'Top Chef' Coming to New Orleans for Season 11
The popular cooking competition show is on its way to The Big Easy
Season 11 of 'Top Chef' will be set in New Orleans.
Get ready for a whole lot more Emeril and gumbo. Bravo has announced that for its next season of Top Chef, which is slated to begin filming soon, Tom, Padma, and the gang will be heading down to New Orleans.
The network is usually tight-lipped about its filming locations, but this time around they issued a press release to local news outlets touting the fact that they’ve partnered with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Louisiana Office of Tourism to showcase "the vibrant food scene of New Orleans." They’ve partnered with tourism boards in the past; it’s been reported that several hundred thousand dollars is sometimes paid to Bravo to highlight the state or city’s strongest attributes.
This will be the series’ 11th season. They’ve previously filmed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Texas, and Seattle. A premiere date hasn’t been set yet, but it’s rumored that they’ll be filming from May through July. These contestants will be in for a hot summer!
Chef Nina Compton
St. Lucia native Nina Compton fell in love with New Orleans while filming BRAVO’s Top Chef Season 11: New Orleans (she grabbed the runner-up spot and was voted fan favorite). In 2015, she returned to the city to open Compère Lapin at the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Since then, the requests for reservations have been non-stop. The success of Compere Lapin lead Compton to open a second restaurant, Bywater American Bistro, in the spring of 2018.
Trained in the French tradition at the Culinary Institute of America, Nina mixes the rich culinary traditions of New Orleans with those of her Caribbean roots. She was named one of Food & Wine magazine&rsquos "Best New Chefs 2017.&rdquo Along with receiving a rave review from The New York Times, Compère Lapin was named &ldquoBest New Restaurant&rdquo by both New Orleans Magazine and The Times-Picayune. And then in 2018, she took home the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for "Best Chef: South" (she had been named a finalist for the same award the previous year).
Nina began her career at Daniel in New York City, alongside Chef Daniel Boulud. From there, she joined Norman Van Aken in Miami at Norman&rsquos. Next up, was a stint with Philippe Ruiz at Palme d&rsquoOr at the historic Biltmore Hotel. Then Nina moved to Casa Casuarina in Miami Beach where she rose to the rank of executive chef. Before settling in New Orleans, she was chef de cuisine at the Italian restaurant Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach. There the &ldquoGnocchi Queen&rdquo worked with celebrity chef and restaurateur Scott Conant.
Food for Thought: Nina is the daughter of the late Sir John George Melvin Compton, three-time prime minister of St. Lucia. She also serves as the culinary ambassador for the island country.
Born and raised in Beijing China, Shirley was exposed to international cuisine at an early age by her grandmother, Liang Si Yi, former Director of The Red Cross in China. Shirley immigrated to America at age 17 for college and worked in Silicon Valley for a few years after graduating. Shirley decided to follow her passion for food so she left her career in high tech behind and enrolled California Culinary Academy San Francisco. She is trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, worked and opened restaurants for Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Mario Batali. After she opened CarneVino as Chef de Cuisine for the Batali group, CarneVino earned multiple awards for Best Steak House internationally.
Prior to being a finalist on season 11 of &ldquoTop Chef&rdquo in New Orleans, she held the Executive Chef Position at China Poblano, by Jose Andres, which was nominated for the Best New Restaurant Award by the James Beard Foundation in 2011. While working at China Poblano, she fell in love with Mexican cuisine and learned more about her own heritage. In 2014, Shirley opened a restaurant in Orange County, Twenty Eight, featuring modern Chinese cuisine.
Shirley also competed on season 14 of BravoTV's Top Chef where she used the opportunity to showcase her Chinese American Cuisine. She was rewarded by being named the runner up of Top Chef.
Her next restaurant concept Ms Chi Cafe , is now open in Culver City and a satellite location is at The Fields LA food hall in DTLA.
Shirley brings the same lively energy to her cookbook, Chinese Heritage Cooking From My American Kitchen, that made her a fan-favorite on Top Chef. From growing up in Beijing to attending culinary school in California, to making her name in the restaurant world and on Top Chef, today Shirley is dishing out new and dazzlingly delicious takes on Chinese cuisine.
