Gail Simmons

Gail reflects on the neck-and-neck competition between Nina and Nick and why after an arduous Judges Table, Nick came out on top.

on Feb 50

Bravotv.com: For this final challenge the chefs are tasked with creating a four-course menu and a restaurant for the evening. Do you want to start by talking about their approaches?

Gail Simmons: I think they both had a similar approach in that they wanted to show us how much they’ve grown, how much they’ve changed, and the breadth of their cooking ability. I think they both came really prepared, which was amazing to see. They both had very clear visions from the beginning of exactly how they wanted their restaurants to be run, exactly how they wanted to cook. They chose sous chefs who they thought would be able to deliver that in the best possible way. So it was really an exciting finale, also because it was such a close finale. It was really up in the air. There was not, in my opinion, an underdog or clear winner whose finale it was to lose. I think in the past, not always, that has been the case. For me at least, this was a neck-and-neck race, which was great. It made us really excited to see what they would actually cook.

Bravotv.com: Why don’t we start with Nina’s restaurant?
GS: Well first off, our judges were really fun to be with. David Kinch from Los Gatos, California, who I’d actually never met in person before but I had been a fan of and known about for a long long time. I know his girlfriend well. Takashi Yagihashi a Top Chef Master from Chicago. Paul Bartolotta, who has been on the show with us and been in other finales before -- I think the last finale he was in was in Signapore, and Morimoto who has a restaurant at the Andaz where we were staying in Maui and obviously spends a lot of time in Hawaii and is a fish genius to say the least. So it was great to have them their and have their knowledge and insight into the food. It was really exciting for all of us.

Bravotv.com: So now, why don’t we talk about the food at Nina’s? What did you think of her decision to branch about beyond the four dishes, by adding the breadfruit and the papaya skewer?
GS: This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen someone make extra courses, or provide a little extra touches in their dishes. I liked what she chose to do. I have to say that the two things she chose to do -- the breadfruit appetizer at the very beginning with the foie gras butter and then the papaya skewers were amazing. They both added a lot to the meal in terms of how well they were made and how thoughtful they were. That papaya skewer was the perfect sort of palate cleanser. It was cold, icy, and delicious. And the breadfruit was a great play on a bread course and it was also very delicious.

The only reason that something like that becomes an issue is that they are using their time and energy to put towards making these things when there are flaws in the four dishes that do count the most. So you kind of wish, if you they hadn’t been preoccupied making theses dishes they could have thought through something or made the other dishes better. Sometimes your main dishes suffer because of it, and in this case specifically her swordfish and her dessert were definitely not perfect. We all sort of felt that it was a shame that she gave us these amazing things that we couldn’t really count in the body of her work, but that dishes that we did have to really examine weren’t exactly as we hoped they would be.

406 comments
hdhuntr
hdhuntr

I was fine with the judging this time. There were 4 winners. The whole season had a lot of talent. I don't look at these comments every time but when I do they always look pretty much like this about someone. Remember that poor guy from Denver that was so hated? How many seasons ago was that?


The show is not going to tank. I see things to complain about now and then but I love the show. REALLY missing the reunion show.

ctanabe
ctanabe

Absurd. Both Nina and Shirley were robbed. Nick and his tasteless bland food couldn't possibly have won. I want bravo to give me back the hours I spent watching this season, it all felt pointless, the worst aftertaste. Irritating was Nick talking about how he's doing it for his wife and kids every episode. We get it, you have a family, so does every contestant in Top Chef. THE FINALE WAS BULLSHIT!

Kat2014
Kat2014

I won't be watching Top Chef next season.  The Taste with blind tasting seem more fair.

juka
juka

Disgusted with the judges. Nina was robbed. Will not be watching Top Chef any more to boost their ratings. I hope the show tanks.

