Bravotv.com: For this challenge, this was the first time we actually have the chefs catch their own fish and work for their dinner, so tell us about that part of the challenge.
Gail Simmons: It was perfect! I think after the dim sum challenge, our contestants were feeling really roughed up. They were five episodes in, not feeling so hot, starting to get down on themselves, down on the challenges, and frustrated that they weren’t doing well, and I think this was just what they needed. It got them outside. I’m always a fan of the challenges were we bring them out of their element, and get them out into the open air, like the street cart challenge, and we when had them cook on the beach in Malibu Season 2.
Tom is a big fishermen. Kerry Heffernan who’s one of Tom’s close friends and an incredible chef in his own right, is a great fisherman, so they went out there with them and they caught a lot of fish, which helped make them feel really good about themselves when the day was done.
Bravotv.com: Do you ever fish?
GS: I have fished. I had an uncle growing up, he passed away several years ago, but he took me deep sea fishing at Christmas down in Florida, and I always loved and cherished that time. I hadn’t fished in many years and just this past August I went away with my husband and my parents to Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and we learned how to fly fish. I totally feel in love with it. I’m always hearing about fishing from Tom because Tom talks about fishing so much. You know, in the summer, he fishes every weekend when he can.
Bravotv.com: So for this challenge they were broken up into groups. Obviously Jamie and Tiffani went home, but Antonia did well.
GS: She did do well. Her dish could have been on the top in another circumstance. I mean the name of the game was that you really were with your team, you went down with the sinking ship so to speak, so she was on the bottom because of her teammates. Her dish really was quite exceptional not only because it tasted great, it was crunchy and salty and delicious, but she used a fish that people usually shy away from that takes a lot of work to finesse. It’s very bony and she did a really great job preparing it, in a really smart way.
Bravotv.com: Do you think it was Jamie’s time to go?
GS: Yeah I think we were all clear on the fact that everyone thinks Jamie needed to go, but until now, it wasn’t her time to go. There was always somebody who did worse than Jamie, as bad as Jamie did, or as little as Jamie competed, there was always someone else we really felt strongly about whose time it was to go more than her. But tonight was her night, unfortunately. Her dish, here was a great example of good conception bad execution. Her idea was great. Those light fresh flavors of summer: radish, watermelon, cucumber, but she prepared the dish in a way that just didn’t make sense the way she put them together. And instead of getting the fresh, light flavors, the fish was sort of drowning in very tepid, flavorless water. She didn’t assemble them in a way that made them pop. If there had been a piece of delicious watermelon, if there had been -- dare I say -- a cucumber foam, if there had been some radishes with some salt and some spice or maybe pickled radishes that gave it a little bite, a bit of acid. You got no acid, you got no flavor. It just tasted washed out, and the fish was a little bit messy, so unfortunately it really was the losing dish of the night. And Tiffani’s wasn’t far behind.
Judging a competition like this one needs to be fair, consistent, objective and equally applied in all situations - how else would one truly know who is Top Chef? And I believe that people who watch the show would like to know the answer, especially in this all star edition. At least this week all the food was tasted and their were no carts involved - that's a big improvement! However, there are still issues in truly finding a winner in this competition because of the format and also the logic used by the judges - it's the big picture with important nuances, and that still is not congruent with fairness.
For instance, calling out Antonia, as the judges did and as Gail shares above was asinine and very unfair, because it put the onus on her for their bad dishes? Yes, she was part of the team, but so were the others to each other, right? Did Jamie help Tiffani and vice-versa, as well as both helping Antonia? Did the judges ask that same question to all of them? Applying that inconsistent logic in the judging is myopic, skewed and shows their overall lack in their ability to judge fairly.
Also, having "team" challenges will inherently cloud the fairness of judging too (as it clearly did this week), as individuals either can hide within their team, with no clear candidate to label as the "one" (Marcel, Richard and Fabio), and it also takes away from someone's dish that "would of won if it wasn't for your team being on the bottom" (Antonia). This competition is an individual award - period - no team at the end on the podium. The more you include "team" challenges the more it skews the individual accomplishments, both good and bad. How can you truly judge someone fairly? You can't.
Gail seems to miss these distinctions and seems to blame the contestants and not the producers who set up the challenges. Take responsibility Gail/producers.
Gail I am so grateful that you pointed out Marcel's anger was missplaced. It was YOU and the other judges who pretended that the Diners at the last challenged mattered one little bit and they didn't. Just because Dale new you were not being honest about that wasn't his fault it was his win and I appreciate you saying ...thanx. BTW thanx for the HUGE laugh when you said it wasn't Jamie's time earlier to go when she didn't even cook before lololols...yeah keep repeating it...s/one out there might buy it. hahahahahahahah. By the way....great job on hosting the dessert show, I didn't watch it all it was a little boring but I thought you were really "sweet" on the show!
You're correct, Marcel's behavior was both juvenile and annoying. However, I did not realize until his little rant that Dale had not really cooked for the diners at the Dim Sum challenge. Dale is one of my favorite chefs, however, I find the fact that he was awarded the win after cooking only for the judges to be more than a little hypocritical. Were the judges completely unaware? Of all the chefs, he was the one (ok, two, with Angelo) who was a Dim Sum expert. He knew full well what was expected and thumbed his nose at the challenge. Where was the hospitality that Tom likes to speak so poetically about? As much as I enjoyed the fishing challenge, finding out this ugly little truth puts a bit of a damper on the fun.
I have been a fan of Top Chef since episode 1 of season 1. I had looked forward to this season's Top Chef, but as the season progresses I am losing interest in the show. It has become less a "cooking competition" than a game show that takes place in a kitchen setting. The reasons given by the above (3) commenters pretty much sums up my thoughts. I'll continue watching the show, but without the enthusiasm I once had - it just doesn't hold my interest any more.
Gail, Not a fan. You are ego driven. Why you were given a show? Not sure. I just think you wanted to be in control of telling people they were no up to standard. Who's standard?
Yogilady, surely you are mistaken. Gail is not ego driven at all. She judges the food. Period. Too bad she isn't the host instead of dull Padma.