WYES Presents New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton
Chef Kevin Belton is ready to hit the trail, the culinary trail that is, in a new cooking series from WYES-TV. In his fourth public television venture, Chef Belton will explore the rich and multi-faceted foodways of Louisiana.
KEVIN BELTON’S COOKIN’ LOUISIANA is a tasty 26-part tour of the Pelican State’s best flavors and dishes.
The award-winning chef will visit locations across the state for a look at the authentic food traditions of Louisiana cuisine. In his travels, the chef will seek out dishes that reflect Louisiana’s complex blending of cultures, preparing Filipinostyle Beef Tapa with Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice), Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and traditional Czech Kolaches. He’ll also dip into the bounty of Louisiana’s food culture with dishes that reflect its prolific fisheries, its citrus harvest and its thriving family friendly “you pick” farm experiences.
From Chicken and Dumplings, one of the Delta Delights from Northeast Louisiana, to Cracklin Cornbread from Evangeline Parish in the Cajun Heartland, , KEVIN BELTON’S COOKIN’ LOUISIANA will take viewers on a fun-filled food odyssey with the 6’9”gregarious chef.
KEVIN BELTON’S COOKIN’ LOUISIANA is distributed to public television stations nationwide by American Public Television.
Top Chef Heading to New Orleans for Season 11Matthias Clamer/Bravo
Top Chef is about to get a taste of New Orleans.
Following its tradition of popping up in various cities around the country—Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, etc.—the chef competition show will spend its 11th season in the Big Easy.
"Bravo Media's Top Chef, in partnership with the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, are pleased to announce that the new season of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning show will take place in New Orleans," the network said in a statement Friday. "The vibrant food scene of New Orleans will be a welcome addition in the 11th season of the series."
Perhaps we'll see the chefs cooking up some gumbo and other Cajun grub soon?
Bravo has yet to release a premiere date for the season, so we'll just have to wait and see.
Top Chef season premiere recap: 'Top Chef New Orelans' premiere recap
Welcome to the Big Easy! More than Seattle, Texas, or Las Vegas, New Orleans as a locale has added a much-needed dash of spice to Top Chef. Everyone I know who has ever spent time in Nawlins speaks about it with a reverential air, and Gail Simmons told me about a month ago that it was hands-down the judges’ favorite filming location to date. They even contemplated buying property there, and I was hoping she meant they𠆝 all buy one house together and live under the same roof and film it. There𠆝 be plenty of drama, I’m sure, because judging from the season preview, the beef that — I’m convinced, or at least, I wish — exists between Gail and Padma has not been sufficiently quashed since Seattle. Hopefully, much more on that as the season continues. #TeamGailObviously
It’s going to take a few episodes to commit these new chefs to memory, but a couple stood out as the most notable. First of all, there was Janine Booth, the buxom blond from Australia. So often Top Chef contestants spend their lives hidden in kitchens for a reason, but Janine strutted in rocking Daisy Dukes and heels, proclaiming, “The fact that I’m not so ugly… usually it’s something that I have to get people to overcome.” Normally that𠆝 be a super-annoying statement, but maybe in her case, it’s just true.
Also notable was Shirley, who runs restaurants for Thomas Keller and, under her own admission, can’t shut her mouth. Then there was Stephanie Cmar, who I knew looked familiar she was Kristen’s friend from last year who got cut before the competition even got started. She has a hunger for redemption that is equal parts compelling and creepy. I like her. Then there was Travis, the “white guy who makes Asian food.” He loves every part of Asian culture, admitting, “I only date Asians.” Oh, I know guys like this. Trust me. I’ll call him an “RQ” (a hundred comment-“likes” to anyone who can guess what that stands for). In a good way? I bet he, like most card-carrying RQs, makes a yearly month-long pilgrimage to Southeast Asia where he indulges in all the local flavors.
NEXT: Food fit for a swamp…
Tom and Padma entered the contestants’ living quarters slinging beads, and nobody even had to expose their areolas. The beads either read 𠇊lligator” or “turtle,” which were the proteins they had to use for the first Elimination Challenge. (No Quickfire!) The chefs would be cooking for 150 people in a swamp cookout, and the guests would adorn their favorite chefs with Mardi Gras beads. I𠆝 argue that the challenge was overly weighted in Janine’s favor. (I𠆝 say the same about Jason, the conventionally best-looking male, but I trust that the guests could sense his douchiness a mile away).
