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Top Chef: Season 6 – Las Vegas


Chris Hennes
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I strongly disagree with Robert's "the best cook won." Yes, the best cook on that night won but not the best cook.

Honestly, I think the skills of Kevin, Bryan, and Michael are close enough that any of them could have won, without it being an injustice. Given the rule that challenges are judged in isolation, it is theoretically possible that the best chef makes one error, and therefore loses, but I can't say that happened here. If you can honestly say that one of them is clearly better than the other two, then you're seeing something I can't.

Since he became executive producer I'm starting to believe that it's Colicchio's decision alone who wins.

Colicchio has always been described as "head judge," and let's face it, he has more culinary experience that Gail, Padma, and Toby combined. It's understandable that he would dominate the proceedings, and that it would be the rare episode in which he was out-voted. There was an episode this year (I forget which one), in which he admitted later that his fellow judges had talked him out of his original position.

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Slightly off-topic, but not really... I remain amazed at how many chefs are willing to expose themselves on TC. Sure 100K is a big prize, but it ought to be clear to all by now that it isn't a random drawing and you have to be good and have a bit of luck to win it. By my count at least half of the chefs end looking like clowns each season. These people were predestined to be weeded out and went home with future bosses and patrons seeing their crapitude weekly. I'm sure a lender would check out anyone with TC on the resume before making a business loan, so it could hurt them that way too.

I would be very surprised if very many (or any) chefs have actually hurt their careers by being on Top Chefeven the ones eliminated early. In contrast, the TC experience benefits far more than just the winner. In addition to Michael, I suspect that Bryan, Kevin, Jennifer, and Eli, have all done themselves a favor by being on this show. That's at a minimum; even Robin and Mike I. are probably better off, or at least no worse off, for having done it. It's true that there's an element of luck to this show, but there's an even greater element of skill. Michael, Bryan, and Kevin seemed to be the best chefs all season long, and sure enough, they're the ones who made it to the final.

The bigger issue with Top Chef is that it requires a pretty substantial time commitment (I believe at least 6 weeks), during which you have little to no contact with your family and live in the equivalent of a frat house, your every move watched by a camera practically day and night. If you're eliminated early, you still have to stick around for the entire shoot. Those conditions, more than anything, are what keeps worthy contestants away.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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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?)

Yeah, Kevin's going to be just fine.

I think the most unfortunate dismissal ever was Lee Anne Wong-- that big crybaby beat her into the finals-- and look at her now. And Richard Blais looked miserable losing the final, and he's doing great too. Kevin is 26 and he's probably going to get fan favorite. (I love it that he got into MIT and was known as the low-tech one!)

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Slightly off-topic, but not really... I remain amazed at how many chefs are willing to expose themselves on TC. Sure 100K is a big prize, but it ought to be clear to all by now that it isn't a random drawing and you have to be good and have a bit of luck to win it. By my count at least half of the chefs end looking like clowns each season. These people were predestined to be weeded out and went home with future bosses and patrons seeing their crapitude weekly. I'm sure a lender would check out anyone with TC on the resume before making a business loan, so it could hurt them that way too.

I would be very surprised if very many (or any) chefs have actually hurt their careers by being on Top Chef—even the ones eliminated early. In contrast, the TC experience benefits far more than just the winner. In addition to Michael, I suspect that Bryan, Kevin, Jennifer, and Eli, have all done themselves a favor by being on this show. That's at a minimum; even Robin and Mike I. are probably better off, or at least no worse off, for having done it. It's true that there's an element of luck to this show, but there's an even greater element of skill. Michael, Bryan, and Kevin seemed to be the best chefs all season long, and sure enough, they're the ones who made it to the final.

The bigger issue with Top Chef is that it requires a pretty substantial time commitment (I believe at least 6 weeks), during which you have little to no contact with your family and live in the equivalent of a frat house, your every move watched by a camera practically day and night. If you're eliminated early, you still have to stick around for the entire shoot. Those conditions, more than anything, are what keeps worthy contestants away.