brady898216
brady898216

Sorry but Shirley should have won,listening to Nina and her constant ,I'ts all about the caribbean  and Saint Lucia became irrtating after a while

upset_with_season11_topchef_decisions
upset_with_season11_topchef_decisions

I just finished watching the top chef finale and all I have to say is, what were you judges thinking??  i don't normally write comments/blog i couldn't be bothered, but i find myself so upset with this finale result.  Again, what were you (judges) thinking?  First of all Nick shouldn't even have been in the finale, Shirley CLEARLY deserved to be in it.  She won so many challenges mesmerizing judges along the way!  She is obviously a better cook than Nick...no brainer there.  Your method of judging is flawed, and all the feedback you're getting is a testament to that.  When you're at the top 3 or 4 you have to judge their performance historically as a whole, otherwise you have some pompous disillusioned cook who was barely getting by and who almost got booted several times end up wining the whole thing.   How can that make any sense??  Watching the finale, I had a hunch Baldy had a disturbing partiality towards Nick.   He was the only one that had negative remarks about Shirley, and for some odd reason Nick was picked not Shirley.  Watching the finale only assured me of my hunch. I told myself that I would never watch top chef again if Nick's name was announced, and he won.  I will never watch top chef again.  I'll stick to The Taste, thanks. All I have to say is Baldy has got to go.  Oh my blood boils!

cloudninegirl
cloudninegirl

I will no longer watch Top Chef. Nina is, by far, the superior chef in every way, and she was robbed. She has consistently shown herself to be an excellent chef, and for Nick to win is a JOKE. Shame on you, Top Chef. You lost a dedicated, loyal viewer.

DangleParticiple
DangleParticiple

Gail, you've always seemed to take a fair, reasoned approach to judging. Too bad that the only opinion that "counts" is Tom's.

erika.byrd2
erika.byrd2

I am a big fan of Top Chef, but i am so mad that Nina did not win! She should have won! Nina cooked with her whole heart! Nick should have been off a long time ago! How many times was he at the bottom? Also he messed up his team, and someones dish who was better than his, was booted off! Are you serious, he cant cook anything, this show is so unfair! I will not be watching this show anymore! The judges are all wrong, they never considered the fact, that he was on the bottom a number of times..nina was on the bottom two or three times! I hope Nicks fails because he knew he did not win fair and square! Nina needs to get her own show and make the judges cook for her, and see if they really are great cooks like they claim they are! So long Top Chef, i am done with you for good!

johnanthony
johnanthony

It is a little sad that people are casting such surly remarks Nick's way. I don't know what a lot of you were watching, but he is clearly a very skilled chef. The salt issue was blown way out of proportion. Does anyone really believe that Tom Collichio, who is one of the best, most passionate chefs/restauranteurs of his generation would insult the culinary world by basing his decisions on things like, "Yeah....he's my white boy Nick!"  Absolutely absurd!  And Gail Simmons has always seemed to me to be (in addition to being incredibly beautiful!!!!) a very fair and articulate judge. Nina is obviously a brilliant chef too, but this is a competition and things do not always go they way you'd think! I love TOP CHEF!! I can't wait for the next season!!

dgonzalez33
dgonzalez33

I am not sure how Nick was not illuminated earlier in the show.   I agree that he sprinkles a little salt on his dish for the first time, and the judges praise him as if they have never tasted salt before….I think I have watched my last season of top chef


lourie.zipf
lourie.zipf

B.S. what a bunch of baloney. This show has lost all credibility and mark my words, I'll bet it will be cancelled within the next couple of years. How sad, because it used to be so good. No more Top Chef for me....how these "judges" can stand by this ridiculous and UNFAIR decision, is beyond me. 

sapna46664
sapna46664

ridiculous "white boys club" playing out with the way that tom was just blindly rooting for nick.  nick stole  his way to the top and consistently had a poor palate -- what kind of "chef", forget a "top" one has to be continuously told to use one of the most basic ingredients -- salt!!!   nina definitely deserved to win and is the stronger chef.  such a shame, we used to like this show but this season was too much.  they consistently boxed nina in to "island food" even though she cooked a whole range of things, and never gave nick or any other white chef the same critique for continuously cooking standard "contemporary american" food. 

zumdana
zumdana

I think part of the problem too was that Nina set the bar so high for herself in being amazing.  Then Nick actually puts salt on a dish and the judges went crazy because virtually every challenge his food ranged from bland to horrible. 

aggiegirl
aggiegirl

This show needs a complete makeover. It's getting to be the same every time. Maybe it would be better if the judges did not know who made the dishes. I think it's all a set up and after this finale, I'm ready for something else.

hdwb
hdwb

is there not going to be a reunion for top chef new orleans?  bummer.

joeincali
joeincali

Art Culiaire #106

Carrots four (or five) ways...

Please Nick.


He is the worst kind of chef... he is simply a plagiarist who passes these dishes off as his own and gathers arrogant confidence by hiding behind the food created by others more talented than himself (by criticizing him, you're actually criticizing the star chef whose dish he copied, so in his mind you're an idiot... hence his arrogance).  He is as painful as watching a season of the Voltaggio brothers show the world what it truly means to be pretentious and that arm tats are really what make you cool.


