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Welcome back after our week away. I’ve been traveling the Southeast, sampling regional fare with friends – away-from-home homework, I guess. Very inspiring.
Folks usually say “Oh, sure, it’s easy for chefs to whip up great dishes – they’ve got these fancy kitchens, tons of sous-chefs…,” so we thought it would be fun to see what the chefs could do in a regular kitchen, serving up their food family-style (on large platters or in large bowls that are set at the center of the table or passed) as opposed to plated. It’s a style I really like; it’s how we serve our food at Craft, as a matter of fact. Craft Restaurant was conceived from its inception to serve platters of food rather than individual plates. As the name suggests, this is how food is typically served in the home, to one’s family, and it really does foster connection and a greater sense of the intimacy of the occasion. In this week’s challenge, we did stipulate that the food at the dinner party was to be served family-style, but if you noticed, most of the food was served on the platter already divvied up into individual servings, as though the chefs had prepped it to be individually plated but had then set all the individual portions on one central platter rather than on each individual plate. I preferred what Jennifer and Kevin did with the winning dish, which was simply to serve a platter of food, from which each dinner guest then might take the amount he or she wanted. It was more in keeping with home cooking, and more fitting to the occasion we’d framed for the challenge. While Jennifer and Kevin’s serving style was not a factor in our determining the winning dish, it was certainly appreciated, by me, anyway.
Choosing the winning and losing dish in a team challenge is generally the easier part; choosing one winner and loser from among the teams in question is more, well, challenging. Remember that I do a walk-through the day before, but we are not there to witness what happens at the supermarket, during the planning, and in the kitchen during the challenge itself. We taste the food and ask questions at the Judges’ Table and must base our decisions on what we learn from both experiences. And so we ask a lot of questions, particularly when we have to select a winner or a loser from among two or more people on a team. Most of the questions we ask don’t make it into the final version of the program, but we really do try to ascertain who was responsible for what. We didn’t know, as you did from watching the program, that when Ashley gave the gnocchi to Eli they were fine, and he then oversalted them. We knew only that Ashley had made the gnocchi. Ashley made a personal point throughout this competition to treat the team as a team and never ascribe blame to her partners, even when it was merited. She did so both with Mattin and, now, with Eli. This is admirable, but it would have benefited her to say to us, “Eli over-salted the gnocci I’d made. I knew it the moment I tasted them.” A side note about the gnocchi: I’d said during the walk-through that I didn’t think the gnocchi would support the prawns, because I didn’t expect that Ashley and Eli would be sauteeing the gnocchi. Their consistency when sautéed did make them able to support the prawns. This worked, even though in general the execution of the dish didn’t. Spot prawns are very delicate. Overcooked, they’re like rubber; undercooked, they’re like mush. Here, they were undercooked and the gnocchi were oversalted.
As for Ash and Michael V.’s dish: the mistake they made was that they put a piece of fish on the skillet and walked away from it. Had one of them attended to it from start to finish– probably Mike V., since he was the teammate who had taken on the responsibility of cooking the fish, he could have done something the second he saw the heat fail or heard the sizzle. But while the power outage might have kept the fish from becoming crispy as they wished, it did not cause the fish to be overcooked as it was. Had Mike been watching over the fish more carefully, he could have prevented its becoming overcooked. And that was the real reason he should have been hovering over the stove from start to finish. That was his mistake.
