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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #50 on: November 14, 2009, 09:49:37 AM »
TC6, Ep. 11

The Guest Judge was Nigella Lawson, British food writer, journalist and broadcaster. The Quickfire was "Breakfast in Bed", a room service meal at the Venetian Hotel in 30 minutes for Nigella and Padma.  Knives were drawn to determine the staggered cooking schedule:

1. Robin - Blintz with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Pineapple and Blueberries
1. Eli - Fried Egg Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise Sauce
2. Kevin - Steak and Eggs with Creme Fraiche, Aged Cheddar, and Green Onion
2. Mike V. - Huevos Cubana with Banana Puree, Rice, Bacon, Arugula Salad
3. Jen - S.O.S. Creamed Chipped Beef with Toast and Potatoes
3. Bryan - 4 Minute Egg with Vanilla Beurre Fondue, Crab, Asparagus Spears and Corn Polenta

I liked the visual appeal and meal content for Eli, Kevin and Bryan and considered the others to be somewhat uninspired. Of course I did not get to taste the food. Nigella did not like the taste of Robin or Bryan, whom she put in the Worst category. In the Best category were Eli and Kevin. Eli won due to the robustness of his meal. His prize was to have the only recipe from Season 6 in the top Chef Quickfire Challenge Cookbook, which will be a compilation of recipes from all seasons of Top Chef.

The Elimination Challenge was to use a specific Las Vegas Hotel as the inpiration for a meal. Here's what the chefs drew:

Bryan - Mandalay Bay, with a theme of the Shark Reef Acquarium
Eli - Circus Circus, with a theme of novelty and circus snacks
Kevin - Mirage, with a theme of a tropical oasis
Mike - New York New York, with a theme of serving the New York Fire Department
Jen - Excalibur, with a theme of the Tournament of Kings dinner and the Sword and the Stone
Robin - Bellagio, with a theme of its art work

The menus developed for cooking tasting portions for 175 guests with 3.5 hours to cook, then prepping at the World Market Center for 1 hour:

Bryan - Escabeche of Halibut with Bouillabaisse Consomme, Parsley Coulis, and Garlic Chips
Eli - Caramel Apple Peanut Soup with Popcorn Raspberry Froth
Jen - NY Strip with Red Wine Reduction, Beets, Truffles, Herbs
Kevin - Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Napa Cabbage and Cucumber
Mike - Boneless Chicken Wing Confit with Curry and Blue Cheese Disc
Robin - Panna Cotta

When I saw these dishes, I wondered what had caused Eli to go so far out on a limb. Robin's pannacotta looked too simple to really please the judges. Jen was playing it really safe with NY Strip Steak but that is not the way to be competitive against some stiff competition. I expected to see Bryan, Kevin and Mike rated as the Winners' group. The Winner was Mike due to his broth, the comfort nature of his dish and Toby's view of the unexpected pleasant contrast of the hot and cold. Toby rated Kevin's Thai flavors as very tasty.

That left Robin (a multi-episode bottom dweller), Jen (a recent bottom dweller) and Eli. Padma did not like the taste of Eli's dish nor did Toby and Tom rated is a "mess" but it appeared that Eli's sin was overreaching with a wild concoction. Jen's sin was being boring (Tom). She did not use enough spices. Robin's pannacotta was too solid. She claimed that she was no expert at serving a "smear". Tom criticized her for pannacotta being too simple to make, even though her execution was still faulty on a simple dish.

Given the tone of the ciriticisms, I honestly thought that any one of those three could have been eliminated. However, the judges made an intelligent move in eliminating Robin, whose time on Top Chef had probably been extended by the producers to have some controversy.  

At this point the Winners' group are the favorites for the final 3. Jen dug herself a deep hole and seems unable to pull herself out of it. I consider Eli to be the least talented of the 5, but he is capable of an upset to reach the final 3.





 
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 07:07:59 PM by apskip »


Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #51 on: November 19, 2009, 07:02:42 PM »
TC6, Ep. 12

This episode opens with Bryan, Mike, Jen, Kevin and Eli left. Bryan, Mike and Kevin have all been quite consistent at the top. Jen was there early in this competition but has recently been near the bottom. Eli has been all over the place and is clearly the weakest of the remaining chefs.

