I have heard the "let them all play Hamlet" remark attributed to Humphrey Bogart (in several biographies of him) and he is pretty darn famous. Other than that, I adore you.
A not-so-famous person famously said, in regard to the Best Actor category in the Oscars, “[i]f you want to know who the best actor is, let them all play Hamlet. Otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Makes sense to me. And so Eric Ripert and I hit the food markets at the crack of dawn to pick proteins for the chefs to play with in this final challenge. We wanted a whole fish to feature in the fish course. The rouget was small and very fresh. We selected the slipper lobster because it’s a crustacean that most Americans have never cooked with. Of course, there’s nothing all that different about how it needs to be cooked, so it was a bit of a red herring (metaphorically!!!). I was hoping someone would pair the cuttlefish with the duck, but no one did. The duck was the most interesting of the proteins –- one could roast or confit the leg and roast the breast. Or one could make a stock, if he chose to remove it from the bone. The pork could have been used with the second or third course (but Angelo’s choice to use it with the first shifted the focus to the pork, featuring it instead of a vegetable, a poor choice). So there were plenty of options with these proteins, and plenty of opportunities to be highly creative in designing the courses, much as three different actors could have delivered three entirely different –- and equally valid and interesting –- interpretations of the Danish prince.
Let’s break it down course by course: As I mentioned above, Angelo’s first course did not actually complete the challenge. I liked that he made the noodles, but no matter how you slice and dice it, pork belly and noodles do not a vegetable course make. Ed’s corn dish was good but not great. Whereas Kevin took a relatively standard dish and gave it a lot of flavor. It was extremely well made, and hands down the best of the three, with Ed’s in second place.
So, the first course standings: First place: Kevin. Second Place: Ed. Third Place: Angelo.
I have heard the "let them all play Hamlet" remark attributed to Humphrey Bogart (in several biographies of him) and he is pretty darn famous. Other than that, I adore you.
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You should do a quick fire of "Devil Eggs". I make them all the time and the possibilities are endless.
I disagree with you. I think the crew/staff etc... are used to changes in thier schedules and I also think that Top Chef can spare the expense. When the show is set up with certain destinations they already know who the contestants are but of course do not know if they will make it there. How were they to know that Angelo would even make it to the finals? I think it was very unfair to not wait for him to recover. However, I did think that Kevin was very respectful by saying what he did about Angelo. He did not want to win because someone was sick. Ed seemed to be the exact opposite. He almost seemed glad that Angelo was sick and I think he was disappointed that he did manage to cook. I may be a little partial because I don't think that Kevin was the best by a long shot. I could name two more people in addition to Ed and Angelo who should have one. Angelo was my favorite though.
I agree & was totally disappointed that fan favorite was not announced on the reunion special. What a bunch of hooey to try to bait viewers of TC into watching a different show. I still don't know who won, but I would guess Tiffany? Oh well. I do like the concept of a masters of previous episodes series, but where was Bryan Voltaggio in the selection process?
After watching the reunion, I am really confused as to why Kevin beat out Tiffani when she was eliminated. The judges said it was because of presentation, but seriously, Kevin had been skimming by while Tiffany had been excelling. Early on in the season, it should obviously be on a challenge-by-challenge basis. But, that far along in the contest, it should be, and seems to have been in the past, based on overall performance when it's that close.
I truly enjoyed another season of Top Chef and the reunion was great. The only complaint I had was the "announcement of fan favorite"....that should always be on the reunion special and not for Andy Cohen to get more viewers for his talk show. I was so disappointed. Please put "fan favorite" back on the reunion for the rest of the series.
I agree with you.
It is also interesting to observe that the show in DC with the Obama administration, one would expect more African Americans. They were there. However, between Kevin and Tiffany...no doubt about....who should be better.
I wish Ilan would go away...I didn't like him on his season of TS and I don't like him now. He was a disrespectful little punk!
So appreciate the time and effort you take, Tom, to help us 'taste' what we can only see. It helps to clarify the criteria you use to make the choices as to who wins. Please keep on blogging in future - we appreciate your efforts!
I was glad to see that the finale courses were very structured... a veg. course, a fish course, a meat(?) course, and a dessert. My biggest complaint in season 5 was that Hosea was allowed to do 3 fish courses and a meat course -- no dessert -- and win. So, having it that structured was amazing.
