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S20.E11: Battle of the Wellingtons


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The remaining six chefs are tasked with creating a steamed dish for their Quickfire Challenge; the chefs are put in teams of two and must create not one, not two, but three different Wellingtons to serve 20 diners, along with Padma, Tom and Gail.

Original air date: May 18, 2023

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Ar this stage I don't want anyone to go home.  :-(  Really sad for these 2 (Sarah and Amar). Hopefully one of them triumphs in Last Chance Kitchen and returns to the competition.   Very happy for Gabri - being in is element (French trained) a bit and getting a win with Buddha.  

I wanted to try all the wellingtons (with a little extra cook on the lamb one :P ).  I especially wanted that peach melba one!

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Damn.  I'm so disappointed in how this played out.

Beef Wellington is not my jam, so I was glad to see there were more wellingtons to this challenge and they did not have to go traditional even with the meat.  But I don’t like team challenges at this stage, especially a double elimination.  And because Sara going home any time before the finals is my remaining nightmare for this show, when the edit seemed to be clearly foreshadowing she and Amar would be in trouble I hoped I was just catastrophizing. 

Then they served undercooked, and on some dishes raw, lamb.  Which was a terrible shame because they’d have had by far the best dish that round had it been cooked properly.  Their seafood was better than Tom and Ali’s, and dessert was pretty equal, so they really fucked themselves with that lamb.  And Sara wanted to leave it in longer while Amar wanted to pull it -- but I don’t think the time they had left was enough to help.

For the fish wellington, I most wanted Sara and Amar’s.  For the meat, I wanted to try Ali and Tom’s, when I normally wouldn’t be interested in a beef wellington.  For dessert, they all looked good, and I’m not a big dessert person.

In the QF, I liked Sara not just doing the math, but physically divvying up the water so there was no possibility for issues – and even left a little so anyone who needed slightly more could come dip into it.  Also hearing her briefly address how small farms have to think very carefully about water use.  I'm really going to miss her.

Gabri’s QF dish was the one I most wanted to eat.

Buddha’s “There’s my baby” when he saw his dog would be me (about my cat) if anyone filmed me on a call home.  I’ve never warmed to him (I don’t dislike him, I just don’t ever like him the way I do so many others around him whenever he competes), but I can relate to him on the pet parent level.

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Ali and Tom's Beef Wellington, the classic, was cooked to perfection.  Buddha and Gabri's Peach Wellington was creative and gorgeous.  If I had that menu on my last day, I would die happy.

 

I was surprised that Tom, Gail, and Padma actually had the integrity to send Sara and Amar home.  (Well, to Last Chance Kitchen.)  Raw lamb was clearly a failure but I thought they would make some excuse.  Except that the diners said so too so they could not cover it up.

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I remembered why I kept having such a poor reaction to Amar, and it wasn’t just remembered sweat. Not sad to seem him gone at all. 

I’m disappointed that Gabri is still there. I just don’t think he’s the caliber of the chef’s left. Also it felt like he was just Buddha’s sous. 

Happy that Tom and Ali made it through.

I haven’t been intrigued or amazed by Sara’s food to date, so I’m surprised at how much I wanted her to make the final. I’d love to have her come through LCK, but I like the other competing contestant not named Amar so much more.

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So so happy with this outcome! All I  need now is for Charbel to come through because I have loved his food all season. 

The parade interview Victoire gave was very insightful and it confirmed some of the things I've been thinking as did LCK.

I like gabri and i'm glad he had another chance to shine although I think he finds everyone attractive.

 I've always actually thought  Tom is innovative so I am not sad to see him there.

 If  Charbel comes back then that means he or Ali will be in the final and that will make me happy. If they both make the final I don't even care who the other 2 final 4 are.

 Neither sarah nor amar have ever cooked anything that I thought I might want to eat even if I ate meat.  Charbel, Ali, Tom, Gabri and Budda all have. Not what I predicted but pleased all the same.

I think in an International competition.,Sarah still leaned into that Southern Kentucky girl a little too much. If she does make it back from last chance kitchen then I predict a change moving forward.

