Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio anticipates audience reaction to the final 16 cheftestants.

on Nov 9, 20110

Season 9 has begun with a bang that ripped through the expectations of our 29 chefs, and after the smoke cleared only 16 were left standing, ready to cook (or at least to claim their bunk beds in the house.)  

I, for one, was really glad we started off the season by having the chefs cook their way into the competition. It was a great exercise, because there are plenty of chefs who are really good at what they do but who just can’t compete like this. It doesn’t mean they’re not good, but this competition favors chefs who are quick on their feet, who make strong and supportable decisions swiftly, and who cook well under pressure. In seasons past, we had no way to ascertain that the sixteen chefs we’d selected were not only solid chefs but could compete well under the circumstances they’d be facing. So it was great to have a process of selecting our 16 chefs that would ensure that all 16 are capable of doing exactly that. Also, there are always opening jitters at the start of a new season. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve dispelled them, and our 16 are ready to go head to head.

What drama there was this week was clearly to be found in the bubble: Would there even be spaces left by the time we finished with the third team? (And we were prepared for the possibility that there wouldn’t be). And, once we determined that there were, in fact, two spaces left to fill, which of the six chefs would rise to the occasion and to the top?

51 comments
mamakass69
mamakass69

I love Top Chef! The selection process was great because it was all about the cooking. Kudo's to Tom for eliminating the chef (can't remember his name) for not being able to butcher a piece of meat!!! One bloger wrote they would rather watch TC over the Olympics, I feel TC is THE OLYMPICS of COOKING!

Ty
Ty

Loving the new season. It was really cool how the field of 29 chef were whittled down to 16. Felt like I was apart of the casting process. It was a good twist that the top 29 had to cook their way into the final 16.

With each eason I eagerly await the new season of,"Top Chef." This season I am a BIG big fan of Chef Edward Lee. Edward has a true fighting. Even when thing look bad he keep on going. Even with a bad cut this man kept on fighting,and pushing to earh his spot. He earned it.

I am 24 years old,and living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,and has always been a hope of mine to be a chef. Edward really inspires! Due to my physical limitations it would be very hard to attend a cooking school. Still I try to learn new skills via cooking books,reading,web and so on. In my own way I keep going and pushing on,and hopefully Edward will also. Please keep the fun,and inventive twist coming. Good luck to all of the crew and cast of,"Top Chef 9."

Rudy
Rudy

Top Chef Texas suffers from the same problem as previous Top Chef competitions. Once again I have a problem with judging. It's not about the food. Things I would like to see: 1) A Tim Gunn Project Runway style preview by a nonjudge. I think judge Colicchio gets too much of a heads-up as to what’s going on in the kitchen. 2) The most unbiased episode I have seen was the one with Katie Couric. I would like to see more blind tasting where the judges do not know who prepared the meal. On the first elimination from 29 to 16, the challenge could have been "make the best meal you can in 40 minutes." Meals could be served by staff without the judges knowing who prepared them. The judges would have rated the meal as excellent, elimination, or give another try. No bias would have been added because one person was an understudy of a great chef, or I like the way (s)he looks. All meals would have been rated on presentation, and taste alone. If less than 16 meals were rated excellent then the give another try chefs could cook again, as in make the best meal you can in 30 minutes. The same challenge could be given if more than 16 meals were rated excellent or the judges could have selected the best 16 meals. The whole idea should be "it's about the food, not who you know, who you work for, your personality, or your looks. The first elimination (29-16) was uneven because of the different challenges given to each group. Rudy

Amy T
Amy T

Thanks for your blog. I love reading what you have to say and I also appreciate that it's not video, so I can read in between work. Your explanations are great on why contestants get eliminated. I wish some other shows would do the same. Looking forward to the season!

CreativeCraic
CreativeCraic

I am a huge fan of Bravo Tv in general but Top Chef will always be my favorite. Looking forward to another great season with Tom, Padma and Gail and I'm really excited about the addition of Hugh and Emeril as judges...I think they will be a thoughtful and appropriate addition to a great show. Well done hosts and producers!

REBEKAH :)
REBEKAH :)

I am super excited for this season and I think Emeril is a good addition to the show. I wasn't sure what to think at first but after seing it I am pleased with the decision. I was sad to see Andrew eliminated, he seemed to capture my heart with wanting to support his family etc. I hope he gets put back in the show since that is a new possiblitiy. (even though, I am not keen on that idea to begin with) Top chef needs to come to Milwaukee! It would be nice to prove gail simmon's insulting comment about wisconsin food wrong. After that comment I am not a fan of her! (it took me a long time to like her in the first place)

Grandma Edie
Grandma Edie

Love the selection process, if for no other reason than I didn't have to watch or listen to another minute of Tyler! Love Heather!!