I see the point about Hamlet and using the same proteins, but it did seem a little unfair to me that in the season finale, the chefs were forced to use very specific ingredients. I see the point of it, but one of the things I have always enjoyed about the finales is that they usually allow the chefs a lot of freedom to cook the meal of their lives, without the restrictions of the previous challenges, such as having to use specific proteins, etc. I think the course requirements were good, but would have preferred if the chefs were permitted more freedom.
The only disappointment for me in the finale was the selection of Ilan as a sous-chef. I've always though he was a "one trick pony" who was very lucky during Season Two.
The All-Stars Top Chef should be absolutely awesome. I can't wait.
I totally agree, kevin for sure only skated thru and should not have been in the finals, I think ed should have won and now i am considering if i will even watch next season because i believe kevin only won because of michael's influence.
Why is this comment not being added? Michael Voltaggio top chef win #2, Kevin sous chef win #1. I completely agree with the viewer who had this opinion. Michael was well known for his creative menu ideas, remember his grape dish on the train in Napa Valley which won the quickfire? (As opposed to Kevin's chicken skewers at the baseball game that people had trouble eating.)
We'll never know how much influence Michael had on the final dishes. Kevin should give 50% of the money he won to charity (homeless food kitchen?)! Then maybe the outcome of this season will be respectable.
Chef Tom- Thanks again for another fantasic season, and congrats on your Emmy win, it was well deserved,and lastly thanks for taking the ctime each week to blog with all your many fans. I look forward to it each week,and one more thing I'm wondering if Lisa from a couple seasons back ever got her job back @ Red Lobster and if Elan is still head chef @ Olive Garden?
WHAT? The entire Top Chef production team (producers, judges, sous chefs, camera crews, lighting, -do they have teamsters in singapore?- etc etc.) is supposed to sit around doing nothing waiting for Angelo to feel better? People are away from their families! Who would pay for the extra days of production? Who's to say he wouldn't be sick for a week? I would LOVE to know how much 1 full day of filming Top Chef in Singapore costs. The extra "sick days" wouldn't be free, people are being paid to be there.
Honestly, maybe this evened the playing field a bit. My friends and I all rolled our eyes when we heard it was in Singapore b/c we thought it gave Angelo an unfair advantage. Unfortunately for him, it probably only raised expectations for him all around. I think he totally psyched himself out and made himself sick.
Anyway, I'm glad Kevin won. Go Boro. Way to represent.
Congrats to Kevin, South Jersey has hit the culinary map in a huge way!!
Awesome blog and breakdown, Tom, and thank you for that plus all the blogs this season, in what was quite a tumultuous one!
Kevin is finishing up shortly at Rat's Restaurant (and this is not because of his win, his stint there was for one year by design) and wherever he winds up, I will be sure to follow!!!
The only reality show on TV did it again this year - unpredictable, real people with passion doing something that truly impacts their lives and careers - all done in a way that is intelligent, entertaining, fair....and real.
Tom, Thank you for the break down. It was a great season. I was entertained each week. I think the challenges were hard and the chefs rose to the occasion. This is the first time in awhile that anyone could have won. I was surprised by Kevin's win and pleased. Ed never told that he didn't make the dessert. That is such a no no - why did he do it? As you said, each chef should come prepared with a dessert. Just found out about the TC All Stars - can't wait. OliveAnne FloridaFan
To all the armchair foodies who think the body of work, not one final night, should decide the winner:
Top Chef is a competition based upon elimination, much like, for example, Wimbleton. A large number of competitors are allowed to compete in successive rounds until one is left standing.
Do upsets happen? Absolutely. Does the overall best player ALWAYS win every round? Absolutely not. Is that the nature of human competition? Absolutely.
This was NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, the best season of TC.
That does NOT change the fact that experts in the field of culinary conception and preparation evaluate each competitor's effort in each round and advance/eliminate the best and worst competitor from that round until one competitor remains.
Just because Roger Federer is one of, if not the, greatest tennis players in history doesn't mean that he won't be eliminated from a tourney if an inferior player happens to be better than him on a given day. Regardless of skill or talent, if he gets beat in an early round, he has forfeited the right to compete in later rounds and subsequently compete for the championship.
Such is the nature of competition and thus the nature of life.