I hear in Ash’s comments, in which he conceded that he considers Mike V. a better chef than himself, that he expects only to go so far in this competition. Washing Picasso’s paintbrushes? Ouch. If he tries to beat Mike V. by doing Mike V.’s food, then he’ll have a very hard time, because Mike looks at food quite differently than Ash does. Mike’s thinking, “When I think ‘pancetta,’ I think ‘carbonara,’ so therefore I think ‘pasta’… so how do I get the egg in there? Ravioli.” (Remember, the key question in that whole line of reasoning was a “how” question. I’m always saying that this is the question to be asking …”How…?”) Mike’s using different things as touchstones and going from there, using the familiar in an unfamiliar way. Ash doesn’t think that way; he’s more literal, and his inspiration to do food is more conventional. His way of making a carbonara, if left to his own devices, would likely have been to make a carbonara with a piece of fish atop it. So when he comes up against an unconventional thinker, Ash thinks, “Oh, he must be better.” But actually where Mike V. is better versus just different is that he has the technical proficiency to pull off his concepts. Whimsical or tongue-in-cheek concepts are great, but one must have the technique to execute them well. That’s why it was surprising that Mike overcooked his fish this week, as there wasn’t all that much being asked for, technically. Overall, however, Ashley and Eli had greater issues, so Mike V. and Eli were off the hook, to use a fishing metaphor for their fish dish.
On to the winning dish … again, we asked a lot of questions to establish who was responsible for which component of the dish. Yes, that protein was beautifully prepared. Kevin did a terrific job with it. But ultimately it was the sauce that made this the winning dish, and that was Jennifer’s decision and her doing. I love that Jennifer so graciously acknowledged her partner’s part in her win and will be sharing some of her gift certificate with Kevin. As for her having cooked while sick, we’ve all done it. Obviously you just must wash your hands obsessively while doing so. Jennifer was competing like a champion. Think about it: some of the most heroic moments in sports have happened when an athlete was ill, as in the famous Game Five of the ’97 NBA Playoffs (“the Flu Game”), when Michael Jordan scored 38 points with what was either stomach flu or food poisoning, leading Chicago to a two-point victory before finally collapsing in Scottie Pippen’s arms with seconds to go in the game. Similarly, if you’re home with a child and you’re sick, you don’t have the luxury of saying, “I guess I won’t be taking care of my kid today.” You rally because you must. I was sorry to see Jennifer feeling ill – she had a high fever and felt really, really sick. That said, it was great to see her compete. She only mentioned on air how she felt because she was asked point blank by the camera crew. She toughed it out and did a great job … and won.
Overall, the dishes were good. In fact, looking back at it, the meal was very nice, well-rounded with a lot of good flavors. Even the bottom dishes weren’t bad dishes, per se. We’re in the middle stretch of the competition now, and the chefs here are all talented, which bodes well for what’s to come…
Tom, You and Padma really made a mistake letting Ashley go on the last episode. Her culinary skills, though not best illustrated on the prawn/gnocchi dish, far out shown Ash Fulk from Brooklyn, who easily took the back seat and did nothing to help his team on this challenge. Most of the time you get it right, but you guys were wrong on this one.
The most outrageous elimination since Tre in TC3 as it just didn't seem to gel at all with the (edited) judges' comments. How both Ash and Eli made it through to next week totally amazes me. Hopefully Eli has a new appreciation of the word "survivor".
I am glad that Jennifer won and I hope she wins Top Chef. She works hard and really deserves it! I was sad to see Ashley go home. I think it is now time for Mike V and Ash to leave. Ash seems lazy and he isn't confident as a chef. He keeps talking about what he can do but he isn't proving it. Mike V has an attitude that won't wait. He acts like he deserves to win Top Chef because of who he is and he needs to humble himself. I think Brian came off a little rude to Kevin. I understand that it is touchy and said and it was family but Kevin was only asking a question.
I was SO sorry to see Ashley go home. She was one of my favorite contestants (along with Kevin). She seemed like a talented chef and a high class person. The thing I wonder is... as you ask questions during the judging round... if something is oversalted, do you specifically ask the question: who salted that item? (in this case the gnochi)? It seemed like Eli got off easy; and in contrast to Ashley, he doesn't seem like such a class act - or a taltented chef.
I was wondering why they only have limited portions, instead of a back up amount in case something went wrong, such as the power going out. How much do they win for an elimination round.?
Comgrats on the Emmy nod - I learn so much from your comments on air and in this blog - it's well deserved.
After watching this episode, does anyone here think that had the judges known that Eli over-salted the gnochi, he would have gone home? I still think the outcome would have been the same: they each messed up a component, but the prawns seem to be the main component.
