Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio anticipates audience reaction to the final 16 cheftestants.

on Nov 9, 2011

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?