I liked this week’s challenge: asking the contestants to make healthy dishes inspired by dishes from the prior nine seasons was a great way to both push the chefs creatively and to acknowledge this tenth-season milestone that Top Chef has reached. This was a great challenge: moving beyond snarky soundbytes that might make for dramatic moments here and there, the challenge asked this season's chefs to focus on the food from seasons past, which is where I believe the strength of this show lies. At the end of the day, I am proud of what the show has brought out in the chefs season after season, and I would like to think that the show’s longevity is due to the food it has inspired. I know that this is what the challenge intended to capture, so I would prefer to keep the focus on the dishes, not the drama.
Along those lines, I am sorry to see that people still believe that Alex stole Ed's pea puree he used in Season 7. We clarified in that season’s reunion episode that he had made his own pea puree. There were six cameras running in that kitchen that day, I was there doing my typical rounds, and producers abounded. Not only was it impossible for Alex to have swiped the pea puree, but it’s clear from footage that he did, in fact, make it. I hope that this week’s episode did not perpetuate the fallacy that he didn't. Alex was wrongly defamed by his co-contestants in Season 7 -- his integrity should not be further maligned now.
Looking at what came out of this week’s challenge, there was a lot to be pleased with. I can’t say enough about Kristen’s winning dish -- it was beautiful. I’m always excited to see a young chef conceptualizing food in new ways. Most people faced with making a healthier pot pie would stay stuck in the notion that they had to make a pot pie with a crust. Kristen said, “I don’t need crust,” and yet she managed to make a dish that hearkened without question to chicken pot pie. Her chicken was cooked perfectly, her sauces were seasoned nicely, and, when taken as a whole, the dish delivered on its promise -- it was a healthier dish inspired by the pot pie from Season 8. This type of approach separates the chefs who rise to the top from those who don’t. They are willing to think about food differently… and they have the chops to execute their vision.
In my opinion, Josie and Kristen should both have gone. For that matter, Josie shouldn't have been there to start with. Everyone seems to be overlooking that it was Kristen's team that lost. Someone was going home from that team. So, even without Josies ineptness, the dishes made by Kristen herself were still judged as poorer than those made by her other teammates, ergo, who should have gone home? Kristen! All the bs with Josie was just the icing on the cake.
TOM: in all my years of watching Top Chef -- and I have watched every season - I have never been SO FURIOUS as I am tonight, after watching Restaurant Wars. Kicking off Kristin instead of Josie was an absolute outrage. The Judge's Panel's 'this is a tough decision' dialogue was nonsense -- you know perfectly well that Josie doesn't step up to the plate, that she can't manage her time, and Kristin's instinct to take the high road is certainly no reason to vote her off! You're not voting on who makes the best excuses! -- you're voting on who executes, who has talent. I am both disappointed and outraged at your appalling lapse in judgment on this occasion. This was a no-brainer, and you guys really, really dropped the ball. This wasn't a tough choice at all - it was patently clear who was unable to deliver. So you make your decisions based on speeches? I didn't know we were watching 'Top Speech' - or should I say 'Top Excuse'?
I really, really hope you read this; because you need to know what a lapse this was on your part. YOU DID NOT DO YOUR JOB!
Why oh why is Josie still in the running, when she has blown it time and time again? Is it because she was brought back with CJ and Stephan, and TCM wants to keep them in as long as possible? She just seems to me a terrible chef and the others like Lizzie and even Mical are better than her! Josie needs to go! She should have gone long ago in my opinion!
It was fun seeing the clips from previous seasons, but I found this elimination challenge particularly confusing. I think making dishes based on dishes made during previous seasons is a great idea, but the chefs were told to make dishes based on "memorable moments" from previous seasons. I just could not figure out how "I'm not your b****, b****!" translated into a dish, much less how someone was supposed to make a "healthy alternative" of it.
I have no idea why you are being so difficult with some chefs while so placid with others. The judges seem so divided. What is wrong?
Love all you judges, but y'all got it wrong tonight.. Josie should have been gone long ago. Why do you guys keep her when even on tv it doesnt even look eatable.
So glad you mentioned that about the pea puree! I never believed he stole it! So annoying when people bring that up!
If you watched the episode he did steal the mis en place. I have no idea why they did not pursue it.
I did watch the episode & I don't remember that part. Perhaps I need to re-watch it. It really is irrelevant at this point though. If Tom doesn't think he stole anything, then that is good enough for me.
This episode put some of the awfulness of Season 9 into even more stark relief. I didn't think that was possible. The stronger focus on real cooking - creativity and mastery - is such a relief. Please forgive, Chef C, if you're tired of hearing this, but I'm bathetically grateful.
What was John doing spreading his risotto out in a baking sheet? Don't know of that technique.