Plus, if you oversalt something, you can't fix it. If you undercook a protein, it seems a "top chef" should realize that and keep it on the grill longer.
- Dan Nguyen
While I can see Robin's constant talking could get on your nerves, I felt it was unfair for Mike I. to begin the elimination round with the attitude that even though Robin knew more about Asian cooking, he was going to ignore her and do his own thing. He can be such a putz. This guy thinks he's so great...he didn't know what Florentine is or where it was from...come on...when the diners know more about cooking a dish than a "chef" from Jersey, he needs to go home...Eli over salted the sauteed gnochi...he should have gone home...I am beginning to see the funny side of Tom C. He really enjoys what he does! Go Padma!
I am at such a loss. How is it ELI is not the one sent home for he and Ashley's dish? He contributed nothing- because he KNEW NOTHING! He didn't argue serving Gnocchi - he just salted it to death. He didn't cook the shrimp because he knew nothing about them. While Ashley wasn't my favorite out the gate- ALL of her ideas from week to week were growing in accomplishment and confidence.
I understand your wanting to keep Michael V. but his partner was worse than ELi as far as contribution.
For the 1st time in years - I have no desire to watch anymore.
I had gotten to where I looked forwaRD TO MORE FROM HECTOR - THEN HE WENT for an oven that cooked the meat too slow . . . forcing him to hack it up. I understand but his dishes when I re-did them, were really really good dishes! Same with Ashley!
Eli did Potato salad - (which would have sent him packing - he is using my grandmother's old recipe that she mixed up in a Mayo Jar). Godd. but nothing new or by any stretch - original.
Eli was on the bottom of the quickfire- Ashley wasn't. Of the 2 - no one would deny that Eli should have gone home. Molecular knowledge or not.
How can you hold that girl responsible for something that her partner yes -yes -yes manned to all of it.
It isn't right - and now for the first time I see why others have called foul in other seasons.
My favorite has been Kevin out the gate, then Jennifer. But like Hector, Ashley had much more to show us.
I'm sad to see Ashley go as I thought she was one of the more clever chefs remaining. She definitely should have mentioned Eli salting her gnocchi, but she's admirable at the same time for not throwing him under the bus. Still! Disappointed!
And can somebody please give Mike I. a smack down soon? He's ridiculous.
How funny that gnocchi came up this week! A few days ago I purchased gnocchi for the first time in my life. As the child who was a picky eater and could never have more than three things on my plate (let alone, touch each other), my first foray into adventures in food came when I turned vegetarian 16 years ago. But Top Chef has inspired me even more to venture out of my comfort zone and try things that I never even knew existed a few years ago. So kudos to you guys for both teaching and inspiring! Thanks, Tom!
Hello Tom,I agree that Jennifer and Kevin had the best dish. they worked so well together and Jennifer will have a ball with her Macys gift card. You didn't say anything about Mike Isabella and Robin. She knew how to cook asian food while he admitted that he did not, but when he brought the dish to the Judges table he made it seem like he was the sole person making that dish. The way he looked down on Robin was appalling, he treated her with such a lack of respect it really bothered me.He's so cocky and has such a high opinion of himself and puts no value on Robin as a chef or even as a human being.I think someone(maybe you tom) should talk to him about what it means to be a great chef. It takes a person who cooks well, but also a person that treats others with respect.That being said, now I can go to sleep.
I find it puzzling that the weak sisters stay, and the leaders (of the losing team) gets sent home.
The continued reward of "flying under the radar" is rather sad, IMO.
Thank you for all the comments but I was disappointed tonight with the selections the chefs made for their dishes. For the normal person, we would not be cooking prawns. These were dishes that would not be served family style in any party I or my friends would host. And, I have a long history of food service in my background -- from Restaurant Manager to Convention Sales to Executive Event planning. Just my thoughts. And also, please post the website mentioned in the quick fire. Sounds interesting.
