Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains how chefs find inspiration wherever they go.

on Nov 11, 20090

Vegas used to be synonymous with casinos, but just as the coffee bar has replaced the bar most everywhere, so has the theme hotel supplanted the casino as Vegas’s main attraction.  You still think of gambling, but you probably think first now of the intentionally over-the-top, billion-dollar hotels that have shaped the cityscape there since the late 80s. It’s conceivable now to go to Vegas and never even make it to the casino floors, instead staying in a world-class hotel, enjoying the themes, going to shows, indulging at the spas … and having a great time.

Vegas’s theme hotels are considered some of the finest hotels in the world. I thought it would be interesting to see what in them inspired our chefs. As a chef it’s hard not to draw inspiration from everything, so to tell a chef to go draw inspiration from a building was not at all an esoteric or “out there” challenge. Usually there is something visual that creates a spark of interest and then a chef will just riff on that. Look at Michael, for example: for compelling reasons, he saw the fireboat by the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York … thought of firefighters … thought they like pub food such as chicken wings (though those are more closely associated with Buffalo, NY than NYC). Mandalay Bay took the time to put together an exhibit that stressed environmental sustainability. Bryan saw the substance beneath the perceived smoke and mirrors and was inspired by it.

While there were three dishes in the top and bottom, in both cases it really came down to two.  Jen’s dish was more boring than it could’ve been, and the meat was a bit tough, but apart from that there were no glaring mistakes — certainly nothing to rival those of Robin and Eli. She didn’t really know about medieval cooking. I believe that had she known more about how rancid meats were the motivating factor behind the spice trade, or about the use of honey, those facts would have triggered ideas for her and her dish would have packed a larger punch. But when her meal was placed alongside those of Eli and Robin, there was no chance of her being sent home.

Between you and me, I kind of liked Eli’s dish. It was not successful by a long shot, and I understand why my fellow judges truly did not, but I enjoyed it. I think the raspberry dome should have topped the other elements (circuses happen under the big top, right?) — it would have been fun in a way befitting the circus theme to break through that to find what surprises awaited beneath. Even so, the theme was better realized than in Robin’s dish, where she just never translated the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture from the lobby of the Bellagio to her dish.  The colors of the flowers in that handblown glass sculpture are so vivid, the texture so striking, and yet we were handed a piece of white panna cotta in a pale purple sauce with a piece of amber sugar on top (which, incidentally, made the photo taken for the episode, but didn’t make it to our plates). Right now every pastry chef who watched the program is thinking, “Ohmigod, there are SO many ways to pull this off!” If you know how to work with sugars, you cold make little translucent flowers in a host of colors, using dyes. Even if you’re not proficient enough to work in sugars, there are myriad ways to work with the colors and the idea of flowers. Panna cotta is basic, simple fare, but Robin’s wasn’t well done; the texture was wrong. And the sauce was terrible. What can I say? At the end of the day, every element of her dish failed. Eli’s dish was less bad. And so it was Robin’s turn to go.

As for the top dishes: Kevin’s dish was solidly good. I’m not sure how his salmon and vegetables told the story of the Mirage, but the dish was good. Kevin was smart in assessing that the hardest part of the challenge would be the simultaneous arrival of the 175 guests. And so he planned well, with both a cold and a hot component. The salmon was perfectly cured, and it was a smart decision to use the compressor on the cucumbers. The compressor puts them under pressure, they become translucent, and all the liquid is forced out of them. The tomato water he used was well made, everything was well seasoned and the dish was very unified … and Kevin was able to expedite it for 175 people. Well done.

Bryan showed similar foresight in planning his halibut escabeche with bouillabaisse and garlic chips. He could handle it for a crush of people because it was not a hot dish. I not only liked that he took the theme of ocean sustainability from his hotel, as I mentioned above, but I further appreciated how he expressed his inspiration in the dish itself.

