Eli Kirshtein

Eli Kirshtein explains why he thought the chefs should have been prepared to make baby food, and how they're playing it safe.

on Jul 8, 20100

Hi everyone!  I’m always happy to be part of the Bravo family and now that I’ve been asked to help on the blogging duties you’ll get to hear from me more this season, for better or worse!
 
The Quickfire was a fun one, and also one that the chefs should have seen coming. With all the media hype over Padma’s beautiful baby Krishna and Tom’s own Luka, it should be no surprise a baby-based challenge would pop up. The response of some of the chefs, saying they don’t know anything about baby food, blew my mind. Pretty simple one here; make something tasty with an easy palatable texture and no abrasive flavors. The harder part was to cook a dish that the judges might like. None of the baby food seemed like it was just an entrée pureed and jarred, so the chefs should have had no problem making something to please both palates.The two winners seemed to focus more on that than making excuses for why they couldn’t make baby food. As a side note to this: several years back, Season 4’s Richard Blais actually cooked a 15-course baby food tasting menu for the child of a regular guest at his (now dearly departed) Restaurant Blais in Atlanta.

This week’s elimination exemplifies the challenges of the early parts of the competition. There are so many chefs remaining that for practical reasons the chefs get teamed up. They’re finally breaking out of the honeymoon phase of trying to find their bearings in the kitchen and are starting to move on their feet. It’s starting to become clear that there are a lot of chefs whose focus is on placing blame rather than taking the lead. The judges can see that energy in the kitchen, and usually don’t take to kindly to it. They want to see leaders, people who control the situation.

Now with the convoluted nature of this challenge being set up so that the strongest are safe as opposed to win makes it tricky. The real difficulty here was that first, you had to make something very use-friendly and replicable for the hotel’s kitchen, and second, having to make the decision to push hard and not get eliminated and not to play for a win. It seemed that no one wanted the “Win,” instead they just wanted to be safe. Having your food featured in hotels nationwide isn’t all that bad, is it? I didn’t feel any of the chefs saw that as desirable. It might be more risky to try to play through all three rounds, but as the old saying goes, “A win is a win.”

19 comments
BessieLouWho
BessieLouWho

What I heard Padma say was that the winning dish was the best dish of the day. It just happened to have been made during the 3rd round, from one of the bottom 3 TEAMS. It was not one of the bottom DISHES; it was the best dish of the day.

dog lover 22
dog lover 22

I agree with Haruka... why was the winner out of the bottom three? That didn't make sense!!!

Haruka
Haruka

hmm, see, this challenge confused me after hearing Padma say that the 2 bottom dishes were 2 of the best they'd had all day. It made me wonder. Shouldn't the winner have come from the best meals of the day and not from the theoretical bottom 3 teams?

Your perspective as a past contestant is much apperciated. Thanks.

NYGAL
NYGAL

Nice blog! Thanks for reembering Richard and the baby food.I do think that perhaps you were as confused as most of the viewers about the elimination challenge. It needed to be explained better to us as far as the judging went. if you are doing a dish for most hotel chains, it needs to be simple but flavorful as not every chef is a top chef. Keep writing!

mmagmacretrizzi
mmagmacretrizzi

Please keep blogging Eli! Your dishes last year were well thought out and always looked tasty. People need to get over your feud with Robin, she wasn't innocent either.

Viewer22
Viewer22

I can't believe how these people are stuck in time! Season 6 was what it was. Eli may not have been as nice as he could have been, but Robin wasn't perfect, either. It was an intense situation and lots of people did things I'm sure they would do different having seen it play out on TV. Let it go, people, move on. Do you want people to judge you by your worst moment and hold it over your head forever? I didn't think so. Great blog, Eli. I for one look forward to reading more of what you have to say, seeing how you have been in their shoes, and we have not.

Striped Spinach
Striped Spinach

Eli,

I'm sorry to say that my heart sank when I saw you had written a blog post. S6 was the most wonderful season, unfortunately you are not part of what made it wonderful.

You have actually produced a well written and thoughtful chronicle on the last episode, and I will admit to have enjoyed reading your take on it. I might have put the proverbial paper bag on your head before getting into it, so as to have an impartial approach to your thoughts.

I still can't get over your treatment of Robin, that mob mentality that you and Mike I. have seeded, in a not-so-good remembrance of S2. Such behavior is not "top chef", nor a top leader kind of behavior. If Bryan Voltaggio inspired the masses by his focus and determination coupled with an admirable respect for his co-cheftestants, I'm sorry to say that you were nowhere near his league.