Today is Wednesday Oct, 7 2009 I was watching an episode where the top chef had to cook for the ranchers. All 4 of of you guys said that the ceviche was not good, the fish was still raw and it was to sweet and it was not right. So I would like for all 4 of you guys to give me an ideal in how a ceviche should be. So if you have the time to write back that would be nice. Thanks: Victor
Hi Tom!! I love the show and love reading your blogs which give us real insight into the competition. I remember in the first few seasons we were able to see the judges discussing the best dishes and determining who would win. Unfortunately now you dont show that part and instead focus on the losing dishes. I wish you guys would bring that back because now we dont really know what you like about the top dishes. I know thats up to the producers and they probably think it brings more drama and suspense to the show but those of us who watch Top Chef to see talented people compete, we miss that part!! thanks
One thing that made Ashley so lovable was her mix of leadership and geniune kindness. The very thing that made my whole group here in Austin TX love her could have been the thing that took her out of the competition. I have loved this show for all six seasons and honestly is will be harder to watch without Ashley - a female contestant with genuine kindness and strength.
So had you known Eli overseasoned the gnocci, would that have changed the outcome of the elimination?
What if Eli had spoken up and taken responsibility for seasoning the gnocci (as Ashley did for undercooking the prawns), how would that have affected your decision?
Which is worse, over-salting pasta or undercooking prawns?
Love the show. I am constantly amazed at the dishes presented seeing the time pressure and such that we see.
From a TV production side, could you answer a couple of questions? 1.) Once the season starts, do the cheftestants stay until the winner is determined, or do they travel in for each set of competitions?
2) How long does it take to shoot each episode?
3) How many cameras are used in the apartments and who is responsible for editing all the tape/film, including the "talk to the camera" pieces into the final product so that it makes sense?
4)How do you judges taste/eat all of that food while maintaining your consistent weights? It looks like a lot of food.
Thanks to you all for producing a good, competitive reality show. Congrats to Padma on her "little bun" announcement.
Thank you, scred
I totally see where you are coming from with your explanation of the power outage issue, and agree that you must compensate for such occurrences in real life. Even Mike V. addressed the issue, and added the caveat "however in a restaurant setting you (basically) can go to the fridge and get additional ingredients as well as swap to a functioning appliance" (my version of his statement can't recall verbatim his words).
However, the crux of the issue in my opinion, is that this is a competition not real life, and so each chef should have the same footing. The lack of foresight that several appliances on a rated circuit could cause an electrical malfunction and thus put some of the contestants at a disadvantage through no fault of their own does not give equal footing. So applying a real life solution to a problem in a staged environment is out of context and practicability to some degree in this situation in my opinion. Not saying it was a major factor and should have changed any outcomes, just that some consideration should have been given. I am sure I am not the only one who doesn't like it when someone else's errant actions deter or hinder my efforts.
Hope the humidity down here isn't to rough on you, lot of people I know who aren't from the South can't stand it lol. Around here we are used to 90 degree weather in October and 90% humidity as well. Stay cool is my advice, stay near an a/c whenever possible.
Still have the passion to learn, anytime you want a commis in your Atlanta restaurant let me know. Read one of your interviews and thanks for the mention of La Technique ordered a copy will be getting Think Like a Chef soon. Take care.
"Thank you for all the comments but I was disappointed tonight with the selections the chefs made for their dishes. For the normal person, we would not be cooking prawns. These were dishes that would not be served family style in any party I or my friends would host. And, I have a long history of food service in my background -- from Restaurant Manager to Convention Sales to Executive Event planning. Just my thoughts. And also, please post the website mentioned in the quick fire. Sounds interesting."
It sounds to me like you didn't really get what Tom was saying. There is no point in having qualified chefs cook the same thing home chefs would - that sounds a bit boring and the results would be dull. But having chefs cook under similar conditions with similar (but not totally the same) constraints, was sort of interesting.
And my family has used prawns on big occasions. It's not an everyday thing, but we've cooked them in our homes.