Tom visited the chefs as the prepped their food stations and arrived just in time to witness Jason bleeding into his food. But Jason bounced back from that moment of mortification by finishing his dish st as f—,” saying, “I thought this was supposed to be f—ing hard. I’m going to go pick some strawberries.” Is Jason just a cocky bastard, as Stephanie seemed to think, or is he the next Hung? (Wait, what’s the difference?) Only time will tell.
The judges shipped into the swamp on a barge named the Swamp Queen, which Tom joked was Padma’s nickname. It’s funny, I thought of the exact same joke the moment I saw the Swamp Queen moniker. Great minds!
By and large, the judges and the locals favored the female chefs, which bodes well for the possibility of an unprecedented two female winners in a row. Everybody enjoyed Carrie‘s poached frog legs with oyster emulsion and cold zucchini salad. Emeril noted that the New Orleans locals were pleasantly surprised to get cold frog legs, although cold frog’s legs sound a bit too seventh grade science project to me. They also loved rockabilly Sarah‘s “unapologetically spicy” General Tso’s-style deep-fried alligator with smoked chilis, sweet-and-sour sauce, pickled veggies, and pea shoots. The spice from her dish caused Padbot to short-circuit and exclaim, “Holy s—, it’s hot!”
But the win went to Nina, who reminded us many times that she had the pride of Saint Lucia on her shoulders. Knowing that turtle meat could get a bit tough, she decided to break the meat down into tender balls and doused them in curry served with chayote slaw and chutney with raisins. The guests weighed Nina down with beads, and the judges proclaimed her Queen of the Swamp. (We know that title really belongs to Mama Odie, but Nina can borrow it for now).
On the uglier side of the spectrum were Patty, Aaron, and Ramon. Before facing the judges, Muay Thai boxer Ramon counted his very few Mardi Gras beads as if they were prayer beads. He ended up having to pack his knives because the dashi from his braised turtle dish was watered down after he added ice to it. Honestly, who adds ice to the dashi? (I’ve never cooked dashi but it sounds like the wrong thing to do.)
Aaron, who landed in the bottom for his overly al dente pasta, had presented a decent dish but paled in comparison to the other chefs. Patty squeaked by with her poorly tenderized Cajun-style alligator. Curtis noted that none of the bottom dishes were all that bad, but the competition had been fierce.
What did you think of the Big Easy premiere? Has the location livened up the show? Do you feel optimistic about this crop of chefs?
'Top Chef' judges defend shocking finale decision
The "Top Chef: New Orleans" finale was like the disappearing pea puree, near head-shaving and Kristen-sent-home-for-Josie controversies all rolled into one. In other words, it was jaw dropping.
Fans were surprised last week when Nicholas Elmi somehow defeated both fan favorite Shirley Chung and "Last Chance Kitchen" victor Louis Maldonado to win a spot in the finale against Nina Compton. And in Wednesday's finale, he pulled off the seemingly impossible: He won.
Despite a full season of consistently underseasoning and overthinking his dishes — and being warned by the judges about both faults repeatedly — the chef from West Newbury, Mass., reigned victorious. And he managed the feat by besting Nina, who has been one of the strongest competitors since the season premiere.
Those hoping that Nick would get his comeuppance for his bad attitude and sometimes mistreating his fellow contestants (all that shade he threw at Carlos, getting "friend" Stephanie sent packing when she had one of the best dishes) were disappointed.
In fact, he even flipped out at his unsuspecting servers during the finale dinner service, screaming and swearing so loudly that stunned diners turned to look toward the kitchen.
‘Top Chef: New Orleans’ review: Why Nicholas Elmi made the right move
Tonight’s episode of “Top Chef: New Orleans” may be the most controversial of the season, and for good reason. After all, this was something that was very similar to what happened last year with Kristen Kish’s elimination, except a little bit later in the game.
Tonight, the victim was Stephanie Cmar, who really ended up falling on her sword after Nicholas Elmi made a controversial decision when it comes to the battle between Spanish cuisine and classic French food. His move cost her, since he had immunity and could make big moves without thinking that his butt was on the line.