I think that you have drawn the line pretty accurately. South of Mike I they all looked pretty bad (except maybe Ashley). Over the course of a career, I could see missed opportunities adding up to the 100K they might've won.

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I think that you have drawn the line pretty accurately. South of Mike I they all looked pretty bad (except maybe Ashley). Over the course of a career, I could see missed opportunities adding up to the 100K they might've won.

I just see no evidence of that. If Top Chef were hurting the careers of chefs eliminated early, you'd think, after six seasons, that we'd have heard of some real examples. I'm not aware of any. Are you?

Bear in mind, those eliminated early sink pretty rapidly from the public consciousness. I do realize that, thanks to google, anything you do to make news is permanent. But if someone has built up a solid career over the last few years, is any prospective employer or lender really going to say, "That's great, but we can't get over the fact that you were eliminated in Episode 5 of Season 2."

What's more, I think that most people realize what everyone on this thread realizes: that the show is designed to create drama, that there is an element of luck, and that the skills needed to survive deep into the season aren't necessarily the same ones that make for a great chef in the real world.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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I think that you have drawn the line pretty accurately. South of Mike I they all looked pretty bad (except maybe Ashley). Over the course of a career, I could see missed opportunities adding up to the 100K they might've won.

I just see no evidence of that. If Top Chef were hurting the careers of chefs eliminated early, you'd think, after six seasons, that we'd have heard of some real examples. I'm not aware of any. Are you?

Bear in mind, those eliminated early sink pretty rapidly from the public consciousness. I do realize that, thanks to google, anything you do to make news is permanent. But if someone has built up a solid career over the last few years, is any prospective employer or lender really going to say, "That's great, but we can't get over the fact that you were eliminated in Episode 5 of Season 2."

What's more, I think that most people realize what everyone on this thread realizes: that the show is designed to create drama, that there is an element of luck, and that the skills needed to survive deep into the season aren't necessarily the same ones that make for a great chef in the real world.

No employer/lender is going to say that the show influenced them. And nobody can study whether a cook who looked like an ass on TC fails to get good breaks or is stuck doing brunch at the Hilton.

Of course even I realize that the show is about drama, but the drama exposed big flaws in most of the people who went home early. They weren't sent home because they were unlucky or victimized by the format.

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I strongly disagree with Robert's "the best cook won." Yes, the best cook on that night won but not the best cook.

Honestly, I think the skills of Kevin, Bryan, and Michael are close enough that any of them could have won, without it being an injustice. Given the rule that challenges are judged in isolation, it is theoretically possible that the best chef makes one error, and therefore loses, but I can't say that happened here. If you can honestly say that one of them is clearly better than the other two, then you're seeing something I can't.

Had I taken the time to edit it, it would have read 'but not NECESSARILY the best cook'. Certainly all three of the finalists, and the top four for that matter don't have a lot to separate them. Style I do believe comes into play, as it does for all of us in what foods we like and the same for the judges. If all 3 had nailed the finals I think Kevin would have won because I think his style of food is the style that appealed most to Tom C.

As to the benefit of being on Top Chef, I think it is clearly a big boost for the final 3. Also a good sized boost for Jennifer and Eli. Beyond that I think it is a mixed bag.

Jen Z, Preeti, Jesse,and Eve all seemed in over their heads. I don't think it will hurt their careers but I don't think it will help them much either. I liked Ron but he clearly didn't have the diversity to go very far but what a great story.

I think Ashley and Ash will both benefit, and Robin. Laurine, too, being a caterer should benefit even though she mailed it in at the end.

The 3 that I think stand the most to lose are Hektor, Mattin, and Mike I. I think Hektor was/is a lot better than what we saw and more than anyone else was a victim of having a style ill suited to this type of competition. Mattin's arrogance and lack of doing poorly in areas he was expected to do well with could well have a negative effect. I don't have much empathy for him as he just didn't seem to take things seriously. Mike I on the other hand I think is very talented. Talented enough that perhaps he could have made it to the finals even if he were focused. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I were to be a restaurant owner, watching TC, the way Mike I just tried to skate on by just doesn't come across as a quality I'd want to have in an employee.