The Quickfire uses Gavin Kaysen as the Guest Judge. He won the James Beard Award and represented the U.S.A. in the 2007 Bocuse d’Or biennial competition for top young chefs in Lyon, France. Each team consists of two chefs, a lead chef and an assistant chef who must be under 22 years of age at the time of the competition. The team has 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare two elaborate presentations, a meat dish and a fish dish in an open “culinary theatre.” No vegetables may be pre-cut, although teams may pre-peel garlic, portion oil, salt, flour and other ingredients, and bring stocks made in advance. The jury consists of 24 renowned chef judges who make their evaluations based on the level of perfection in the presentation, in terms of technical skill, cooking sophistication, creativity and visual beauty. The jury is divided into two groups of 12, each half to judge either the fish dish or the meat dish. 2/3 of scoring is quality and 1/3 is presentation. Gavin Kaysen finished 14th in the 2007 competition due to a bizarre situation when he should have been near the top.

The Quickfire is to create a Protein within a Protein within a Protein dish. The model dish provided by Kaysen was crayfish within chicken within chicken in a ballotine. A ballotine is a piece of meat, fish, or poultry that has been deboned, stuffed and then rolled and tied into a bundle. It is then usually poached or braised. I bet you didn’t know that one either. Here are the dishes that were created in 90 minutes:

Jen - Calamari Steak, Scallops, Salmon, Shiitake, Shiso with Rice Noodle Salad
Bryan - Rack of Lamb and Merguez Sausage Wrapped in Caul Fat
Mike – “Poultry Terrine" Chicken with Turkey and Bacon Mousseline
Kevin - Cornmeal Fried Fillet of Catfish with Scallop and Shrimp
Eli – Bacon-Crusted Breakfast Sausage with a Six-Minute Egg Center

One comment from Gavin was that Mike did not really understand or do a protein within a protein within a protein. The winner of this Quickfire is Jen, who bounces back from her funk in the nick of time. There was no Losers’ group. Her prize is an advantage of 30 extra minutes to cook in the Elimination Challenge.

The Elimination challenge is the top chef version of the Bocuse D’Or. They have to prepare one protein and 2 garnishes that are expected to be extraordinary in taste, creativity and production. The protein is either lamb or Atlantic salmon. They will have 4 hours to cook (except Jen 4.5 hours) in the Wynn Resort Alex Restaurant. The 12 judges will include representatives at past Bocuse D’Or competitions plus Thomas Keller (legendary chef/owner of the French Laundry in Napa Valley), Tom, Padma and Gail. Included are Daniel Boulud, Alex Stratta (owner of the restaurant Alex the episode is filmed in), Gavin Kaysen, Timothy Hollingsworth of the French Laundry and Traci Des Jardin. One special judge is Jerome Bocuse, son of the legendary chef. He was part of the final judging group which Thomas Keller opted out of.

The dishes created are:

Jen - Salmon and Caviar, Shrimp Flan,Truffle, Celery Root, Shiitake mushrooms 
Bryan - Crusted Lamb Loin, Lamb Shank Crepinette, Orzo Au Gratin
Mike - Salmon with Cauliflower Chickpea Tart, Zucchini Tzatziki; Mike called this a Mediterranean salmon platter
Kevin - Poached Lamb Loin, Sherry-Glazed Beet, Asparagus in Sunchoke Cream, pepper jus
Eli – Sausage (made from leftover parts), Wrapped Lamb Loin, Carrot Puree & Tomato-Piquillo Canape

The winner will get $30,000 cash from the M Resort, a place in the finals, a Bocuse d’Or jacket, some culinary books and the right to compete for a place on the 2011 U.S.A. Bocuse D’Or team. That’s quite a total prize, the best ever for one episode of Top Chef that is not the finale. It sure beats the cars that were getting their winners beaten in the final rounds of some early Top Chefs.

The cooking is staggered so that only one chef owns the kitchen at any time. It is served on these huge glass platters because that is the way it is done in the actual Bocuse D’Or competition. Tim Hollingsworth was there because he had recently done this type of competition.

Comments from the judges throughout the tasting were:
Thomas referred to Mike’s dish as lamb undercooked and tough. Tom says it’s not Mediterranean in any way. Jerome said Eli’s lamb was undercooked.
There was general agreement that Kevin’s dish was overcooked and all others undercooked.
Jen’s problem as noted by Jerome was that her cutting of the salmon was not of uniform thickness so different parts of her fillets cooked at different rates and the top and bottom was uneven.
Gail liked the garnishes on Eli’s dish. Padma stated that the worst lamb was Eli’s.
One of the judges said Mike lost on flavor.
Someone rated Bryan’s cooking as “improper.”
Kevin was criticized for the simplicity of his dish in a Bocuse D’Or environment where ultimate refinement is the goal.