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OK I have to admit, although this is a minority view, I voted for Gabri as Fan Favorite.  I waited until the results were in tonight to vote.  I think Gabri is adorable and has been funny and entertaining throughout the entire season.  I love his Mexican food.  I know people will think he was very lucky to be paired with Buddha tonight and that he was Buddha's sous-chef, but i think he was more than that.  And in the end, I do not think Buddha will win.

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I’ll miss Sara and I hope she makes it back. Sucks she didn’t stick to her guns on leaving the lamb to cook a bit more. Amar can gtfo and stay gone. 
 

I think it’ll be Buddha again. Dude is a machine. 

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1 minute ago, bitchin camaro said:

I’ll miss Sara and I hope she makes it back. Sucks she didn’t stick to her guns on leaving the lamb to cook a bit more. Amar can gtfo and stay gone. 
 

I think it’ll be Buddha again. Dude is a machine. 

It seems like no one can beat Buddha.  I hope the judges throw a curve ball with Mexican or Middle Eastern or German cuisine that defeats him.

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43 minutes ago, susannot said:

OK I have to admit, although this is a minority view, I voted for Gabri as Fan Favorite.  I waited until the results were in tonight to vote.  I think Gabri is adorable and has been funny and entertaining throughout the entire season.  I love his Mexican food.  I know people will think he was very lucky to be paired with Buddha tonight and that he was Buddha's sous-chef, but i think he was more than that.  And in the end, I do not think Buddha will win.

I’ve noticed that whenever there is a talking-head segment with Gabri and another chef, together, they both seem to be enjoying themselves, ebullient, even.  He seems to be the common element in these joyful pairings.  

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Unpopular opinion, but I for one am glad that Sara is gone, and I hope she doesn't make it back through LCK.  I don't know why, but she always rubs me the wrong way.

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I was so tense throughout most of this episode-what a challenge!  I really disliked the team element though (especially at 6!).  I thought all of the Wellingtons looked delicious and would have been so happy to have tried them.  Surprisingly (for me) I really liked Amar and Sara and was sorry that they left.  Not sure if just a couple more minutes in the oven would have made the difference for their lamb dish.  But, at least they went out with a strong showing.  

Once again Gordon Ramsey was name-checked (by Buddha).  This makes him the most talked about chef of the season who doesn't actually appear in the season.  And, for a Wellington challenge, he really would be the most iconic judge to have but I totally get that his contracts are all tied up with Fox Network and may not have even been available (and he does have connections to Top Chef as on his current show he has two past contestants on it as mentors/judges).

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It was nice to see each pair of chefs working so well together - but I agree that it's too late in the season to have a team competition.

I still think Ali has the best shot at winning.  Even if he's lost his Papi.

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For me, it is anybody but Tom. I just cannot warm up to him at all. I also hope that Sarah makes her way back in. I like her so much better this time around. 

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I'm glad that Gabri was able to demonstrate his expertise in French cuisine on this episode.  The judges seemed to love every plate of food they offered, and they had the highest praise in the Quick Fire, as well.  It really was their night.  

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13 hours ago, seacliffsal said:

Once again Gordon Ramsey was name-checked (by Buddha)

As it should be, considering all those Hell’s Kitchens I watched where those cheftestants couldn’t make Wellingtons…

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On 5/18/2023 at 11:05 PM, susannot said:

OK I have to admit, although this is a minority view, I voted for Gabri as Fan Favorite.  I waited until the results were in tonight to vote.  I think Gabri is adorable and has been funny and entertaining throughout the entire season.  I love his Mexican food.  I know people will think he was very lucky to be paired with Buddha tonight and that he was Buddha's sous-chef, but i think he was more than that.  And in the end, I do not think Buddha will win.

Also, re-watching, Gabri is now nicknamed El Gato.  As a cat mom, how can I not love him.

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Another observation:  Padma is really showing her typical Top Chef weight gain in that skintight blue dress.  Good thing she got in shape for that fabulous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

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7 minutes ago, susannot said:

Another observation:  Padma is really showing her typical Top Chef weight gain in that skintight blue dress.  Good thing she got in shape for that fabulous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Even weight-gain Padma is still ridiculously svelte.

