Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio goes course by course to explain why Paul ultimately took the win.

on Mar 1, 2012

…which brings us to the dessert. As with all that proceeded it, both dishes were exceptional. The judges gushed about Sarah’s dish because it was gush-worthy. It was fantastically delicious, a truly wonderful dessert. For all that I loved her dessert, and despite the fact that there was nothing to cricitize about it, I personally would still give the win for the final course to Paul. His dessert was the more interesting of the two. It was really well put together, really smart, and really unexpected. That spicy chili foam with the coconut ice cream was sublime. I personally thought that the rice had just exactly the right amount of texture. This dessert showed that Paul was thinking it all out, the texture, the interplay between hot and cold, the play of flavors… utterly successful, and, ultimately, as delectable but a lot more interesting than hazelnut cake.

And so you see the challenge we judges faced. We had just been presented with two exceptional meals, both reflecting the personalities of the chefs who made them, both highlighting outsized talent and remarkable skill sets. And we were faced with as close to a tie as we’d ever been. At the end of the day, though, even if you were to score the courses 2:2, an “even match,” the details in Paul’s dishes were just a little better thought through and put together, and while I believe that he won three out of the four courses, even were you to decide that both he and Sarah won two each, he won his by a wider berth. It was very, very hard to deny Sarah the “Top Chef” title with the meal she served us that night in Vancouver… but at the end of the day, Paul’s meal managed to edge hers out.  It was the better of the two phenomenal meals.

Now, if you were a Beverly fan, you’d probably be upset that Sarah made it to the very end, and no doubt are glad that Paul took the title, but we judges were never around for any of that “drama” and, frankly, would not have been interested in it had we been privy to it. We’re interested in the food they make in response to each challenge, and that’s all. Based on the food that Sarah served up in the finale, I completely stand behind her having reached the finale. She and Paul both worked hard all season to get there, and I for one will not soon forget the meals they presented.