Tom Colicchio

Head judge Tom Colicchio sheds light on the difference between a chef and a cook.

on Nov 26, 2008

This challenge highlights a point about restaurant cooking that I think is worth mentioning: Jeff kept saying that he thought he had undertaken too many dishes, but this was not his problem. Jeff's issues point to the difference between a chef and a cook. When you're a cook in a restaurant, you cook. When you're a sous-chef, you cook less. And a chef no longer cooks, with good reason. At Craft during dinner service there are four stations on the hotline, and a chef must be walking around, tasting, supervising, trouble-shooting. If s/he is working at one, s/he can't be on top of what's happening at the others. In this competition, Jeff stepped into the role of chef and organized his team so that the team's whole meal cohered. He did a great job as a chef, and, therefore, was most likely distracted and it took his focus and some of his time away from the individual dishes that he was cooking. What he did was certainly good for the group, but not for him personally. And aside from the fact that Richard's S'mores were far worse than Jeff's dessert, Jeff's efforts are probably why we gave him a pass - we recognized what he did for the team and liked the initiative he took. In fact, at the Judges' Table, he took responsibility for what he had done without using it as an excuse. Grant said it well when he said that were he to choose his team, he'd want someone on it like Jeff.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Whether your meal is made in a microwave, a toaster oven or an actual kitchen, for famous musicians or family members, I hope you enjoy it.

P.S. Addressing fans' concerns regarding Ariane and Jill last week: Although Padma spit out Ariane's dessert, she is one of four judges, and the others all felt that Jill's dish was worse.