You do write well, for which I congratulate you. But I cannot ever be your fan. It's not about making Robin a victim, it's about core integrity toward basic human values. I'd like to hear from you when you're twenty years older and have yourself been a Robin in your work environment, which of course I dearly hope will happen to you, as it seems it's the surest way you could understand how harmful you were to her.

Like judge Kass said, "Leave your ego at the door." Best words ever said on Top Chef.

andreares
andreares

Eli, Your blog is enlightening and well written. Keep them coming! Complainers- It's a TV SHOW. With EDITING. There is a ton of footage shot and they splice it together to tell whatever story they want. Were some nasty things said last season? Sure. But you try spending every waking minute with an annoying stranger and see how you act. Ever been rude to someone? I thought so. Now imagine if someone followed you around with a video camera all the time, and cut out all the times you held the door open for someone or said please and thank you. Get over it. Plus, Robin was annoying as hell. I think everyone else did a great job of holding their tongues.

Marti W
Marti W

(addressing other commenters) - I agree that he didn't treat Robin very well and I think he's owned up to that ill chosen behavior. But remember, Eli was pretty young (mid 20s?) during his season. And to live, 24/7, with someone with whom you have a huge personality conflict is tricky. I don't think I had the skills to diplomatically deal with that sort of situation until I was a few years older. Not making excuses, just sayin'...

NYdiva
NYdiva

Eli -- In your season the chefs' level of creativity and sophistication knocked me out, beginning with the first challenges and continuing throughout. I was constantly curious (not to mention envious) about the dishes and checking the recipes on the website. I learned so much and was inspired by everyone. Compared to that, this season has been a major letdown. It seems like the chefs are simply trying to produce an adequate dish rather than to really stretch their skills. Last week when Kevin defended his barbecue by saying that lots of Puerto Ricans make the same food, Gail's response was "But are they chefs?" I wish there were more exhortations like that.

Eli, I must say I'm still annoyed with you for calling into question the integrity of a great chef like Michele Bernstein when you accused her of awarding a quickfire win out of sympathy rather than judging it on its merits. Until that point you were such a doll - funny and adorable. But after you dissed Michele I lost respect for you. I'm just sayin.'

mmc
mmc

To the poster called Judging Jerks.You said on Elis' season the chefs were courteous to each other.I don't think you and I were watching the same show.How could anyone forget how brutal Mike and Eli were to Robin.Talk about mean spirited!Remember now?

Viewer12
Viewer12

Very well done blog. You bring a refreshing perspective to the table (LOL). I do agree that these chefs are a huge letdown after last year's group. The attitude of the majority of chefs last year was so professional and enjoyable to watch. They were of the "Harold" style and not the whiny style of other chefs.

This year the attitude of Angelo- who seems to cook very well and I wanted to cheer for- has completely turned me off of him. Not crazy about Kelly either. There seem to be some I would be interested in but they are not getting as much airtime.

bobbianne
bobbianne

I love the fact that they're switching some things up this season. The best thing is to not always have the chefs with the best dishes to go to Judge's Table first. Definitely keeps things interesting for the viewer.

Judging Jerks
Judging Jerks

Eli, your season was by far the best. All of you were not only professional but courteous to your fellow cheftestants. Oh how I miss that.

AtlantaJayhawk
AtlantaJayhawk

Great blog! I look forward to reading it each week!

KDB
KDB

Dear BRAVO

No more Eli blogs please - tho' baby food blogs would be right up his alley considering his behavior while on TC.

ViewerDL
ViewerDL

Does anyone dislike Eli as much as I do. He was my least favorite from last season because he hung around with all the good chefs and felt he was just as good as they were. He wasn't and they knew he would not be in the final three with them. He was mean to that older contestant too.

I'm bored
I'm bored

Great blog Eli. I have to say, I miss the cheftestants of past seasons(especially your season) not only were there to win, but to show off all their tricks they had in their bag! This season is a big YAWN! Everyone seems to be playing it either too safely or their moves are so amateur, I'm cringing! The dishes for the most part look boring, sloppy or like something I could throw together myself. Are these really the best cheftestants that Bravo could find????

KristinaW
KristinaW

Eli, I'm so happy you're a guest blogger. I hope the chefs decide to stop cooking so safe and take an initiative to really get ahead. Can't wait until next week!