All 5 chefs were given the opportunity to defend their choices. After this was done and the decision judges (Jerome, Tom, Padma and Gail) deliberated, Kevin was the winner. He declared that “the M Resort is my favorite place on earth.”

Tom delivered the summary to the other 4. Eli was told he was competent and solid (damning with faint praise?). Jen was told she had uneven cooking due to her salmon cutting. Bryan was told that he had the most interesting ambitious goal, but his lamb was undercooked, which he attributed to being just a little short on cooking time. Mike was told that his cucumber tartare was not up to the standard.

The judges decision was to eliminate Eli, certainly a reasonable decision based on his past culinary production and warranted no doubt by his undercooking in this Elimination Challenge being the most severe.

Next week the competition moves to the Napa Valley for the penultimate episode and the finale the week after. There were previews of the chefs cooking in the Napa Valley Wine Train. There was also a shot of a restaurant and I am going to hypothesize that the finale will be cooked at the French Laundry.


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Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #52 on: November 21, 2009, 07:06:05 PM »
Thanks as always for your fine recaps Apskip.  :tup:  I'm so surprised and upset for Jen. She's lost some of her spirit and I can't put my finger on the reason. She's an equal to any of them left if not better than them with the exception of Kevin. I hope she can get it together as they work towards the finale.
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #53 on: November 21, 2009, 07:28:48 PM »
Texas Lady,

I would love to see a continuing rebound from Jen also. She probably had 2 days to get to Napa Valley for filming of the last 2 episodes of Top Chef 6. I would love to see Mike go do in flames like he deserves for his bombastic behavior that is not supported by his culinary skills, which I think are actually a little less than the other 3 chefs. I would love to see a Jen/Kevin/Bryan finale. We'll see on Thanksgiving eve.


Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #54 on: November 22, 2009, 12:34:37 PM »
Texas Lady,

I would love to see a continuing rebound from Jen also. She probably had 2 days to get to Napa Valley for filming of the last 2 episodes of Top Chef 6. I would love to see Mike go do in flames like he deserves for his bombastic behavior that is not supported by his culinary skills, which I think are actually a little less than the other 3 chefs. I would love to see a Jen/Kevin/Bryan finale. We'll see on Thanksgiving eve.


I agree with you about Michael. He overrates himself, (only in his own mind) and is so rude! If he were really that good a chef, nothing would bother him other than not doing as well as he could. His treatment of Robin is appalling.

I too hope it is a Jen/Kevin/Bryan finale.   I believe Kevin is the strongest but I want to see Jen get her confidence back because she is a fine chef and a strong leader in the kitchen.

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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #55 on: November 24, 2009, 08:29:57 AM »
Here are my thoughts about TC6 as we get to the finals:

1. I want Jen to win, but I don't think she will.
2. I want Mike to lose and I do think he will.
3. All season Kevin has had an edge on the rest of these finalists. Tom Colicchio's remarks about Kevin worthiness for the 2011 Bocuse D'Or competition mean to me that Kevin should win unless he screws up. There is always a lot of pressure in the finale.
4. The individual with the second best chance of winning it is Bryan.

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #56 on: December 03, 2009, 01:02:22 PM »
TC6, Ep. 13

Now we are down to the best of the best, so it's anybody's game as to who will underperform enough to be eliminated. The venue is the Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley of northern California where the final 2 episodes happened. The Guest Judge is Michael Chiarello, a Napa Valley chef who was the second place finisher in Top Chef Masters, quite a feat considering who the other 23 competitors were. He also is owner of Bottega and Chiarello Family Vineyards.

The Quickfire Challenge is to get on the moving Napa Valley Wine Train, select one from dozens of different varietal grapes and create a dish based on it plus local produce. Teams have 30 minutes to cook, needing constantly to fight the problems caused by train motion. Padma announced that this is the final High-Stakes Quickfire. The winner will get a new Toyota Prius. There did not appear to be any other passengers or food service requirements for the Napa Valley Wine Train, so the chefs divided up the available space and went to work.

