"That kitchen was a hot mess," judge says.

on Jan 6, 2011 - The Dish

Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio
Last night's 100th episode of Top Chef brought us inedible chicken feet, eternal turtle love, and painfully slow dim sum. But according to lead judge Tom Colicchio, it was even worse than it looked.

"That kitchen was a hot mess," Tom explains on his blog today, noting the glacial pace of the service in last night's dim sum Elimination Challenge. "I simply cannot fathom the absolute lack of coordination, of planning, and of the ability to simply put out the food."

So as awkward and painful as the whole thing seemed on TV last night, the real deal was even worse. "It was a disaster in the dining room, and a terrible experience for us judges," Tom writes. "It was so uncomfortable to be eating while all the tables around us were filled with hungry people watching us eat. At one point, in fact, we all said, 'We can’t do this. We can't eat. Please give these dishes to other tables, and we'll eat after they've all been served.'"

But as bad as the Elimination Challenge was, Tom was thrilled to be able to mix it up a bit in the Quickfire Challenge. "The producers approached me and asked whether I'd be game to do it, which, of course, I was," he says. As for his big spill that nearly took out his co-judge Padma Lakshmi, Tom swears he can explain. "In my haste to open the bottle of olive oil, it flipped over, coating everything with oil, which got under the tub and caused it to slide off the table with a clatter."

See, even judges have their rough spots. So while the judges were sorely disappointed this week, Tom knows that this dim sum moment too shall pass. "So this was not our chefs' finest moment. But this is New York City, where they can reinvent themselves in an all-new challenge in an all-new neighborhood next week."

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