Now, here is the question that we know the interwebs is going to be vigorously debating at the moment: Should he have resigned rather than stuck around in the competition? You can say that if you want to play the morality card, but here is the real problem with that: It’s impossible to really say that anyone should do that when they are trying to fight for their family and their career. Nicholas shouldn’t have resigned since he earned the immunity, and the other chefs could have stood up for themselves for.
With that being said, though, Stephanie did get seriously screwed here, mostly since she just ended up on the wrong team while Nina Compton continued her reign of dominance. While this episode was very entertaining, it did nothing to change our perception that we were going to see Nina win this in the end. She has an enormous advantage right now over the other chefs, and it is really not even close. Grade: B.
What did you think about this “Top Chef” episode, and do you think Nicholas did the wrong thing by choosing to actually stay in the competition? Share below, and click here if you want to see some more “Top Chef” news. Also, sign up for the CarterMatt newsletter if you want to get weekly TV updates sent straight to you.
January 10, 2014 @ 11:05 pm
Nicholas made the right decision and i was mad that the judges even mentioned resigning. After all, what’s immunity for if you’re not protected. The judges chose to still send someone home. They screwed Stephanie over, not Nicholas.
January 10, 2014 @ 5:00 pm
Nick won immunity fair and square. Immunity is in place so you can be “saved” in a bad situation. And that’s exactly how it was used. What bothered me most was the consensus on the judges’ part for him to resign. If the judges felt so strongly about the situation, why didn’t they simply take the immunity away and send Nick home? The judges didn’t do that because (A) it’s not in the rules of the game and more importantly (B) they didn’t want to look like the bad guys. Instead, it was much easier for the judges to plant the “resignation seed” in the other chefs’ heads….making Nick look bad. Going forward, the remaining chefs should really be nervous about winning immunity and the possibility of doing poorly in the elimination round….the judges might just ask that chef “to fall on their sword”.
January 10, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
I found it very rude to ask Nicholas to resign. I believe that two weeks ago, when Carrie had the immunity, the judges too mentioned that she could have gone home were it not for her immunity win.
As for the preview: again with the Carlos sabotaging Nicholas :S
January 10, 2014 @ 7:26 am
That seemed very unfair to me that they asked him to consider resigning. I have watched every season and I agree, if you give out immunity you cannot start asking the chef’s to “resign”! Good grief. Many a very bad turn has gone down with the immunity holders. Nick seems like a sweaty uptight nervous wreak all the time anyway and then to add that to his plate was just kinda cruel.
January 10, 2014 @ 1:32 am
I know that I will voting for Stephanie in Last Chance Kitchen, but I don’t think Nicolas should have to resign, even if the two worst dishes of the team were his. I think that if they make a rule where the winner of the Quickfire gets immunity, they should follow through with that rule. I also think that they should have eliminated anybody, but I do get they have a schedule and a finale date. I think that Nicolas’s choice doesn’t test his integrity, and I think it’s unfair to have Stephanie go home, and it’s also unfair to have Nicolas go home too. I do think that Nicolas will have to live with some guilt. It also kind of stinks because Shirley and Stephanie were my favorite ones.
January 10, 2014 @ 1:16 am
It was really unfair that they tried to make him resign. He earned immunity fair and square. He was a much stronger chef than Stephani anyway. She had a lot of coaching to make those dishes.
January 9, 2014 @ 10:39 pm
I love competition reality TV, especially social aspects of the games. Top Chef needs more episodes like this. Next to All-Stars, I think this season has been the second best–awesome. But looking at Nicholas’ decision from a reality TV critic standpoint, one could not help but predict that karma will eventually bite Nicholas in the ass down the stretch. I know he was caught up in the intensity of the moment at judges table, but does he really thing that a) karma will let him win in the end and b) the judges and produces will really let him win the whole thing? This is what Nicholas should have thought. In my opinion, he should have sent himself to Last Chance Kitchen, and who knows, maybe karma could work with him, instead of working against him like it will from now on. But great episode overall. P.S. you can’t really blame the judges for anything they are just following format.
