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Chris Hennes

Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas

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So I was right guessing the winner by looking at Padma's eyes in the preview. Disappointed on a few levels and agree that the show was flat.

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Jen has been an enigma to me. . . .

But perhaps being a great sous-chef (or even chef) is different than being a great Top Cheftestant. You have to get through a lot of crazy individual and team challenges before you can show what you can do as a true chef (in the chief sense). Perhaps a great sous chef isn't supposed to be creative with food, but with people in order to crank out dish after dish - one just like the one before it.

If by that, you mean that Jen is more of a sous-chef than a chef, then I disagree. There have been plenty of people on this show who were "chefs" by any reasonable definition, but flamed out relatively early. Or consider Top Chef Masters, in which some incredibly impressive people looked absolutely hopeless. We need to seek other explanations.

The fact is, Top Chef throws in a lot of complications that chefs don't experience in their everyday lives. By its nature, the show is designed to throw curve balls, to create pressure, and to take chefs out of their comfort zone. It makes for great television, but it doesn't always make for great cooking. You can be a very good chef, but nevertheless not be well suited for the circus environment of Top Chef.

That is what I think happened to Jennifer. She is clearly very talented; indeed, in terms of pure ability, I would rank her higher than last year's winner, Hosea. But she was plagued by nervousness, and hence not a good fit for a setting where she lacks the control to which she is accustomed in her own kitchen.

Fan of Mike V from the start as everyone annoyingly notices around here. I'm happy he won, and felt something like this would happen. Kevin was strong throughout, but in the final you can't always count on that, I mean look at Blais back in season 4. Strong during the season but just couldn't quite get there once the end hit.

I don't think there was any manifest destiny about it. Colicchio said on his blog, and I agree, that on any given day, any of these three could have won. It's a bit like a football game decided by a 45-44 score; somebody has to win, but it comes down to a handful of close plays that could quite easily have gone the opposite way.

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I don't think there was any manifest destiny about it. Colicchio said on his blog, and I agree, that on any given day, any of these three could have won. It's a bit like a football game decided by a 45-44 score; somebody has to win, but it comes down to a handful of close plays that could quite easily have gone the opposite way.

Yes and No.

I agree any of the three could have won, but Mike V did win. Plus Mike V (and Bryan) were clearly favorites from the very first episode. As was Jen. The same can't be said for Kevin, though Kevin did slowly begin to impress people. Kevin was always the underdog in this show. Personally, what I think is the most impressive aspect of this season is that the top two contestants are brothers. Quite amazing.

There seems to be some unfair discrediting of Mike's win: "could quite easily have gone the opposite way"

"show was flat" "played it safe" Mike adapted to the situation. He noted he was unimpressed by the food Kevin was putting out, but Kevin was winning with it. So Mike did what Kevin was doing - putting out food that showed less creativity, less risk, but more proficiency. In the end, he gave the judges what they wanted.

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I agree any of the three could have won, but Mike V did win. Plus Mike V (and Bryan) were clearly favorites from the very first episode. As was Jen. The same can't be said for Kevin, though Kevin did slowly begin to impress people. Kevin was always the underdog in this show. Personally, what I think is the most impressive aspect of this season is that the top two contestants are brothers. Quite amazing.

Kevin won the first episode. Micheal V. won the 3rd. Kevin won 2 more before Micheal V. won another. Kevin won 5 eliminations. Michael V. won 4, including the final. Kevin had the most wins in total. And he "did slowly begin to impress people"? And Bryan had the most wins early, with 3 in the first 5 episodes, then didn't win another until the penultimate show.

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It surprises me that none of them were prepared to do a dessert. Each of them owns or runs a restaurant. If you were in their shoes, wouldn't you have worked with your pastry chef to learn 2 or 3 impressive desserts?

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I agree any of the three could have won, but Mike V did win. Plus Mike V (and Bryan) were clearly favorites from the very first episode. As was Jen. The same can't be said for Kevin, though Kevin did slowly begin to impress people. Kevin was always the underdog in this show.

He was not a favorite when the season began, but by the time of the finale he was clearly at parity with the other two. By comparison, for example, Carla very clearly WAS an underdog in last year's finale. To put it in sporting terms, for her to have won would been major upset.

When I say that "any three could have won," I simply mean that their abilities are close enough that it would not have been a major surpriseindeed, it wouldn't have been any kind of surpriseregardless of who had come out on top.