Here are the dishes selected by the remaining chefs:

Jen - sauteed chicken livers, clams, Cabernet grapes, wild mushrooms, tendrils
Bryan - roasted hen, bacon, Brussles sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa, arugula
Kevin - honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil, sea salt (Michael says he liked the olive oil)
Mike - grape leaf stuffed with couscouc, vinegar glazed grape and bay scallop kebab

The winner of the Quickfire Challenge was Mike because he did the best job of showcasing the local ingredients in his dish. Michael was loking for more grape flavor from Kevin's dish. Mike's use of leafs, vines, and wine was a fine touch in Mike's dish. Michael told Bryan that the smokiness of the bacon topped the grape flavor and in the Napa Valley it should be the other way around. Michael really like Jen's liver and clam combination. The winner of the Quickfire Challenge and the Prius was Mike because he did the best job of showcasing the local ingredients in his dish. also, he told a story with food.

Chefs stay at the Heritage Resort and Spa, then start their Elimination Challenge the following morning was to cater a party for 150 at the Rutherford Hills Winery to celebrate the "Crush," the end of the harvest. One dish was to be vegetarian and one based on a local protein. Chefs went to Long Meadow Ranch to select their ingredients. They were offered a huge variety of local products and could only use salt and pepper from outside the a radius of 100 miles, which reaches past San Francisco to the south so could have allowed seafood (although I did not see any). Chefs then cooked and prepped for 5 hours at the Brix Restaurant before packing up their food for serving at Rutherford Hills.

The dishes selected were:

Jen Veg - chevre mousee with honey mushrooms, braised radishes, basil
Jen Pro - confit of duck breast, braised duck legs, squash puree, foie gras vinaigrette
Bryan Veg - goar cheese ravioli, delicata squash puree, bronze fennel
Bryan Pro - fig glazed short ribs, celeriac puree, ragout of cranberry beans and wax beans, wild arugula
Kevin Veg - roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree, San Andrea cheese
Kevin Pro - grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables
Mike Veg - vegetqable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg, fennel
Mike Pro - turnip soup, foie gras terrine, poached pear, glazed turnip

While the dishes were being prepared, Tom Colicchio visited and made the comment that the Voltaggio brothers had the most complex dishes and that Kevin's brisket may not be fully cooked in 5 hours. Mike is concerned whether his eggs will be properly cooked. Jen finds that the coals have died down on her wood-fired grill, so she decided to do a confit of ther duck, which she knows will not develop the desired smokiness.
Comments made while judges (Tom, Gail, Padma, Michael) were eating included:
Bryan's dish needed more salt. One non-judge says he had the best flavor and best texture.
Mike's egg overwhelmed the vegetables on that dish; combination of protein dish nice; his vegetables were but too small, according to Michael and seconded by Tom. Padma says the vegetable dish is slightly undercooked and that there should be more seasoning on the mushroom sauce.
Kevin's vegetable dish superb, his polenta excellent; his beef was somewhat stringy and ropey. Gail said it was a bit tough. His beef also has a tinny quality.
Jen's dishes had nice elements and combinations. A non-judge says she "hit it out of the park."

While the judges deliberated, the chefs did not have to wait in the "Stew room." Tony Terlato of Terlato Family Vineyards hosted a tasting of 4 of his best wines at Chimney Rock.

At Judges Table, Tom gave an overview that this was a wonderful group of chefs, who dazzled with their professionalism.
Kevin - Tom says his veg dish is masterly and simple.
Bryan - Gail appreciate the subtlety. Tom said the fig glaze was there but its flavor did not appear. He also said it needed salt and pepper for optimum flavor but Bryan apparently did not have enough time with his complex menu to finish the fine details.
Mike - Gail said the texture of the egg did not mesh well with vegetables. Padma said the egg was colorless and too much liquid. Gail thought there was a bitterness of the soup and the balance between the soup quantity and other things on that plate was not right.
Jen - Michael said the basil and goat cheese combination was very good. Padma said there was too much salt and other agreed it was a bit salty. Tom asked Jen to explain her cooking process, as the final duck on the plate was not the woodfired version she had started on. Jen explained that she dithered too long, her coals had died down so much that she did not think they could properly cook the duck, so she switched cooking methods on it.

The judges made their decisions (who won and who got eliminated) and assembled the chefs for the verdict. Brian was named the winner based on his excellent use of local ingredients and seasoning. Tom says that there was something missing from each chef on one dish. Mike was told his foie gras dish was excellent but the egg dish did not come together well. Jen's dishes were too salty. She was criticized for being scatter-brained.