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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The only one I can think of was Lisa since Asias was her repetoire. Remember when someone turned off the rice and she had to dump the thing?

Now that I think of it, whassisname got kicked off the show for his deconstructed paella didn't he? Hmm, sounds like they need some fancy zojurishi rice cookers on the show.

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I just see no evidence of that. If Top Chef were hurting the careers of chefs eliminated early, you'd think, after six seasons, that we'd have heard of some real examples. I'm not aware of any. Are you?

ya, seriously, any press is good press. And I've been watching since the first season, and a lot of those chefs eliminated early could have gone all the way in previous seasons. The brothers and Kevin could have competed on top chef masters and I think skewed people's viewpoints this season.

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If they genuinely can't cook, then they're not going to get far post Top Chef but they weren't going to get far anyway. If they're good cooks, then they can plausible say that top chef style cooking is not a good indicator of how well they would do in a restaurant and back that up by solid cooking post Top Chef.

I think the ones worst off by this were the ones who had genuinely odious personalities (or were portrayed that way). That's something a potential business partner is going to take more credence of as opposed to failing to cook an 8 course meal for 400 while balanced atop a moving train with 3 dozen pidgeon eggs & a capuchin monkey.

PS: I am a guy.

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I just see no evidence of that. If Top Chef were hurting the careers of chefs eliminated early, you'd think, after six seasons, that we'd have heard of some real examples. I'm not aware of any. Are you?

ya, seriously, any press is good press. And I've been watching since the first season, and a lot of those chefs eliminated early could have gone all the way in previous seasons. The brothers and Kevin could have competed on top chef masters and I think skewed people's viewpoints this season.

Has it hurt anyone? I don't think we know the answer to that. Could it? I think so. Ashley interviewed several times about her trepidation about the record the show would create for her. Jessie's parting interview words were (paraphrase) "I just want everyone to know I don't suck this bad." And Preeti? Would you hire her as your head chef if she submitted her resume to you today? I don't think many would. She demonstrated so many flaws while she swung in the wind prior to dismissal. A failure to open clams and not admit she didnt know how, a failure of creativity and execution, a failure to recognize, admit, or most damning, understand when something was bad or even just not right. She got quite a few episodes to demonstrate what she was lacking. And, if you hadn't seen it or she hadn't been on the show, you might hire her to run your restaurant if she interviewed well with a good resume and references. But if you had seen it all? Would you hire her to do anything beyond the basic and not worry about even that?

It's plain each season that many of the cheftestants don't know that they aren't very good. Finding out how not good they are, that's got to hurt, doesn't it?

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Has it hurt anyone? I don't think we know the answer to that.

For a show that has been around for six years, I think there would be concrete examples, and not mere speculation, if the issue really existed. Word gets around; people talk.

Ashley interviewed several times about her trepidation about the record the show would create for her. Jessie's parting interview words were (paraphrase) "I just want everyone to know I don't suck this bad." And Preeti? Would you hire her as your head chef if she submitted her resume to you today? I don't think many would.

I cannot imagine Top Chef standing in the way of her getting a position for which she was otherwise qualified — which she probably isn't. Presumably she's employed already, and as she develops her career, what happened on the show will recede in importance. Can you imagine someone three years from now saying, "Well...her resume and her references are perfect for this job, but we just can't get past her performance on Top Chef in 2009"? It seems to me silly that anyone would consider that a serious possibility.

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Has it hurt anyone? I don't think we know the answer to that.

For a show that has been around for six years, I think there would be concrete examples, and not mere speculation, if the issue really existed. Word gets around; people talk.

Ashley interviewed several times about her trepidation about the record the show would create for her. Jessie's parting interview words were (paraphrase) "I just want everyone to know I don't suck this bad." And Preeti? Would you hire her as your head chef if she submitted her resume to you today? I don't think many would.

I cannot imagine Top Chef standing in the way of her getting a position for which she was otherwise qualified — which she probably isn't. Presumably she's employed already, and as she develops her career, what happened on the show will recede in importance. Can you imagine someone three years from now saying, "Well...her resume and her references are perfect for this job, but we just can't get past her performance on Top Chef in 2009"? It seems to me silly that anyone would consider that a serious possibility.