There seems to be some unfair discrediting of Mike's win: "could quite easily have gone the opposite way"

I am not discrediting it at all; he won, fair and square. But just like a sporting event decided by one point, any reasonable person would recognize that they were basically even, and if the game were replayed there's no telling how it would turn out.

Kevin, for instance, one the Bocuse d'Or challenge two episodes ago. Why didn't Mike win that one? Why didn't Bryan? It's not because they are lesser chefs; they were just lesser that day. The circumstances and pressure weren't much different than in the final. The cards just fell the other way.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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Kevin was always the underdog in this show.

He was not a favorite when the season began, but by the time of the finale he was clearly at parity with the other two.

By what (or whose) measure was Kevin not a "favorite" from the early part of the season? To my eyes, he was clearly near the top, both in terms of food and in terms of humility and respect, from week 1.

All in all, pretty awesome talent at the top this season.

Christopher

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He was not a favorite when the season began, but by the time of the finale he was clearly at parity with the other two. By comparison, for example, Carla very clearly WAS an underdog in last year's finale. To put it in sporting terms, for her to have won would been major upset.

When I say that "any three could have won," I simply mean that their abilities are close enough that it would not have been a major surprise—indeed, it wouldn't have been any kind of surprise—regardless of who had come out on top.

There seems to be some unfair discrediting of Mike's win: "could quite easily have gone the opposite way"

I am not discrediting it at all; he won, fair and square. But just like a sporting event decided by one point, any reasonable person would recognize that they were basically even, and if the game were replayed there's no telling how it would turn out.

Kevin, for instance, one the Bocuse d'Or challenge two episodes ago. Why didn't Mike win that one? Why didn't Bryan? It's not because they are lesser chefs; they were just lesser that day. The circumstances and pressure weren't much different than in the final. The cards just fell the other way.

I agree with this completely. There was no way there could be an upset with these 3 competing at the end - they all utterly deserved to be there and until Padma called it I really had no idea who it would be. It reminded me of Richard vs. Stephanie - it would have really not been surprising to hear either of their names called. Pretty consistent excellence. I'm still amazed at the high level of talent this season. I think Jen is an excellent cook - if she had been in Season 5 I think she would have won.

It surprises me that none of them were prepared to do a dessert. Each of them owns or runs a restaurant. If you were in their shoes, wouldn't you have worked with your pastry chef to learn 2 or 3 impressive desserts?

Dan

I think they were prepared to do a dessert, at least Michael and Bryan were. Michael's may have been overcooked, but those desserts were pretty intricate.

I think it was a mistake to not make last night's show more than an hour. They got to judges table at 10:45, and there seemed to be very little cohesion in the comments. Would have liked to hear/see more of what they did.

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As if yesterday couldn't have gotten worse after losing one of our dogs, Mike V wins. ARGHH!

Okay, Mike V was probably made out to be the villain and taken out of context when in frustration, still I didn't care for him. That aside, I thought from what happened that Bryan probably was going to win.

Regardless of the winner, I thought last nights show was the worst TC finale. What they gained in quality of cheftestants they butchered in the end. Two points I had big problems with. I know they had it planned and did it for the tv drama effect but with Kevin not winning, dismissing him first like being in third I thought was tacky. (Yeah, I'm a Kevin fan and probably wouldn't have minded.)

While the show just wasn't that good overall (regardless of who won) I didn't like their knive draw on the sous chefs. I don't recall seeing Mike I there, but certainly having a quickfire for choice order would have been good or any kind of choice. Ceertainly Jen, Mike I, and Eli would have been the first 3. As far as its effect goes, I think Kevin was profoundly effected and got the short end of the stick by far though it appeared Ash did a fine job. Preeti however didn't belong there. While I don't think Kevin recovered mentally, I think on the other extreme that Bryan was dealt a big advantage and blew it. Mike V did do the best job in terms of sous chefs not only in treating it positive but when Eli over filled the cake molds he didn't say anyhing, he just handled it. Bravo Mike V in that regard.

From watching it seemed that Bryan made the fewest mistakes but other than his Venison failed to wow. Like his seaoning he was bland. I guess Michaels adventurous nature overcame his errors so perhaps the right choice for the night was MV. Kevin seemed uninspired beyond the first dish for his Mom. I think in part that was from his sous chef worries. Kevin should have known though that he was going to have to do a desert if he made the finale and while I think it is great he used bacon in it, I think he should have had his desert thought out weeks ago. The pork belly? Well, maybe a new southernism he Blaised it.

