I hope Top Chef will get back to cooking great dishes and dispense with the "silly games" the contestants (Texas episode) had to endure.
As for the dishes:
The first course most definitely went to Richard. His hamachi dish was a terrific first course. It was a clever, effective, and elegant riff on vitello tonnato, reworked as a Hamachi and a nugget of sweetbreads. It didn't look like it had a lot going on…and then as you ate it, the complexities of flavor emerged. To me, it is always exciting when this happens; it is always the sign of a successful dish. Michael's first course salad was just OK. The best part of it was the chocolate vinaigrette, which was not too sweet. It had OK flavors and a simple presentation. It was fine, but not outstanding. If that were on the menu along with 10 other appetizers, that would be fine, but it wasn't the strongest choice for the first course of a tasting menu.
Both contestants' fish courses were fantastic. I commented about Michael's that it was the best fish I'd had on the show to date… though that was before I tasted Richard's. Now, Michael's was truly wonderful. The fish was poached perfectly, which is no mean feat. The crumbs added a nice texture, and the sauce was very good. That said, what Richard accomplished was quite simply amazing. His style was altogether different –- it was more of a roasted dish, and it’s impressive how he managed to get the crumbs on the fish, fry it, and then slice it. Gail said that she thought it was mushy, but I didn't find it mushy at all; I found it spot on. I think that what she may have perceived was just the nature of that fish. I thought it was earthy, the classic fish you'd pair with a light red wine and treat more like a piece of meat than of fish.
As between the two braised dishes, Michael's was the better dish, though there was lots and lots of flavor in both. Both dishes were nicely glazed. Michael made much of that fact. Usually, I think, the braised meats made in challenges tend not to be glazed well because the contestants don’t have the time to devote to doing so properly, so I was glad to see that both chefs had managed it here.
As for the desserts, they were both fine, but neither was great. Richard's bread was tasty –- he didn't need to rely on the gimmick of the foie gras ice cream. The challenge with that choice was that the foie gras was so fatty that when you put it through the cold ice cream maker, you got big blobs of fat. A Pacojet machine would have prevented that, but Richard didn't have one. With a Pacojet, the blade spins so fast that as the mixture is shot through, it's emulsified, creating a great texture. There's a lot less overrun that way. The overrun in the ice cream in a good restaurant is about 30-50 percent. In most commercial brands, it’s about 200 percent. And Michael's dessert was cooked too quickly at too high a heat, as evidenced by the bubbles around the edges. Whenever making a custard it must be cooked slowly in a water bath. Regardless, both desserts were fine, but not sensational. The other courses were what rocked us all.
I hope Top Chef will get back to cooking great dishes and dispense with the "silly games" the contestants (Texas episode) had to endure.
On that season, I am very happy that Richard won. The competition was so stiff all season long. Many of his fellow competitors, including Mikey Izz, mentioned that Richard was a great leader and that he had helped them out with their dishes along the entire competition. You could see the passion he feels for his craft. I know it is late because the season has already concluded, but I would have also liked to see Kevin Gillespie (Season 6) in the All-Stars cast. He was great on his season and almost took down the crown. I also believe he could have given Richard and the other castmates a run for their money. Other than that .... An awesome season!! Thanks, Grant (St. Louis, MO)
Dear Chef Colicchio, First let me say that I love Top Chef, and am a huge fan of your style of cooking. (I have your cookbook and have read it cover to cover - twice!). I am not a chef, I am really just a home cook with a passion for feeding my family from the heart. My favorite things are cooking Cajun staples like my grandmother did, and creating new dishes of my own based on what ingredient inspires me that day. I am very excited about Top Chef in Texas. However, being from New Orleans I can't help but think that it is an obvious choice for a season of Top Chef. I know you have done episodes there, but I believe that your "cheftestants" would be newly inspired if Bravo filmed an entire season here. Thanks for your time. And if you are ever in Alexandria (central Louisiana - my home since Katrina), I would be happy to make you a Gumbo the way my Grandma did it!