I too will miss Ashley.She had a lot of class. If she had said Eli had oversalted the Gnocchi would you have let Ashley stay? I think Eli should have mentioned it himself. I would rather eat undercooked Prawns than over salted food.What a nice person Ashley is
Didn't Ashley say on camera the Eli did not want to cook those delicate spotted prawns. Then the unsalted dish which Ashley gave to Eli was brought back oversalted.
I really wonder how many of the chefs feel as they sit at home and watch this recently completed season unfold on the air. How does someone like Robin feel after being decimated week after week for participating in the show. All of us have known people like Robin who talk a lot, but yet we know that they are decent,good people. If the judges wanted to eliminate Robin, they could have easily done so in the French Challenge, when she made a pot of soup instead of an amuse bushe. That may have been the humane thing to do. Was that before or after Michael I called he "an old lady." Mike I-what a guy!
I would have loved to have seen Mike I. and Robin in the top two mainly because Mike complained so much about robin it would have been interesting to hear if he would have shared the win with her.
Thank you again for explaining the decisions and how they are reached. It seemed as the both dishes in the loser column were poorly conceived. Gnocchi & prawns? Halibut under egg yolk ravioli? Do they really go together well? The dismissal was probably fair due to the information Ashley supplied. She fell on her own sword, so to speak. However, Ash has been so mediocre to poor through most of the competition. Even as he stood there at JT proclaiming that he "has so much more to show", etc. his face showed the opposite. Why is he given a free pass for basically admitting that he doesn't have the cooking chops and hopes to get them soon? As for Eli, he dodged the bullet by not admitting his mistakes (over salting the gnocchi). If you had known his contribution, would that have spared Ashley? btw: Mike I is still the reigning champ of obnoxious chefs!
Ashley should not have gone home. She's proven that she's one of the stonger contestants. If anything, Eli or Ash should've gone home. Eli oversalted the gnocchi, and Ash decided not to offer suggestions for his team.
I wonder if the producers have ever considered airing a TC special that includes footage that's been left on the "cutting room" floor from each of the episodes? I, for one, never question the judges decisions during the elimination (I am not there to taste the food--they are), despite the fact that I am sad to see certain cheftestants go. However, it seems that Chef Tom has referenced on more than one occasion that there is discussion that is edited from the show. I think this edited footage would be enlightening.
BTW, I loved TC Masters and hope that you do it again. I just hope that Chef Tom can participate sometime.
Chef Colicchio, I wonder when the chefs will understand if you have an odd reaction to their food in your walk through, maybe they should do some rethinking. Somehow I feel that the chefs do not understand how much help you are really giving them without giving them help. If you walked through my kitchen, and gave me one of your quizzical looks, I would be sure to take that into account, and maybe stop and think about what I am doing.
I, too, really enjoyed watching Ashley because she was so sincere on top of being talented. Conversely, you could have secretly removed Eli from the competition prior to the show, and I wouldn't even have noticed. Well, perhaps I would have wondered where all of the unsupported-holier-than-thou vibe had gone, but only in a good riddance kind of way. What type of person does not step up and admit to their error while seeing their teammate take all of the heat? He kept his head down, and his mouth shut while his partner was being crucified. Not cool, Eli. Looking on the bright side, Eli stated that he doesn't care how people feel about him, so my less-than-stellar review of him will just bounce right off of the little rubber cheftestant.
It *is* a frustration in a team or pair challenge the the obvious strategy is to lay back and let the other guy take the fall if things go south. It also encourages the poor sports to not speak up, and the honorable chefs to say what was their fault. It's always the ungenerous soul with less talent who goes home.
Maybe a pair challenge should be a joint win or joint loss? Both partners win, and if there is a loss, the losing team has to do a quickfire cookoff (like the quickfire elimination earlier)? If it had been, for instance, Ashley vs. Eli, at least Ashley would have a chance to step up.
And if the other team had lost, you wouldn't have wanted to send Mike V. home. But if Ash and Mike V. had a 1/2 hour cook-off, is there any doubt which one of them would come on top?
