Top Chef Season 10

Food news, food media and other food-related topics
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One thing that always struck me as fortunate with the 1 v 1 finales shown in S8 and S9 is that we got close matchups. If Isabella or Sarah crapped the bed and let Blais/Paul run away with it, I think we would look at it less fondly, because there would be no way to hide the result without completely altering the context of what the judges are saying (which would be a MASSIVE loss of credibility - not that they haven't done that before).

Maybe with this, they were looking for something that's enough of a spectacle that even if the food was lopsided, they could retain intrigue. I dont think they found it, but that's another story.

It's just an idea, and not a particularly well thought out one, but I'm curious nonetheless.
Skillet Doux wrote: Then for the middle seasons there were a lot of dumb "twists" that, for a lot of people, undermined the integrity of the finale. A few chefs really got lopped off at the knees by completely stupid surprises.
Yea, Kevin in S6 comes to mind, seeing as he didn't know how to use the mystery mushroom and he got Preeti'd.
Conversely, Hosea had a huge advantage in getting Blais and assigning Stefan the alligator in his season. I would stop just shy of saying they delegitimized the results, but they came very close.
But the past three seasons -- seven, eight and nine -- have actually had great finales. It was like the elves had finally figured out that the best thing to do was set the chefs up for success, and let them do their thing. They'd take over a restaurant, devise a short menu and do a night's service. It played more like a final exam of sorts.
Agree with everything here. I think you describe it perfectly.. it's a final exam. Extending the analogy, RW would be the midterm. It's the closest to a 'chef' challenge that you could possibly get in TC, and I don't know anyone who didn't love it. As a bonus, the viewer really got to know the food, moreso than a normal challenge.

Don't know who, but somebody high up the chain really wants to make Top Chef like every other cooking reality show and needs to be kept in check. They ruined Masters by doing the same thing. I think I enjoyed the first two seasons of Masters even more than Top Chef -- no artificial drama, no excessive flash -- just fabulous chefs with a great sense of camaraderie cooking together and engaged in a friendly competition with judges who were wonderful to listen to and an editor who took a very restrained approach. Then in season three they completely changed the tone, with edgy music and editing, playing up the drama, trying to frame it as an epic battle, and suddenly it was every other cooking battle show and I tuned out after two episodes.
I never liked Masters that much, because the challenges always seemed a bit too friendly, and I knew they were never going to put the chefs in truly difficult situations. Just not my cup of tea.

Ostensibly the change was made to attract viewers like me; people who wanted more competition and less restraint in their show. But then it just becomes a mini version of Top Chef! Who does that attract that Top Chef doesn't? Seems to me that they didn't realize the people who watched Masters were hardcore Food Nerds, and WANTED a show that toned down the drama and turned up the food. Instead, they just replicated their own show in a half-assed way.

TV executives have a really hard job. To me, it just seems that these changes are out of insecurity. Viewership isn't what it used to be and its natural to throw the kitchen sink at the problem and hope something fixes it. I think Bourdain even mentions in Kitchen Confidential that restaurants tend to do the same thing. Instead, they should focus on what made them good in the first place.

Sorry for the wall of text, but that finale frustrated me.
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So I just read the judges blogs on Top Chef website and it all made so much more sense. The blogs provide the kind of commentary I was looking for in the episode.

For instance, Tom said Cj didn't burn the pig ears, that Brooke wanted them cooked that way. He also mentioned Brooke's pork cheeks were slightly dry in course 4. Why weren't either of these things mentioned? This sort of commentary makes the results make so much more sense (not that I was questioning the outcome) and helps us feel like we understood the viewpoint of the judges.

Not much else to add though, agree with everyone else that the beauty of the recent finales was just letting them cook. Other than last year's Bev/Sarah cross country, shooting thing of course which wasn't truly the finale anyways. Thank god that challenge wasn't recreated.
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Location: Washington, DC


Skillet Doux wrote: I disagree. This wasn't about the food. This was about the spectacle.

When I've lamented that there wasn't enough focus on the food, it definitely wasn't in reference to recent finale formats, which for the most part have been excellent. It wasn't broken and didn't need fixing.
In the final, maybe. But, overall for the season, everything seemed flat.

After thinking about the final a little more I think I got what I really didn't like about it, was the live dish-by-dish voting. By not having the chefs have the long back and forth about the food at a JT or during service, without it being direct critique to the contestants, we lost the element of hearing them described the food we can't taste. When I think back to memorable dishes on the shows, I think often of ones where the judges to say to each other. "Wow, there's hints of vanilla, and smoke and whatever in here and it really pairs well with the bitterness of that other thing in here." And then the other judge says "yes, but that's all washed out by this unnecessary thing here on the side which tastes like burned nothing." Our brains hear that and try to process it. Here, it was: you had too much going on, so I give the vote to the other person. Too fast, too sudden, no back and forth, too glib on the discussion. Like I said before, they only thing I have any sense of how it tasted was the burned pig ear.
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Most all these things were caused by save a chef.

Drop that from the mix and all that is gone. They had to find a way to not shoot a normal judges table because they didn't have time to edit it.

Save a chef ruined the finale so we could get one more boring dish out of the most boring contestant this season.