My name is Malgorzta but Gosia is shorter and I am Polish woman. On Friday, 3th of June I watched in Polish TV "Kuchnia TV" some episode of program "Top Chief". And some woman in the program had task "Polish's drunken sausage" but she choose Spanish sausage because as she said "I couldn't give such shit how Polish sausage". I think that she never visited Poland & never ate our good sausages. My Polish's pride became resentful. In my opinion, she shouldn't spoke not good opinion about some foods from another countries in TV, it is naughty and unprofessional.
I was delighted to have Richard come up as the winner of this season. I like him both as a chef and as a human being. I hope he will go far in the culinary world. I also hope that he'll take the time and occasion to give himself a bit more polish, go to Europe for a while and learn the terms (including how to pronounce them) and practices that reign over there.
Congratulations, Richard! I'm really, really pleased.
Dear Chef, (love saying that),,, I am a big fan.... would LOVE to see a challenge at a Greek Orthodox church.... (ours) maybe centered around a Greek Festival.... maybe re-creating Greek Favorites..... Spanikopita,,,,, etc... The Greeks are very persnikity and it would be a great show... We also have a huge kitchen and do luncheons almost every weekend...soooo it would be challenging. Keep The Great Shows coming.. Kim
Dear Tom: I wanted to say how much I admire the way you handled Alia. What she does not understand is if every farmer in the world did grass fed beef the masses would starve. Only about 10% of our population can afford to buy grass fed beef. It is a niche product for a niche poplation. As a farmers wife, we run a 200 head cow calf production farm. In South Carolina, we do not have the grass land to grass feed beef and sell directly to the market. We sell our calves to a feeder out West and they feed corn as well as other grasses and grains. Then they go to slaughter houses and feed the masses. She only sees the small farmer who might be struggling. Farming is a struggle no matter how small or large the operation. We have to worry about weather, cow health, new government regulation, market, transportation, feed etc.. But farming is a way of life. You do it because you have a drive to grow things. Just as a chef wants to create a dish of food. So I go back to my garden to my tomatoes, beans, okra (yes I can fry it so you like it!)peppers, squash and so much more... If you are ever in SC come look us up.
This show keeps getting better and better! I really respect the judges. It seems as though the comments are almost always spot on. Tom, you Gail, Padma, and the collection of the other 4th judges are a really good mix! Slightly off topic… I will be driving from Pittsburgh to a location on Florida’s Gulf coast (Maybe Tampa/Clearwater area) soon. Going to finally take a well-deserved fishing trip. Hoping for some Snook and Tarpon! But I digress… Can you suggest any restaurants anywhere along the way? I would really enjoy finding a place to eat that has some connection to Top Chef! It would be good ideas to compile and post a list of locations of Top Chef Contestant’s restaurants. In that way fans of the show could use it to get the chance to sample what we have all only seen on the show. I think that it would add a really great layer of support to those contstants! Someday when my funds allow I will make it a point to visit a Tom Colicchio establishment for sure! >;Þ Thanks for all you hard work on the show and blessing to you and your family!
I agree with you la2161. You are right, It was unfair to single her out. She has a right to her own opinion. Each of us have that right. Just because it is a cooking show and they are chefs does not mean we have to agree with what everyone says. We all have an opinion and we all should be respected for what we believe. My opinion of the whole show has changed also. You need not be a rocket scientist to see what is happening.
I am a disable vet from operation Iraqi Freedom. While recovering from injuries I discovered Top Chef - I am now completely hooked. After I watched Harold (on itunes) win his titled, I stepped into the kitchen for the first time in my life as a cook and now the kitchen is my home. I have developed a love of cooking that I would have NEVER had without your show. I love to excitement of plating a meal that I have been working on all day. And seeing the relief on their faces as they experience something tasty. Feeding people has become my passion. By the way - I feed my neighborhood and everyone who comes to my house. It is FUN!!! I am planning to attend a small culinary school this September. I want to have my own catering business or something like that. Tom, you are an inspiration and I very much needed an inspiration ... one day it would be very neat to make you a sandwich ... Thank you and please hurry up on the next season... I can't wait to see what everyone cooks! Congrats on your new baby!
If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen...what's good for the goose is good for the gander...etc, etc...
Not fair? If she has strong convictions then she should be willing to state them to his face...she only did so when challenged (which she deserves props for).
my view? The kitchen is not an altar or environmental/sustainable mother earth gaia religious ceremony environment. It's a place to make good food.