Michael did what he does well. He completely reworked the notion of spicy chicken wings and created a dish that was utterly reconceived, fresh and new, yet true to the essence of the original.  Yet his win was about more than just his inspiration or his conception of the dish. His execution of this multi-component dish was excellent on all counts. He made good use of the antigriddle (which is just as it sounds:  an device that freezes something on contact). Michael used the antigriddle with the bleu cheese mousse. He applied it thinly, almost in a disc, scraped it off and voila! The chicken was perfectly cooked. And as for the hot sauce, Michael juiced peppers, reduced it down, added the chiles, the tomato…and ended up with a sauce that perfectly mimicked the bottled stuff his firefighters (and the rest of us) love. Funny as it may be to knock oneself out to create that particular product, I have to applaud Michael for going that route!

And so, while Kevin made a fine dish, the two truly special ones in this challenge were Bryan’s and Michael’s, and Michael edged out his brother by taking more risks and doing something more interesting. What he gave us weren’t really chicken wings; they were braised yet, as I mentioned above, had all the flavors of the traditional dish. His was surprising, fun, clever, well executed and well presented. Win-worthy.

Five chefs left standing … two more challenges in Vegas … Have a good week, all.

143 comments
TCIndy
TCIndy

Please don't change the format as others have requested. It's a GAME. Yes, a competition to find THE top chef, but, you win some, you lose some.

I have found that the judges will bring into play the body of work when having to decide between two losers. I would rather they not be "required" to do so. Certainly in the early going, that would be extremely unfair, as nerves and getting used to a weird living situation could certainly cause some very bad days.

Further, not everyone does all food, all situations, etc. It's not fair to ding someone that sucks as desert cooking if they succeed at catering a 3 course meal for 100 by themselves. I think the point is to find the All Around Top Chef, and I support keeping the format as it is, leaving it to the judges to do their judging on their terms.

Clayton Morton
Clayton Morton

Hi Chef, I love the show and am a Chef myself, and can't wait to see how whos food will reign supreme. I was wondering how to apply to become a contestant. I have worked with some of the best chefs in the country and have learned a great deal and would love to showcase my talents on Top Chef, it has been a dream of mine. I have worked side by side with Jimmy Schidt of the Rattlesnake club of Detroit, Susan Goss Of Zinfidel's of Chicago, Bob Kinkkead of Kinkead's in D.C. Johnathan Eisman, and Raji(god rest her soul) of Raji's in Memphis Tenn. And they have all said that I have a talent that should be explioted. If you could point me in the right direction I would be in your debt Chef. On a lighter note, has Bravo ever thought of a run off of top chef but featuring a Pro's vs Joe's Iron Chef type competition with top chef contestant winners or losers going in a head to head battle with challengers across the country?? Just a thought, would give the viewrs a different perspective, don't you think??

ina5
ina5

The glass artist's name is: Dale Chihuly!

Rob Bailey
Rob Bailey

Hi Tom, I have been a loyal watcher of Top Chef since season 1 and it is still my absolute favorite show! while I am not a professional chef, I think that I could hold my own with anyone that has been on the show. Of course I do not have the diverse culinary knowledge that many of the contestants have demonstrated, I still believe that I can produce dishes that would be able to compete with the best of them.

Of course I realize that you probably get thousands of letters such as this, but I would gladly embrace the opportunity to prove myself equal to the challenge. while my dishes are not as sophisticated as many of those produced by the contestants, I feel that what I can put on a plate is as flavorful and as presentable as morer than the majority.

Of course I do not expect to ever hear from you, I will still continue to be a faithful watcher of TC and of yourself and the rest of the crew.

Respectfully, Rob Bailey

PS. Padma is soooooo hot!

.victor bohy
.victor bohy

i just have to tell you,, that i have been bothered by something ever since TOP CHEF LAS VEGAS began airing!!!.. in the opening credits one chef is filmed rubbing his beard ,. while another{ i beleive his name is Hector} is filmed running his hands over his hair!!!!!! how ABSOLUTLY disgusting that a food professional would touch thier faces and hair with their hands while in their chefs coats!!!!.. and BE FILMED DOING IT!!!!!! YUK!!!!!!!

David Newell
David Newell

Would folks please post some alternative ideas to the dishes presented? Personally, I think Eli should have done TIGER prawns in ELEPHANT garlic with a spicy PEANUT sauce. That dish would have tasted great and from there he could have sold the concept. He would have needed to mention the circus elements over and over. Otherwise, people would have asked each other if they liked the Thai garlic shrimp.

