hide behind all the other competitors. That's how we end up with people going farther than they should- they didn't have the suckiest dish one week, so they made it through...
I do think, though, that maybe a blind tasting on LCK would be a better way to go, but, that being said, I don't doubt for one second Tom's integrity- I don't think his mind was made up ahead of time. (hope so, at least)
LCK is really a ploy designed to drive traffic to Bravo's website allowing them to increase their ad revenue, which I really have no problem with as long as it is entertaining but it very importantly also has to have legitimacy. However in its current set-up I cannot say it does. The current format absolutely should be changed (or LCK eliminated) because it is not fair to contestants who have to slog through repeated full elimination challenges (and in the proces being judged by a full panel of judges and often also by the diners) to then lose a spot in the finale to someone who has to please just one judge in a series of quickfires. The process with one judge allows for way too much bias and Tom was clearly and obviously biased towards Kristen.
While I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories, it almost seemed like that the decision was taken at some level that a contestant from LCK (Kristen in this case) would have a series of wins in LCK (deserved or not) so an argument could be made that the individual had "earned" their way back into the finale.
Regardless, if LCK is retained then the winner of LCK should have an additonal hurdle before simply being allowed back into the finale
Btw, the finale was absolutely awful, way too predictable and frankly boring. And as much as I like Padma, I echo other comments that her role in judging should be limited
I LOVE what you said about an 'additional hurdle'. Maybe the winner of LCK should be let back in the competition earlier, maybe at the final 4 (have the final 4, eliminate one then add back in the LCK person)- that way they aren't going directly from LCK into the finale- they still have to perform with the group;...
ahagan Well, they do have an additional hurdle in that she had to beat Sheldon to make it to the final.
Winning Last Chance Kitchen is not deserving of a trip to the finale, Put that person back into the mix with a few rounds left to go, Winning a bunch of 30 minute challenges with only one judge is not the same as what Brooke, Sheldon, Josh and Lizzie had to go through towards the end. Lame.
My relationship with TC is over. I knew from the moment Kristen came back she would win as they all gushed over her ability to make it back. When they judges have been eating Brooke's food all along and now they get "something different" they have changed the playing field. Oh well I'll eat at Brooke's restaurant any day and find something else to do with my time.
I'm finished watching this show...I feel once someone is voted off the show, stay gone!!
Brooke should be the winner...
Thanks, Tom, for outlining your thoughts on the finale. The format was problematic (lacking deep information on the food and the process), as many people have observed and as you seem to have acknowledged on your Twitter. But overall, it was a GREAT season with minimal petty drama and maximal amazing food. BUT more important, I want to say (1) watching Top Chef over the years has helped to evolve my relationship with food--THANK you for that. It benefits me, my children, my partner ... And (2) thanks also for the work you and your wife and others are doing to bring to light the ongoing problem of hunger in the United States. It's not just good marketing to promote the documentary alongside the Top Chef finale; it's appropriate that as chefs and viewers celebrate elevated food, we take the time to learn that basic nutrition is wrongly out of reach for many of us. <3
One of the best Top Chef seasons ever! I've watched since the beginning, and I especially loved the respect and friendliness among the chefs. And I was rooting for both of the finalists because they both were so talented and worthy. The only thing that perplexed me was I don't remember ever hearing Sheldon mention his family until we saw them in Part 1 of the Finale.. Editing or maybe he just wanted his personal life kept that way?
@karen.clark.52687 Yes! I was confused about Sheldon's family, too! Thought it was just me.
We absolutely LOVE your show - it's our favorite. Having said that, however, the finale left us flat. Hated the new format, we never ended up seeing what they chose and why. Also, if you're trying to truly figure out who is the best chef, having them serve 160 plates of food like that didn't necessarily give you a better end product. I completely understand that - on the 10th season - you may want to shake things up a bit and try something new out. Kudos for the bravery! However, this format for the finale was your worst. Tom, please pack your knives and go...
Worst finale yet! I was already skeptical on whether I wanted to watch it or not because Sheldon who I thought was the best chef there wasn't in it, but the fact that after the 3rd course you knew who the winner was by how much time was left on the show really sucked. I have watched every season of top chef start to finish and this was by far the worst! Not sure i'll be viewing next time around.
@cmurphy Sheldon is not the best of the three. In fact he is third, the place he finished. Sheldon cannot compete with Kristen, or Brooke. They are on a different level. GET REAL The season was good, except for the finale format. DON'T WATCH
I think Sheldon would have competed better against Kristen. Brooke cooked the same boring well cooked stuff meat with an odd pickeld beet to the side she has always done and is why Brooke got 3 Votes against the 11 of Kristen.
