Bravotv.com: Finale! We start with Sarah and Paul selecting their sous-chefs. Were you surprised that no one selected Marco?
Gail Simmons: I thought it was great that they put him in the mix. I’m disappointed that no one got Marco because he is such a massive talent and would have been such an asset. But what was unusual about the way they did it was that they kind of put the chefs in our shoes for a little. They had to only judge based on what was in front of them; it didn’t matter if they knew people’s backgrounds, who they were, what they did before, it was just all on this dish and it gives people a chance. You don’t necessary know who you’re choosing based on one course. It doesn’t matter if you know they’re a great chef, and if it’s not great or you don’t like it at that moment, you make a very different decision. So, I thought it was really smart and there are so many factors that go into it -- all these chefs are talented.
Bravotv.com: Were you surprised that Sarah selected Tyler because she thought that Heather made that dish?
GS: You can’t make that s--t up.
Bravotv.com: Does she really have that dish in her restaurant? That’s so weird.
GS: It was a little weird, but you know there aren’t that many brand new flavor combinations. It’s possible. I felt badly for her because I know that freaked her out, but Tyler could be great actually and I think in the end he really did pull through for her. He’s young, we could tell, and he’s got more confidence than experience right now. This challenge, where all you want to do is win -- you aren’t there to mentor at that moment.
Bravotv.com: So we go to their restaurants. You started at Paul’s. What was your first reaction when you got to Qi? Tom really liked the simplicity of the menu.
GS: I’m with Tom, Mark McEwen, Cat Cora and, Marco. Overall, I was excited for the menu because I’m always excited by Paul’s food. And I knew this was sort of his to lose. He had done so well over the course of the season -- I think he reached $45-50,000 in wins alone and that’s before he actually won the season. Obviously, whatever he does you’re excited to sample. There were a couple of questions I had on the menu. I thought it was an unusual menu and I wasn’t quite sure while reading it how it was going to go. The fact that he didn’t have any meat, the fact that he had two egg courses -- first the chawanmushi and then the congee -- was interesting, and they could be great or they could go wrong. I was a little nervous for him but also excited to see what he had in mind. Because you know that he did it for a reason, you just have to put yourself in his hands.
Hey Paul. When are you going to open a place up here in the North Woods (Seattle)?
Paul proved himself week after week and I am personally glad he won. Well deserved. Now, if he can get some much needed confidence! I hope you -the producers/writers-realize that the “cutsie” challenges you come up with to keep us tuned in—this year—backfired. I did not watch many of the shows after the ridiculous challenges that someone dreamed up. TC is different and apart from so many of the brainless reality shows the networks subject us to…and I do not watch them. TC was the exception-now it is just one more “survivor in the heat of the kitchen”…give me a break! I firmly believe the viewers want the challenges to be about the food (as Hugh likes to say). OK have some fun with the quick fires but don’t mess up the elimination challenges with stupid/juvenile pranks (Vancouver is a good example—chipping ice??? give me a break). Your show looks and acts like it has “jumped the shark”…too bad.
Congratulation to Paul. The Top Chef throughout the season. Let's hope The writers and Producers get it right next season. Listen to our coments, and realise we want T.C. to be about the food and the cheftestants. It's ok if the Cheftestants give us some drama. Just don't write in stupifying challenges.
I always love reading your insights. I found the parallels in ingredients and approach between the two chefs' meals quite fascinating. I have to admit that, even though I did not like Sarah and was disappointed to see her coming across as a phony yet again on WWHL, I absolutely adored her menu and would go out of my way to experience that meal. Paul is on a level of mastery and refinement that only a couple other on TC have ever achieved. He could win ANY season.
Definitely have a feeling the show "jumped the shark" this season. It was really ridiculous that the majority of challenges were less about food but gimmicky situations. The chipping ice one was way over the top. We could tell Paul was annoyed as well. Is this a cooking competition? I didn't watch half the season due this kinda manufactured drama/gimmicks.
Top chef stood alone in a sea of reality shows to be intelligent with a healthy dose of integrity. It's slowly becoming the caliber of the next "Americas next top model" or whatever that show is called.
Gail, Thanks for your insights. I don't think you can directly compare being a judge to the final selection of sous chefs by the 2 finalists. You judges always know who prepared which dish. Conversely, the Sarah & Paul did a blind taste test. Perhaps, in the future, the judges could make their decisions in the same fashion (blind tasting)... It's interesting that Chef Canora wasn't chosen. As much as you give him props, his time on Next Iron Chef showed a selfish, paranoid, hysterical cook who blamed everyone else for his failures. His food may be good, but his ego prevents his head from getting in the door. The boy Tyler didn't deserve to be foisted upon either cheftestant since he hadn't completed the first challenge in the selection process. Only the better cooks should be considered for the finale moment. Again, this entire season was full of dirty tricks and cheap gimmicks that lessened (not heightened) the viewing experience. Since SourSarah spent most of the season in the bottom 3 due to poor execution, she didn't "deserve" her position in the finals either. From week 2, Paul rose to the top and remained there consistently due to his talent and consistency.
I rooted for Paul from the very beginning and am so happy he won. As like the other posters I did not care for many of the challenges this season. This is Top Chef not Survivor or The Amazing Race. And remember Top Chef beat them both in winning an Emmy without (as someone said) these "ridiculous challenges".
I was into the fifth week of TOP CHEF TEXAS before I realized it had nothing to do with Real Housewives.
NYESHA ARRINGTON should be INVITED BACK next season. And let her start at the same round that she got to during Last Chance Kitchen. Nyesha is talented and was eliminated, as you well remember, because of someone else's mistake!! That was unfair. Even more unfair was making her cook several rounds -- that she won -- in Last Chance Kitchen until she dropped from exhaustion (who wouldn't?!). So she got the bum's rush thrice! Invite NYESHA ARRINGTON back. That would be the ethical and right thing to do!
Gail, it is so much fun to see you on the air. Your comments often replicate my own thoughts. You exude what a powerful and lovely woman should, and the people who compete on the show have tons to learn from you.
I am so glad Paul won. Mean Sarah should not have even made it close to the finals. I almost didn't watch the finals this year becasue of her and i Love TOP CHEF. But I had to root for Paul. He's a great chef and a very nice person. If you watch the tapes, every time you can see Sarah give someone a dirty look if they get a compliment from one of the judges. Yes, Lindsay & Heather you too. The way you girls treated Bev was just awful. I call it "Bullying because you were Jealous". I have to say this was not one of the better seasons of TOP CHEF except for the fact that a great chef won. PAUL!!!!!
Loved the meeting with the loved ones of the chefs. Yes even Sarah. Paul's experience was so touching. Loved the father and son moment.
I, too, wanted Paul to win. He did so well throughout the season and was gracious and humble. HOW was he behind Chris Crary for fan favorite (who we hardly heard from)?! Either Grayson or Paul should have that title.
I also want to reiterate what others have said about the silly, meaningless challenges. I watch this show for the cooking techniques and combinations. It's always been a great competition, but some of this season's challenges were so ridiculous and unfair to the cheftestants. Please, please get back to what Top Chef has always been about!
Gail, Thank you for sharing with Beverly how she was so gracious in dealing with those "Mean" girls. You can see the sparkle in her eyes and heart, while the other ladies??? are dark on the inside. I love how Nyesha siad if Bev beat her she better make it to the finals. But the right Chef won and I did love Paul and his style of cooking. Thank you for making this one of my favorite shows to watch!!! Now what am I going to do, I'm starting a Top Chef Dinning Club and each month we're going to a restaurant of a contestant or judge! Best wishes to you!!! KB Foodie