I think it is important to note that Eli and Robin both had disastrous results in their attempts to incorporate inspiration; but, Eli plated his.

Kevin had the Mirage and served a light fish dish with citrus, mint and broth and never really sold the idea. It was refreshing and presented a drink within the dish. It was also a satisfying piece of protein for the guests.

For those future contestants with the brains to read all these blogs now, SELL your concept. I can get Buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dressing up the block in Vancouver, BC. New York here means delis and thin crust pizza. Personally, I wish he had been the soup nazi instead. "No soup for you!"

gardenchef
gardenchef

LOVE LOVE LOVE the show and Tom you are the coolest! I look forward to your blogs each morning after the show. I wish I had discovered the blogs in seasons past and I agree with pother posters, there is a lot to be learned from your writing as well.

My thought... I know chefs are sent home on the 'dish of the day' but realistically wouldn't it be truer to the title of TOP CHEF if chefs were to be judged on the 'dish of the day'. And then equally in their menu of work to date. You could have a wins, losses...ranking board and use that criteria after judging the dish of the day for a more authentic to the titile TOP CHEF elimination.

I must add though: it is inevitable that the final 3 are clearly the best, no doubt about it. But I'd like to see their body of work judged as well. Then there wouldn't have been a question about Robin (sweet woman, but out of comfort zone as I would be and I love to cook). And Jen would be in a better spot right now. She's having such a tough time beliveing in her abilities and natural creative talent now & it's getting in her way.

JMHO

Bring on more seasons...it's my fav show!

mmc
mmc

Just wanted to say I'm looking forward to tonights Top Chef.I wish all of them good luck, but my faves are Kevin, Bryan, And Jen if she can get back on track.

LINDA SAIENNI
LINDA SAIENNI

TOM - Amazing talent this season so where is the top judge Anthony Bourdain?? He is THE guest judge we so look forward to seeing. Waiting for him to critique the dysfunctionally competitive/sensitive Voltaggio brothers! Also I am confused as to why you keep mentioning how well Jen did early on. How is this relevant to a current challenge? You seem to be trying to influence the guest judge & also beating Jen down a bit. The premise has always been to judge only the challenge at hand. What's going on?

Medb
Medb

I have to say, I was disappointed to hear a respected chef like Tom Colicchio repeat one of the most often-repeated myths about medieval food, but this has already been well-covered by other posters. I'm a medieval re-enactor with an interest in food and cooking. I have to disagree with Syd, though, on exclusion of ingredients. Rice and pasta were both available during the medieval period. Rice was introduced through contact with Asia during the Crusades. Pasta dates back to Roman times. In fact, I have a copy of a recipe for macaroni and cheese that I believe dates back to the fourteenth century. Yes, medieval food was differently spiced, but not as much as it would seem at first. If it had been me, instead of beef, I would have used pork. A pork loin, split and stuffed with a mixture of dried fruit and spices, glazed with honey or mead and roasted actually reaches a good middle-ground, where it's reasonably authentic to medieval western European food, but still accessible to modern palates.

Go Steelers
Go Steelers

Tom, awesome blog and great show.

It seems like some folks don't get that many hours of footage are edited to create a show that will hold people's attention. Robin was always, always at the bottom regardless of how the footage was edited. She should never have lasted as long as she did.

Kevin is great. I'd take good tasting food any day over some fancy looking creation.

The V brothers are entertaining. I'd like to see them get into a fist fight.

Former Waitress
Former Waitress

In response to Harriet and anyone else that has commented on the chef's being rude - you obviously have never worked in a restaurant before. This is going to be an unpopular comment but it has to be said, most (not all) restaurant workers, line cooks & chefs are foul mouthed partiers so no wonder why we see the chefs being so rude and arrogant (in all of the seasons). I used to waitress many years ago and I remember all of the chefs yelling & screaming and making rude jokes and comments to the staff. And I'm talking high end restaurants. I know, not everybody falls into this category but many do.

