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If you’ve ever been to the Statue of Liberty, you surely remember the letters in the exhibit hall, the hundreds of letters from first-generation Americans telling their stories of coming to the United States, of seeing their first glimpses of Lady Liberty following long and arduous voyages, and of moving through Ellis Island, being inspected for medical issues, being questioned, and, finally, being granted entry into the United States.
Nearly everyone in the U.S. has a story, whether of his or her own journey or of that of a forbearer, and whether their ancestors came of their own volition or, as with those forcibly brought as slaves, they did not pick this land but their descendants have made it their own. Ellis Island saw 20 million immigrants pass through its portals between the years of 1892 and 1954, when it serves as a federal immigration processing center (before that, it was a base for oyster fishing and then the site of a fort). Did you know that prior to Ellis Island’s tenure as an immigration station, immigration matters were handled by the individual states? Neither did I –- my sister-in-law just told me that. Corruption was rampant, so the feds stepped in. Not that they were nicer, though. They would hand out bananas at Ellis Island to the wan and starving immigrants right after their grueling voyages across the Atlantic and would snicker as the immigrants, who had never seen the tropical fruit before and didn’t know what to do with it, would bite right into the astringent peel. Nice. The first immigrant processed at Ellis Island was fifteen-year old Irish native Annie Moore. She and her two brothers were finally joining their parents, who hadmade the journey two years prior. And the rest, they say, is history. Personal history.
Which is why I really liked this challenge. It was a chance for our chefs to show how very personal cooking can be. Grounding the challenge at Ellis Island felt organic. We wanted the chefs to cook food from their pasts, and this was a very good way of connecting them to those pasts, to their people and their own customs, while also linking the challenge to place: Regardless of the dispute over whether Ellis Island belongs to New York or New Jersey, it is an iconic part of New York’s own story and history and, thus, a great challenge for a season happening in New York.
You all impressed me tonight...it was very emotional watching this episode so I can't imagine how it felt to be there. As you all talked about the meal, I wondered if you were making nice because the families were there, but the comments seemed so sincere!! Once judges table started, I said there is no way they can send anyone home, no way. Everyone seemed to pull it out and made amazing food. I LOVED the ending. As I posted on Facebook. I rarely yell or clap for television, except for this year's World Series win by the SF Giants...I yelled and clapped at the end tonight. Thank you for making the best decision!
This was the best challenge I've seen in 8 seasons. Wonderful show tonight...and so happy no one was eliminated. Loved it!
I love the decision to keep all 5 chefs. It always seemed so sad to see a chef go, not because their dish was bad, but because it wasn't "quite as good" as another competitors, but was still incredible.
I really like Antonia as a chef but....I don't think anyone should ever win anything cooking any animal that is raised in cruel and inhumane conditions solely for our palate. I would hope, that as human beings, we would have elevated ourselves beyond this practice. Yes, I live my truth. I shop at Whole Foods and buy animals that I can track where they were raised and the conditions in which they lived. I see the stores that the chefs are allowed to shop. Where did this veal come from? And tell me you can track it's farm, and it's living conditions, in it's short, sad, life before you-all chowed down on it and designated it's chef the winner?
I am glad that both Carla and Tiffany got to go to the finals. I also appreciate what a difficult challenge this must have been.
LAME. you simply didn't have the courage to send home a black woman. Tiffany's dish looked AWWWFUL and the best thing you had to say about Carla's dish is the "broth was good"... oh, and the biscuits. Big Deal. a biscuit. how is that "Top Chef" material? .....a BISCUIT?????? there are so many true Top Chefs who have been sent home while mediocre hacks like Carla are going to the finales?? why? because the producers of the show are intent on perpetuating the notion that being truthful about talent plays is not as important as appearing "racially tolerant".
