So, why did Tre "lose"? Simply put, because he was the guy who -- on this particular day -- stuck his neck out the furthest. And as happens sometimes when you stick your neck out, his head got cut cleanly off. I expect a great number of commentators will point out that had Tre not taken the "chef" gig, not asserted himself with his own menu choices, been less of a leader, he would still be around. Absolutely right. In this case, by taking on more responsibility, he put himself squarely in the crosshairs. And ended up cut down. A more perfect example of the way the restaurant business really works could scarcely be imagined. A world where, sometimes, no good deed seems to go unpunished.
Did Tre deserve to be the one to pack up and leave?
I'd have to say that if judging that night, that I too would probably have gritted my teeth and chosen Tre.
Why? Because I've never seen Ted Allen react so violently and unfavorably to a dish as he did when trying Tre's "beet-cured salmon". He jerked in his seat as if harpooned. Guest chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who I have a lot of respect for, concurred -- as did Tom.
Tre didn't get away with the bread pudding. An innocuous dessert choice, one would think, but badly done. The judges noticed.
He hadn't fully synthesized what he'd learned from the previous night's experience: Just 'cause everybody stopped dead in their tracks and put on HAZMAT suits after a mouthful of his "smoked" potatoes, didn't mean they particularly liked the "gorgonzola and wild mushroom crusted" filet mignon that came with. I didn't note much enthusiasm for the dish that night -- other than a mention that the meat was properly cooked. Both the filet "crust" and the unlucky "pesto" on the salmon speak of creative limitations -- as if Tre ran out of inspiration and fell back on something he'd done many times before. Plain truth? How can I say this without sounding too mean? Pesto? Mushroom/Cheese-crusted filet? That might well fly in Texas, but not with two hotshot chefs from New York City.