Top Chef Crowns a Winner. Are You Satisfied?


It’s been a big year on Top Chef. There’s been immunity challenges. And immunity challenges. There’s been good food, better food, and best food. In fact, this might’ve been the best season so far where food is concerned. And in the end, we got ourselves a new Top Chef.

It was a tight race. While I was surprised last week that Luis and Shirley were the ones who got cut (honestly, I thought Shirley would win the whole thing), we had Nina and Nick facing off in the end. Nina has consistently proven herself throughout the season. She was a strong competitor, always contributing good food. Was it the best food? Not often. Usually one person would slip right past her, giving that last bit of creativity or flavor to their dish, so she was often coming in second.

But contrast that with Nick, who was all over the place with his dishes. Leaning more on technique, Nick would often get over his head, piling on competing elements, while leaving salt off the menu. He had highs and lows; and while his lows were very low, his highs were very high.

In the end, one meal made the difference (and in my own opinion, one judge). Nick pulled through in the end — gaining the title of Top Chef — after delivering a great meal, despite poor service and curse words. But is he the right choice?

It’s no surprise that Nick is not the crowd favorite. Not that that should make any difference. Hung was not anyone’s favorite back in the day if I recall, and dear god, let’s not even discuss Hosea (though one could argue that was less the person and more the lack of talent in the kitchen). But Nick rubbed everyone the wrong way when Stephanie went home when he had immunity. But hey, that’s how the game was played (and if you watched Watch What Happens Live after the show, you’d see that Nick is still not pleased with how that all went down, and even Tom didn’t mean to imply he should have quit — they just asked the question).

Crowd opinion aside, should he have won? What surprised me here was that they based their decision on one meal. In the past — and correct me if I’m wrong — did they not look at performance over the entire competition? If you did that, would it be consistency or highs and lows? And in the end, if you’re looking at only one meal, was Nick’s really the best?

True, they had issues with Nina’s dessert. But from what I understood, everything else she served was great. Nick, on the other hand, had inconsistently cooked duck and a fish that needed salt. And while I can’t bring myself to align with Padma (who really had it out for Nick for some reason, suggesting they start judging on service and not food, among other things), I do think she had a point in a previous episode: How can they be this far in and still be discussing salt?

In the end, Nina probably should have been the champ. The only thing she didn’t have that Nick did was this: Tom. Tom seemed to be Nick’s number one fan. And it was clear that he was going to fight for Nick as hard as he could. And while we didn’t see it at the judges’ table, I think, in the end, he did. (I’m not the only one who thinks this either. And truth be told, I think Tom holds more power than the other judges anyway, given his experience with the show and discontent in the past. But that’s just my guess.)

Nick or Nina, I have to say it was a good season. We got to see real cooking. We didn’t have ridiculous themes that didn’t allow you to see how a person could really cook (think Top Chef: Texas — Make ribs! No, chili! No, this can of beefaroni!). In the end, they presented good food with their own style and personality. Did the best chef win? Well, is that really what this show is about? That sounds like another blog post to me.

*image from


7 thoughts on “Top Chef Crowns a Winner. Are You Satisfied?

  1. Hi Joe,

    Are you saying that Nina should have won? Or that she did win? If it’s the latter, sorry to confuse you. Nick actually did win, though I can see how it could be unclear in how I wrote the post. I’ve adjusted my wording accordingly.

    But yes, I think Tom was the one who really chose the winner here.


  2. I think it was terrible.
    I have watched from the beginning and it is very hard for a woman to win.
    This might b my last season, I don’t understand the judges and how they vote.
    Nick was not a nice person or the best cook, Shirley was better than him.
    I guess Tom has the final say.

  3. I feel that Nina should have won .Nick food has not been good the entire season yet he kept getting a pass . the episode when he had immunity show his true character. I believe the judges will never crown a black person top chef. I have been watching from the very beginning but no longer. I am tired of people saying the are not prejudice but they really are .Nina by far was the better chef from the first episode to the last.How can he win when they said his food was under seasoned again? so goodby top chef..

  4. I agree with the assessment whole heartily. Tom should recuse himself as a “Top Chef” judge for future seasons. Nick lacks professionalism and quite frankly should have gone home on multiple occasions.

  5. I liked Nick. I’m not sure why he was so unpopular. Sure, he was a little abrasive and hotheaded at times, but he wasn’t a total jerk or ass like many “most-hated chefs” in the past have been. I’m glad he won. That said, I liked Nina and would have been happy for her if she had won as well. Tom sent out a tweet after the finale, explaining how the judges scored each dish. The short of it is, while Nina beat Nick easily on the first course, they were very close on the second course, and he took the swordfish/duck course by a 4-1 margin and took the desert course entirely, cancelling out Nina’s win in the first course.

  6. Nick had a hissy fit ……….again………heard by guests & judges. I’m very disappointed in the decision. Nina was steady all the way through & a true TOP chef! I don’t think I will watch the series again.

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