BEST SHOW EVER ON TOP CHEF. tHE MOST DECENT, UNSELFISH, GENEROUS IN SPIRIT AND FUN GROUP OF CHEFS IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHOW. FANCY -SLANCY, GIVE ME A CHEF WITH HEART AND THEY WILL BEAT A CULINARY SNOB ANYTIME (A PERFECT CHEF HAVE A COMBINATION OF BOTH) . THIS SHOW MAKE ME SHED A TEAR AND REMEMBER MY GRANNY MEALS FOR SUNDAY DINNER. THANKS TO ALL THE JUDGES FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING AND ESPECIALLY TOM.
Although I have occasionally read these blogs, I have never, ever considered posting a comment. Until now. WHAT AN AMAZING EPISODE! It seemed like seeing family members was exactly what the chefs needed. Re-energized and inspired, they took special care to pay homage to their heritage and families. They all looked so relaxed and joyful as they were preparing and serving their dishes. I would have loved to taste any one of those plates. Bravo chefs & judges! "Deep, deep stuff" indeed!
P.S. Before the last commercial break, y'all gave away the Final Five decision with your smiles!
What Padma did to Richard was brutal! This challenge showed what these chefs were capable of given a challenge based solely on cooking. Too bad Dale and Angelo were not able to compete in this challenge.
While this episode was amazing, on a strictly personal level as an indigenous person I once again, as many of my family and ancestors before me, felt left out and isolated from this "American journey tale." Not that it is the responsibility of a TV show about cooking food to portray all voices politically correctly, but even in your blog, Tom, there is no recognition that many of us never traveled anywhere except back and forth across this country looking for a place to hang on to and keep as our own.
Great episode....incredibly meaningful and terrific!! glad noone went home and it will make the finale more fun!
How wild it was to find out that Mike Isabella and Antonia were distantly related!! Only in America can you compete for the same show, win a spot, cook like your life depended on it, only to find out that a fellow chef is distantly related to you!! That was throughly enjoyable and you could tell that after they found out, they were more cordial to one another and less competitive towards one another (to the point that Mike was calling Antonia his "cousin"). This was a great challenge - I have visited Ellis Island and it is very emotional to think of the thousands of immigrants who have come through there to start a new life in a new country. My parents are immigrants and although they did not come through Ellis Island - I find that ANY family's story is fascinating in this country - we have all come from somewhere.
A quickfire that proved nothing. An elimination challenge that didn't eliminate anyone. It's a cooking contest? Having said that, the elimination challenge was an excellent way of allowing the chefs to demonstrate their cooking skills. It may have been too good in that regard since no one messed up thus not allowing the Judges to have him or her go home. While I thought you were right in keeping them all, I felt that you all were a bit sadistic in how you did that. It's a cooking contest, not a torture chamber.
I think we all agree you made the right choice of sending no body home. I love TOP CHEF. Congrats to ANTONIA.
Hey TOM you all are lucky to be enjoying the fruits of this earth prepared by TOP CHEFS. We are lucky just to watch this wonderfull show.
KEEP IT DELICIOUS. JERYM.
What an exciting Top Chef. Wonderful editing on this episode. It had a full gamut of emotions, from tears of joy to tears of deep emotional relief. So glad no chef had to pack their knives this time, Although next week there will probably be two going home. Best episode ever.
It was a beautiful touching episode. BUT..
Everyone says get over it and move on..BUT I still miss Dale and I just cant but say if you could send 5 people to the finale, why you couldn't look back at tapes and call it like it is...Still bitter Tom, I am just imagining what Dale would have cooked...
I thought this was an incredible episode - we really got to see different sides of the contestants as well as reflect on the echoes of how one's personal history influences self-expression. Thank goodness no one went home! It would have been devastaing after such an intense challenge with such superb results, to see anybody go home.
I was so excited to find out that no one got sent home!! What a great episode...I just can't wait for the finale!!!
Fantastic season!! Loved every episode, loved every blog, love every chef and judge.
Thank you - Bravo!!!