I was definitely sad to see Ashley go over Ash. We all jeered at the screen! I understand that we don't get to taste the food, so we really have very little to go on, but Ash was sitting up there practically screaming to you judges that he doesn't think he's good enough to win the competition. He admitted to contributing *nothing* to the dish in terms of conception or imagination. Sous chef is right. He should have gone home. Overall I think Ashley brought a lot of heart and talent to the competition, and I'm disappointed to see her go before Ash, Laurine, and Robin, who do seem a bit unimaginative in comparison to the best chefs still competing, and also humble to the point of fault.
I agree with some of the comments above: the show will be much less pleasant, interesting, and engaging to watch without Ashley. She seemed like a genuinely kind person, and, perhaps most importantly, she was eager to learn and incorporate feedback into her cooking. She didn't have an attitude and never, ever, did she throw someone under the bus.
At this point, the only person I have to root for is Jen, who increasingly is showing what a real pro she is. But, without Ahsley, the competition is a little emotionally flat. Guess I'll have to make my voice heard in voting for Ahsley for Fan Favorite.
Also, what's up with Mike I.? He seems to have a real chip on his shoulder about working with, and for, women. Hope Jen can show him who's boss!
Tom, great stuff as always. I'm curious: Having read your comments about Ashley and the gnocchi and how your perceptions may have been changed a bit now having seen the episode... do you think that knowing that now would have impacted your decision then enough to eliminate Eli instead? I know you have mentioned seeing things like this in the past; insights you gain from watching the episode that you were not able to get out of the cheftestants through questioning at Judge's table... I am wondering just how often in your mind, if ever, you have had thoughts afterwords of "If we had known that, I think we would have sent that person home instead."
I'm very happy that Jennifer won because she has been my favorite to win since the first show. I was also sorry to see that she had to compete while sick. But that brings up my comment/question: I'm not sure I would want to eat food prepared by someone who "had a high fever and felt really, really sick". I realize this is a competition and not a restaurant but would you allow a person that ill to cook in your restaurant? Washing hands frequently is all fine and dandy, but I don't know....
I was very sorry to see Ashley go home. I felt she had started to come on stronger and showed more confidence in her cooking. Eli should have admitted to oversalting the gnocchi, although Chef Tom knew Eli had done it.
I am totally offended by Mike I's attitude. He shows absolutely no respect for ANY of the women cheftestants and his overblown opinion of his cooking is a laugh. Seems to me that in most of the elimination challenges, he has to rely on someone else because he has never made sauces, etc., like bernaise! He did not come up with that deconstruction....Brian did.
Didn't know you were in the SE, Tom....hope you stopped by the ATL....I was also dismayed that Ash-ley went home instead of Ash...he is clearly not a Top Chef and said so himself. What gives?
Great episode, I think that this season is going to get tougher for the judges, who might need to go into microscopic detail to separate the winners from the losers. One question to you Tom,; what in your opinion is more egregious, overcooking or undercooking, or does it rely on the dish?
It was really sad to see Ashley go at this stage of the competition with Robin and Ash still in the show, although I do like both of them as people. But as chefs and at this stage of the game, we really haven't seen anything outstanding from them whereas week after week, Jennifer C, Mike V., Bryan V. and Kevin G. have been delivering outstanding food since the beginning. But Ashley was the underdog I was rooting for. Farewell Ashley and great things are coming your way :)
Now I am rooting for Jennifer because she is just amazing. Her confidence is just stupid in a good way :) and I really haven't seen any chef, male or female, with this amount of talent and confidence (yet not cocky) in the show so far, ever. Keep up the outstanding work Jen :)
I thought for sure Ash or Eli was leaving. What a surprise it was Ashley. She was far from my favorite chef, but she seemed to have a good heart. If Ashley had oversalted Eli's dish and his butt was on the line, we would be pulling Ashley from underneath the bus. Personally, I'm hoping the final 3 will be Bryan, Kevin and Jennifer.
