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.