It's funny. While watching the show, when you brought all 5 into the judges room at once, I said to my husband, "They're sending 5 to the finale". I was sad that I was right.
And although, I admit, I laughed when Richard was about to lose it on Padma for making it sound like he was going home. That was incredibly cruel and uncalled for.
I would have rather seen the contestants and more time with their families than that long, anti-climatic judge's table.
Have watched every Top Chef episode from the very beginning of Season One. This was the best ever! I actually cried a few times. Thank you for honoring the beauty of it all and sending everyone to the finale!
Total cop out. I've often heard the judges lecture the chiefs on how they must rise to the challenge regardless of unforeseen obstacles. The challenge for the judges ever week is to eleminate the weakest dish. Yesterday you all failed and I wasted an hour and a bit.
I'm glad all 5 chefs put forward such great dishes that the judges couldn't find enough fault to send someone home. I would have loved to have tasted all those dishes myself.
Thanks for inspiring me to go and look up my old copy of my Grandmother's chicken and Spanish rice recipe that was the source of many happy memories as a kid. I was watching the show and having vivid flashbacks of sitting around the dining room table with my grandparents, who are both gone now... i got to be with them for a few moments in my memory last night, and I was surprised that a tv show could transport me like that. Very cool. oh- and I am SO tired of Richard's "negative nancy" persona. He's about as much fun as a wet sock.
You guys nearly gave me a heart attack!!!! I loved this episode. It made me cry, laugh and nearly choke. It was very emotional and personal which I liked, I loved how when Antonia's mom asks if you guys would consider a "top five" you and Gail laugh at the thought, I thought it was hilarious too, and the part that nearly made me choke was when you guys tricked us into thinking Richard was being sent home! My heart really stopped for a second there, Richard is the bomb! I still cant believe you didn't send anyone home...and you know what I love that you didn't!
This was the worst episode of the season for me.... First and foremost, the editing of the show has gotten so bad where we the viewers have no idea after the episode how the food actually was. How is it that Antonia won the challenge over Richard when her meat was admittedly too salty and Richard's dish was described as "perfect" and "exquisite?" I also simply don't understand why Tiffany hasn't been sent home at this point. You make the argument that past performance cannot play a part in present decisions, but even this challenge made it clear that Tiffany does not deserve to make it to the finale. The dish she made is an exact replica of a dish her mother has made thousands of times prior... not only did she copy her mother's dish, her mother chose the ingredients, proteins, and entire menu for her. Tom, how can you call that being a top chef? I say give Tiffany's mother the recognition for the dish and send Tiffany home; she's deserved to go home since day one.
Well, tbone, I don't know about you, but in my book a good'ol, golden flaky biscuit would beat an overcomplicated fancy dish anytime. Mmmm, biscuits, one of my very guilty pleasures. And you can say anything about not liking biscuits, but after having won 3 elimination chalenges plus yesterday's quikfire, you could call Carla anything but mediocre. By the way, have you ever tasted her food to be able to talk about it with so much assurance? Sometimes, what seems to be "simple" is actually much more satisfying when perfectly executed, and even more, deceitful when it is not.
Go Carla! As I said once before, you will bury them all with your "simple" food.
Wonderful show tonight, boy you really had Richard for a moment. I am glad that all Chef's stayed. This season showed how much some of these Chef's have grown. While Dale and Tiffany both seemed moe mature and much more sure of themselves (which is wonderful), oh Marcel still did not learn from his past season. Thank you for a wonderful show which I have watched since the beginning and still enjoy very much.... Good luck to all the contestants.
Every single week I am baffled and frustrated that Carla is not recognized as a contender. She went to the final round in her first season. This season, she has won more elimination challenges than anybody except Dale. I don't think that the judges' decision to send both Tiffany and Carla to the finals had anything to do with their ethnicity. I do wonder, however, whether that has anything to do with people perceiving Carla as "hack."