If you are going to be a critic...be prepared...you will be criticized.
Tom is a big boy and he maturely repsonded/challenged her points. Without getting nasty, he essentially revealed the juvenile, purient and spitefull nature of her rant to the press.
Tom made 2 points that jumped out at me:
1. You got a problem? say it to my face (she did and he made her look like the amateur she is)
2. The high end cooking world is a small fraternity and tactless rants to the media reveal your maturity...spite, played out in the press, is a career killer in ANY industry.
Don't forget about Kevin, from Top Chef Las Vegas, when you consider a former cheftestant who could have easily won his season but didn't. Few people realize that during his time between making the finals and returning to cook, Kevin and his wife split up so there was a lot going on in his personal life.
Sure, Stefan and Lisa may have made it to the finales with other chefs, but Kevin had a ton of huge wins and was another terrific person everyone could feel good for as well. Kevin also prepared foods that many of us liked to eat - nothing to fancy at times - just good, flavorful food.
I don't know exactly how the comments first came out, and perhaps there was a better way to do it, but Elia made very important points. Andy Cohen was absolutely terrible in this moment. For the first time ever, he decided he was going to do something other than smile and ask softball questions, but made clear that he thought Elia was in the wrong. Yet it was noticeable that several of the chefs agreed with her. Tom made a great point, but could have made it in a better way--you can't run a steakhouse and only have grass-fed beef. Certainly not if you're going to have a number of large steakhouses around the country. There just are not enough grass-fed cows out there. But rather than lamenting this fact (and if you aren't lamenting this fact, you either don't understand how corn-fed cows are raised or have no problem with torturing animals) he glossed completely over it. As for advertising for Diet Coke, Tom certainly has the right to do that. But just because you drink something or serve something doesn't mean it's a quality product. Soda is an enormous part of our unhealthy diet.
Part of the problem is that Elia clearly has unrealistic expectations for Tom. He's not crusading for improving our diet or for animal rights. He's a great chef who's an entertaining member of a good show. That's fine. But to paint someone who's trying to bring up important issues as a bad person is irresponsible and pathetic on Bravo and Cohen's part.
Tom, Congrats on another amazing season. I got hooked at the very beginning of Season2 and while that was on I watched the re-run of season1. I have never missed an episode or special since. I don't know how often you guys read your comments thread here but I have a suggestion for possibly a season or at least a 3 part special or something of that nature. Since we have done 4 star all stars, Masters, Just desserts, and now All-stars... why not give a second chance to another chef? What I for one would absolutely kill to see is a "Prove it" season. Where you take the first 2 chef's eliminated from each season and put them all back into the kitchen. In the same process I would consider adding a 3rd contestant from seasons 1,2,5. Cynthia quit S1 so she would be considered the 3rd possibility and Otto left for cheating in S2. Lauren I think would be the one who for sure should get in the 3rd slot simply because outside the quick fire she wasn't even given a chance to compete. Thats 17 chefs (allowing all 3 in).
What would your thoughts be on it Tom?
Congrats Tom! We are big fans. Richard Blais and Stefan were the two -really- talented folks that should have won their season, but didn't. With the finale of All Stars (last week), we were jubilant: one of the two 'wrongs' ... was 'righted'. Will you make every possible effort to entice Stefan to come participate in an upcoming event? There must be another chance for him to 'redress'. It may surprise some with the funny notion that sometimes, life turns out to be fair, ... after all...
As awkward as it may have been for everyone in the room (and even people at home), it was totally fair game to call out Elia at the reunion show. So what if it's being done in front of everyone? By going to the press with her opinions about Tom she was doing the same thing because those words spread publicly. At least here the confrontation was face to face rather than having a bitter ex-contestant sneak away to a reporter to take her jabs.
Unlike Tiffani and Stephen from season one and Dale from season four, Elia seems to have regressed as a person from the start of her season to the end of All-Stars. Pretty disappointing.
BRAVO, this was great tv, I loved this reunion show, I had so much fun watching it and laughed so much! It was a great season.
cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn. For those of you who do not like to read, go watch 'food inc', then see if you will continue to eat corn fed cows. Hope this gets posted...but who knows.