Wow, to say the viewers were mislead by what we were shown is an understatement. Of course we can't taste the food so you can choose whoever you want to win, but certainly Kevin's first and third dish were very predictable without any chance taking or creativity involved. It's hard for me to see Top Chef won by such boring choices. At least you have your "first identity chef" so you can please all those who were upset about Kenny.
Totally disappointed, that not only did Kevin win, but that he was even able to reach the finals!!!! How he skated through each week is just beyond me, he's cooking skills are not even close to Angelo, Ed, or Kenny. Shame on the judges to let him get that far.......
"To say that he cooked the best meal out of any season defies belief...."? Are you kidding? Tom actually TASTED all of that food! Whatever you saw or heard on TV pales in comparison to EATING THE FOOD. Get real...
Almost a week after the show (which I had to miss), I'll comment.
Sounds to me by your comments, Chef, that the right person won. Congratulations, Kevin!
Hopefully, I'll catch the re-run.
Ed made a huge mistake "giving" his dessert to Ilan. It was incredibly poor judgement. In the the end it was his $125,000 at stake so why leave an entire course up to the sous? Sticky toffee pudding is an English dessert and there's no way it could have complimented the Asian meal (and in the heat and humidity of Singapore). He didn't even add any Asian flavors to kick it up a little. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Congratulations Kevin! I can't wait to see where this win takes you. I, for one, will be the first to line up at any restaurant for which you are cooking!
Congrats to TC for it's Emmy Win. Can't wait for next season....
PS. I loved the idea of bringing back prior season's winners to assist in the finale. Brilliant television!
agreed, though very shaky and inconsistent in the beginning of the season, he was later on, consistently producing good food. surprised, but not too surprised.
Same here. After Kenny was eliminated I don't know that I watched a full show until the fianle, and some shows I skipped altogether. Up until then I had not missed a minute.
For all of those that believes that it should be a "point system", think about this: If a chef is truly talented, and worthy of those points, shouldn't he be progressing through the season, resulting in top 3 appearences on every episode? Should a point system be used, that means that any chef can come in, blow the top off of the first few challenges, and BS through the remaining of the show. Is that how we truly want to enjoy each season? The current system proves that they need to come with their "A" game EVERY time!
This is the first season I actually found myself fast-forwarding through most of the Finale Episodes- not just the extra- long commercial breaks but the show itself. I used to really love TopChef, but it has become too formulaic /repetitive/predictable to excite me now- both the format and the editing are tired. Perhaps it was the contestants this season too, as I believe last season had the best lineup so far and its hard to follow in those footsteps. Congrats to Kevin for the win, but honestly I couldn't care too much less who won.
If Kenny couldn't win I'm glad Kevin did! That ALMOST makes up for Kenny getting kicked off earlier and not even getting the chance to compete further. And I guess his ousting shows future competitors to think twice about being team leader rather than focusing solely on your dish. And never, never volunteer for front-of-house during restaurants wars! Just do your dish and do it well. If Kenny had done that then he might have held on for a while longer, if not to the end.
I have to echo the comments of other viewers - the result made zero sense in the context of how the show was edited. I can buy that Kevin was the winner that evening, though apparently the intention was to completely mislead the viewers as to the quality of the food presented. To say that he cooked the best meal out of any season however, defies belief given the various comments that were shown as compared to those for the food of other seasons.
feel sorry for you angelo. hard to see the one you backed from day one go down hard. in top form you would of smoked the other 2. especially kevin (without voltaggio's master hand). looking forward to an xie xie sandwich next time i'm in ny!
Even before the episode aired I had a feeling that Kevin was the winner. Whereas other viewers are seem to think he wasn't as strong all season, I think he was actually getting an "underdog edit" to make the finale more dramatic.
Seriously - if you want the winner to be judged by something other than the finale meal then what is even the point of having the finale meal. Why don't the judges just look back over the season and decide based on the final 3 who wins? Obviously that doesn't make great sense (and definitely doesn't make for great TV).
BINGGO. Hung, Michael and Marcel always hangs out together pre and post Top Chef. Great minds think alike. Birds of a feather flock together. MV and Hung were the best TC winners. Everyone just pales in comparison.
Ilan won TC Seasin 2. He still cooks prof: he got a lot of good reviews bcoz of his new restaurant Gorbals.
I want to state my support for the current finale structure - no extra points, no cumulative all-season judgment or advantages, just who did the best meal on finale day. The chefs all know that's the situation, and all have the same time to prep up for the finale.
