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Bravotv.com: This week the chefs head to the Bahamas. How was that as a finale location?
Gail Simmons: It was beautiful. We happened to be there for over two full weeks, which coincided nicely with two of NY's major snowstorms this winter, so I couldn't have been more pleased to be there. The beaches were gorgeous, the water was beautiful, the weather was completely perfect, and we had a lot of fun.
Bravotv.com: For the Quickfire, all the chefs had to compete against the Top Chefs from their season. What did you think about that concept?
GS: It was a great idea and very intense. There's risks involved with doing a Quickfire like that –- you obviously want the contestants to win since there's more at stake for them. But if the former Top Chef loses, does that discredit them? I don't think it does, and I hope our audience doesn't think that either, because as you know, we judge every challenge on its stand-alone merit. You can lose one day and win the next, and that's what cooking is about. So I thought it played out very well.
Bravotv.com: And a few of them did beat their season's Top Chef.
GS: Mike Isabella beat Michael Voltaggio, which I thought was fascinating and fun to watch. Richard beat Stephanie, and Tiffany beat Kevin. It's important to keep in mind that the finalists are more in practice right now. The past Top Chefs haven't been in the game for a while. And they all had almost no resources, they barely had running water, so I didn’t take it too seriously, but I think it was fun.
Bravotv.com: It was interesting that Hosea felt like he still had something to prove.
GS: I guess there are some haters out there, but at the end of the day he won fair and square so it doesn't even matter. We know the truth and how good a chef he still is.
Thought Antonia should have been sent home but what do I know? Just because you got the meat that was undercooked...you were the only one...As far as Antonia's meal's concerned ..EVERYONE's shrimp was overcooked. I'd just like to add that I think it looks unprofessional when you, Padma and other female judges wear your hair down when your'e eating. There's nothing worse than seeing hair in or near food. Please tie it back. Thank you
i am so tired of hearing richard say he was the real winner of his season. he is good but there are others equally as good who dont have the superNOVA ego he has. i bet stephanie feels lousy because of his attitude. i HOPE he doesnt win.
I just want to say how fabolous all the chefs have done and say congrats. I have never "blogged" about anything before but I wanted to say something about the way Richard reacts to the other chefs defeating him or even just getting complements from the judges. He makes theses little "poor me" faces and stares at the floor. Like he wants people to feel bad for him or something. I doant know there was just something about him that got on my nerves in this episode. He just always seemed to have something bad to say about everyone eleses dishes except his own, and when hearing that he did not win he made a face like he wanted to say 'you've got to be kidding me". Just really made me route for my two Italians even more! Can't wait for the finally. Great season. (p.s. Dont mind the spelling. Grammar was never my strong side.)
thanks for your blog being the first to be up. To tell you the truth, I'm absolutely devastated by the elimination of Carla. Upon reviewing this series once again in my mind there ought to be at least another couple of people gone (omitting here past controversial eliminations) before Carla could have been eliminated, but then you have your rules and I have mine.
I admit it, and I leave out their culinary prowess: I LOVE Carla, and I HATE Mike Isabella. To me Carla is a true chef while Isabella is an opportunist.
I usually think you're great, Gail, but you were wrong to send Carla home. You were very, very wrong. I don't care that one or two pieces of her pork were undercooked. She's the best chef on the show and if you can't see that then you should look for a different job. I was a huge fan of Top Chef, but I will no longer be watching.
I agree Richard gets ridiculously down on himself. "Funny" thing is, Padma might have helped make it worse by jerking him around the other week and making him think he was going home. That's certainly no confidence booster and could make someone insecure moving forward. It was a crappy thing to do and painfully reminiscent of when Padma made Kevin think he won a few seasons back and then booted him out of the room so the Voltaggio brothers could face off. Back to Richard, though, I thought it quite interesting that tonight's repeat of that episode edited out Padma's "pack your knives" statement to him. I have to think that was due to viewer backlash.