Do a better job of casting chefs who give pride to our industry.

zumdana
zumdana

Nina was brilliant the entire season.  Nick seemed to fail upwards in the entire show.  How hard is it to put salt on something? For about ten episodes I kept waiting for him to go home.  I feel like I wasted my time watching this show to have a complete bullshit finale.  I won't be making that mistake again next season.

queenofelsewhere
queenofelsewhere

What a disgraceful ending to the 'reality' show you call 'top'. You should have chosen Nina. I live in Aspen, have worked in the food & wine industry and welcome you to town each year. But you just lost a viewer and promoter of your movement. Shame on you for selecting a brat who couldn't cook his way into McDonalds. "Low Chef"

shmokeee
shmokeee

Will not be watching next season after what I saw this season. 

dscholey
dscholey

Pathetic.  I'm really disappointed but it was clear from the last few programs that they were setting him up to win.  Final should have been between Shirley and Nina for so many reasons beginning with the elimination of Stephanie.  Then to yell G'd at the staff so loud customers could hear it was just unbelievable.  I also think that there needs to be some anonymity to LCK.  Sorry, I do like Tom C. but it feels like a set up.  I'm really not sure I'm going to be watching next time

PuppyMom
PuppyMom

This season was awful. There was no way Nick should have won. I guess it doesn't matter who does the best...it's just who the producers want to win. Plus what an insane jerk. It's no wonder that when his last restaurant was taken over by a new owner everyone was rehired except Nick!

neelikac
neelikac

Nick should have been eliminated a long time ago, he was a whiner who under seasoned his food.  Nina was a star, as was Shirley and even Carlos.  Nick is the Taylor Hicks of Top Chef.

stayconnected97@gmail.com
stayconnected97@gmail.com

I just caught up with the finale and I'm shocked at the result. Nick was such an under-performer throughout the whole season. He never impressed me from the beginning. 

And in the finale, it was almost as if he made his team contribute to what they make best and stamped his name on their dish; it was not inspirational at all. Unlike Nina who talked to her team and used their skill to create her dish. This was a very disappointing outcome. I mean throughout every episode when the fans got to rate who should get eliminated, Nick was always on the top to get out! He should have been off the show long time ago. 


I think that the performance of the winner should have been judged from the whole season and not just the meal of the night. I mean, if they solely base a winner of $125K on one meal, then why drag it out for weeks, just get it done in one night, like the show CHOPPED.


This was a LAME decision from the judges and you it's obvious with the amount of unhappy fans on so many levels. Seriously considering not watching this anymore...there are many other shows out there that can fill my time.


churchill
churchill

What utter crap that Nick won!!!! I've been a devoted watcher of Top Chef since the beginning but I'm officially done with the show. I'm pretty sure Tom Colicchio had a man-crush on Nick because he was going to do what it took to get him to win no matter what. Maybe Nick will now leave that wife and kid he wouldn't shut up about to go run off with Tom. Gail's vote was also seriously disappointing -- I thought she was more impartial than that. They clearly had some bias toward frou frou French crap. Nick should never have been there to begin with -- he was piss-poor mediocre throughout and skated by every round. It should have been Nina and Shirley at the end but Bravo was clearly determined to make it a man-woman competition. Shame on the judges too for not even giving any consideration to the fact that Nina dominated and Nick sucked the entire time. And that's a bright idea -- giving Nick money to run his own restaurant -- because we all saw what a terrific boss he'd be. He'll probably stab the servers for getting an order wrong. Gee I wonder why the servers didn't perform well at his restaurant -- could it be that he yelled at them before they even started?!? The problem with Nick is that he's just a horrible person. He acts like he's the only one with a family ("Oh, but I have a kid, did I mention I have a kid, I'm doing this for my kid, wait did I tell you I have a kid so now I have to cry"). Everyone has family - get over it. At one point in the show he said that when the restaurant he worked at got bought it, the new owners get every employee but him and that made him mad. Hmmm, maybe that should force you to look in the mirror why you were the only one no one wanted. Maybe it's you?!? His borderline racist rants toward Carlos were also disgusting. Whenever the pressure was on, Nick's true nature came out -- and it was just plain bad. Just like the judges' piss-poor decision. Goodbye Top Chef!