FanFare57
FanFare57

It's annoying to watch the best of the group in 2 installments. One long first ep would have been better. It's very annoying to watch discarded chefs get a 2nd chance. It's particularly annoying to learn there is a "redemption island" type contest off screen to give the discarded discards yet another chance to join the main event. If they couldn't cut the mustard after 2 tries, let them go. The losers got their chance the first round. Enough with preliminaries. Get on with the show!

Brian, SF
Brian, SF

For the second season in a row, one of the best foodie cities and regions in the country, San Francisco and northern California, has no representation on Top Chef. I appreciate the variety of personalities and culinary skills, but come on, would you have a show about baseball and not include the Yankees.

HWFANfromLI
HWFANfromLI

Top Chef has been my favorite Bravo show since season 1! Love you blog, Tom...thanks for the explanations and insight. I do agree the chefs should fight to get in "under the Top Chef" requirements, but the "bubble", not into that at all! I think you all should just have made the decision to pick the 16. Btw, had the pleasure of eating at Kraft Steak house in NY - delish! My only other comment/question is (and has been since she starting hosting) is what makes Padma such an expert on judging food? Great show...as always!

hpw
hpw

3 IMPORTANT NOTES - One THE best shows on TV bar none!...(1) Getting into 'sweet 16' was a great idea, what took you guys so long for this idea? You could of used this idea for all the seasons because there were some pretty bad chefs in all the seasons. (2) Here is another good idea, why not have the chefs have a point system each week. Making it to top 5 doesn't really say much because one bad dish will send them packing. As any profession, we all have bad days. That's why a 'point' system would work. The Chef with the lowest points from the judges each week would be sent packing and the points from each week would accrue. As weeks go by the point system plays a big role, for the fact the chefs who are on the leaderboard will basically be safe all the way through even if they had one bad dish that would normally send them packing. (Example: Sam in Season TWO). He was by far the best Chef that didn't win it all. If you watch Padma's face after she told Sam to pack his knives should tell you, I wasn't the only one who was throwing sh*t at the TV after that god aweful decision. (3)And the most important thing that you guys did right this year, you've finally added some 'eye candi' (with talent) for us guys. (One word..Grayson!!) It only took you guys 6 seasons to add another 'hotness' to your show! Yes, Casey Thompson was the 1st!! But now, it's all about Grayson baby!!!!!!!!!

Viewer in CA
Viewer in CA

Love the new season's twist. Makes it exciting from the start. Looking forward to the season. TC continues to be my son's favorite show (he is a 9 year old sports nut, but loves this!)

alex beitashour
alex beitashour

top chef is the one show I will watch with my girlfriend when I am not watching SPORTS!

Dog Lover
Dog Lover

Do some of you people actually think Tom or the other judges read these comments??? As if they have the time to read and respond to your questions or complaints...and once they responded to one, a hundred other people would chime in expecting "conversation." Please quit wasting your time "talking" to him.

Freda
Freda

I Love the way you have set up season 9 with the contestants cooking for their coats ! I LOVE LOVE this show and anticipate every season !! I also LOVE the last chance kitchen idea . Great new twist !!!

Stephen Trask
Stephen Trask

It was quite gratifying to see Edward make it into the competition. My boyfriend and I have eaten at his restaurant and were extremely impressed with the level of complexity he was able to serve up dish after dish, but in a way that seems also to be straight forward and common sensical. Food tourists that we are, we have eaten at Bouchon and momofuku and Craft in Century City and Avec and Total Obama in Chicago and The Bazaar and Del Posto and Stella! in New Orleans and, well, you get the idea. ALso, we spent two weeks eating some of the best food in Seoul and the influence of Korean is subtly all over his cooking. We had well over a dozen dishes at 610 Magnolia between us with only a handful of quibbles and would rate it with the best this country has to offer. I hope he continues to impress.

dam yankee
dam yankee

@Nina N.,

In Ed's position, what would YOU have done? Sat in the corner and cried 'woe is me' ? He did exactly what a good chef does: he held the bleeder as far away from his food as possible, gloved up and kept working. I didn't see any blood dripping "all over the kitchen". Perhaps he should have wimped out and gone to the ER like top scallop girl Jamie? We all know how much respect that earned her: from competitors and viewers alike, less than zero. Besides that, this is a competition. They aren't sending these plates out to Joe Q Public, they're going out to a couple of judges who probably in their long cooking history have sliced themselves open a time or two. Get over it!

Craft Not Steak
Craft Not Steak

Lisa N , why would you expect anything else from a chef that allows " You can suck my di**" to be shouted in his crowded LV restaurant repeatedly, and NOT show the boor the door. Forget the $20K or so the other patrons were dropping, just coddle this loudmouth drunk so he ruins everyone else's experience...