The elimination was of Jen. I thought it would be Mike based on the severeity of what I had heard. Tom Colicchio on his Top Chef blog stated that the saltiness of both Jen's dishes was her critical mistake. I know that these judges always say it was this meal only that made the decision, but I just do not believe that. I think Jen was essentially equal to Mike in this episode but was punished for her low ratings in many prior episodes.

If you ask me who I think should win in next week's final episode, my answer is NOT Mike. Either Bryan or Kevin would be a good choice

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #57 on: December 03, 2009, 02:27:08 PM »
I have never in years of recapping Top Chef done what I am about to do, which is recommend that you read the blogs of Tom Colicchio (A Grain of Salt) and Gail Simmons (She's Tricky) on the Top Chef main website within the BRAVOTV website. Here is what they look like:

BLOG December 3, 2009 
Gail Simmons
She's Tricky
Gail Simmons gives a bigger picture about what she thought of each of the finalists' dishes.

BLOG December 3, 2009 
December 2, 2009 Tom Colicchio
A Grain of Salt
Tom explains how the smallest of details can either win you or lose you the title of Top Chef.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #58 on: December 03, 2009, 06:47:43 PM »
I dislike Colicchio but I'll go read his blog. My interest died a little with the elimination of Jen last night.  :'(
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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2009, 07:01:10 PM »
Apskip, I read the blogs, I like Gail's explanations better I must say.  I think it was rather trite to criticize her for not using the grill when plainly they were not going to work for her if she wanted to have a chance to win. I think she relied on Kevin and didn't check but we don't know for sure because of editing. Apparently she used too much salt and it wasn't edible.

I hope that Mike does not win, I don't see how he can run a kitchen with his sour demeaning attitude. I think Kevin is probably the best of the best. We'll see how it turns out.
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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #60 on: December 10, 2009, 01:35:09 PM »
TC6, Ep. 14, Finale

It's a culinary showdown between Kevin, Bryan and Mike starting at the Rutherford Hills Winery in Napa Valley. Kevin tells us that he had been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but decided to start a culinary career instead. Padma states that Kevin has won 5 Elimination Challenges and Tom later in the show says that the Final 3 won 12 of 13. That statistic clearly demonstrates why they are the finalists. Mike adds a sly remark that Bryan won Elimination Challenges but no Quickfires. Fortunately, there has not to my knowledge ever been a Quickfire in the finale. Usually the mission is to cook the best possible meal, sometimes with constraints and sometimes not. This time there are serious constraints:

Course 1 is to be created using a box of obscure ingredients containing one Pacific rockfish, a Meyer lemon, a Matsutake mushroom, anise hyssop and Kabucha squash. The initial reaction of the chefs was "these ingredients don't go together".

Course 2 is to be chef's choice - anything goes.

Course 3 must be a dessert. Kevin is upset because he does not consider his dessert skills to be very advanced.

In addition, they will have a sous chef for a brief prep period that evening and for 3 hours cooking time the next day, both at the Citrus restaurant. Knives are drawn and this is the result:

Kevin - gets Preeti (who he considers useless as he assigns her only 2 of the 20 prep items, doing the rest himself) and Ash
Bryan - gets Jen (lucky him) and Ashley
Mike - gets Jesse and Eli (who he is very comfortable with)

Prep begins immediately and Preeti, Ashley and Jesse are utilized for these tasks while the later eliminated sous chefs are reserved for the following day. The results of the prep period were the mise en place for the following day.

Now you know that in Top Chef episodes there is always a twist. So the 3 chefs are hanging out in their living quarters the next morning waiting for Padma to present it to them. Instead, the knock on their door is from their mothers, who they are glad to see. When they arrive at the Citrus restaurant Tom has a surprise for them. No, it's not another 2 cars. He tells them that in honor of their mothers there will be a new course (Course 0 is my counting system) that reflects their culinary experiences as a child. So adjustments have to be made rapidly in the plans of the chefs.