jsmimi
jsmimi

I knew about five or six shows out that that Nick was going to win the finale.  It didn't even matter who was up against him.  Nothing against Nick, but it seemed that no matter what he put on the plate or didn't, he was going to make it to the next round.  Maybe next season will be better.

gina.cavalli.5
gina.cavalli.5

Just watched my taped version of the finale and well like most of you I couldn't be more disappointed.  Nick was inconsistent throughout the season.  He also showed several times that he is a misery to people that work with him -including in the finale.  Nina and Shirley should have been in the finale.  We don't get to see the entire discussion but judges he blew it this time and quite frankly we are considering making this our last season. Tom sorry pack up your knives - were done.

aidandyl12
aidandyl12

The thing that really bothers me about this season is when Nick made the WORST dish possible in the French/Spanish faceoff and because he had immunity Stephanie got booted, even though she had the BEST dish that night.  I hoped at the time they would do the "we won't eliminate anyone" move that night because it seemed so unfair.  Anyone who says that Stephanie had LCK as her potential comeback, I dispute that.  I liked Louis, but I think the fix was in for him to win LCK-- and then look what happened when he got back with the others.  Nick was on the bottom a lot, and I really wonder what would have happened this season if he got eliminated when he should have, which was when Stephanie was made sacrificial lamb instead.  So that's my major gripe. 

Becollinson
Becollinson

I hate that Nick won Top Chef, I have recently retired as Exec Chef for over 30 years.  I hated that he was so selfish and  I realize it was a game, but ... my very last straw was when he cussed and said, G damn it. and it appears that customers heard it in restaurant. . That should have made him been disqualified immediately. I know that in my past restaurants, if the customers heard anything like that, that person was fired immediately. The days of yelling, screaming and making your crew feel like nothing are in the past!!!! I cannot believe that Bravo has allowed this.  I have been watching Top Chef since day one and this is the first time I believe you are wrong.  Letting Nick go forward as Top Chef with his anger problems that were apparent on TV, who knows how much goes on behind the scenes.

ebbe
ebbe

This season was a travesty. Yes Nick was consist throughout the season with under seasoned food, as Tom pointed out. The irony of the whole season culminates with the best dish Tom had all season being prepared by Jason. That demonstrate Tom hypocrisy. 


Tom choice this season was between Louis and Nick, I cannot for the life understand why he settled on Nick. The judges said, ok we have a tie, lets look at service. Due to Nicks outburst that should have sealed the deal for Nina. 


Unfortunately for Nina she there was no way she was going become the winner


Nina Compton rocks!

GCabot
GCabot

Nick should not have lost his temper, but he was completely justified in doing so.


We have all seen in previous restaurant wars episodes how a bad front-of-the-house can ruin an entire service. Waiting tables is not that difficult a job.  It is not unreasonable to expect that one's waitstaff be reasonably proficient and professional.  Yet, Nick's waitstaff could not be bothered to show up to work on time or perform their most basic function of promptly and accurately transmitting orders to the kitchen.


If you were reliant on the performance of others on the most important day of your career and they were as incompetent as Nick's waitstaff, you would be just as pissed off as he was.

Lovienya
Lovienya

I think there were a lot of chefs better then Nick.  We can't taste the food, but there were SO many shows where they complained about the lack of seasoning in Nick's food.  He had a temper and acted like a baby with Carlos. Someone wanted him to win and he won, I mean you always know the person that's most filmed and controversial, is going to win, but it still makes me mad every time. LOL I finally forced myself to quit watching the Bachelor shows, and Survivor, and Top Chef is now done in my book,  too. Please, point me to a reality show, where the winners are REALLY the winners, and I would love to watch. 

MundaneInc
MundaneInc

Nina = Top Chef

Nick = Top Chooch


Nick should've been out weeks ago. Most undeserving TC champ of all time. I guess karma doesn't exist in the kitchen. There's no way that a guy who single-handedly torpedoed his own team with two AWFUL dishes should be Top Chef.


Please eliminate individual immunity on team challenges. It's imminently unfair for one chef to send another home because of his incompetence. 


Haven't been this pissed off after a finale since"The Sopranos." KMFA, Top Chef.

rocallug
rocallug

I know we don't get to taste the dishes, or even get a true representation of the judges' deliberation process, so I had never before felt upset about a finale. And I really trust the judges good faith.