I also remember having so much fun with them too; they were great to hang out with at the bars till the wee hours of the morning! It's a stressful career, they work hard and play harder and I give them a lot of credit for doing what they do. Hope I didn't offend anyone, just stating my opinion.

By the way, I'm a huge fan of the show and I look forward to Tom's blog every week!! Love, love, love you Tom!

Ugggh
Ugggh

UGGGHH! Some of these so called medievalists need to put themselves in a catapult and cut the rope! Seriously Tom, LOVE YOU. We can't know everything about everything that's tangentially related to our field of expertise.

Catherine from Seattle
Catherine from Seattle

Tom- Thank God Robin has left the building, it's sooooooooooo over due. I'm still just in awe that she lasted this long. I'm sure she is a very lovely lady, but enough was enough. There was a lot of talent that walked through those doors before her time was up.

Love, Love, Love the show, you are all wonderful. Happy Holidays to the Top Chef Team.

Catherine from Seattle

LynnInChicago
LynnInChicago

Georgia Girl, are you serious? You DO know that these shows are now LIVE TV, they are pre-taped, when Padma was on last Thursday night she DID already know who will be in the top 2, but she never really gave anything away, not really. She was DULL but she didn't reveal anything. Georgia Girl, please tell me you get it???

king of jamos
king of jamos

tom i've been following top chef since season one and this is one of the strongest most exciting so far one problem im having following the show is that the extra footage has become unavailable here in japan is there any way we can alleviate this problem?

Ginger Houghton
Ginger Houghton

After reading this blog I started to look at the environment around me and was struck by an idea for a challenge for next season. I work at hospital that serves older adults (60+) and thought about the fact that by the time we're age 50 we have lost 50% of our ability to taste food (especially sugar/sweet receptors). That explains why I'll see patients putting jelly on mashed potatoes. I think it would be amazing to see Top Chef contestants use textures and flavors to create a tasty meal for seniors that's within their dietary guidelines. Just a thought!

Viffy
Viffy

Hi to all of Top Chef fans!

I for one have to say that I'm glad Robin is GONE. Is she really the caliber of "chef" that appears on this show? I read her bio and it doesn't seem that she completes anything she sets out to do. Does she have an MFA degree from University of Michigan? (I'm a U of MI alum and certainly hope she isn't - she's disgraced herself enough.) Why did the judges not give her the criticism that they discussed in deliberation? I was so tired of seeing them hold back and treat her with kid gloves. And the whole "cancer comment" issue was really taken too seriously. She played that pathetic card (no Vegas pun intended) and Eli probably only voiced what others were also thinking. I like this season's cast quite a bit (Kevin is really the star) and am glad that the finalists still remaining are serious about what they do. Mike didn't deserve to be eliminated before Robin, but he maybe was a bit too confident in the idea that he wouldn't go home. It is what it is.

Best wishes to the remaining chefs.

Viewer111
Viewer111

Love you tom! I'll be sad when this season is over.

Telgar Brekke
Telgar Brekke

You know, reading these comments is as interesting as watching the show. You can learn a lot.

I think someone's comment on the three times you are on the bottom you are out idea is a valid one...if you are consistently on the bottom, give someone one else a chance and let Lady Luck favor another contestant.

You know what competition I would like to see come back...I can't remember the season, but everybody bought for their dish and then they had to switch what was bought/groceries around and come up with thir own dish.....THAT I would like to see again. Would Mr "Bad mouth everybody Mike V" be able to be so creative , if he got, say...Robins groceries and still think his was the best dish?

Thanks for the comments Tom, yours are the first I read after watching the show.

jean wilcox
jean wilcox

Thank goodness for Kevin's good nature. Even Season Two's contentiousness doesn't compare to the mean-spirited arrogance of this seasons chefs. Michael V. says Tyler Florence is a "fake" chef who only plays one on TV. The mocking, disparagement of Robin is so unkind . . a regular lynch mob mentality. Robin is not appealing to me, but she was ill-treated by a group of "Upstart Roosters." Bad behavior is so boring; these chefs think they are re-inventing the culinary world. HA. NO ONE who suffers from a complete lack of humility will ever achieve his full potential for greatness. Emulate Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio, not Marcel V. or SPIKE!

