Mike (who never said the word “explode,” by the way!) created his dish brilliantly. Brilliantly. The dish had all the components of a Caesar Salad but was beautiful If you ate it blindfolded, you’d think, “Oh, Caesar Salad!” Kevin edged him out for the win simply because his mole was just so flavorful. But they were both special. Ashley’s deconstructed pot roast worked so well because she had caramelized the meat so deeply that it had that flavor we all associate with pot roast, yet she reworked it to serve up a nice (and nice-looking) piece of meat. And her veggies all made good sense. Jennifer’s dish was a little sloppy in its presentation, and it wasn’t as adventurous as either the chicken mole or the Caesar Salad, but everything was beautifully prepared and the flavors melded extremely well. This challenge was two-pronged: It was first a challenge to people’s creativity. And then the chefs had to have the chops to pull off what they’d conceived, as with a piece for classical guitar where being able to play the elaborate composition you’ve set down on paper is critical to its success. Robin’s dish sends that message home. She had immunity, but let’s face it: she didn’t have the technical proficiency to pull off her own concept, and so her flan and her chips both failed. Michael Isabella tried to be creative, using kale instead of spinach, for example, but the dish ultimately wasn’t that good. He had the imagination to break apart his Eggs Florentine, but, ultimately, he didn’t have the ability to put his conception back together. Contrast both of these with Kevin, who is a tremendous cook and who, thus, is able to actualize the dishes that spring from his great imagination.
As for the bottom three dishes, Ash’s didn’t fail because he didn’t understand deconstruction; it failed in part because Ash didn’t really know what a Shepherd’s Pie was, and in part because he made technical errors that kept the mashed potatoes from ever seeing the light of day, which is disastrous when one’s dish is Shepherd’s Pie. Laurine’s dish was also in the bottom three for technical reasons: it was so poorly executed. And Ron was there for several reasons. It was clear that he didn’t really know how to make paella properly to begin with, which is important to know in order to then deconstruct the dish. He showed a stunning failure of imagination in his approach to the challenge – off the top of my head, I can think of countless ways to deconstruct paella. How about making a risotto cake with a ragut of all the shellfish alongside it …? And, as with the other two dishes in the bottom three, his was also a case of poor cooking. Not to mention poor presentation. And so, unfortunately for Ron, his dish outnumbered those of his peers in reasons it failed. As we said in the episode, it was unanimous among the judges (including our guest judge, Michelle Bernstein, who is a great cook and a bubbly person – she’s been on the show a bunch of times now, by the way, and we love having her with us) – we all felt that the choice for elimination was clear. I appreciated Ron’s gracious comments at the end of the episode, and I wish him all the best.
I think the reason that they did not have a progam this week was because they are trying to have enough time to do until after the holidays because if you have ever watched Top Chef before and I think you all have you know that they have alot of programs throughout the holidays. I love Top Chef I have watched every season I really did not get as involved with the program as I have until Season 2 but I have watched all the reruns and will continue to watch. Congratulations, Padma.
Tom like to thank you for a great show .. i watch and really love the show ,i have learned so much about cooking and try to take the challange to my own table top.the family loves when we try out TOP CHEF COOK-OFF challanges.i DONT ALWAYS WIN AND OUR PRIZES ARE WAY SMALLER !!!but makes life fun so thanks .cant wait to de-construct pumpkin pie teebird style!
I can understand how disappointed Michael V. was on so many of quickfires and eliminations challanges. He's a great chef!! However the judges decide not the audience at home.
Congratulations Tom to you and your spouse on your new baby!! If I may make a comment regarding Mike Isabella after first challange and "One less old lady to worry about" No class Maureen from Ma
I would love to know how you "deconstruct" fish & chips. It's 2 items, 3 if you count the batter on the fish. Please lose Toby Young.
Have you ever considered having Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen as a guest judge? He might bring a different perspective to the judge's table. He is very practical, and thorough.
Tom, I just want to thank you for such a wonderful blog. It is very refreshing to know that such a successful and busy man will take the time to write an in-depth response to episodes & viewers. Thank you. This is my most favorite show ever.
Very interesting that Michael V did not applaud Robin's quick fire . He was pretty obvious holding his hands behind his back as the other chefs applauded .Looks like things may be heating up !
How excellent to drop in here to see if a new episode is airing tonight and to find these blog posts by you. I think I'll have to stop by more often. Congrats on that new baby!