The distinguished tasting panel included the 4 final judges (Padma, Tom, Gail and Toby) plus this distinguished chef/owners:
Bill Terlato, President/CEO of Terlato Family Vineyards
Donatella Arpaia, chef/owner of bellini, davidburke & donatella, anthos, Mia Dona and co-owner of Eos  in Miami
Douglas Keane, chef/owner of Cyrus restaurant, obtaining a Michelin 2 star rating for it
Steven Starr, restaurant owner of 11 Philadelphia restaurants, 2 in NYC, 2 in Atlantic City and 1 in Fort Lauderdale
Drew Nieropont,  co-owner of Nobu with Robert DeNiro
Sam Nazarian - co-owner of Katsuya's restaurants in Brentwood, Hollywood and Glendale CA, XIV and Bazaar

In addition, for the first course only, Kevin's mother and Bryan and Mike's mother joined them for the dish in their honor. Mrs. Voltaggio stated that Mike had never hated everything she cooked when he was a child. How ironic!

Here is the menu choices they make:

Bryan
0. Sardine, German Butterball Potato, Heirloom Tomato and Panko Bread Crumbs
1. Rockfish Sous Vide, Kabocha Squash with Curry and Meyer Lemon
2. Venison Saddle with Purée of Sunchokes and Orange Juniper Sauce
3. "Dulce de Leche" Cheesecake with Fig Sorbet, Poached Pear and Basil

Kevin
0. Southern Fried Chicken Skin with Squash Casserole and Tomato
1. Pacific Rockfish, Roasted Squash, Crab Broth and Roasted Matsutake Mushroom
2. Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Caramelized Ham Jus
3. Roasted Banana, Toasted Peanut with Chocolate Bacon Mousse and Bacon Brittle

Mike
0. Cream of Dehydrated Broccoli, Fried Broccoli and Spot Prawn
1. Dashi-Glazed Rockfish, Sweet and Sour Crab Salad with Squash and Meyer Lemon
2. Fennel-Scented Squab Breast, Pistachio Cassoulet and 3 different Textures of Mushrooms
3. Chocolate Caramel Coulant, Butternut Squash Brûlée and Butternut Ice Cream, with pumpkin seeds

During the cooking process, Mike's dessert was overdone in the oven as a result of his negligence. Kevin said that Ash was working very rapidly on his behalf and he appreciated that.

The tasting panel commentary during the courses included this:
Mom's Honor course
Kevin - excellent job of highlighting flavors
Bryan - underseasoned
Mike - prawn overwhelmed by broccoli flavors

Mystery Box course
Bryan - underseasoned, plating not very original; Tom thought the rockfish/ lemon combination was super

Do Your Own Thing course
Bryan - Tom thought the venison was perfect
Mike- Donatella thought something was a little off

Dessert Course
Mike - Tom says his ganache was close to right, but he had to serve it immediately after leaving the oven or it dries
Kevin - Stephen  hated the use of pork in diessert but Gail defended it

The tasting panel was excused and the final judges talked with the chefs and gave them some feedback . Their comments were:

Bryan - Toby says he cooked with restraint, Gail was happy with the venison, Tom mentioned sparse seasoning
Kevin - Padma says his chicken took lots of flavors; Tom - squash revealed new flavors as you ate it; Pork dish deficient
Mike - Toby says pickled sonata was bold and appropiate; Tom said it kept revealing new layers of flavors; Gail said cake was dry but the flavors were excellent

Each chef was given the opportunity to share his philosophy:
Bryan - these dishes showcased my cuisine and style.
Mike - I don't want Bryan to be top Chef (because Mike wanted it for himself). I love what I do.
Kevin - I cook food that's soul food, which reflects who I am
Now, did you find those statements enlightening or were they the usual crap that people say in such situations? You don't have to answer that because it is a rhetorical question.

The judges then deliberated and the snippets revealed in the telecast included these:

Course 0 Mom's honor
Gail - Kevin created a great dish
Toby - I liked Bryan best
Tom - Mike's broccoli overpowered the poor prawn and dish needed acid; Kevin's puree great and chicken skin crispy

Course 1 Mystery Box
Mike was best; toby loved his "pickled sonata", which I assume is the sweet and sour
Kevin massacred the mushroon by making it too tough to eat but his broth was perfect
Bryan had a one note dish, competent but not exceptional

Course 2 Anything Goes
Bryan - Tom says the venison exceptional
Mike - Gail says squab fine but cassoulet was a problem
Kevin - Toby hated the pork belly dish; tom says it needef more cooking time and more complexity

Course 3 Dessert
Mike - Tom said he burned his coulant dish; Gail called it "dry" but she thought his flavor combination was excellent
Kevin - Toby summarized with "he had a bad night"

Padma brings them in for the verdict. She says "one of you is Top Chef". This causes me to think it will probably be Bryan and definitely not Kevin. I was half right. Kevin was put in 3rd place first. Then Bryan says that he can't think of a better outcome than he and Mike being the top 2. The winner of $125,000, some cookware and the title of Top Chef is Mike.

