Tom Colicchio

Tom says: stop playing it safe.

on Nov 15, 2006

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Betty started off by trying to enlist the group to form a menu. The others -- rightfully -- ignored her and waltzed into the walk-in first to see what food was available. What was going to inspire them? Left to their own devices, Betty and Mia plunged forward with a mattress of frozen phyllo dough, which they were sure would dazzle us judges, regardless of what else followed. Marisa and Josie were no better. They lucked out on their draw -- fifth course of six. In other words, they had scored the big Kahuna -- the entree. In the walk-in was a dazzling array of ingredients that Executive Chef Joseph Ojeda had ordered for them -- ethereal sea bass, rich duck confit, succulent beef short ribs, gorgeous cuts of lamb, veal and pork. But Marisa and Josie had a fancy concept in mind before they even started -- an "awakening" course (a variation on the silly "refresher" course we've seen in previous episodes). And thus they squandered the opportunity to round out the meal with genuine, honest, knock-our-socks-off cooking. Like Betty and Mia, they fast-forwarded to the presentation part of the dish, before really considering the substance of it.