I on the other hand wouldn't expect a lot of concrete evidence to be available to gawkers on websites. The cameras quit following them around once they get kicked off the show, and employment decisions in this country are generally kept confidential. Will Preeti never work again? Of course I'm not saying that. I hope she didn't have an investor meeting planned for her new restaurant concept scheduled this month, though. She'll have to wait until her skill set meter DINGS and then she'll know its the time.

In a world where we don't carry obvious competency meters around above our heads, and skill sets are ranges rather than specifics that can be underlined, is your take a metaphysical sort of thing where water finds its own level and where you find yourself after Top Chef is where your supposed to be so your participation could not possibly damage your future what-ifs. At the same time then there must be no benefit to be had other than the $100k?

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I have been hesitant to write about this, maybe I shouldn't. But, hell maybe I should. I am working with one of the bottom ones at the moment. She is not what I would call any sort of TC. Cool girl, but not anything of a high caliber. I don't want to get into details because I don't want anyone to read this and then the shit would hit the fan. I did talk to her about a few things. Kevin had a bad day. Preeti was a bad sous. But on the other hand, isn't the chef that is to put foot in someones ass when they need to have foot in their ass? She also told me a few stories about the ones that lost and their time off camera...great stories. This is the second TC contestant i have meet. Small world. I hope this doesn't come back to me....

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I have been hesitant to write about this, maybe I shouldn't. But, hell maybe I should. I am working with one of the bottom ones at the moment. She is not what I would call any sort of TC. Cool girl, but not anything of a high caliber.

This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating. Professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. I am not saying it should be; only that it is. Since the producers cast an equal number of men and women, it stands to reason that the average female chef available to them is less capable than the average male chef, because the women are drawn from a smaller pool. It is therefore no coincidence that four of the last five chefs this season were men, and in six seasons there have been five male winners.

Jennifer Carroll was the only female chef this season whose food I would be eager to try, and Gail Simmons thought that Jen was, by a long shot, the best female chef that had ever appeared on the show.

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I have been hesitant to write about this, maybe I shouldn't. But, hell maybe I should. I am working with one of the bottom ones at the moment. She is not what I would call any sort of TC. Cool girl, but not anything of a high caliber.

This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating. Professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. I am not saying it should be; only that it is. Since the producers cast an equal number of men and women, it stands to reason that the average female chef available to them is less capable than the average male chef, because the women are drawn from a smaller pool. It is therefore no coincidence that four of the last five chefs this season were men, and in six seasons there have been five male winners.

Jennifer Carroll was the only female chef this season whose food I would be eager to try, and Gail Simmons thought that Jen was, by a long shot, the best female chef that had ever appeared on the show.

I don't think we need to open this can of worms. But unfortunately it has been opened. The analysis that there are more male professional cooks, therefore there are more great professionals who are male is more than a bit of circular logic. If Top Chef wanted to go down the list of top female chefs exclusively they could find enough to have a talented, all female season. My experience has been that women who rise to the top tend to be really good because they HAVE to be even better to gain credibility that many of their male colleagues are simply granted. The BS that a truly talented woman has to go through in this "male -dominated profession" is daunting at best. This is one reason that I have had such a problem with Jennifer being so talented and so flakey emotionally. A bad stereotype that many would foist forward as being borne out. Trust me Top Chef there are plenty of really good female chefs to compete head to head with the really good male chefs of the world.

Bob, not Roberta

Edited by RWells (log)

Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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I have been hesitant to write about this, maybe I shouldn't. But, hell maybe I should. I am working with one of the bottom ones at the moment. She is not what I would call any sort of TC. Cool girl, but not anything of a high caliber.

This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating. Professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. I am not saying it should be; only that it is. Since the producers cast an equal number of men and women, it stands to reason that the average female chef available to them is less capable than the average male chef, because the women are drawn from a smaller pool. It is therefore no coincidence that four of the last five chefs this season were men, and in six seasons there have been five male winners.