Have to agree hated the new format there was no room to questions who the winner might be due to the amount of time left in the show! Also the whole thing felt very rigged , as the closing credits state the producers have a say in who stays and who goes, it is not entirely based on the judges so right there the competition aspect is severely compromised and production value steps in. It felt as though after Kristen was prematurely asked to pack her Knives it was decided she would be the great come back kid and win .Yes she is obviously talented but It was clear as Tom was shoveling down Stephan's dish on LCK , that his dish was a clear winner, then low and behold Kristen won again... same thing with Lizzie's dish. Also what is up with Padma's obvious hatred/distaste for Stephan
I do want to add that the finale had waaaaaaaaay too much filler that was a waste of time and most had seen already. Again more proof that the producers are not about the food. You could have shown more detail and interaction in their efforts and even interviewed the previous TC winners and alumni, let alone the judges as well. Poor choices all around and a boring finale that should have never been so with those two amazing young women.
Did not like the finale format at all. The Iron Chef format the producers borrowed would have been fine if you'd have kept the judging to your old standards of taking in the whole meal afterwards or at least used all the I.C format for judging the whole meal by a ratings system to be tallied at the end.
This season was in some ways more enjoyable in that aside from poor Josie really being over her head on a professional and personal level and unintentionally being the source of contention, the group was most often getting along and even helping one another. John at times being the rare exception. But otherwise, T.C. despite the integrity of Chef Tom, Gail, Emeril and many of the great guest judges, the producers continue to water down the best aspects of the show and shoot themselves in the foot, by bringing on the likes of Josie, clearly a young woman who's probably fine out of the limelight, but just can't get herself together while in it.
This season you've turned TC almost into a crazy survivor type show with now three ways for eliminated chefs from previous seasons to come back. Last Chance kitchen was indeed a way to save a chef like Kristen and others before her who were among the best but through some quirk (often enough happening in Restaurant Wars) was eliminated over worse chefs. Now you're also bringing chefs back from previous years and adding fans the opportunity yo save a chef each week? What will be next? I know, have the eliminated chefs be sent to a deserted island and through a series of obstacles courses and survivor-like challenges see who comes out on top!
The producers of Top Chef have always been far more about the angst than the food. It always undermines the judges and leaves fans with a poor taste in their mouths (pun very much intended) for all the crazy oft-times nasty things that happen on the show. Ironically this was one of the casts aside from poor Josie and sometimes John where the group as a whole got along and were helpful to one another. That was one of the bright spots of the season.
But all in all TC does not want to be about the food and you continue to lose viewers to better cooking shows. If only you'd get out of the way and realize that people do want it to be about the food, not the nonsense or the latest way for fans to save chefs.
Al21 "If only you'd get out of the way and realize that people do want it to be about the food" Amen.
I thought the finale format was awful. I turned it off after the second course. Go back to the original format, allowing each chef to cook and serve a complete meal. How else can the judges get a real sense of what the chef is thinking, their skill in putting together a full dining experience? I enjoyed the rest of the season for the most part. It seemed that the chefs had a higher level of respect for each other. Or maybe the editing was better?
Absolutely love the format of the finale. It's different, fresh and gives the chefs an opportunity to cook under more pressure. The tension between the two chefs was evident. This whole season has been fab! keep doing what you're doing! :)
I think if you wanted to do a new Iron Chef-style finale, you could have done a better job with the timing so the outcome wasn't so obvious. With all the Padma filler talking with the previous winners and only a couple minutes left in the show, it was quite clear Kristin was going to win the last round. Go back to the regular finale - let them cook whatever they want for the judges, not for a stadium of 300 people, eat all of their food and decide who made the best meal overall.
I overall liked this season, however I must say that the season suffered from the premature elimination of Kristen. Yes she fought back and yes ultimately she won (deservedly I might add). The fact is she never should have been eliminated. She was eliminated because the judges were ill informed. The judges did not know all the fact. The point is the judges could have know all the fact because everything was filmed. That means you had camera people and producers on the set at all times who knew was was going on. This available knowledge should have been passed on to the judges. My suggestion is that you create a reporting mechanism where the facts are transmitted to the judges so they can make informed decisions.
Last chance kitchen was fun although this season many of my friends believe that Tom favored Kristen to make up for the earlier mistake,
I look forward to the next season.