Dee Dee 2
Dee Dee 2

Tom,

I missed the show and waiting for it to come on again, I read the blogs and one of the bloggers stated that a chef continue cooking while bleeding and wiping the blood on a black towel. On "Chopped" a chef that used anything contaminated or cut their finger and continued to cook while bleeding was eliminated on judges table. There was no way the judges could have not eliminated the chef (that is 101 in cooking).

CJ in Maryland
CJ in Maryland

Liked the cloche competition and the concept of different timing, very original. Looking forward to this season. I would like to see a show (or perhaps an extra online) that actually showcases an entire discussion on Judges Table as to what you and the other judges discuss, especially when there is a difference of opinion and how you come to a consensus. i think it would make for some interesting viewing. One last thing, you would think a show as popular as you are could afford to have a contestant house without those silly bunk beds; it makes me think I'm watching some crappy Real World hybrid sometimes.

Joe K
Joe K

Hey Tom, What would you have done if all 16 coats had already been awarded? Would it have become a battle to see who could get into the Last Chance Kitchen?

Rita
Rita

Loving the premise of the cheftestants competing for a spot......and good call sending the jerk home who couldn't butcher a pig properly Tom,he was so arrogant!

Tim Irvin
Tim Irvin

Tom, a season (or two) ago you told Tiffany that premixed seasonings (she used Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning) weren't any good. I'm looking forward to hearing you tell Emeril that. I use his Original Bam! Essence Seasoning all the time. Please post a Youtube video of your guitar playing!

Last Chance Kitchen Stroke of EVIL Genius!
Last Chance Kitchen Stroke of EVIL Genius!

Top Chef is the only reality show I will watch because it has both real world relevance (yes, some of these challenges DO come out of the restaurant business) and good old fashioned drama. I agree with Tom, the "cook-in" was brilliant - no cannon fodder on this season! And I love Last Chance kitchen. I hope Janine takes your advice and comes back next season - I was amazed at how young some of these folks - like Janine - are, and with a little more experience under her belt she could run the tables.

Ralpho
Ralpho

I still think that with all that drought and fires amidst 110 F heat, roasting deer or remuda along the Chisholm Trail is a must.

Ralpho
Ralpho

Paned the panna cotta, lotta disaster there! Good call. Also, Med Rare duck and vulcanized rubber shrimp have different chemical compositions and electron covalences: One tastes delicious! The other bounces past Jupiter.

JOHNNY!!!
JOHNNY!!!

Top Chef is literally the best show ever. I'd rather watch Top Chef than the Olympics. Although some eliminations have really pissed me off, I keep coming back to this show because it is so excellent in every area. This season is absolutely fantastic so far and you are right on point with the way you judge. I especially love Edward and Grayson, who I thought without a doubt were the correct choices to qualify for the competition.

hildymarie1
hildymarie1

Cooking your way in is a brilliant concept! Hope we see some real competition as a result...

Oklahoma Viewer
Oklahoma Viewer

I have to say I was rolling out of the chair and laughing so hard when that chef said "Leave me in this room much longer and I am killing off the other chefs!" Too hillarious. I love that chef now. Sometimes you have to go with the competitive nature even if it is extreme. Knock em out somehow. HA!

babsmodern
babsmodern

Lady Love, while I agree completely with your assessment of Tyler, I must point out that he wasn't butchering a pork chop....he was breaking down a primal cut of the whole pig. The primal contains several different cuts, which is why he was able to decimate that tenderloin. BUT...a chef has to know how to break down primal cuts, it's part of the job. I just don't understand why chefs who are vegan or vegetarian even want to compete, because they KNOW most of the challenges will have some sort of animal protein. Looks like a fun season, and I LOVE the idea of Last Chance Kitchen!

Delphina
Delphina

Not exactly liking Texas at all--but hopefully the cheftestants survived being there for this Top Chef season in hell. And, the "on-the-bubble" thing was a bit cruel. Whatever works for ratings, BRAVO.

Mary McDonald
Mary McDonald

Welcome Back, Tom. Great new start. I really like the idea of the chefs having to cook their way on the show. I like the new judges also. Show is indeed starting off with a BIG BANG. Well done, guys.

sloopie72
sloopie72

You said: "...there are plenty of chefs who are really good at what they do, but who just can’t compete like this." Yes! That is why this was such a great idea, to avoid the "cannon fodder" nature of the first three or four episodes. I'm ambivalent about combining the two hours into one episode- it would be very long, I think, maybe too long. But this way, there was some depletion of energy, a slight "let's get this over with and get on with the real show" feeling for this second half.