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(edited)
34 minutes ago, caitmcg said:

Even weight-gain Padma is still ridiculously svelte.

She will never not be gorgeous to me, and I love her little "we're close to the end of the season" tummy.

(I very much enjoyed her autobiography Love, Loss, and What We Ate.  In fact I'm thinking I need to read it again!)

Edited by Leeds
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Buddha did an exceptional job keeping Gabri on time.  And himself too by ditching the crepes that were not working.  That frenetic energy of Gabri that can put him in the weeds was skillfully directed by Buddha.  I don’t think that makes Gabri any less of a chef, it just showcases Buddhas skill as a competition show chef.  Gabri makes great looking food that has been enjoyed this season!

I kind of thought Amar and Sara were going home because it would be odd to have a world all stars season with 3 out of 4 chefs being from the American version of the show.   Agree that team elimination at this point is brutal.  The lucky knife club at this stage isn’t quite fair with the luck of the draw Buddha pairing.

I did chuckle at the twinning body language of the final pairs to be eliminated.  Amar and Sara were Team Arms Crossed and Ali and Tom were Team Hands Behind Our Backs LOL.

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6 hours ago, HappyDancex2 said:

 Amar and Sara were Team Arms Crossed 

 

AKA Lisa Fernandes' default pose.  They just didn't have the resting bitch face to go with it. 

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18 hours ago, susannot said:

Another observation:  Padma is really showing her typical Top Chef weight gain in that skintight blue dress.  Good thing she got in shape for that fabulous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

While she has said she gains weight throughout the season, seems like it was really the style of the dress that made her look bigger. Not that that would be a problem, even if it weren't an illusion, since she always looks incredible.

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When Padma was on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few weeks ago, she said that while they're filming a season of Top Chef, her calorie count is around 8,000 per day! 😯 Hers is higher than the other judges as she's eating both the Quickfire plates and the Elimination dishes. 

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22 hours ago, susannot said:

Another observation:  Padma is really showing her typical Top Chef weight gain in that skintight blue dress.  Good thing she got in shape for that fabulous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

I had to keep doing a double-take, because the camera angle at times and the way she had her arms crossed under her stomach made it look like she was pregnant.

I have to (begrudgingly) hand it to Buddha. But I’d rather see anybody but him win. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a losing chef say, “I should have listened to my gut.” LISTEN TO IT, fer cryin’ out loud. Especially when you’re sending out undercooked protein, and you KNOW it’s undercooked. I knew Sarah and Amar were goners with their meat Wellington.

Has there ever been a double elimination so close to the end? And the LCK stuff has to end. Send them home — or not. Glad this is over, at least.

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1 hour ago, ProudMary said:

When Padma was on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few weeks ago, she said that while they're filming a season of Top Chef, her calorie count is around 8,000 per day! 😯 Hers is higher than the other judges as she's eating both the Quickfire plates and the Elimination dishes. 

And I’ve read in past interviews that hence, a bunch of her filming downtime is devoted to exercise.

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On 5/19/2023 at 8:27 PM, susannot said:

Another observation:  Padma is really showing her typical Top Chef weight gain in that skintight blue dress.  Good thing she got in shape for that fabulous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Why are you commenting on what her body looks like? She also has been open about her endometriosis, which can cause bloating (though even if she isn’t bloated, why the need to comment on her body)?

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That's a lot of wellingtons to eat. 

I also really like Gabri and it was nice to see him paired with Buddha. I was worried the edit was going to be Buddha condescending and running everything, but they did seem to work nicely together. Gabri just seems to be ambitious and I think he has time management issues so if anything goes wrong....it really goes wrong. Buddha is so analytical, I think he reined in Gabri's wilder tendencies in a successful way.

It does look like Buddha will win and he does seem like an excellent chef - I just don't like fussy food. So his dishes don't wow me all that much.

I was sad about Amar and Sarah! Amar particularly for his food, Sarah more for her personality (I am converted from her US season when I was not a fan.) - I like Sarah's talking heads. 

Just a great bunch of chefs this season, will be hard to top? Will be hard to go back to people making fancy toasts after this. (I liked the fancy toast lady, but...food wise this a big upgrade!)

