When we go out to eat, do we know the chef's advantages and disdvantages, personality, and how well they work with their underlings? Well, maybe some of us CHers do but generally, no. We evaluate the food based on what we get. I would like to see the judges - at least at first -- do blind tastings. I'm tired of the judges knowing about how something was in or not in someone's "comfort zone" before the food itself is judged. Perhaps with a printed, menu sized, declaration/explanation of the dish. If they're woried about mise en place they can have a separate judge do that, well, separately.
Yes, there are mitigating circumstances. Absurdly short time periods & equipment failures. (How do they expect us to want to buy GE appliances if it seems that every episode something doesn't work?) Other contestants purposely or accidentally messing up something for someone else. Judging criteria that seem to change not just from episode to episode but from one contestant's dish to the next. The stated need (as dubious as it really is) to be able perform in a variety of styles and venues. So criteria beyond just blind tasting is good -- but to me, secondary.
I'm also leery of the snippets we are allowed to hear from the contestants. Hung's comment that "someone has to be the bad guy" is absurd -- no one *has* to be; it's a choice -- and he is often seen making disparaging comments. Is he really that much of a jerk? If so, how could he expect anything but huge employee turnover if and when he gets his own restaurant? It is possible -- and I would hope -- that he's not such a jerk and that what we see is only what Bravo is using to manipulate our opinions.
Just IMHO. Comments?