As for blind judging -- it's a nice idea in theory, but after a couple of episodes it's easy to know visually whose plate is whose, and we can't even taste them. I have to believe that the judges would know who'd created the dishes, once they've had a few by each person.
And I do like having the chefs respond to the judges in the top & bottom three. It seems to me there's a big indicator of skill between "I know what I did wrong and there was an execution problem, and here's what I did to try to fix it" and "I thought my dish was great and I don't know why I'm here."
I think where Kevin flew under the radar all season is that he isn't a huge innovator, at least in the food he presented here. He's got a beautiful eye, but doesn't take big risks. He's a thoughtful planner - which means he showed up to the finale having studied Singapore ingredients, planned a dessert, solid technique under his belt, and able to execute beautifully.
I agree with the folks who are asking that the editing focus more on cooking & food and less on ridiculous invented-by-editing drama like Peagate. There, TC smeared a chef's reputation, and correcting the impression that Alex cheated only in Tom's blod is inadequate. That should have been cleared up in the TC program itself.
Please trust us to continue to love the show for the pleasure of watching the chefs cook and problem-solve.
Where did the season go? Wow, this season seemed to fly by.
YEA Kevin! Despite the horribly misleading editing we've seen this season, I thought it was fairly evident that Kevin was going to win. Ed's dessert decision was obviously bad (and he clearly didn't know how to best work with a sous), Angelo's dishes were mostly caused by bad planning.
I would love to see them give a little fairer and more coverage to the judges deliberations next season - since I know y'all spend so much time talking about them.
Thanks for the insights and taking the time to provide all the informative blogs this season.
Kevin himself said he was hoping to get Michael. For goodness sakes they worked together in Miami and knew each other's mo jo. Tom for you to say it made no difference is bull. I think all the lectures you have given the viewers this seasons where completely uncalled for. Maybe different judges would come come with a different outcome. Kevin did an amazing job on this one challenge. No one wants to take it from him. Its the rest of the season the camera work, the lack of watching the chefs actually making there dishes and creating fake controversary. The day we see a permanent African American Judge. Say a Marcus Samuleson, awesome chef who can cook many cuisines than maybe the audience will think the results fair.
You obviously did not watch all the episodes. The judges often commented on how good his food was, that he should be a painter cause of his presentations, and yes, he did win at least once and was in the top more. Kevin progressed as the show continued and is well deserving of the final win. Go Kevin...Congratulations.
Of course I am happy for Kevin. Its to bad he didn't do dishes like that all season. He did have a nice fish dish on rest. wars. Not a win however. Oh yeah another dish he won with beef. Your in Singapore for god sakes have our American chefs do these dishes here at home. Let me see how about the classes that put so many great chefs from all over on the map. Let me see just a question here. Why no cash prize for Ed after winning a quickfire and elimination You might think its cute Tom I don't. Any previous chef at this level has won a car or money. They work damn hard to get to the final 3. Forget about sous chefs. Look what it did to Carla. Thanks for a horrible season!! Congratulations to Kevin!!!
1. I think the finale should be cook the meal of your life. No limitations. I hated the chosen proteins. It would have been great for another challenge but not the finale.
2. I think it was very unfair that Angelo sat out the whole day of preperation and planning. Yes it is a shame that he was sick but it was like the other 2 chefs were up against Hung and not Angelo. I think it gave Angelo an unfair advantage. If you can't participate in the planning and prep (over the phone does NOT count) then you are out. Maybe cut throat but fair.
3. I do think Kevin was the deserved winner. Go Kevin!!!
4. Elan is just a jerk. It is so apparent anytime he is on screen.
Anyway, my $.02 worth. Love Top Chef. Huge fan.
I totally agree that for the final challenge the chefs should have selection of their own ingredients as well as how they prepare them, and also with the other comment that there should be an adequate amount of all foods for all chefs to have what they want to prepare. I also like the points system, getting some type of "credit" for having a lot of QF and EC wins.
For all of you complaining that that should be a point system, or people shouldn't win because they had the best dishes in the finale are obviously not spectators of sports. The best team wins period. Think of Top Chef a daily dose of sudden death. Everyone starts out even, the best wins and the worst loses. The rules are fine the way that they are. Are there certain contestants who we like more than others, yes. However, it's a cooking competition not a popularity contest.
Great job, Kevin! You deserve your title.