 

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I like Gabri and I'm amused by Tom, but jesus, what a pair of lucky bastards. Getting hitched to the twin stars of Buddha and Ali (who is actually a very strong contender, he's just so quiet that I think he's flying under the radar a bit) at this stage is incredibly fortunate timing for them both. I don't want an all-American finale, sure, but lord. What lucky bastards, that's all I have to say.

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(edited)

I thought Gabri really lucked out being paired with Buddha and he knew it, I'm sure.  He did his absolute best, though, which shows he's got a lot of talent when under the right kind of supervision, which Buddha provided.  I just think he was circling the drain for a while and is not on par with the rest of the chefs left.  It might not be a result of his level of talent but his lack of ability to compete in such a time structured competition.  Even Amar commented on how happy Gabri must have been to have been paired with Buddha.

I'm still scratching my head over the anti-Amar sentiment.  I've seen nothing about him to hate and I think he's a great guy and fantastic cook.  However I don't think he'll be the one coming back from LCK.

17 hours ago, WaffleQueen said:

While she has said she gains weight throughout the season, seems like it was really the style of the dress that made her look bigger. Not that that would be a problem, even if it weren't an illusion, since she always looks incredible.

THANK YOU!  I thought the same thing and knew someone would beat me to posting it!  Specifically it was the lighter color right under the bustline that made that part of her look bigger.  It's a thing in fashion that darker colors minimize and lighter colors maximize.  Usually designers are smart enough not to make such a glaring mistake like in this dress.  This is a prime example of poorly placed color blocking or ombre effect, or whatever they were trying to achieve.  And on TV every effect or illusion is exaggerated which only made it look even worse.

If I may have a theory I think at least some of the anti-Buddha sentiment might come from resentment or sour grapes for his seeming superior talent even next to this high level of competition.  During his original season he was quite beloved and I see no change in him here.  I'm not seeing arrogance or anything deserving such hatred.  Speaking for myself, if a contestant isn't my favorite but I think they look like a sure bet to win I don't look for reasons to hate them.  If I think the judges are unfairly biased towards them that's another thing but I don't get that impression here with Buddha.

I was sad to see Amar and Sara go but at this point and with these team pairings any elimination was going to suck and I knew that going into this episode.  The way the teams were paired made it especially unavoidable, which is why I hated the idea of a team challenge and double elimination so late in the game.  I hope the show doesn't do that again.  That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Sara will be the one coming back from LCK.  I had a real visceral dislike for Sara until a few weeks ago, but that has turned around somewhat based on her good humor and obvious talent.  For me it's usually all about the cooking and less of a popularity contest so if she comes back and wins I'd be happy with that.

On 5/20/2023 at 2:29 AM, HappyDancex2 said:

I kind of thought Amar and Sara were going home because it would be odd to have a world all stars season with 3 out of 4 chefs being from the American version of the show.  

I hate to say it but perhaps the fact that the head judges are all Americans whether born here or naturalized (or Canadian American in Gail's case) might have something to do with that situation, not because of their bias towards Americans in general but because of their tastes in food, which makes me wonder if there was any way that could have been prevented.  I know they have guest judges from other countries but in the end who has the final say?  They do (or as some suspect, judge Tom does).

Edited by Yeah No
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9 hours ago, hula-la said:

Why are you commenting on what her body looks like? She also has been open about her endometriosis, which can cause bloating (though even if she isn’t bloated, why the need to comment on her body)?

Thank you. No one was critical or unkind and no disrespect was intended. Even so, judging women's looks is a habit we need to break. 

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1 minute ago, Passing Strange said:

Thank you. No one was critical or unkind and no disrespect was intended. Even so, judging women's looks is a habit we need to break. 

Agreed, although I criticize the men's appearance equally.  I have previously mentioned Amar's wardrobe choices (which even he criticized when he went to Fortnum and Mason and wished he'd dressed better). I have also criticized Guy Fieri's everything and Rocco DiSpirito's recent weight gain (and loss), so with me it's not just about women.  Although in most cases it's about the offending clothing not the person's physical appearance, except in Rocco's case but there was a valid medical cause to it and that was a different issue.  My first thought when I see that is wondering what's going on with them medically, which does not involve disrespect but concern.  And when I see weight loss I cheer it, and I see no disrespect in doing that either.  Getting back to Padma, she would look good wearing a barrel or burlap sack so her appearance is not really the issue, it was the dress for giving the illusion of bloating in the stomach area.