A random guy
A random guy

Like others said thanks for your extra comments about the show. If it were me i Don't think I would have sent robin home over the panna cotta but obviously I wasn't there so who knows? well I guess YOU know! hehe

Viewer Alexis
Viewer Alexis

Tom,

You're so adorable! You are obviously impressed with the V brothers style of cooking and it shows. You have an expression of pleasure on your face whenever you eat something particularly inspiring prepared by them. Based on your expressions, I can tell these chefs are not your typical run of the mill chefs. I love reading your posts, especially when you use words like esoteric. On a side note, you misspelled spicy. Not that it's a big deal, but I get a little crazy when people forget to drop the e. :)

TC Fan
TC Fan

To all of you defending Robin. You all seem to forget that it's not always about taste. It's also about creativity and willingness to take a risk. Eli took a risk to create a dish that embodied the theme Circus Circus. The flavors may not have been to the two women's taste. (I have to believe that they simply didn't like how sweet it was. Padma repeatedly shows her dislike of overly sweet dishes) But there didn't seem to be a problem with his skills in the preparation. On the other hand, Robin's pana cota and sauce were simply not well prepared. Why would you keep someone who can't execute simple components at this point in the competition? That's the reason she deserved to go home this week and not Eli.

rizchick
rizchick

What a great blog! I really thought it was a great episode. I was in Las Vegas in August and seeing all of the different chefs going through the different casinos took me right back. I think that this is where the season really begins. Of course I watch every episode but the real talent (for the most part) is usually in the final couple chefs and the food is generally of outstanding quality. I am looking forward to this finale like I did to the Chicago finale. The talent is exceptional this season and I cannot wait to see the next couple of episodes.

Georgia Girl
Georgia Girl

I saw Padma on tv the other night. She said that either Jennifer or would win. Hmmmmmmm. Sounds kind a fishy to me. Like they already have there mind made up. Kevin is good, but Jennifer has been on the bottom a lot. Thank God ya'll finally wised up to Robin. She should have gone before Mike.

Barrossa
Barrossa

Tom:

I would like to see more prep/cooking/plating, and perhaps the reasons for same, than to watch the bickering that goes on between the contestants. This is a cooking show, not family feud.

Suzanimal
Suzanimal

Great show, but I have one gripe about Michael V.'s dish, his theme was New York, New York (as in city) uh, Bufflao wings are from, well, Buffalo - so, although it looked tasty I didn't think he nailed the theme of the city at all. When I think of New York I think Pizza, when I think of firefighters I think chili, hot chicken wings = BUFFALO, it's on the other side of the state. I live in Atlanta so of course I'm rooting for Kevin.

zephyrweb2007
zephyrweb2007

Since everyone loves to compare season to season as to why people get cut or don't get cut, let's do just that...Season 5: Padma spit out Arianne's dessert yet she still wasn't cut/Season 6 Padma says she didn't want to eat Eli's dish ever again and he wasn't cut....Season 2: Betty wasn't able to properly prepare 3 different soups using the proper techniques and was cut/Season 6 Robin was unable to properly prepare a simple panna cotta using the proper technique and was cut--on top of that she also failed to make it taste good (Toby noted that the syrup tasted like slushy syrup and Nigella said it tasted bland and was too thick) and finally it did not fit the theme of the challenge and represent her vision of the Bellagio--also...never show what you were going to serve but didn't, that just doesn't look good, Robin might have had a better chance at staying had she hid her failed sugars and not bothered to show them to the judges at all

one more point...it's a panel of 4...there are 4 votes in this decision and the fact that Robin couldn't pull off a panna cotta that a 1st year culinary student should have been able to make was far more or a sin....almost an insult to the panel's intelligence....Eli's dish may not have passed completely, but it was an effort that had a vision that made sense and the judges could see that and see where he was going and that is part of the competition

Just-me
Just-me

As an older woman, I felt bad for Robin, being in a household of disrespectful people. I think she was just trying to defend herself. Granted her food was not as good as the rest, but it was better than some. Peter Principle...everyone rises to their own level of incopetence (sp)...and I think she was lucky most of the time. Sometimes when someone talks alot they are insecure. The others could have made more of a motion to include her....After all, we don't stay young forever, they too will age and want the respect they didn't give her.