Let's hope next season the show and cheftestants are high quality.


Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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Two points I had big problems with. I know they had it planned and did it for the tv drama effect but with Kevin not winning, dismissing him first like being in third I thought was tacky. (Yeah, I'm a Kevin fan and probably wouldn't have minded.)

You're right. It was tacky. They didn't do that last year, because there was no suspense about who was in 3rd place (Carla). I mean, at the end of the last episode you shouldn't mess with people's minds. Just tell us the outcome.

While the show just wasn't that good overall (regardless of who won) I didn't like their knive draw on the sous chefs. I don't recall seeing Mike I there, but certainly having a quickfire for choice order would have been good or any kind of choice. Ceertainly Jen, Mike I, and Eli would have been the first 3.

That bothered me too. In the final episode, the element of luck should be minimized. A fair way to do it would be to draw knives numbered 1 to 3. #1 chooses first and sixth, #2 chooses second and fifth, #3 chooses third and fourth. That would make it fair for everyone. For that matter, why force them to have a different sous-chef for prep and service?

As far as its effect goes, I think Kevin was profoundly effected and got the short end of the stick by far though it appeared Ash did a fine job. Preeti however didn't belong there. While I don't think Kevin recovered mentally, I think on the other extreme that Bryan was dealt a big advantage and blew it.

Maybe having Jen on his team wasn't that big of an advantage. In this type of challenge, your sous-chef can lose it for you, but I don't think they can win it.

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It bothered me too that they drew knives for sous chef. Agreed luck of the draw should not be a factor in the big win. Although I guess the luck of the draw can make or break you at any time in the challenge. But Preeti :shock::blink: what a bad draw, but that was the dish he did well with. Maybe because he did most of it himself. Sorry to see Kevin have a bad day. I thought he was not only very skilled at manipulating flavors with simple ingredients and presentation but was a very balanced, humble, cool headed nice guy who I wish had won. :sad:

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What's really bizarre is that Kevin gets a chance to represent the U.S.A. in the Bocuse d'Or, but he came in third on the show.

And he basically won that because his food tasted best, and not because of its Bocuse d'Or-ness, which makes it wierder.

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Kevin agrees with us that the ending was crass:

I’m just wondering if they told you that that was going to happen? That one was going to be told they were not before the winner was announced?

No, that was a total shock, and frankly…I’m trying not to be bitter about it. I don’t want to bad mouth “Top Chef” by any means, they’ve given me an opportunity that I never would have had before. But it was really frustrating because one of the best parts about making it to the finals is that you don’t have to get sent home, you don’t lose, you either win or you don’t. And to have to deal with that, I feel like they stole something from me. I feel very much cheated, and it hurts me. I was embarrassed, and in many ways I felt disrespected. It hurt.

It seemed so unfair for them to say your name when you were expecting for the name to be the winner. My assumption was that for television reasons they wanted to play up the sibling rivalry.

There are many people who think that. I’ve carried myself as a professional this entire time and I want to extend that courtesy to the production and the show because they’re good people and they know best in some ways. But my personal opinion is that the show superceded the competition at the last minute.

He also says that he regrets his comments about Preeti. In another Q&A, it's mentioned that Kevin and his wife broke up just before the final was shot. You've got to figure that he wasn't at his best.

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As if yesterday couldn't have gotten worse after losing one of our dogs, Mike V wins. ARGHH!

Two points I had big problems with. I know they had it planned and did it for the tv drama effect but with Kevin not winning, dismissing him first like being in third I thought was tacky. (Yeah, I'm a Kevin fan and probably wouldn't have minded.)

I have it from a pretty good source that Kevin's dismissal was an unscripted moment; my source said that the reason they held the camera tight on Padma then cut to Kevin was because the rest of the judges were staring at Padma in shock; some with their mouths hanging open.

I'd love to see the raw footage.

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As if yesterday couldn't have gotten worse after losing one of our dogs, Mike V wins. ARGHH!

Two points I had big problems with. I know they had it planned and did it for the tv drama effect but with Kevin not winning, dismissing him first like being in third I thought was tacky. (Yeah, I'm a Kevin fan and probably wouldn't have minded.)