Great blog & analysis as usual Tom. That being said, I think it's a little ironic that this week's episode came down to Eli & Ashley. After the bachelor/bachelorette episode you dedicated an entire blog to Ashley's comments regarding her dissapointment in competing in the challenge (great blog by the way). I was expecting you to address Eli's comments towards Robin in the deconstruction episode from two weeks ago in this blog, but there was nothing. Is there any reason why you were so quick to criticize Ashley for her comments, but Eli is off the hook for what he said?
In watching the reaction to Ashley going home I noticed that Jen was teary eyed, and both brothers and Kevins fair well hugs were very sincerely furnished. I think that says a lot for the respect she has gained on this show as a person with honor and talent.
Thank you, Chef Colicchio, for your great blogs. I was sad to see Ashley eliminated. It's curious to note, inconsistency seems to be worse than mediocrity when it comes to the cooking. Do you take the chef's cooking history, through the competition, in consideration when contemplating who goes home? There also seems to be a fine line between tattle tale and competitiveness. Too bad Ashley wasn't more aggressive in front of the judges. I do agree that failing appliances don't make a good excuse because Mike V. should've rethought the dish to "make it work" but then again, he did seem to take all the cooking responsibility. I think in another season, I heard you mention, this isn't top sous chef. Ash is clearly not of the caliber of the other chefs. BTW, congrats to Jennifer for winning one for the women!
I appreciate the professionalism and grace Ashley exhibited during this challenge. She had an opportunity to throw Eli under the bus, and the fact that she didn't speaks louder than words.
Bring Ashley back! Give her another chance. Perhaps she will be able to learn how to politely address the doings and undoings of team-mates in such a fashion that she does not stoop to some of the low levels we have witnessed so far.
I think Eli should have gone rather than Ashley. If Ashley cooked both the prawns and the gnocci. what was Eli doing? At this point in the competition, serving as a sous chef in a two-person team should not earn you a pass! Eli's major contribution seemed to be oversalting the gnocci.
Hi Chef Colocchio, Since Eli was the person who plated the prawn/gnocchi dish, and was the one who oversalted the gnocchi, I believe he should have gone home. The gnocchi could have been rinsed and re-heated, and the prawns could have been kept on the grill longer. So really he was responsible for both bad parts of the dish. Basically he ruined Ashley's gnocchi that she made by hand and then carmelized for some texture and to hold up the prawns. I think the suggestion another commenter made -- to judge two-person teams as one, is a great idea. That way, if they produce the best dish they both win, and if they produce the worst, they have a cookoff to determine who goes home. That forces them both to make sure that every element on the plate is great, whether they created it or not, and does not encourage someone sabatoging another by making seasoning disasters. Being a Top Chef means taking part in making sure everything on the plate shines, owning up to your mistakes, and helping other people on your team to make sure the final product will please the diners. Eli showed with his decisions that he is not a Top Chef. Also he is very arrogant. I believe he should have gone home.
One moment of amusement that I had, though: Jen won the challenge despite feeling sick and having a fever, then gave Tyler Florence a smooch?
After reading this blog, it almost indicates that not enough digging was done on the judges' part to get at who did what in the Ashley-Eli dish, i.e. who had oversalted the gnocchi. Had that up front question been asked, "who salted the gnocchi and when," it seems possible the outcome of who went home may, and I do write that with lightness, since Ashley admitted to not properly cooking the prawns, MAY have been different. Who knows. All it seems is that she has far more class than Eli, who had no obvious regrets about slamming Robin, and Mike I, who didn't even include her in this challenge and griped about her onscreen nonstop.
I am the only one who thought that Ash's compliments of Mike V's abilities and hard work on their dish were only to save his own skin? Since season 1 of TC, in a team challenge, usually the one who stands out as team leader of the losing team is the one who is sent home. I'm assuming that Ash knows this and therefore by telling the judges- in a nice way- that Mike V. did everything, he was keeping himself safe for another week. Anyone else think this as well?
As much as I understand what you say regarding Ashley and Eli, I still think the wrong chef went home. Though I also think Ashley is still too nice to be a Top Chef. Maybe this will make her a little tougher so she will stand up for herself when her partner tries to throw her under the bus.