Congratulatons contestants for doing a great job cooking...and the judges for rendering a decision made with WISDOM. It broke my heart to see Angelo and Dale T leave, especially with their strong performances in the season thus far. While I am no fan of Mike Isabella...he did cook up a great great dish. I would have passed out if Carla was eliminated. I think Tiffany is just burnt out because of doing 2 seasons back to back. Hope being with her mom on this episode will re-energize her. She is capable of much better things, as was seen on season 7.
Just my 2 cents here. Since this is an ALL STARS Season...the rules doesn't have to be the same as in a regular season. Maybe a 5-way battle in Bahamas? A top chef winner still...and the remaining 4 just equal runner-ups. Hey...maybe it was done this way afterall as the competition is already over and has been months ago. Well maybe for future All Stars.
Hi, Tom. Great show last night. That was a very surprising decision to keep the five intact, and it just makes the finale episodes all the more dramatic. I also applaud you for showing that it's still okay to be proud of one's heritage, and using food as a means to convey that idea. In today's politically-charged, right-wing, anti-immigrant climate of being a so-called "true American" (whatever that means), I'm glad your show transcends boundaries to prove that it's okay to be proud of one's ethnicity, whatever your country of origin or historical background is, and still be a good American. Keep up the great show.
This was a GREAT episode. It looked like EVERYONE performed up to their highest standards. I was glad to see everyone move through and get a chance to make or break themselves in the Finals.
As for people dissing on Carla, she has one more Elimination Challenges than anyone else in the competition. She has won 3, Richard 2, Antonia 2, Mike 1 and Tiffany 0. Before you even ask She was tied at the top with Dale who had also won 3 and was ahead of Antonio who had won 2. Carla has been consistently good this season a completely deserves her spot in the Finals and probably in the Top 3 at the end. Go CARLA!!! You are a delight to watch.
As for the comment about not eliminating a black woman, REALLY, they have done it all the times before, what makes you think this season would be any different. Let's face it Top Chef is about not EVER creating a horrible dish, or an inedible dish. That is why some of the strongest competitors are gone (Antonio and Dale) and others remain. They bombed out on their dishes. Race and/or personality has nothing to do with the judging. Stop throwing the "race" card around, because we all know that this wasn't the case.
I hope everyone does great in the Finals and makes the decision another hard one for the judges.
Great show, Tom. The decision to keep them intact was surprising, but it just makes the finale episodes all the more dramatic. As a Dale Talde fan, I wish he was still around for this episode, particularly in the dining sequence with the families eating together. Family is such an important component in Filipino families. I also wanted to applaud you for showing that it’s still okay to be proud of one’s heritage, and for using food to convey that message. In today’s politically-charged, right-wing, anti-immigrant climate of being a so-called “true American” (whatever that means), it’s great to see Top Chef exemplify the notion that there is still value in one’s ethnicity and background, and how it contributes to the fabric of American culture. Keep up the great work. You have a fan for life.
I've been watching Top Chef since the show came out, and it's responsible for me discovering the beauty of food and heading for a career in the culinary industry. I've accepted and respected every decision you and your fellow judges have made purely on the basis that you are well-esteemed chefs/critics/writers/etc that actually tasted the food, and I am not.
For the first time ever, I don't understand the decision. I hate to question chefs of your and Dan Barber's stature, but I simple don't see why you couldn't find someone to send home.
From what we got in the TV edit, Antonia won, Blais had a "perfect" dish, and Mike's had no complaints. Then there was Carla, where there was too much broth that the vegetables "got lost", and the corn was tough. And Tiffany, where the "Coco Chanel" comment seemed to imply that she needed to take one thing off.
If this was a situation where Antonia had a perfect dish, and the other 4 dishes equally just short of perfection, I'd understand sending no one home. However, from what I saw, it seemed like Blais, Antonia, and Mike were Top 3, and Carla and Tiffany had (very slightly) flawed dishes. If this were the case, it's not fair to the Top 3 to let them both stay and create more competition. There had to be some way - degree of difficulty, conception, even Quickfire or past performance - to find a line and send someone home.