GardensGrace It's a way of cooling down the rice, before a last-minute finish at cooking it before service.
The judges said that some of the grains were undercooked, some overcooked. It sounds as if Tesar did at least two batches, then mixed them for service. That he didn't detect the inconsistencies probably means he didn't bother to try them beforehand. Cardinal sin for a chef.
singingscallops GardensGrace I think it's more likely that Tesar didn't give the risotto the constant stirring it requires. Had he done that, it would have been all undercooked, all overcooked, or all correctly cooked, but it would have been consistent.
It's a testament to the quality of the chefs this season that Stefan has taken a backseat, both in terms of his cooking and his personality. Remember how he was beating his chest in season 5? He seems almost intimidated this time around.
For all the reasons you mentioned, I'm rooting for Kristen to win the whole shebang. She seems to be focused, inventive and enthusiastic; I think she has a bright future ahead of her. Re: risotto-I seem to remember Fabio being able to handle that particular dish so it CAN be done, flat pan or not.
Tom - Top Chef is the best reality tv programming on the air today. I believe that your contribution as a judge is one of the things that pushes it to the top. Many thanks. I also enjoy reading your blogs. They are beautifully written as well as edifying, and I really like the behind the scenes viewpoint.
I watched the reunion show. As far as I remember, the facts presented during that show where that no footage existed of anyone stealing or on any other way disposing of the pea pureee prepared the day before, but that no footage existed of Alex preparing any pea puree the final day of the challenge either. If such footage exists, I would love to see it.
Tom: I must say your demeanor and overall attitude this season seems to be a bit grumpy and irritable. In past seasons you were more of a mentor and your critiques were to the point and constructive. This season your judges table commentaries are over the top cut downs and seem to have taken a sarcastic, angry tone. One gets the impression that you would rather not be there. Maybe it's time for a new judge.
kicksave7 Disagree completely. I think Tom is just overall disappointed in the lackluster performance by the chefs this season. Remember how last year they cooked for Charlize Theron and Tom said it could have been the best dinner ever served on the show? Nothing will come close to matching that performance this year. Kristen and Brooke are probably the only 2 chefs that can cook with the final 6 chefs last year, and thats not even counting Nyesha. This year is a down year talent wise for Top Chef.
John never really bothered me until this episode aired, now it's like he's just making one excuse after another. Then he starts trying to sabotage Lizzie because he didn't feel he deserved to be there? meh. Even if he did keep the silly pickles Lizzie could have won by cooking a better burger. Hell, she could have used a cucumber and called it a fresh pickle.
On an unrelated note, I do wonder how healthy choice would have done a frozen microwave version of beef carpaccio...
I felt the same way! John hadn't really bothered me until his last episode and I felt he was treated pretty badly by the other chef's based on what they had heard or ready about him. However, his arrogance and selfishness (taking ALL the dill that Lizzie had retrieved from the pantry and was gracious enough to share) was clearly the John the other chef's had been experiencing all along and the viewers didn't get to see what they were living. I was actually happy, and not in a joyful way, when John was sent packing. His departure comments made it even more satisfying that I wouldn't have to see that mug for the duration of season 10. Leaving the oven doors open to keep things more convenient for him while sharing it with Lizzie was another example of his sense of entitlement and lack of respect for other chef's.
They say when you cook with love and a good attitude it will show in the food. How has this person gotten as far as he has in the culinary world? He showed his true self on the last episode and he seems to be a miserable and unhappy person. Good riddance.
Hopefully Josie is next. Another angry chef that I will not miss and look forward to her being told to pack her knives and go!
Terrific episode – loved the info about the knives, loved the skills challenge, nice way to twist it up a little, and it was fun to run down Memory Lane. The cookoff - "10th season moment" took me completely by surprise – I'd forgotten Padma mentioned it earlier, and I was really glad Lizzie got another shot. I just noticed last week she's been in the top four times – that's half the episodes at that point – and never in the bottom (until today), so though she hadn't won, she was doing well. Love the extra video on Modernist Cuisine Labs, wish it'd been broadcast, I might've missed it. Great season – whatever's serving as the inspiration for this season, remember it and keep it going.
How can you gloss over the fact that one of the judges received an incomplete dish from Kristen? He is clearly heard saying he didn't receive the sauce that the rest of you did, and an error in plating like that should be worthy of a DQ, as it has been in previous seasons. She didn't complete the task.
I don't think that should have mattered. Wiley was at the judges table. While I have complete respect for Kristen, it appears she has been chosen in the judges mind as the Golden Girl. She will have to really mess up to get sent home. I also wonder how well her de-constructed chicken pot pie will work frozen. Guess I will have to buy it and try it.