I think you're doing a MUCH better job of matching what the viewer sees and what the results are.

This is shaping up to be a good season, nice job!

vms
vms

love the new format of "trying out" the chefs and having them earn their coat...very exciting!

BevAnn
BevAnn

I love the concept this year. Thought the cooking for the jacket was a great way to get in. I hope they keep that for future seasons. Love the idea of the last chance kitchen. That would be such a hoot for the last chance contestant to win. Tyler literally butchering that pork was truly painful to watch and he should have been eliminated just as Tom did, right then and there. Love Hugh Acheson's dry sense of humor. This is my all time favorite cooking show. Cannot wait to see what the season brings.

Eduardo Cuellar
Eduardo Cuellar

Hello, Tom. Thank you for your blogs, I always enjoy your extended commentaries on episodes I have just watched. That aside, I was wondering what sort of contingency plan you guys had in case all slots were filled before the bubble contestants had a second chance. You mention that you guys did, in fact, have one, so would you please elaborate? Thanks!

Viewer from Temecula
Viewer from Temecula

I think Edward is going to be a loos canon and was picked more for that than his cooking.

PaulainVa
PaulainVa

After TC All Stars, I wasn't sure you guys could match the level of skill and excitement in one more season. The Texas premiere proved me totally wrong! The judges cut through the 3rd group of contestants like a hot knife through butter. I think the OTB cookoff and Last Chance Kitchen concepts were genius! I had already come to really like some of the castoff chefs, and was happy to see Grayson and Ed get back in the mix. I was afraid Ed's dark side was going to emerge if he had to spend any more time in the stew room.

juliaxxx
juliaxxx

The best two episodes EVER....love this season..it's so exciting...it's amazing this show has been on air for many years yet keeps getting better and better..

Lisa N
Lisa N

I AM TOTALLY DISGUSTED!!!! Why was there no mention made or reprimand given to the chef who BLED all over the kitchen and continued to prepare food?!!! He was contaminating everything around him with dripping blood, not to mention he was wiping the dripping blood on a black towel around his neck and then dipping his fingers into the salt to season food while going back and dabbing them on the same towel. I have been disgusted before at chefs dripping sweat into food and being unsanitary at times but this one takes the cake. I am disappointed in Colicchio for not even mentioning it! Sorry, but I've lost all respect for you as a chef dear Tom.

Viewer7
Viewer7

As the show starts the real competition I sincerely hope I never hear the words "on the bubble" ever again in my life. I never thought anything could be more cringe-inducing than the oft-repeated "throw me/him/her under the bus" but I was wrong.

TheresaLynn
TheresaLynn

Top Chef is my all time favorite reality show. Its still way too early to have a favorite but Texas looks like its going to be a hoot!

Martha Cruz
Martha Cruz

Am loving this season. Am from Texas and a cook... I record all season and I can't wait to see the 16 go at it!!! Bravo to TEXAS! Bring it on...!!! Yahooo...!!!

Kellinger
Kellinger

Wish they would have done a two hour season premiere rather than splitting up into two shows. Love the idea of Last Chance Kitchen. I think the idea of having the chefs actually cook before being on the show is an excellent idea. It gives the judges a look at what the chefs talents actually are. Just think if they hadn't had this twist, Tyler could very well be on the show. I wanted him gone before he even started cooking - he was that annoying.

 ref chef jeff
ref chef jeff

@farnoogler...the amount of time they were given was based on the food they chose to prepare. the short ribs and oxtail got 60 minutes because of longer cook times...Mushrooms got 20 minutes becuase it does not take long to cook them...etc. it wasn't random at all.

momof5rules
momof5rules

As a native Texan SUPER excited to see you messin with Texas! But how could you overlook Houston?! Super foodie town, would have loved to have you guys! Love the new twists and spins on the ride this season!!! Top Chef is our family favorite!!!!!

Shell24
Shell24

I loved the new twist. I am excited about this season. TopChef is one of my favorite shows, and Texas looks like a fabulous cast of cheftestars.

SN
SN

The selection process was ok but I probably could have skipped it. Please Please tell Hugh the judge to wax his unibrow. Thank you.

farnoogler
farnoogler

Anyone else think the second episode was kind of dumb? It feels strange that everyone got a random amount of time for a make it or break it round?

Lady Love
Lady Love

LOVE to cook,parents owned a steak house....how on earth did Tyler get on to contest!!!??I mean,22yrs old,cooks for celebrities&politicians on a natoinal level but can't butcher a pork chop!!!??A housewife&mother can do that!!!Anyway,heres to Season 9 and watching these talented people excel under enormous pressure...as they say in Texas...YAAAHOOOO!!!