I have difficulty understanding that outcome. The usual process is to see who wins each course. With the problems that Mike and Bryan had, my judgment is that Course 0 went to Kevin. Course 1 was a clean win for Mike. Course 2 was a close win for Bryan. both Kevin and Mike made mistakes on the dessert. That should have resulted a win for Bryan. Why didn't it? In her blog on BRAVO.com, Gail cites the complexity and subtlety of Mike's dishes as the main reason for his win. Tom revealed in his blog on BRAVO.com that my rating of Bryan as best for course 2 was not correct as Bryan's perfect venison was beaten by Mike's even better squab. I think the title of Tom's blog say it all,
"Bait n Switch", as the producers make I believe conscious editing decisions to mislead the viewers into thinking Bryan should win. In fact, it is reported that Bryan, Mike and Kevin all through Bryan had won.

That wraps it up for Top Chef 6, except for next week's special TC6 Reunion.

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #61 on: December 10, 2009, 04:03:08 PM »
I'm with you apskip. I thought it was clear from last week that Kevin wouldn't win but from the comments I was semi-surprised that Bryan didn't win. I believed that the brothers competing was a ploy by the producers but from the comments I thought Bryan would win. However as nasty and caustic as Mike has been I thought he would get the nod from Tom and Gail. In the voting for who the audience wanted, Kevin was the strong leader and Mike at the bottom.

"Mike - I don't want Bryan to be top Chef (because Mike wanted it for himself). I love what I do." The judges laughed but he spoke the truth.

I will probably continue to watch Top Chef but I don't love it as much as I used to, but I will say this was probably the best crop of chefs since the series started and I forget which judge said Kevin will be a superstar and I believe he will.  Jen and Eli are both going to do well and we'll hear from Jen again, she's a fine chef.

I wonder apskip, did this finale seem flat to you? It did to me.

Thank you for your fine recaps!
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #62 on: December 11, 2009, 10:26:53 PM »
TexasLady,
I'm not sure that flat is the right word. But it seemed quite different than typical finales. You never know, based on the disregarding of all prior achievements, who is going to win until it's over and at least TC2 had a major upset. For the TC6 Finale I think the challenge was a bit bigger than the others. Having a twist with the Mother's Honor course was something done before and expected, but although the mystery box has been used before in Top Chef episodes, I cannot recall it ever being in a finale. Those were very difficult ingredients that did not go together easily. The only course comparable to a typical finale was the chef's choice - anything goes course. That is how most finales go. Having a required dessert course was also something quite new and even at this level, there has been only one Top Chef Final 3 chef in the history of top Chef with outstanding pastry chef skills. Desserts are hard for general-purpose chefs because the requisite knowledge is so specialized. Now you know what I think about this topic.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #63 on: December 12, 2009, 09:08:48 AM »
I liked the addition of having to make a dessert because that's where a lot of the chefs fall. The mother's being there, sort of an obvious thing in retrospect since two of the finalists were brothers. The mystery box was interesting and it was a big hurdle for Kevin. I read Lee Ann's blog and she explains what did Kevin in and I can see why Kevin fell in points because he didn't know how to prepare the matsutake mushrooms.

A worthy read: http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs/lee-anne-wong/thank-you-and-good-night



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Offline tory

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Re: Top Chef Season 6
« Reply #64 on: December 13, 2009, 10:01:27 AM »
it has been a while sence i have gotten over here to comment sry, i thought this whole season was flat, jmo it was like tar there realy wasn't a lot of bickering or hooking up it was realy predicable,jmo :cmas11. i guess i am the only one who liked the brothers i could c they were cooking great trew the whole season and i heard /read that michael won by a mile it was not close at all. i saw him on watch what happens live on bravo the other night and he was realy funny and was tellling the viewers to vote for kevin for fan fav. he said he got allong with every body and talks to his bro and kevin a lot. there was no real bad guy this season so when he made a of remark it got aired cause they realy had nothing else, there was no drama, no pushing ad shoving or forigin accents the whole season was flat for me.
also about the plant again jmo if they were a plant it was a bad idea becaus they were miles a head of the other chefs and they did not know kevin was going to b that good so they would have had a realy loop sided show, i like the show with more amatures and more compation this season it was all missing.. :cmas5
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