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I am one who doesn't love Buddha - I didn't warm to him last season and it hasn't changed. Yes, he's a very technically proficient chef and very savvy about the game of Top Chef. But I agree with those who don't see any heart in his food. Everyone made fun of Carla Hall "cooking with love" in her original season but then Bryan Voltaggio was scolded for not putting his heart on a plate in the LA All-Star season. I feel that way about Buddha - his dishes feel more calculated to win the competition than to feed your soul.

As for Sara, I have no problem at all with her trying to adapt each challenge to tie in with her Southern cooking. I think that's a solid point of view and don't see any reason why that cuisine should be seen as "less than" classical French or other traditional fine dining food. She clearly elevates it to a sophisticated level and the judges have mostly loved her food, so much so that it really showed in the quickfire when she went away from it.

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4 hours ago, jpgr said:

I am one who doesn't love Buddha - I didn't warm to him last season and it hasn't changed. Yes, he's a very technically proficient chef and very savvy about the game of Top Chef. But I agree with those who don't see any heart in his food. Everyone made fun of Carla Hall "cooking with love" in her original season but then Bryan Voltaggio was scolded for not putting his heart on a plate in the LA All-Star season. I feel that way about Buddha - his dishes feel more calculated to win the competition than to feed your soul.

Granted, Buddha's food is created with a high level of artistry and looks almost too perfect to have that kind of heart.  But the same thing could be said of many dishes created by the finest chefs.  I thought that about the food at Le Bernardin.  One of my husband's rich clients took us and some of his favorite people there to thank us for all we did for him a few years back.  To look at it, the food looked almost too sterile and technically precise, but I was literally never so moved to the depths of my soul by a meal as by that chef's tasting menu with the wine pairings.  It took me back to my childhood, to days at grandma's when I was sick, to my mother's cooking, to restaurants I ate in as a kid, to food I had overseas, you name it, it took me there.  I was actually moved to tears by the entire experience.  Although my husband now has another job he still drives this man on occasion and both of them still reminisce about that meal.  Being a foodie, this man has eaten in some of the finest restaurants all over the world, but this meal was also his favorite ever, which says a lot. 

So to make a long story short.  I never judge food on that level by its cover.  There's a lot going on in there that's not visible to the eye.

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I think Buddha will win, but my heart wants Tom to win. 
Actually these are all such likeable talented people, I’m good with any of them winning. 
I don’t see anyone as calculating, and I watch a TON of cooking shows. 

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6 hours ago, Yeah No said:

  I thought that about the food at Le Bernardin.  One of my husband's rich clients took us and some of his favorite people there to thank us for all we did for him a few years back.  To look at it, the food looked almost too sterile and technically precise, but I was literally never so moved to the depths of my soul by a meal as by that chef's tasting menu with the wine pairings.  It took me back to my childhood, to days at grandma's when I was sick, to my mother's cooking, to restaurants I ate in as a kid, to food I had overseas, you name it, it took me there.  I was actually moved to tears by the entire experience.  

 

This is super deep and I love all of it. Great story, and thank you for sharing and putting the human/emotion touch to fine dining and how impactful and meaningful it can be.

To eat food carefully crafted and sourced, served with technical expertise, is very special. It's a privilege and honor to be part of these types of experiences (IMHO).

I am coming around on Tom. He's getting more serious and stepping up. Gabri, who was kind of on the edge in the beginning has also really showed up and thrived under this type of pressure. I think Tom might have even come back from LCK too.

LCK is kind of strange. Putting two people who lost together isn't that exciting. Maybe have one of the contestants in LCK be the winner of the challenge... I think they need to switch it up.