PeachPie
PeachPie

Actually, I take my prior comment about food historians back. Random Foodie was the only one who was offensive. Syd and DarrenG were not disrespectful to Chef Colicchio.

PeachPie
PeachPie

Wow.... your post has apparently brought out several MILITANT medieval historians.

To name one: Random Foodie. Thanks for the history lesson. Perhaps your next area of study should be in manners. There are ways to correct and educate someone without being insulting and pompous.

Montreal
Montreal

Nice cover up Tom when you wrote that you liked Eli's dish. Obviously the producers decided it was more interesting to keep Eli in the top 5 rather than Robin and even though she does bug me and should not have made it that far I call bs. Really Tom , you liked what the other judges were just flat out revolted with? Again ,bs! Nobody thought Robin's dish was good but nobody said that they wanted to spit it out either. You could tell by the judges reactions they disliked Eli's more. Also I clearly remember in past seasons instances when you eliminated chefs who took a chance but produced crap and you made it clear that taking chances was not a valid excuse for producing something disasterous( you actually used the word disaster when criticing Eli's dish) Disaster or just not good which one sounds worse? ...... Hmm. But I am I junky for the show and think its the best show on tv , so keep up the good work, this season rocks!

trydgy
trydgy

I am not surprised by Micheal V.'s bellyaching over Kevin's dishes. The simple fact is that he is acting like a petulant child. If you can make what Kevin does on your day off and he beats you, then maybe you should try taking a day off. It comes across as very churlish and insecure. I don't think anyone is falling for it. Kevin is a great cook that doesn't need tricks. Maybe Micheal should go work for a Teppanyaki restaurant where he can wow with his tricks and not have to worry too much about how his food tastes.

Jesse S.
Jesse S.

Tom:

Question for you about Robin's elimination. Your description above makes it sound as though (consistent with TC judging criteria) Robin was sent home because of her weak performance on this challenge, not as a reflection of previous weak performances. But Toby Young's blog says that "we felt she’d got as far as she was entitled to get in this competition."

I don't understand this comment in light of your judging criteria. Does this mean that some of the judges were inclined to judge not on the basis of Bellagio v. Circus Circus but on the basis of Robin's cumulative performance? And if so, are the judges using consistent criteria in judging the dishes?

Thanks very much.

nursejeanne
nursejeanne

To everyone who has said such wonderful things about Kevin: I could not agree more!!!! I thought the only super talented chef with such humility and manners was Richard Blaise! I am so happy to see that Kevin is on the same par as Richard! Kevin has been my choice for Top Chef since the very first episode and he continues to prove himself with his excellant cooking and his wonderful/fair/full of good manners self every week!!

Random Foodie
Random Foodie

Broccolini, you're basing your ideas about medieval food on what? Personal prejudice? Pop culture? Legend?

Your comment on medieval poverty and the cost of meat are a silly justification for the eating of rancid meats. Preservation would be more likely, not less, if meat were expensive! Especially when the methods were so simple: salting and smoking. Remember, a poor peasant can afford diarrhea even less than you can; his intake of calories may be insufficient, so he can't afford to waste any!

By the way, the person complaining that we are concentrating on European medieval cooking, rather than other areas, I remind you that there were references to the hotel "Excalibur," which is definitely European medieval (sort of...As conceived by Hollywood).

Besides, "medieval" is a term meaning middle or between, referring to the period between the "Dark Ages" and the Renaissance; non-European nations were experiencing different dynamics during that period. If you want to include these areas, fine. But making a general statement (as was done) that "medieval meat is more highly-spiced to hide rancidness" is still inaccurate. Certainly it was not, globally.

If you want to limit yourself to the peasantry, yes, the amount of meat is probably less, but there is less documentation (but still, there is some) of recipes, since peasants didn't hire chefs! And cookbooks are written largely by chefs. So "cooking medieval" becomes less possible for "peasant food."

Still, even here, I find no reference from medieval publications on the eating of rancid meat as a general practice. Laws against selling it, yes. Where are you getting your information? And is this information from someone writing in a later period based on his own prejudices, or someone talking out of his hat?