But this one really rubbed me the wrong way. All I can tell myself is that in real life, good people rarely win and it's the manipulative ones who end up on top. And this is a reality show after all. Also the judges are not there to judge the contestants character, but their cooking. This I have to keep telling myself.

So Nicholas, the self entitled hypocrite with the martyr complex won Top Chef. Fine, it happens. Some of the other contestants walked out with their heads held high and, more importantly, got publicity for their careers.

TCFan4321
TCFan4321

They always say Top Chef 101 that if it's under seasoned you get voted off by the judges, but at that level of the Finale, Nick having under seasoned food, he just doesn't get it and he still wins... That's not consistency at all, or maybe they are judging about the consistency of his underseasoning.

pmcollector
pmcollector

I had DVR'd the finale so I didn't watch it until a few days afterwards.  I am so thoroughly disgusted as it seems are many other viewers.   I just can't believe that Nick, who was rude and underseasoned his dishes again won!  If we are this upset, can you imagine how Nina feels?   I can't say I will never watch Top Chef again, but I truly hope that the judges and the producers read our comments.  If you don't have integrity in how you judge, than this competition show shouldn't continue.

TCFan4321
TCFan4321

I like Top Chef, but it shouldn't promote or reward bullying or bad behavior.  For me I think Nina should have won.  She was by far the best besides Shirley.  Shirley and Nina should have been in the finale.  Nick hasn't grown as a chef all season, he ended up having two under seasoned dishes, and has been criticized about it over and over.  How can Emeril not be able to eat his duck, and still judges can decide that Nick was the best one.  Technique is awful, Management is awful, he is condescending to the staff in the restaurant, you hear him yelling in the kitchen from the dining room and he still gets a good point.  I thought top chef rewards underdogs that deserve to win, and are good hearted like Kristen from last year or the first winner Harold, they are more inspirational, or people like Shirley, and Nina.  I would never even eat at Nick's restaurant, nor advise anyone to work for him.  This decision was by far the worst one.  Worst top chef season ever!

erinm421
erinm421

I have been watching Top Chef since the very first season and this season I said if Nick wins I will STOP watching because Nina was very much so the way better chef the WHOLE show she was on top.. She rarely made mistakes and Nick was on the bottom a few times.  I was also thought she would be the first black female who won I believe.  You def lost me as a viewer!!

chocllatte
chocllatte

Nina will go on to be a GREAT chef. That other guy will be a after thought! It's sad because he know's he didn't deserve to win. He was just given a FREE $125,000.00! Don't bring Tom back as "head" judge. Way to sway the votes Tom! SMH

juka
juka

@hdwb Nope - they are too cowardly for that. There has been massive fallout (deservedly) from the Nick fiasco.

wkmtca
wkmtca

@hdwb  they were probably afraid after screwing nina, shirley and stephanie over that callers would be really nasty.  

juka
juka

@joeincali As a Philadelphia native, I am NOT proud to have Nick "win" this thing. I will never go to his restaurants in the area.

Sherridan
Sherridan

And he is still underseasoning!

juka
juka

@aidandyl12 Nick made undercooked duck and got away with it. Emeril could not even eat it. If you serve undercooked poultry, your diners can get really sick.

juka
juka

@Becollinson More chefs should aspire to be like Marcus Samuelsson - classy, polite, considerate and an amazing chef to boot.

brady898216
brady898216

@Becollinson You have recently retired as an Exec Chief for over 30 years because you did'nt have the skills to do it on you're own!you rode someone elses coat tails and did just enough to get buy of course your envious

titi550
titi550

@Becollinson You are SO RIGHT!. I am so disappointed. It seems like cursing nowadays- for the judges- is part of the good service in a restaurant . they heard it and overlooked it.

Judges, do you need new batteries for your hearing aids ?

 Nick restaurant sounded more like a cantina. open a bar Nick!!

elle.allonz
elle.allonz

@GCabot And how you MANAGE that kind of situation is part of how one is assessed. You can be pissed off and keep your professionalism at the same time.

stayconnected97@gmail.com
stayconnected97@gmail.com

@TCFan4321 Agree, agree, agree! This was the WORST Top Chef Season! ....There was a reason why Nick wasn't rehired when that old job of his laid him off.

disappointed2014
disappointed2014

@wkmtca @hdwbDon't forget they also screw Carlos and I wouldn't say they but Tom C as you could see the other chefs uneasy when they have to let go the other instead of incapable Nick