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I love the idea of Last Chance Kitchen, particularly since the judges on Top Chef evaluate one's performance on the last dish you served and don't take into account one's track record.  Anyone can have a bad day, forget an ingredient, have their pea puree stolen, or a number of calamities.  Maybe that chef was actually the best of the bunch. They can still fight their way back into the competition.  It also appeals to my sensitive heart which hates to see people leave and I love the idea of second chances.  I wish more competition shows had something similar to LCK.

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21 hours ago, hula-la said:

Why are you commenting on what her body looks like? She also has been open about her endometriosis, which can cause bloating (though even if she isn’t bloated, why the need to comment on her body)?

I don't think there was anything wrong with the comment.  Several others have commented on something that was hard to miss with a dress that was very unflattering.  

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17 hours ago, Yeah No said:

 

I hate to say it but perhaps the fact that the head judges are all Americans whether born here or naturalized (or Canadian American in Gail's case) might have something to do with that situation, not because of their bias towards Americans in general but because of their tastes in food, which makes me wonder if there was any way that could have been prevented.  I know they have guest judges from other countries but in the end who has the final say?  They do (or as some suspect, judge Tom does).

I find it hard to fathom suggesting Padma's palate leans towards North American cuisine.  And I can't speak to Gail and Tom's personal preferences, but I'm sure they're far too competent and professional not to recognize superior flavors and techniques from anywhere in the world.

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28 minutes ago, Leeds said:

I find it hard to fathom suggesting Padma's palate leans towards North American cuisine.  And I can't speak to Gail and Tom's personal preferences, but I'm sure they're far too competent and professional not to recognize superior flavors and techniques from anywhere in the world.

Perhaps but I think unconscious taste bias might exist in spite of all that.  It has been speculated for years that Tom in particular has his biases for and against certain foods and taste profiles and I think it sometimes comes across in his judging.  Plus, I think the fact that these judges have all already judged the Americans here before might in and of itself bias them towards them from the get-go.  To be fair, I think the judges would have needed to not have judged any of these contestants before.  At least in the American all-star seasons there's a level playing field because all of the contestants have been previously judged by these judges before.  But that's not the case in this season.  The non-American contestants have (I presume) not been judged by them before but the American contestants have.  I think it would be hard for anyone no matter how unbiased they are trying to be not let some of that turn into a bias in favor of the people they've judged before and whose food they've liked a lot.  Maybe that's just the psychologist in me talking but I think it might be a thing.

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On 5/20/2023 at 8:55 PM, ProudMary said:

When Padma was on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few weeks ago, she said that while they're filming a season of Top Chef, her calorie count is around 8,000 per day! 😯 Hers is higher than the other judges as she's eating both the Quickfire plates and the Elimination dishes. 

It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, but I seem to recall her writing about the pizza challenge in Chicago in her autobiography. She said she felt sick after awhile eating all those dishes. It was early in the season — first episode, maybe? — so there weren’t a whole lot of eliminated chefs.

I don’t know if I could eat everything in an elimination challenge. Quickfires seem to be more like samples, but still, that’s a lot of food.

One more comment about her appearance…she always, always looks stunning. It was just the combination of the dress and camera angles that made her look heavier.

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What I've noticed, through both seasons, is that in any of the team challenges Buddha just naturally takes charge.  He doesn't come in with both barrels blazing as we've seen others do.  He just steps up quietly.  Of course,  because of his pre-planning, he always has some idea of what to do for every challenge.  But, isn't that what a leader is supposed to do...be well prepared for anything?  What is amazing, in a group of executive chefs, is that I don't recall anyone objecting to him taking the lead.  Granted they may have edited nasty or resentful comments out of the talking head segments but I haven't seen anything post-production either.  This says a lot about his character.  

Whoever wins it, will have earned it through a tough competition.  They all seem like wonderful chefs.

 

 

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18 hours ago, Suzn said:

I don't think there was anything wrong with the comment.  Several others have commented on something that was hard to miss with a dress that was very unflattering.  

I'm not the poster you quoted, so these are my thoughts only. There's a lot of critiquing of women's bodies happening in our society, as if people's bodies are public commodities that need to be monitored. That's dehumanizing. The things said here were minor and even well-intentioned, but still uncomfortable when you consider the bigger picture. Padma may be a professional pretty person, but her body belongs only to her.

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