The problem with later writers is they love to romanticize. Check out the books on pirates written in the 1800's, for this kind of thing; the Caribbean pirates had their heyday a mere 100 years, before! So do check your sources.

And don't forget alternative meat sources; squab (pigeon), coney (rabbit), venison, etc. Of course, you could get hanged for poaching, if you were a peasant, depending on the time and place....

Still, salt meat (including fish) was often produced in bulk, due to demand by the military, and became a part of certain cultures' traditional menu....ditto smoked meat.

And, if you're trying to recreate peasant foods, we also have to delve into which peasants and where....anything from bread and beer (a la Ancient Egypt) to highly-varied menus is possible, here, depending on the wealth of the region, how sharply they were taxed, and just what you consider a peasant (serfs/slaves? freemen? townies?). Again, in general, no rancid meat. Practices that get you killed tend to die out....and malnutrition is already a possibility, even without giving yourself dysintery.

Again, don't believe some Victorian writer who makes stuff up based on a belief that old-time people were ignorant, dirty barbarians. For most of the medieval period, filth was not favored....even then it was to avoid religious persecution...

Josy
Josy

I have watched every episode of all seasons. This season the restaurant war was the most disappointing episode. I am Jennifer fan but she should have gone home. Not only her dishes were bad, but because she wasn’t ready on time for opening Lauren lost the control of the front.

JKH
JKH

I must mention that potatoes were not available to the medieval peasants because potatoes were discovered in the New World in the 16th century. That's modern history, not medieval history.

broccolini said "First of all, peasants and lower class rarely ate meat. Their stews consisted of an ongoing concoction of mostly vegetables. They would maintain a pot of stew for months at a time and simply add whatever they could everyday. if they came home with potatoes, they would be thrown into the pot of boiling water along with some onions and maybe carrots."

kkm
kkm

I have been inspired by the different challenges that have been offered to the contestents. My husband is a good cook however, he does not think he would be good at Top Chef. He does think that there should be a couples Top Chef because, it would be interesting to see what two people could come up with that play on each others strengths. He also seems to think that I am a better cook then him because, I have had to come up with some interesting dishes in a short amount of time with limited amount of ingredents. I have been cooking since I was 13 and have had no formal training so there is a ton of different techniques that I have never had to do. I love watching the way that people make food and try to imitate the techniques. Keep up the good work.

bopeep
bopeep

watching michael v. cook is an orgasmic experience :) Hope he wins TC.

nm
nm

Broccolini, a European peasant who came home with a potato wouldn't be medieval, as there were no potatoes outside of the Americas at that time. And a pot of soup maintained for months without refrigeration would kill the people eating it as fast as spoiled meat. You are repeating myths. Medieval people knew how to preserve meats, made cheeses to preserve milk, made ale to preserve grains. They were very aware of the dangers of spoiled food and their cooking reflected that.

Mizzshelly
Mizzshelly

I have to agree with Harriet. I'm not really sure why the household was so blatantly disgusted with Robin. So, she was in her 40's and ok, she cooked more simply and yeah, constant jabbering is irritating but jeez... to talk smack and call her "grandma" and cause such discomfort and exclusion??? Maybe I missed all the film of her being a rude, incompetent, hateful bitch (which might justify the cold-shoulders and childish ganging-up of the group). I didn't see the reason for such hostility and holier-than-thou smarmyness.

Foodie Girl from Michigan
Foodie Girl from Michigan

Rude Eli was'nt sent home because he just won the quick fire and his receipe was chosen for the book. It would just look bad if he was sent home.

DW
DW

P.S. Thanks for kicking Robin off...my mother vowed never to watch it again if she stayed on one more week. Haha.

DW
DW

Someone mentioned how it's lame that Michael V. keeps bad-mouthing Kevin. Kevin recently wrote a blog and addressed it and they basically agree to disagree on their approach to cooking and there are no hard-feelings being that it's a competition and that comes with the territory.