RE Richard, it's not his self-loathing that annoys me, I don't see that at all. All I see is the sour puss cranky face he always makes as soon as you guys say anything nice about the other chef's food, like no one there could possibly make a better dish. He's annoying! Too bad, because he really does look like a great chef, but his personality stinks!
Richard's self-doubt can be self-defeating. He is clearly the most talented chef in the remaining group. Richard -- believe in yourself like the judges and the viewers do. Otherwise you will sabotage yourself. I know I am in the majority of viewers who expect you to win the title of Top Chef!!
I agree with Miss Gail about Richard and I'm so glad I'm not alone on this. He seems like an extremely joyless individual and it is tedious to watch him go through his angst routine on a rotating basis. I don't care if you are a chef, a ditch digger, or royalty- have some love in your heart and a smile on your face PLEASE and you will get so much more from everything, even if you do end up ""losing". As I've gotten older, I have less and less patience forthis type of person as they just bring everyone down.... say what you may about Mike Isabella, at least he has a twinkle in his eye! So long, sweet Carla, you may not get the Top Chef title but you are Top Soul.
Just wanted to say "WE LOVE YOU CARLA". Cant wait to have the opportunity to taste the "LoVe" in your restaurant some day.
So what happens next week? The chefs have to use only a magnifying glass and the sun to cook? God, give them a real kitchen. I mean, c'mon they already had been screwed by the idea of cooking for "royalty". Ok, the curveball. Do they really need to suffer more and have to cook with fryers, microwaves, blenders and bonfire or whatever you guys feel will make their dish worse? Those burners killed Carla's dish. How about giving these FINALISTS a chance to cook their best food. Yeah, it wasn't an overall great meal...that's the production's fault, not theirs. Give 'em a chance eh?
please, can't this show be bothered to make sure the chefs have proper equipment by the time finals rolls around? The gimmick challenges are fun in the first half of the season, but by this point the focus should be on the food.
I don't see the point of having challenges that are this helter skelter at this point in the season. It's finale time, and we're still screwing with their heads? Just let them cook.
And as fun as the head-to-head quickfire should have been, it came off as boring. Probably weak editing, but there was hardly any of it in the show.
I agree with your comment about Richard. This entire season, he's been surprisingly self deprecating and self doubting (in every challenge). It's so counter to his talent, that it doesn't make sense. He seemed spooked by every challenge. Yet, he rarely ended up in the bottom group. Go figure.
I was disappointed that you didn't just let them cook. Please, for the final, please, please, please just put them in a well-stocked kitchen and let them cook. The quickfire this week was flawed by technical issues. Carla's rice would not have been undercooked if she was working with proper equipment. For the main challenge you tricked them into thinking they were cooking for a certain audience and then changed it up on them. Let's stop with the games and just let them cook for the grand prize.
Good blog. Thoughtful questions answered sincerely. Richard has classic symptoms of a mild depression. Your advice on seeing a therapist is excellent. Cognitive behavior therapy (talking) is so cathartic and eye-opening (speaking from personal experience). Love your comments and insight. Keep an open mind and thank you very much for emphasizing the fact that the proverbial term “INEDIBLE” is a key component in Top Chef judging. When is the Dessert show coming back? That was fun, too.
note to gail: did you watch the episode, what went on backstage and in the interviews? Richard's self-loathing is not sincere. I used to be a Richard fan but in the last few episodes he has been a cocky a$$ when talking about his talent in relation to the other competitors. He was brags about his own greatness and brags about "getting in Antonia's head" because she is a threat. The self-loathing an act that only comes out when he is fishing for compliments. He's like the cutest girl in middle school who is always saying "I look so fat", so that all the other girls say "oh no, you look so great, I'm the one that's fat".
