Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Passing The Torch

Harold passes the title to Ilan Hall, and he's totally OK with that.

This has been a lot of fun, what can I say? This episode, I really thought the food looked great. They did a really nice job incorporating a lot of flavors. The one thing I felt a little cheated on was the fact that they got to bring their own ingredients. First season, we went out there, and they said, "This is what you have to work with, this is what we have in the hotel, make it happen." I would have loved to have spent the better parts of two months, during that break, to shop out ingredients. That would have been outstanding.

Marcel deciding to do a salad course was disappointing, regardless of the big idea. I think it's great to want to incorporate so many techniques, but the salad has to be the best salad you've ever eaten. I didn't get the risk of using the technique as an ingredient. I'm all about taking chances, but I'm not so sure. A chance should be, at the very least, an educated guess. I thought Marcel missed out on an opportunity when he decided that throwing a teardrop on the dish was going to make it incredible.

Ilan did what he knows. I think I've said it a couple of times here, I'd like to see a little bit more. He says he went outside the box a little bit, but I didn't see that. Maybe in the Quickfire, when he had to, but anytime he had an opportunity to deconstruct or sit down and think about a dish, it was always Spanish influenced. The restaurant that Ilan worked in, Casa Mono, is one I really enjoy. It was surprising that a lot of the food that was created in the finale, I'd seen in components at Casa Mono. I wanted to see more of his own stuff. Maybe those were all his own dishes at that restaurant, I don't know. I just wanted to see him take a different route. I know he has a grasp on Spanish cuisine, and there's nothing wrong with being a specialty chef. It seems like he made some really nice dishes and I thought he played really smart with the dessert.

I think Marcel showed a lot of ingenuity. But one of the things that comes with time is to be able to develop the skill to run a kitchen. And I hope it comes to him in time. This season, overall, there was more focus on the drama of creating something. And no mater what the creative endeavor is, there's going to be drama involved -- particularly if there's money or competition involved. The thing I really like about "Top Chef" is that the focuses is on the creativity. I like that I learn things about food. I like watching chefs be creative and trying new things. I like the idea that I'm inspired by it to apply these techniques to my own stuff. That's just me.

I'll say this: I'm proud to pass the torch. It's been a great experience. Ilan is good kid. I think he's going to be a really strong chef. I feel good about being able to focus on the next phase of my life. And I have to say, that next step is nuts. Getting a restaurant open is unlike anything I've ever done. I already know how to run a kitchen, and now I'm learning a lot about...paperwork. I have to say thank you to all of you. You're a dedicated fan base, and you should know how much I appreciate it. It means a lot. Until next time, Harold.

Richard: "Winning Is Overrated"

Richard Blais congratulates Doug Adams on his admirable run and knows (from experience) this is just the beginning for this talented chef.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef.

Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about. A jumping off point for unrecognized or yet truly discovered talent.

Mr. Adams, yes I'm saying Mister because it pays respect to the man, and also because that's how The New York Times goes about things, came on to this season touting his resume of being a working class sous chef from Portland.

Doug Adams is not Top Chef. Doug Adams is, however, the poster chef for what this competition is all about.

Richard Blais

Sous chefs are on the line everyday (sous chefs from Portland I imagine are also butchering whole animals and foraging for botanicals, buts that's for a different blog). They are hands-on, blue collar grinders and early on Doug uses this statement to separate himself from the contestants who maybe are clipboard surfing, or worse, not even really in a restaurant at this stage of their careers. And although this is a part of his strategy or drive, and a very honest personal understanding and awareness of self, I have news for you...

Doug Adams is no longer a sous chef.

Sure, he may actually, technically still carry the title tonight, I'm not certain to be honest, but by his performance this season on Top Chef, he is now ready for the next stage in his career, and this is what can happen and should happen after Top Chef.

I can't imagine someone not taking a chance with giving Doug the opportunity to run a small restaurant. I can't imagine that someone out there tonight, hearing about Doug's goal of operating a Montana restaurant, connected in some way to hunting and fishing won't contact him. I can't imagine it; because it happened to me... My restaurant Juniper & Ivy in San Diego is a direct connection from my performance on Top Chef, and my gut tells me it had very little to do with "winning."

The fact is, winning is overrated.

Winning is fun. It may get you some cash or secure your ego, yes, but really, six months after this thing runs out on television, we are all just "that guy or girl from Top Chef.

Throughout this season, Doug has demonstrated everything one looks for in a great business partner. He cooks delicious, relatable, soulful food. He does it with a smile on his face. He cooks with a sense of authorship and knowledge of place and time. And perhaps most importantly (no, not his epic beard), most importantly, he communicates with his colleagues professionally and with integrity. I'd guess every cheftestant likes him. I know every judge likes him. He takes risks, like roasting a whole lobe of Foie gras, or say, blending up an aioli of ant eggs. Which, by the way, are you kidding me? Maybe he takes these chances because it's part of the game, but I think more so because Doug is a curious cook, which is a sure tell sign of a chef ready to do their own thing.

Doug, it may seem like I never had anything positive to say about your food, and maybe indeed that's how it played out on television, but it's not the case, Chef.

Congrats on an amazing run, one for all future contestants to take note of. And when rooms become available at your resort in Montana, I'm booking...

Blais
@RichardBlais (Instagram & Twitter)

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