Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio wonders why the chefs would make something for the Elimination Challenge that they've never made before.

on Mar 19, 2008

Another important point about catering: Unlike a restaurant meal, which can achieve balance over an entire dish, a canape has to work in one bite -- the balance of flavors and textures must be immediate, and in order for the item to be memorable, should pack a real wallop of flavor. Well-spiced, highly flavorful items work best as canapes, which is why Team Vulture's Moroccan-spiced meatballs and anchovies with quinoa worked so well.

At first Team Bear made the right call not to serve their mushrooms stuffed with berries when they saw they didn't work, but then Nikki turned around and served them to the judges. Huh? She said the problem was that they were cold, and everyone on the team felt they looked like bear --ahem -- poop, but personally I think we would have let the appearance slide somewhat if they had tasted really good. Dale's idea to garnish the mushrooms with Pecorino didn't help - in fact, it made them worse. At first bite it was clear that none of the Bears had tasted the dish. If they had, they wouldn't have served them to anyone, least of all those of us deciding their fate.

Ultimately the Bears and the Gorillas were called to the carpet, with the Bears edging out their competitors because they were accountable for only one of our three least favorite dishes. The Gorillas, responsible for the other two, lost big. Ultimately we decided Stephanie -- who, despite her watery crab salad, had redeemed herself with the delicious banana bread with salted caramel sauce -- could stay. Valerie, the blini-maker, was out.