Even though I'll be in the minority here, I'll say it anyway: Finally! Carla has got to be the most annoying of all the contestants; and that's saying something. People may complain that Tiffany and Antonia have skated along this season, but they haven't been nearly as wildly inconsistent with their food and haven't abused the camera with their flightiness, dervishing about the kitchen like a rat in a snake pit. She may be a super-nice person (to the point where it feels forced), but you know where they finish. Apparently, fifth. -- It's clear that Carla was the best of the rest. Her wins sprinkled throughout the episodes prove she's got some chops. But I don't know that she ever was middle of the pack; weekly, she seemed to be in the favorite group or the bottom. She either put magic on the plate, or something undercooked, uncooked or just plain bad. In comparison, where Antonia and Tiffany don't appear to have what it takes to win Top Chef outright, their offerings have been fairly consistent throughout: not great but edible. [Thus proving my theory that Antonia should have had her knives express-mailed to her instead of Casey.] -- I know a lot of you were rooting for Carla to make the come-from-behind victory over Isabella and Blais, but that wasn't likely to happen anyway. It's a two horse race from here on in. Look for Tiffany's exit next week.
I'm not offended or tired of Richard's self-doubt in the least...it's understandable. Is it healthy in the situation? Probably not, but with a baby on the way and his personal ventures, it IS what it IS. Did you not hear him say that he may not be there for the birth of his child? There's $200,000 on the line and he has a family to support...this would be life changing for him.
No offense Gail, but you should put yourself in his shoes before saying that he needs to see a therapist! That was a harsh, and can be taken completely out of context.
As an actual viewer, I LOVE Richard. Suggesting someone needs therapy discredits your opinion as an impartial judge. Stick to just judging the food, not the contestant!
You hit the nail on the head with Richard. I've been a fan of his up to this point, though I'm becoming more and more annoyed at his ever-present self-criticism. It's one thing to think, "I could have done this better" occasionally, if not after every dish in retrospect as a constructive look at your own work. But he's getting whiny! I almost changed the channel- I work with kids all day, and I get enough whining from them, let alone a talented, grown up chef.
Carla was my favorite. I'm still mourning. My hand was over my mouth last night after Padma said her name, but I understand the raw pork deal. I really think she could have taken this. Carla has the brilliant, admirable combination of humility, heart, soul, and home-style passion that I would look for in a chef cooking my food. She is so humble and grateful. I miss her already. I'm rooting for (surprisingly) Mikey from here on out!!
Your comment about Richard and the self-hating is so spot on. He's a talented chef and he knows it. But the constant 'i hate everything i do' really gets old and does not endear him to anyone.
Gail, I love your blog, it's always fun to read and very insightful. I think your advice to Richard was particularly interesting, because for all the self-loathing there's an equal amount of tooting his own horn going on in the interviews. If I were in any position to dispense advice to the chefs, I'd add two more points:
One, stop saying you chocked, Richard. Stop saying you were the best chef in your season, and it was your challenge to lose. Stephanie had won a bunch of challenges throughout the season and then she won the one that counts. She outcooked you, plain and simple. You need to get over it and put your money where your mouth is, instead of scowling every time he doesn't win a challenge.
And two, wanting to mess with Antonia's head before the challenge shows poor sportsmanship, and is about as unprofessional as "stealing" someone's recipe. You think she's a threat? Fine. Cook your heart out and win on your own merit, not because another chef did poorly.
By the way, is it only Marcel's foams that annoy the judges? Because that white foam on Blais' dish didn't look all that appetizing but no one said a word about that...
Just my two cents.
I am so so sad to see Carla go home but I agree with Gail about Richard. Enough is enough.. he is whiny and I am rooting for anyone but Richard to win. I never thought I would root for Mike but he is kicking butt and taking names. I LOVED that he beat Michael in the quick fire!
Yes, exasperated by Richard. I'm tired of Richard and his woe is me attitude. One minute we get his comment on how he was the best chef on his season of Top Chef, the next minute we get his, I don't like anything I make.