I have it from a pretty good source that Kevin's dismissal was an unscripted moment; my source said that the reason they held the camera tight on Padma then cut to Kevin was because the rest of the judges were staring at Padma in shock; some with their mouths hanging open.

I'd love to see the raw footage.

Then did Padma take it on herself to dismiss Kevin? That was really not good,since traditionally they just announce the Top Chef in the finale.

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As if yesterday couldn't have gotten worse after losing one of our dogs, Mike V wins. ARGHH!

Two points I had big problems with. I know they had it planned and did it for the tv drama effect but with Kevin not winning, dismissing him first like being in third I thought was tacky. (Yeah, I'm a Kevin fan and probably wouldn't have minded.)

I have it from a pretty good source that Kevin's dismissal was an unscripted moment; my source said that the reason they held the camera tight on Padma then cut to Kevin was because the rest of the judges were staring at Padma in shock; some with their mouths hanging open.

I'd love to see the raw footage.

The declarations are always edited in the same way. Long tortured tight shot of Padma with the loser/winner's name poised at the tip of her tongue, Padma's announcement, shot of winner/loser's reaction.

I'd be willing to wager we've never seen an edit where we got Padma's announcement, Judge's reactions, then loser/winner's reaction.

The lack of one in this case seems to me evidence of nothing regarding what was planned or unplanned in the production.

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I find it hard to believe that Padma spontaneously dismissed Kevin.

I might believe that the producers came up with the idea and decided not to tell the other judges.


Edited by rickster (log)

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we aren't talking a wrong envelope, correct?

That would really suck!


2317/5000

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Poor Kev. Lost his wife and Top Chef at the same time. Man, when I saw him being chopped, I could FEEL the shock and pain in his face - it hit him like a ballpeen hammer. I think that was the worst loss I've ever witnessed on TC. It was truly painful, and I really hurt for Kev when he was back in kitchen with his mom. And, no, he didn't deserve to be made "third" - Padma could've just said Michael was TC, and leave it that. None of us need the "heightened drama" at the expense of a well-liked, highly-skilled and totally deserving chef who didn't happen to win. It was declasse - word up, Padma.

I think Kev is still on the track to culinary greatness, and he left TC with the respect and affection, as a chef and a classy person, of everyone who saw him. Time to make tracks to hisa restaurant in Atlanta, which seems to be producing a lot of classy, well-liked and respected chefs these days. (Chef Blais, anyone?)

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The best COOK has won! I dont mean to say that Micheal V is not a great Chef. But really the competition is about cooking not being in charge. I think the strongest chef in the group was Bryan. Kevin is a good cook, dont know about his ability to run a kitchen, hes just likable.

The judges dont judge on who they like the most, they judge on who is cooking the best/most interesting food! and MV defiantly did that in the finale.

I'm not sure how fair the whole unscripted knife packing of kevin was, but I can say that from what we saw it very much did appear that kevin had a lot of problems with his dishes that day. The only one the judges really liked was the chicken skin.

Bryans dishes were all under seasoned accept the venison, but that was the only dish of his that the judges just loved

Micheal seemed to really kill it, they had minimal complaints of his first dish loved the next 2 and the overcooked cake, while not ok, was minimal compared to the mistakes of the other chefs. They did say had the cake not been over cooked it would have been outright great, the flavors were there.

Plus, im just glad Micheal won so we could hear all the Kevin fans complain! Makes things more interesting!

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IMO, this has been, by far, the best season for those of us who care about food and cooking (instead of personal drama and drunken brawls), and the right four chefs were in the finals. Up to last night, it was all making sense.

The knife draw, the surprise box, the moms, the short prep time, cutting Kevin off at the knees on camera, the additional course: what a pathetic, insulting sham. It's as if the original producers were shot and stuffed into wine barrels and the producers of a third-rate game show were flown in as subs. In particular, forcing these three outstanding chefs to work with random sous chefs -- from a group including some of the worst contestants in the show's history -- flushed the show's integrity down the drain.

I'm happy that Mike V earned the win. I would have been happy had any of the final four won. But I'm pissed I wasted an hour watching that finale.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Maybe the new producers are the ones doing the Chef Academy thing as well. Talk about a turd in the punch bowl.

Sorry for the home town guy to lose, but this was a great season. There was some fine cooking after about the half way point.

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