Jennifer Carroll was the only female chef this season whose food I would be eager to try, and Gail Simmons thought that Jen was, by a long shot, the best female chef that had ever appeared on the show.

I don't think we need to open this can of worms. But unfortunately it has been opened. The analysis that there are more male professional cooks, therefore there are more great professionals who are male is more than a bit of circular logic. If Top Chef wanted to go down the list of top female chefs exclusively they could find enough to have a talented, all female season. My experience has been that women who rise to the top tend to be really good because they HAVE to be even better to gain credibility that many of their male colleagues are simply granted. The BS that a truly talented woman has to go through in this "male -dominated profession" is daunting at best. This is one reason that I have had such a problem with Jennifer being so talented and so flakey emotionally. A bad stereotype that many would foist forward as being borne out. Trust me Top Chef there are plenty of really good female chefs to compete head to head with the really good male chefs of the world.

Bob, not Roberta

This is a TV show, and it judges how well people compete on the TV show. Sometimes the best people remain (as in this season), and sometimes they don't. Ilan over Marcel and Sam? Hosea over half his competitors? I was disappointed that people like Radhika, Lia and Lee Anne didn't get farther along in the competition. There are many other examples.

If Jennifer wasn't a fantastic cook she wouldn't be working for Eric Ripert (AND she wouldn't have won so many challenges). I don't think that calling her " a female chef" helps anyone, and I don't think she would want to be referred to that way. Neither would Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield or Anita Lo. Yes, it's a male dominated profession, and yes, kitchen culture can be really screwed up. Have you ever worked at an investment bank or a law firm? Let me tell you, it's not much different numbers-wise - many women choose to not have that kind of life after a few years. Same for cooks. But Jennifer isn't complaining about it - she's being the best chef she can be and is clearly doing pretty damned well. I just think that when we start calling her the "female chef" we dumb the entire thing down. She's a chef. And she gave the other competitors a run for their money.

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I think the point of the male-female chef commentary is that it's just a numbers game. Let's say that 10% of all chefs are "top chef material." And let's say there are 10 male chefs for every 1 female chef.

So in a Top Chef audition, you might have 500 male chefs and 50 female chefs. Based on the 10% figure, you've got 50 "top chef material" male chefs and only 5 "top chef material" female chefs. But the show wants to start with 8 each of men and women. So you end being able to pick the best 8 of the 50 men, but have to take all of the top women PLUS some that really aren't up to the challenge. That's why women - as a group - don't tend to do as well on Top Chef.

It has nothing to do with their relative skill level, the math assumes that men and women are equally skilled as chefs. And I'm sure the show does a lot of outreach to try to attract top female chefs, but the simple fact is that the pool is smaller.

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"I just think that when we start calling her the "female chef" we dumb the entire thing down. She's a chef. And she gave the other competitors a run for their money."

Thanks, Bob, not Roberta (!) Jen is a CHEF. A really talented one. That's all there is to it.

I'm losing track of this thread. I, Bob, was making the point that there are easily 10 great female chefs available to Top Chef and that the assertion that because food professionals were predominately male, Top Chef should be male dominated was a spurious one. It reminds me of the assertion over and over again by one of the surgeons I work with, "I've taken out 800 gallbladders in my time", to which we used to mutter under our breath, "And everyone of them was an unmitigated disaster." The fact that you stand in a kitchen and occupy space says nothing about your ability to function in that kitchen.

As far Jennifer goes, she was one of the top two or three "chefs" at the start of the show and proceeded to implode more and more frequently as time went on, not because she was a woman but because she did not handle stress well, lost her focus and ultimately made poor decisions. Look at the three finalists. Each of them had a singular focus that none of the others had. Things could be blowing up around them and they simply put their heads down and turned out their food.

Bob

Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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"I just think that when we start calling her the "female chef" we dumb the entire thing down. She's a chef. And she gave the other competitors a run for their money."

Thanks, Bob, not Roberta (!) Jen is a CHEF. A really talented one. That's all there is to it.

hmmm, I think that was me.

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