Agree with your comment about Richard - I am so over listening to him. You may think it's lack of confidence but it appears to me to be fishing for compliments. Enough already. So sad Carla is gone. She added so much heart to the competition. At least Antonia is still there. You go girl. DO NOT let Richard win. Isabella, either, but that wouldn't be as bad.
I really think Richard is a bit phony. He does believe he is the best. In fact, he actually feels entitled to win. It only seems as if he beats himself up so that, in case he loses, he can feel better. Richard fishes a lot for compliments or at least for folks to say, "Oh no, you are terrific!". That act is getting a little thin. Bring on Mikey!
You'll see a more detailed comment with Chef Tom's blog is available but I must protest the menu change. The producers of the show really let everyone down by allowing the cheftestants change their menus. The purpose of this challenge was to fool the Chefs into thinking they were cooking for actual royality as opposed to a self-appointed king in a common restaurant / bar.
While I agree that it would be impossible to police every, forcing them to stay with the original menu seemed fair. Everyone was filmed stating exactly what dish they were making so it would have been quite simple to tell the chefs "same menu" and let the honor system take control.
The other option would have been to cancel this challenge and film a new one the next day. With the talented staff behind the scenes, I am certain a new challenge could have been arranged on a short schedule.
I have no favorites going to the finals and I felt Carla was graceful is her farewell speech. Nonetheless, the show went from great heights last week by taking all 5 chefs to the final to a new low by not taking the high road when they should have. As I have said before, the show suffers not from the judging or casting but the poor decision making by the production staff.
I think the kitchen fire threw everyone off their game. Sorry to see Carla go as I love her enthusiasm and professionalism.
So far, the stats on prizes/money: Mike - Toyota Prius, $15k Richard - Trip to Barbados, $25k Antonia - Toyota Highlander Tiffany - $10k Carla - Trip to Italy, trip to Amsterdam, trip to Tokyo, guest on Jimmy Fallon Dale T - Trip to New Zealand, trip to Napa, $30k Tre - $25k Angelo - $10k Spike - $5k Stephen - $5k
If you really loved Richard you would not have titled the blog as you did, nor would you have told him to get a therapist publicly.
Always enjoy reading your thoughts, Gail, but I don't buy Richard's self-loathing issues. If he really felt so terrible about everything he cooked, would he be saying, every chance he got, that he was the best chef in his season, that his season was most distinguishable by his loss, and that he's the best chef standing now? He's looking for sympathy or validation. He can't have it both ways.
I did like that he acknowledged that Antonia was competition, though. It's about time the male chefs took the women seriously.
Richard is doing in the Bahamas what he did last time. He needs to stand up, square the shoulders and paste a confident expression on his face. Makes a difference in the judging if the plates are close. And he definately needs to do the same in labor and delivery.
I absolutely adore Richard! I think he is the best chef there and I think you need a big ego to get that far and be that successful. Go Richard, WIN!
cooking food with love and spirit will make your food taste better and multi-dimentional- Richard cooking with his 'debbie downer' attitude is painful to watch. You know you rock so cut the crap and cook the food with more respect that that...it might help just sayn!!
Patsy: Richard has said many times that he completely choked. Going into the final that season everyone expected him to win, as he dominated that season. And, be blew it and he admits that he blew it. It's hard to square that with a superNOVA ego. But, he does need a therapist.
You look FABULOUS! I agree with your comments about Richard. It's hard to watch...he's so talented and yet so not confident. His comment, "I hate everything I make!" was tough to hear. He really does need some confidence....or a filter to present a different face to viewers and potential future investors!
You know I worry about Richard too. He looks miserable most of the time (except when Fabio was there) and at Judges table he looks faint. last week when they pretended he was bing sent home, that was just cruel. he looked like his heart had stopped. I understand about perfectionism but , jezz, he might need a bit of "help" to bring back the joy.