January 9, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
There is a reason why he should have resigned, and it’s a simple one that no one seems to grasp: it’s about respect. When you cast yourself repeatedly as a skilled French chef, as Nick has, and then you are being judged by a statesman of the field, who himself suggests you should resign, then clearly you should show respect and resign – and what would have been lost would have been gained a hundredfold in integrity. It’s an issue beyond a competition and beyond immunity. It was a unique situation wholly created by Jacques Pepin, and you can’t extrapolate from it that it sets any kind of precedent or disavows any rulebook (and besides, who wants life determined by inviolable rules anyway). Perhaps this was intrinsically understood by the other chefs at the table, if not by a hapless Nick. Skill and talent are surely diminished if not girded by integrity..
January 9, 2014 @ 4:39 pm
I think the judges shouldn’t have sent anybody home. That dish was conceived by the mentor and Nicholas felt pressure to do it (admittedly bolstered by having immunity). It isn’t “Top Chef” if they send home one of the top chefs of the challenge. Barring that, I think Nicholas was a hypocrite for not taking the fall, considering how dishonourable he’s made Carlos out to be. If you talk about the lack of integrity in others, then show some yourself. He screwed his friend.
January 9, 2014 @ 4:55 pm
Great point Andrea. Never thought about someone just not going home. They do it in other reality contest shows, when things just aren’t right.Two could have gone home next week.
January 9, 2014 @ 7:17 pm
Excellent idea, Andrea! They didn’t absolutely have to send anyone home. I don’t agree that Nick has no integrity I think he earned his immunity and used it how it’s intended. As pointed out, the regular judges didn’t ask for his resignation either. It was Jaques Pepin who made the first suggestion, and it was wrong of him to do so.
January 9, 2014 @ 3:38 pm
This is crap. In earlier Top Chefs, Tom has said it was the judges’ decision & resignations were not allowed. Also, how many times was someone toldn “You’re lucky you have immunity or you’d be going home”? Nicholas deserves to stay, end of story – says the rules of the game.
January 9, 2014 @ 9:47 am
He has shown to the world, including the world’s best chefs, that he lacks integrity.
This will come back to bite him in the ass. If you win a competition, but lose in the game of life, you are a loser.
January 9, 2014 @ 4:35 pm
How does he lack integrity? He rightfully earned immunity. What is the point of immunity if not saving a chef when they do their worst?
January 9, 2014 @ 6:35 pm
But his teammates called him out and ask him not to serve the food that ended up putting them in the bottom. I don’t think he should have resigned for cooking bad food, I think he should resign because he disrespected his teammates and through them under the bus when he could have edited his place and respected that it wasn’t his neck on the line. That’s where he showed a total lack of integrity that get him asked to resign where others weren’t before.
January 9, 2014 @ 6:36 pm
January 9, 2014 @ 8:37 pm
No, the thing is, they weren’t very firm about it – they were questioning. They believed in him as the leader, and didn’t believe in themselves. He wasn’t trying to screw them over – he was trying to do his best. If they believed in him, why wouldn’t he believe in himself? (When I say ‘they’ I’m mostly referring to Stephanie. Shirley had little to say – and Stephanie seemed to be following Nicholas’ lead, which is what ultimately sent her home, fairly.)
I see what you’re getting at though and it does make sense, I just don’t see how it makes him a bad person.
January 9, 2014 @ 4:54 pm
I disagree. If this were done behind someone’s back it might be an integrity issue. If he didn’t agree he was the worst one on the team and tried to justify it, integrity might be called into question. He relied on immunity. He didn’t sacrifice for the good of the others. At some point, his family trumped Shirley and Stephanie. Tough spot.
January 9, 2014 @ 7:51 am
At some point personal integrity should trump playing the game. Sure winning the game is a life changer for the Top Chef, but publicly showing that you have no character is also a life changer. He should have resigned. And I can say that’s what I would have done because I have forfeited material & personal gain in pursuit of doing the right thing. I’m not trying to be pious — just saying some people are willing to do the right thing — but clearly not Nicolas.
January 10, 2014 @ 2:45 pm
So then why even compete in the quickfire then. All of the chefs should have told Padma and Jacques to STUFF IT, for the quickfire, based on your reasoning. What is the “right thing”? He EARNED immunity in a GAME, that was THERE for the taking by ANYONE. Steph had a chance to get immunity. She blew it.