Tom.... Ellia's comments were inappropriate! A. I love Diet Coke, it might not be the healthiest drink, but who cares. B. Your restaurants are amazing.
To me she just sounds bitter. Ignore her.... I'm guessing you've already have!!
Great season... can't wait for the next!!
I think Tom is just great! I don't get what the big deal is about grass fed beef. It tastes like shoe leather. Way to go Tom! If I came to your steak house, and found only grass fed beef on the menu, I know I would order the chicken.
It was very unfair that Elian (sp?) was singled out on the Top Chef All Stars reunion show. She is entitled to her opinion, and I think you (and the show in general) were too critical of her - in front of all the Top Chef contestants, as well as the national viewing public. The reunion show should be fun and light-hearted and this was a witch hunt on this poor woman, who just has strong convictions and beliefs. Not fair, guy. My opinion of you has changed, and not for the better.
I totally agree about Spike, I loved his role in the finale. He was a perfect "filter" in relaying to Richard how the dishes were received ... even-kieled and respectful, but got the point across. Richard is so high-strung, he needed the feedback, and also needed a careful and constructive delivery. Nice work, Spike. (and YAY RICHARD!!)
Tom, do you read any of these postings this far after the season has ended? If yes, let us know! I just wished to see what it was like to write something after nobody cares anymore. Actually, it's fun!
Tom, have you seen Marcel's new show on Syfy Channel? Using my best Jackie Mason voice, "Again with the foam and coconut powder..."
Or maybe you are just a really sore loser who needs an excuse for why his contestant of choice didn't win. So how do you "watch" Top Chef? Do you psych yourself into a trance so that you can be etherially present to see what transpires behind the scenes? Awesome! Perhaps you can hook up with the pathetic psychic from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and compare your extra-terrestrial notes. Just a thought. :)
When was the last time you looked in the mirror Danska? I seriously doubt that you are in any position to judge anyone. Padma kicks your sorry butt blindfolded and backwards. Why don't you go crawl back under your rock and wait for the next tsunami to carry you into the next conch shell. With any luck... you will get picked up by the next Top Chef contestant who will probably lose because his conch was "rancid". Have a great day.
I fully agree with you tlauren! I like Mike, but I didn't like him half as much as I like Richard. I agree with you that there is more to being a "Top Chef" than just the ability to put a superb plate of food on the table. I guess I feel that if a chef feels comfortable farting on public television, then he would be just as comfortable doing something gross into the plate of a customer he doesn't like. Mike doesn't hold a candle to Richard. I don't mind that he made it into the finale.... but I cried when my guy, Richard, was crowned Top Chef. I hope Richard flies with the eagles. He earned the title. (((((Richard))))) :)
So when will we have enough TC winners for a Champions series?
Harold Dieterle, Ilan Hall, Hung Huynh, Stephanie Izard, Hosea Rosenberg, Michael Voltaggio, Kevin Sbraga, Richard Blais...if they need more just throw in a few fan favorite vote ins. Dare I say any willing TC Masters with the onions to compete?
I am sure this is on Andy's radar...just waiting for the announcement.
Yes, the show is difficult, and should be. But I'd prefer to see challenges that result in interesting dishes, not in watching the chefs struggle with faulty equipment, sleep deprivation, and so forth.
Winning a quickfire can confer an advantage, but not so much that the winner has a large amount of control over his/her competitors.
And could TPTB please keep the product placement and gimmicks to the quickfires and out of the elimination challenges?
super impressed with Mike I's incredible run and I actually mentioned to my wife the exact same analogy as the Olympics. Two world-class artists separated by a fraction of a percentage point on any given day. That was Richard's day and I honestly believe that, if he continues to develop his sense of self and confidence, he will go on to become an iconic American chef. I was rooting for him and his lovely family from day ONE. His sense of humility, drive and artistic integrity push him every day to be 100% of what he can be and I appreciate that.
How about a "Top Chef Champions"? Richard said he would love to come back a third time and face off against the Las Vegas V. brother champion...THAT would be another epic battle. I realize you don't have a normal full complement of 18 cheftestants since you haven't had that many seasons of Top Chef under your belt yet, but how long will you wait?
