Harold Dieterle

Harold explains why the "did you taste your dish?" question should be banned from the show.

on Oct 15, 20090

This week Charlie Palmer was the guest judge. I haven't worked with him but I've eaten at Aureole. He's a badass and he's really legit. I thought the whole thing with the Voltaggios and Charlie was pretty funny. It's like the family triangle. I think Charlie set the pace early with them. If I had someone I worked with before judging me I think I would have been more comfortable than nervous.

For the elimination they had to work for Charlie's "Pigs and Pinot" which I thought was a great event. I've never been. I love pork and I love Burgandy. I probably would have done some kind of pork belly with a vanilla gastrique paired with a Burgandy if I could.

I think people who had a braising item had an advantage because they had something that you can cook and keep it warm. If you have something like a tenderloin or a chop you have to cook that a la minute. You have to cook those to a proper temperature. If you have a braising item you just have to make sure you don't overcook it and dry it out.

20 comments
Viewer62
Viewer62

Harold........I'm a huge fan of yours and look forward to attending your restaurant in NYC next trip out. You are so humble and talented. Hope all is well with you and your restaurant is doing great! I still tell friends Season 1 was the best ever. Congrats on your success! Take Care, JJ

redrocker22
redrocker22

i think they only ask that question so they can have a legit excuse to send someone home. its not fair! ASH, COME BACK!

Viewer/Foodie
Viewer/Foodie

The problem with the question is there is no correct answer.

Q: Did you taste you dish? -- Obviously, they did not like the dish...

A1: No HOW COULD YOU SERVER A DISH YOU DID NOT TASTE!

A2: Yes HOW COULD YOUR PALLET BE SO BAD AS TO THINK THAT DISH WAS OK

Ya know, it just does not add to the judging... Although it does look like it adds to making Top Chef a drinking game. :)

Keep the Question
Keep the Question

The judges should never refrain from asking that question! My girlfriend and I take a shot whenever Padma asks "Did you taste it?" or mentions/questions the seasoning. Both are standard Padma questions. We take two whenever she asks the obvious question and gets completely shut down by Tom (e.g. when she asked about eating chowder on a hot day but forgot she ate chili as well and Tom made sure to let her know). There are other rules to our game but none more fun...

Kathryn-MO
Kathryn-MO

"Did you taste your dish?" That is the question. I am a home cook & make no apologies. Some times I think I taste to often & screw up by not letting flavors develope or loose the flavor I was after by letting it go to long & the fresh bright flavors grow wings & fly away. "To taste or not to taste, that is the question?" What is the answer?

PestoPat
PestoPat

It's great to read your blog, Harold. You can write, critique, and cook?! I agree that there's no way to answer the "did you taste it?" question. It might be more of a rhetorical question, right? I think if they asked me, I'd just look down and shake my head. I was sorry to see Ash go. He did lack confidence, but seemed more willing to learn and offered a nice chemistry to the chefs -- lots better than Robin, for example, who seems to have pretty low-level skills. I agree with that V. Brothers, Kevin, and Jennifer are the top chefs. I hope that they make it to the final rounds -- sometimes a great chef goes home early. That's always sad!

Morgan D
Morgan D

The 'did you taste it' question is entirely appropriate when you realize how many of the people that get sent home didn't taste their food. Their are a lot of episodes every season that Tom says 'taste your food' and the cooks just refuse to do that and they can't figure out why their dishes taste so bad.

FanKim
FanKim

This season, I think we're all impatient to unload the mere cooks, and have some fun watching the V's, Jennifer and Kevin duke it out. These 4 are really talented, and could make several shows interesting competing with each other. Hey, judges - tell 4 to pack their knives tonight.

Lynda S
Lynda S

Hey Harold,

Your blog is so straight forward and clear in tone. You're correct. The judges ask many trick questions, actually. If a cheftestant says they liked their (poor) dish, then the judges think they are clueless. If the chef agrees to their mistakes, then it is assumed that they can't stand up to their dish. If they are on the chopping block, they are in a no win situation. Ash'a elim was probably because he told Tom that this was HIS style of cooking and he was completely comfortable with the challenge. Yet, he turned in a pedestrian dish. Ash showed that he was more talk than action.

Mark Lee
Mark Lee

I agree with Shell Cincinnati. I do think that the "Did you taste it?" question is getting a bit trite, but I think the message still has to get across. It does need to be more specific. "Didn't the pork taste too salty to you?" or, "Did you think the pork was salty enough?"

I think one of the main things that the judges ALWAYS need to ask the chefs is whether or not the chefs were using good judgment in their cooking. If they merely had a "bad day" and made a grave miscalculation in seasoning their meat, for instance, that's one issue...but if they seriously thought they created a "winning dish" with something that's clearly subpar for the competition, that's more serious.

safetymike
safetymike

Hey I like the "did you taste it" question. Lets me know the judge thought it tasted bad or unseasoned. Unseasoned or doesn't taste good would be a critical error

mmc
mmc

I think Did You Taste It is a perfect question. I think most chefs and even good home cooks do taste as they go along, but if you don't taste enough you can really mess up a dish. I'm a taster and I love to cook and I have found if I rush and don't taste as I go along the dish can be over or underseasoned, or too dry or not cooked enough.I love this show and I admire a good chef.To me cooking for family and friends has been my way to show I care. Thanks for blogging Harold.

Sherri L.
Sherri L.

Hi Harold.

Laurine was my pick too (from the couch-LOL-I'm a chef and a sometimes coach from the couch too). I really liked Ash but never felt he was a contender for the top prize. I believe this week showed us the top 4, the middle 2, and the bottom 3. I love pork too but am not familiar with wines and pairings. I guess that's why we have you people.

I am dying to try this porl belly that everyone is always using. I guess I better leave CT for NY and visit your restaurant.

Lu
Lu

Great catch with the duck fat KB. I completely forgot about that. Although, even if they didn't have duck fat, couldn't she have used lard or something? I mean, it's not the same as duck fat, but it can still do a decent confit or otherwise switch tracks and do something else with the meat.

Kimberly123
Kimberly123

Your assessment of Ash seems spot-on. I, too, was bummed to see him go. It should have been Laurine, like you said, or Robin. And you are absolutely right about the "Did you taste it?" question.

JR
JR

In defense of Laurine, Colicchio states in his blog that the rest of her plate was fine. My guess is that saved her. On the other hand, he says Ash's dish was simply flavorless, not worth of the show. (He says nothing about Robin.)

George
George

Harold

I'm so glad you brought up the "Did you taste it?" question!!! It just seems so condescending IMO. We get it, you thought there was something that didn't taste right in the dish, just say it!!!

Shell Cincinnati
Shell Cincinnati

The "did you taste it" question, I get your frustration. BUT.....If they didn't, I think that is helpful in pointing out from the judges point of view, "maybe you should have and would have realized it was not seasoned, cooked, whatever, right..." If they do taste it, it is the insult you mentioned. But it is good to notice how odd it is how many times people say they DIDN'T taste it. That is a telling answer to their skill as a chef.

KB
KB

I agree about Laurine from what we were shown. However, I've seen no mention that they did show her asking the Whole Foods butcher if they sold duck fat. We never got an answer or anything further, so I'm guessing she knew about the confit, but they didn't have it?? If that was the case, she should have changed game plans. I think everyone will agree we may have seen the final four in the top this week. Here's hoping.