January 9, 2014 @ 6:42 am
I agree that that was a really messed up thing for the judges to do. If the elimination challenges were meant to kick off the chefs who made the worst food, then they should never give out immunity in the first place. He won it, and even if he had served a dead rat on a garbage can he should still be allowed to stay without any guilt. It’s a competition in the end and any of the contestants who said that they would leave because they felt it was the right thing to do are completely lying!
January 9, 2014 @ 6:21 am
I think it was totally wrong to ask Nicholas to leave. He earned immunity. there have been a lot of chefs who earned immunity and then faltered on the main challenge and they weren’t asked to leave. I don’t think the girls would have left if the shoe was on the other foot. This puts a dark cloud over Nicholas and makes him look bad. It should not be anybody’s decision for someone to leave accept Tom or Padma. Very sad for Nicholas.
January 9, 2014 @ 5:52 am
I think it was totally wrong for the judges to suggest that Nicholas should “fall on his sword” or “resign”. Whether or not Nicholas blew it on this challenge, the show is built on immunity challenges. He earned immunity fairly. That’s how the game is played. If you start asking people who have earned immunity to give it up, then a fundamental premise of the show is rendered worthless. Easy for Tom to issue his decree “Nicholas should do that right thing and fall on his sword”. It’s pretty rich to start preaching morality and professional honor, on a show that in the past has promoted chefs based on who made the best dish out of vending machine candy or Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
January 9, 2014 @ 5:46 am
I agreed with Nicholas’ decision. Whether he had the worst dishes or not, he earned immunity fair and square. Fair or not, that’s the way the game is played.
'Top Chef' Season 11 In New Orleans Gets October Premiere Date (VIDEO)
The upcoming season, which debuts Wednesday, Oct. 2 on Bravo, will see a new batch of cheftestants cook up their best for judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, Emeril Lagasse and host Padma Lakshmi.
Bravo will reveal the "Top Chef" Season 11 contestants on bravotv.com, but below are the first six.
- Stephanie Cmar, 28 of Boston, MA
- Patricia Vega, 29 of New York, NY
- Janine Booth, 25 of New York, NY
- Jason Cichonski, 27 of Philadelphia, PA
- Nick Elmi, 32 of Philadelphia, PA
- Bene Bartolotta, 37 of New York, NY
Celebrity guest judges for "Top Chef" Season 11 include Lea Michele, Jon Favreau, Questlove, Jacques Pepin and Anthony Mackie.
"Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen" will return for the new season with Colicchio as host. Bravo is also launching a new pre-premiere web series called "Padma's Picks." Kicking off on Wednesday, Aug. 14, the online series will feature local chefs from New Orleans competing for their chance to appear on "Top Chef."
From dumpster-diving to live alligators and at least some sweat and tears, take a look at what to expect from "Top Chef" Season 11 in the new promo below.
Is season 11 worth the watch? I’ve seen the controversy surrounding the winner and that he wasn’t very likable. I remember reading the same about season 9 but I ended up kind of liking that one.
I’ve always liked it. I also don’t hate the character as much as others and and think most of the hate comes from love of another person. Everyone just decided who they wanted to see win before it was over
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS:
In my opinion, the idea that Nicholas was a bad guy is overblown. Nicholas wasn't really a "villain," per se. He kind of fucked over Stephanie, who many people (including me) love. Kind of. He had immunity and should have let her lead her own dish. He was domineering/overly confident and played it wrong. That being said, he was expected by the audience to give up his immunity to save Stephanie, and I just don't think that's fair. This is a competition and he won his immunity fair and square. Furthermore, although Stephanie is wonderful, she could have taken control and told him, "No, we aren't doing this. This is my dish, and I will be responsible if it fails." A chef is a leader and she could have asserted her dominance. It was a sad situation overall though, and I felt really bad for her. But I don't think Nicholas is villain.
On the flip side, the real crime of the season was the magnificent Nina Compton losing to Nicholas in the end. That was the fault of the judges, plain and simple. They always say, "It's about the food, it's about that final plate." Okay, but the two of them were extremely close - Gail said she kept nodding off at the judges table because they argued for so many hours about who the winner should be. The judges themselves have said that when it's that close, they then permit themselves to go back and review the rest of the season. At that point, they should have done that and Nina should have been the clear winner. She was so consistent and so elegant yet fearless in every aspect of her cooking. It's not Nicholas's fault that he won - it's Tom and co's.