What do I think?
Some of the challenges are so ridiculous you have to wonder at what point these chef's start to question if the recognition for TC is worth acting like fools.
I agree the hard work required to be a successful chef is frequently demonstrated on the show, I especially liked the final challenge, it was right in the pocket of what these chefs do every day. When Paul opted to get both crab and shrimp at the market, having the shrimp as a possible backup, his decision paid off when the crab was not edible the next day. That decision saved his quest for TC.
I agree about hostess & host of the show, although Tom has the street creds for his judging, I guess Padma would qualify as a international diner growing up in several countries and living / working in multiple countries. I just feel she comes off like she popped a few downers before the show.
I enjoyed seeing Emeril as a regular in this season, although he didn't seem as relaxed or natural compared to his former show Emeril Live!
Paul Qui was the soft spoken very likeable chef who just consistently cooked good food. Sarah Grueneberg's bullying of Beverly Kim made anything Sarah was cooking not as appetizing. In the end like most reality shows TC is more about personalities than exciting elevated cuisine, Paul's personality was more appealing than Sarah's. Too bad Sarah didn't realize that the TC brand would rather be associated with a nice fairly humble guy who worked well with the other chefs avoiding most of the image damaging pitfalls that trapped the others, verses her intense personality. If the show was truly about the final challenge Sarah should have won, her meal was described as flawless, more complete, she pushed the envelope, and tasted better.
The funny part is that if both chef's restaurants were within walking distance of each other, I would choose Sarah's over Paul's, her food is the kind of food I enjoy.