In my opinion, Kevin lacks the "wow-factor" and Michael tries too hard sometimes, mixed with thinking outside the box makes it more difficult to execute. Kevin will be there simply for the fact that his style and knowledge are made for this kind of competition. Though I think this could bite him in the ass in the final rounds because Brian has been the most consistent and Michael can blow you away with an amazing original dish. I know Chef Colicchio said not to be snowed or whatever by the Brothers V. fancy cooking, but I'd also say not to believe the hype surrounding Kevin's cooking because sooner or later someone's gonna eat something and be like, "It was good...but it wasn't great.".

broccolini
broccolini

Colicchio is more right about medieval meat than most of you are. First of all, peasants and lower class rarely ate meat. Their stews consisted of an ongoing concoction of mostly vegetables. They would maintain a pot of stew for months at a time and simply add whatever they could everyday. if they came home with potatoes, they would be thrown into the pot of boiling water along with some onions and maybe carrots. They didn't have the luxury of seasoning meat very often. And the meat WAS rancid, at least by our standards. they had no refrigeration, and it would sit around for long periods of time. And even if they cooked it all at once, it's not as if they would eat all the meat in one sitting. think about it. It's a luxury, you want to stretch it out as long as you can. if they were fortunate enough, they could brine it or come up with a salt cure...and if they were elite, ya, they probably ate pretty well. Tom was referring to the majority, not the elite.

Tom wasn't implying that by overseasoning the rancid meat, they made it taste good, it probably still tasted disgusting. But it was less disgusting than it would have been with some 'simple salt n pepper'....

Narya
Narya

I kept wondering why Robin didn't do pate de fruit, for example, instead of sugar, if she wanted to be inspired by Chihuly. (Sugar can be so unstable, and it's obviously so fragile.) Or use colors or flowers--nasturtiums or violets, for example. And, really, even though it didn't come through in the editing very well, I do understand the point the judges all made: that the elements in her dish were simple, and she failed on all of them. Eli's dish also failed, but, for better or worse, he was trying something a bit original.

David Friedman
David Friedman

Eater cites recipes from Apicius and Digby, neither of which is medieval--the former too early, the latter too late. His point, however, is correct. Medieval upper class food, which is what we have recipes for, was a sophisticated cuisine, and the idea that spicing was used to hide the taste of spoiled meat is a modern urban legend with no evidence to support it.

Clarita asks "What about midieval India, Middle East, Russia, etc?"

We have lots of medieval middle eastern recipes, from the tenth century on—a sophisticated and pretty well recorded cuisine. We have essentially nothing from Russia prior to Domostroi, which is mostly 16th and 17th century. There is a little information available on medieval Indian cooking, but not very much, at least in English.

Thorn Lime objects to people taking Tom to task for "a perceived inaccuracy about spicing." Tom made a false historical claim, and made it in the form of an assertion about someone else's ignorance. People who do things like that ought to be corrected and ought, in the future, to avoid making confident assertions on subjects of which they are ignorant.

One further point. If someone asserts that medieval food was overspiced, the first question to ask is how he knows. Most medieval recipes provide ingredients and instructions, but no quantities. So we know what spices were used but not, in most cases, how much.

MHG
MHG

Tom,

Thank you for sending Robin home.

Assuming the editing of the show gives viewers a reasonable sense of the relative merits of the chefs (we do the best we can – unlike you, we can’t taste the food), it seems that Robin was in way over her head and got as far as she did only because of your judging rubric, which requires that each challenge stand on its own. So essentially, Robin was the second or third worst chef week in and week out and survived only because better chefs had off days, which happens to everyone in any profession.

Can I suggest that starting next season, you modify the judging rubric. After the passage of some time, say four or five weeks, allow a chef’s overall body of work to become an officially-acceptable part of your criteria for determining who should be eliminated.

P.S. While in Vegas recently, I dined at Craft Steak. GREAT! That said, I was deeply disappointed that you didn’t compete in Top Chef Masters along with so many other greats. Please do so next time. Some of your peers, including some who were guest judges, expressed amazement at what the competition feels like from the contestants’ point of view. I think it’s important that you, too, stand in their shoes on national TV. Cooking talent alone doesn’t cut it; the dynamics of the challenges are important too and you need to experience this first hand in order to retain credibility as head judge.