Gail -- I totally agree with your comments about Richard. Richard's lack of confidence really saddens me, especially since he is such a brillant chef! It is my sincere hope that he doesn't psyche himself out. If he can go into the rest of the challenges with more confidence, he can win it all!
I think that Richard is the best chef this season...hands down. However, he has evolved into a professional athlete...say a baseball player...that is in a hitting slump. It doesn't take long before he is over thinking and trying to hard. He comes out of the slump when he steps up...and...just does naturally what he is good at. Slump over. Richard needs to set aside the clever techniques...and....just cook. If he does...he will be an easy winner. If he continues to over think it...look for a "trick"to help him stand out...he is in trouble...not only on Top Chef...but...in his career. He needs to just step into the box and swing...if he does...he will hit it out of the park. If he stands there analyzing the pitcher, studying the ball, scowling at the umpire...he is in big trouble.
Does it seem to anyone besides me that some of the challenges this season leave to much to chance...that negatively impacts the chefs...and...makes it something more than a cooking competition? Such as the whole "cooking for royalty" thing.
Just my thoughts...
I, too, really like Carla and am sorry to see her go. That being said, she prepared served undercooked meat. Overcooked shrimp, though unpleasant, can be eaten. Raw pork is inedible and a health hazard. That is the difference between Antonia's mistake and Carla's. The judges made the correct decision, even though it made me sad.
In defense of Richerd. The contestants have several cameras in their face all the time (what a nightmare that must be). The producers choose the shots to show in each episode. They are choosing to present shots that lead us to think someone feels a certain way about something. I even wonder if the shots of Richard looking unhappy were taken at a different time altogether and clipped in when the producers thought the shots would be more provocative. Cut Richard some slack. I am sure similar reactions of other contestants just have not been shown. Richard has shown his generous nature many times over, so get over your whining when he shows his disappoint over his not meeting his own expectations.
While I certainly agree that the Top Chef should be the one who consistently makes the best food, there are certainly other characteristics that make a chef a real star. I, for one, would never frequent a restaurant where the chef was sullen, nasty and a poor sport. I would not go to one where the chef showed misogynistic tendencies time and time again. In other words, strength of character and kindness, combined with culinary talent, are what a true Top Chef should be.
Ever since Richard lost his season, all I've heard was that it was "his to lose", and that "he choked". Stephanie beat him, fair and square. I keep getting the feeling that the only purpose for this All-Stars show was to give Richard the title, and nobody else was ever truly in the running. And that would be a shame.
Re Richard -- I agree with you!!! That was great. Also -- you looked like you had spent some time under the sun. Did you? Your light tan looked wonderful on you, just so natural.
I was a big Richard fan for most of the season, but I agree with your comments about his psychological issues. Why does he have to swing wildly from one extreme of thinking he's always the best, to thinking he's always the worst? He needs to get a grip, because he really seemed like a nice person - that's why I was rooting for him in the beginning.
Now, I'm thinking I like Carla and Antonia the best. I know Carla went home, and that's totally understandable - you guys have made it clear all season that everyone is one bad dish away from having to go. I thought it was amazingly fair that you let all five contestants even GO to the Bahamas in the first place!
Antonia is professional and focused, and while she may occasionally have something negative to say, its never unconstructive. She had a bad night, but I'm beginning to hope she wins it all. Mike may have brought his "A" game, but his attitude is so cocky! Every time he opens his mouth I want him to shut it.
Echoing the many comments I've seen here so far. Richard is an egomaniacal jerk who's only putting on an act with the 'woe-is-me' attitude. While I already disliked him, the fact that he said he would not be there for the birth of his daughter just sealed the deal. He does not have his priorities straight. He's not there to win money so he can better support his daughter -- he's there to boost his own inflated ego. TV time and settling some self-perceived 'grudge' over not winning his season is more important than being there for his girl? Give me a break.
Also, remember all his blogs previously posted here? Even though they were supposed to be about the show, they were All About Him. I will not be sad to see him go, and I truly hope he does.