Maybe you could even have a "Top Chef Champions vs. Top Chef Masters"...perhaps THAT might be interesting having the up-and-comers vs. the well established veterans.
Nooo.........Now what am I supposed watch on Wednesdays?? You guys need to hurry with next season of Top Chef. Just Desserts and Top Chef Masters doesn't do it for me, they're just lamer versions. So get started now cause Top Chef is my crack and I need some more!!
Screw all the judges? Did you taste the food? Are you a professional chef? You spelled "the" wrong on a post for the world to read...talk about "WOW" and I think you meant "shame" not shane, and "food" not fod. "Itself" is one word, unless you were going for its self, which is the proper use for "its"...it's is a contraction for "it is", which I believe is what you meant when you said, "its a shane that they..." WOW, you must have been really angry, get a life, or spell check! LOL! Punctuation wouldn't have been a bad idea either...just saying.
I admit need a life too because I'm posting this, but saying that the judges were playing favorites is just wrong. They struggle with the decisions they have to make and they take it very seriously.
I hope your blood pressure has lowered by now and you have realized that there are many other things in this life to be indignant about. I'm sure Mike will do just fine in his career, relax, it's all good :)
Mike is a good cook but he is not a good chef. His stealing Richard's dish, self serving statements, burping, farting etc. show himself to be mediocre as a person and unprofessional as a chef. Top Chef is more than someone that can cook. Richard is not only a better cook, he has class. He is also humble, a team player, and possesses the integrity and respect of a Chef. He is Top Chef!
I think viewers need to keep in mind that when you are in a competition for $200,000 you are not going to be on your best behavior. I can't say that I would have taken Richard's idea for the QF Oyster win. But then again, I can't say WHAT I would do if I didn't have a better idea at the time and needed to secure my confidence. Some turn inward (Richard) and some outwards (Mike). Mike was snakey, but he made it right in the end and he needs to get respect for that. I'm sure, he of all, would like to take back a few things. His only option is to grow from it and move forward and it sounds like he is doing that. Elia is the perfect example of someone who chose to do the opposite.
Whew! What a phenomenal season and finale! I have watched Top Chef since its premiere. I knew this season's finale would be close and hard to watch. I recorded the show and gave myself an extra couple of days to prepare for the viewing.
While there have been disappointments over the years, I have never cried tears of joy like I cried for Richard. It was well-deserved! I am not a chef or a foodie. I am a seasoned home cook so perhaps my opinion of the food and the techniques used to prepare should not be offered. However, I must admit I was most put off by MIchael's behavior this season. There was no doubt he returned as a different chef but his lack of integrity and his 'game play' took me aback. Besides taking (some would say stealing) one of Richard's recipes, I also seem to recall Tiffany actually preparing the majority of one seafood dish which was presented during an elimination round for which Michael took credit.
I must agree with an earlier writer that while this is a COOKING competition, Michael failed to realize that his delicious food may have had a lingering and bitter after taste of entitlement and pride. Should every dog its own tail? Absolutely...just not in a judge's face. The humility and emotion with which spoke of his food, his dreams, and the Top Chef experience stood in stark contrast to the bravado.
Remember, "It's not how you start (or how many challenges you win along the way), it's how you finish." In the end, the judges had the unenviable task of naming ONE Top Chef (All Stars). I believe they got it right -- this year :) They are to be commended! Good job, Michael. CONGRATULATIONS, Richard! All of us are looking to see great things from you both!
Tom, I just had to add another 2 cents. Another difference between Mike and Richard was the way they presented themselves when they came out to present their meals. Richard looked neat wearing his clean apron over his chef's coat. Meanwhile, Mike came out in a stain smeared chef's jacket. He looked like a grubby mess. I realize this is a small point, but it would have turned me off to try his food. I'm surprised that you wouldn't give props to Richard for going the extra mile to make an amuse. That showed finesse. It also knocked everyone's socks off. Why not give extra points to extra effort. Perhaps you really did, but hate to admit it...
Totally agree! I think it might be a really different game. I definitely feel like the judges have their favorites, and it skews their perceptions. Tom esp. does not seem impressed with the female chef's food, ever. Would be interesting to an all blind tasting season.