If people still believe the stolen puree story it's because that's the way it was edited and left by the show, not because there's an anti-Alex movement. Most people don't watch the reunion shows, so not much chance for clarification of the original impression there.
Eunice69 Alex has appeared demo-ing on Recipe.TV, and he's very good in front of the camera and also comes across as a really nice guy. Maybe [i]Top Chef[/i] wasn't the right venue for him.
Besides, having seen Ed in action since his TC days, I'm considerably less impressed with him than with Alex.
Always the least favorite comp. We want to watch the chefs make food we can't get at home. And can we just talk about LCK??? CJ, really?
SusanCoyote Re: LCK - indeed, CJ again? Really? From what Colicchio said about the two dishes Tesar's dish was praised more than CJ's, except for the extra saltiness. Huh?
I enjoy your insight and no nonsense approach to the show and what it is about, every time, making good food. I watch the show, religously, and have learned allot about food and cooking methods. The drama is a bit unsettling, but I realize it is just part of having a group thrown together. But seriously, what is up with so many Cheftestants, this year, calling each other out in front of the judges. I dont remember that from past seasons
This was my first time watching Top Chef, after hearing from friends how much they love the show. How could you and the other judges have allowed a contestant who served "off" seafood to stay on the show? Shouldn't the first test of a quality chef to be who would not give his/her customers food poisoning? Knowingly serving bad seafood is inexcusable. Lizzie should have been eliminated.
Melonita Julietta1 I did read Tom's blog. He said that she fairly ended up in the bottom 2 because she served 1 of the 2 worst dishes. I'm saying that's beside the point. A chef can't ever serve food that s/he knows is spoiled. She knew it in the kitchen and it was obvious to the judges when they saw or smelled what she brought to the table. How could they not rake her over the coals and then eliminating her?
Julietta1 Melonita Any other episode they would have, John was right, they shouldnt have been in a cookoff, because it wasn't a tie. But like Tom said, it was a predetermined cookoff between the bottom feeders, regardless of the mistakes they made. Last week, yeah, Lizzie would have gone home in a heartbeat. John had a second chance, he unanimously lost to Lizzie in the cookoff. She escaped, just like Josie did with the undercooked turkey that lost the challenge for the team.
This was my first time watching Top Chef. How could you and the other judges have allowed a contestant who served "off" seafood to stay on the show? Shouldn't the first test of a quality chef to be who would NOT give his or her customers food poisoning? Knowingly serving bad seafood is inexcusable. Lizzie should have been eliminated.
John really was clinging to an excuse. A risotto requires no wide, flat bottom as a cooking surface. Paella, yes. But not risotto. John should take an excursion into Vienna in the near future. A chef at one of its seafood restaurants makes risotto in a very physically challenging way, requiring a good amount of hand-eye coordination. But he uses a simple pot.
It's clear that Kristen is the front-runner. I'm still holding out hope for Brooke and Lizzie. And Kuniko?
singingscallops Although Vienna is believable considering Wolfgang Puck makes great risotto and teaches others how.
I also am a fan of Kuniko. She has displayed the most class of anyone that was eliminated. Hope she makes it back through the voting.
Great episode! I am also enjoying Kristen, as well as Brooke, coming up with creative and delicious concept. I would never have dreamed of a crustless chicken pot pie. Your suggestions about how Lizzie might have handled the bad scallops situation were also good. I had thought she had an unfair disadvantage; but I guess part of being an excellent chef it thinking on your feet. The LCK challenge was brilliant. Was that your idea to show John a thing or two?
Chef Tom, if you see this post, please answer. It's keeping me up at night? Whose framed photo keeps popping up in the Last Chance Kitchen?
I'm shocked! What happened to John? He was in the top nearly every challenge and quickfire! Did he choke? Even with his attitude and excuses, I really thought he would go right to the end.
lovethefood Did you not pay attention? He was in the bottom several times and deserved to pack his knives. He continually made excuses about equipment and anything else he could blame. He thought he would have won this last go round, if he'd kept all the pickles to himself. What is that? What about winning with a level playing field? He got exactly what he deserved.
Thanks, Tom for debunking John's unfortunate attempt to explain his loss and for exposing his less than admirable attitude and disposition in competing in the show. Given his resume working with the best names in the business, I am sure he is not an ordinary chef but I have an idea what is keeping him from reaching the top.
John is such a whiner. He was not gracious whether he was on the top or the bottom. He needed to learn to work cooperatively with others and focus on his own food. I'm glad Lizzie was able to make a great burger even though she had to work alongside that jerk.
Done watching this season. John easily is the best chef behind Kristen, and the silly mustache dude is awful and whines and complains all the time. Probably last episode to watch since I doubt it will be picked up again. It almost has become too much The Next Food Network Star, which is one of the worst programs to hit television.