Separately, as much as it pains me to admit it, Carla was the right choice. She was my favorite to win, but the judges -- sadly -- made the right decision. Keep rockin' chicky. We'll miss you.
Hi Gail, this is a Top Chef fan from Singapore. I'm sorry that I'm adding this comment here, but I think I posted sometime ago but it wasn't put up.
Chef Dale Talde is Top Chef in many of our minds and hearts. He gave us a reason to watch Top Chef and now that he is gone, I'm hardly even interested to know who will win. Win, eliminated, not eliminated, no one eliminated...who cares! I'm telling the truth. I tried watching the last episode yesterday (the one where no one was eliminated) and I was bored stiff and was left uninspired. And I just watched the first Bahamas episode...oh my, boring, sad and a bit painful to watch. Previous episodes I can watch even in the middle of the night!
I must add that I feel that the reason he was voted out was because of the male guest judge (John Folse?)...It was clear that the other lady judge (Paula Deen) even probably liked Dale’s food (except for the potatoes). John Folse probably was some mega male who needed to have his final say, and Paula probably let him have his way, so did Tom and Padma to my dismay.
Come on, Paula said Carla's dish "DID NOT MAKE ANY SENSE"...and that got her through? I repeat: "DID NOT MAKE SENSE" equals getting through to the next episode. Don't get me wrong. I love Carla on TV too, but hey, a bad dish is a bad dish. No one said Dale’s dish was bad (except ego male John Folse), just some people who could not take a bit of mustard? I LOVE mustard. And I'm so happy to hear that you like it too...to bad you weren't around when Dale was judged.
AND I'm sorry but bringing the past cheftestants back is way STUPID. AND too bad Dale got Angelo...he's not a strong contestant, even if he must be quite a good chef in his restaurant.
And among the top 5 who got in? Sheeesh. All this means that the show is no longer about looking for the Top Chef, but "Average Chef".
Tom, Gail, Padma (all 3 of whom I do like), Bravo, you hear me? Change your show to 'Average Chef' for goodness sake. Mike Isabella has 2 quickfire wins and Tiffany (whom I love as a person) has no wins? But both are in the finals....UNBELIEVABLE. The show is called TOP CHEF, not TOP 'SO-SO' CHEF, not TOP 'STAY-IN-THE-MIDDLE' CHEF, not 'NO-WINS" CHEF...I could go on.
Heck, I was just beginning to revive my hope in this show after one of the good chefs (I think Jennifer) was booted off way too early (even before Jamie!). And now I've lost all hope. I write this only because so many of us care for the show and don't want it to be become another 'blah' show on Bravo like the god-awful "Fashion Show - ultimate crap collection".
Oops I think I got carried away. This post was supposed to be about Dale. So Chef Dale, no worries that you did not win the TV show. You are a Top Chef and you know it. Thanks for giving me a reason to visit NYC one day.
And I must say that I liked Dale even way back in Season 4, and could see his passion about his food. So while we are happy about your growth and development as a chef and person, it didn't really matter to me, but yes, I think you have shown yourself to be a TOP CHEF (skills and personality wise) this time round. And nothing can take that away from you.
Someone should start a petition to "Bring Dale Back"!
To quote the 'old Dale': "THIS IS BULL...S#@T!" (complete with crotch grabbing act)
I'm soooo tired of Richard's schtick. He's clearly talented, and I find him pretty funny at times, but he's also either really insecure or a spoiled brat who needs constant affirmation that he's the best. Give it a rest, already, Richard! It is possible to be a really great chef, and have other equally talented peers. I was rooting for him to win until a couple of episodes ago, when I started to realize "this guy is really bringing me down." Go Mikey!!!
Very good points on that of Richard's loveless dishes. There's still a part of me that routes for him, but his dishes seem to be about technician over love and passion. This is why I was Pro-Carla and still am!!