This episode was a rollercoaster! Probably my all time favorite, and I know I'm not the only one to have said it. Laughter and tears! Besides that ferry thing, which was kind of a throw away, just spectacular. Antonia must feel spooked, between predicting Padma and finding a new distant relative. And Richard! It was so nice to see a little glimpse into his personal life. I screamed at the TV when we thought he was going home for that split-second. Either Padma or the producers are pretty twisted. I can still hear Richard's voice "why, why would you do that, why would you do that?..." Poor poor Richard. Hope he wins.
I am a huge fan, and have never missed a season. This was by far, my most favorite season and this episode was honestly one of the best ever. The stories, the food the location......could not have been better......(except wish Angelo would have been there! He really was one of the best chefs ever on this show.) But "BRAVO"!!.......best show ever!
I totally agree with the judges on this one. I actually tweeted 15 minutes before the show ended how I couldn't bear to see any of the them go home and I have never felt that way before. I always had a bad feeling about someone screwing up..not this time. It really seemed like they all nailed it. Bring on the Finals!
I thought it was a great episode. It taps into what pulls most of us into food, its connection to warmth, laughter around the table with friends and family, and feeling satisfied. Those dishes all looked deeply satisfying. I don't believe each of the contestants are equal. In fact, as much as I love Tiffany, I think she is the weakest of the five. In fact, I curse Dale for that gulf challenge because I truly believe he could have been Top Chef. He's incredibly talented and was one of the most consistent chefs. But, neither here nor there. After all they have been through, letting all five pass seemed a fair thing to do.
I have to agree with "tBone" that this episode was the lamest yet in a season that should have been exceptional, but instead devolved into manufactured melodrama and product placements.
With the exception of Richard, all of the best chefs have already been sent home, and somehow not ruining risotto or gnocchi is enough to get to the finals.
I thought this show was supposed to be a cooking competition. I guess I was wrong.
I'm thankful that the quickfire challenge was not an indication of the elimination challenge. The quickfire was a cheap, almost throwaway challenge with none of the elements that viewers expect. The elimination was an extraordinary challenge on many levels, and it was a treat to see each chef rise to the occasion in his or her own way. I'm a bit surprised to see the accusation of political correctness - we're not there to taste the food, and we all know these episodes are edited to bits.
Great job and show by both the contestants and judges. Loved seeing the emotions, learning about the contestants' heritage along with them, and especially loved seeing the judges' appreciation of how it all came together. You made the right choice in keeping them all. I was also very impressed by the reaction of the contestants when each announced they were staying - I can't remember a group being this supportive of each other by cheering each other on, helping in the kitchen, and tasting each other's food. Bravo chefs!
And tbone --- have you ever tried to make a biscuit from scratch? It's not as easy as you think to get a nice, fluffy, and perfectly flaky biscuit. Biscuits in a can aren't even on the same planet as a great Southern biscuit!
That's funny, I watched the extended judge's table and was left feeling the judges didn't eliminate anyone because they couldn't bear to send Richard home.
I appauld the courage of the chefs to cook with "love". They put everything out there for all of us to watch. Having lost my Mother in October, I was personally drawn into the emotion of the evening and it touched my heart and soul.
Thank you to the judges for realizing there is more life than ratings or following the rules. The chefs cooked with their hearts and delivered their best dishes. I think that is the best lesson ever displayed on Top Chef. Thank you for a truely wonderful show.
I actually wrote a comment much to this effect earlier which did not get posted for whatever reason. I thought that this episode was amazing, but as a person descended from both immigrants and people native to this country, I felt like a piece of the story was missing. I did not notice this as much when I was watching the episode, but the comments at the beginning of Tom's blog certainly reflect this omission. The episode did, however, do a great job of showing how personal and emotional heritage can be.