Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio clarifies what he saw as the real problems for the bottom teams.

on Oct 7, 20090

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…

126 comments
Ron M - Saint Louis
Ron M - Saint Louis

Tom:

As always, your blog really enhances the competition. With only 44 minutes of actual air time, a lot of the details get wash aside so it is interesting to get to a more granular level to fully understand the competition and the judging that occurs.

This competition was especially exciting because it related more to the viewers. We have all had to create big meals in our kitchens while fighting for burner space or timing oven dishes that all need different temperatures. Seeing the pros work it out reminded me of times when each family member brings a dish and we are all trying to make a great meal that is served piping hot.

On a separate note, the casting is much improved this season. Much less drama and a higher quality of chefs has made this an exciting season (sans the outdoor ranch episode). While we viewers may not be able to actually taste the food, the presentation and the comments from the judges clearly show the bar has been raised this year.

Malissa
Malissa

I think Eli or Mike V. should have gone home. While I love Top Chef, I am getting a tired of the same people winning the Quick Fire and Elimination Challenges. It's been either the brothers, Jennifer, or Kevin. It's like they got the other chefs there just to fill space. There were a couple of times that Ashley was in the top four and her food seemed as good as anyone else's and I think she should have won. But no, again they give it to Jennifer one of the four who always wins. Please let someone else who cooks just as well as these people win. It's only fair. I can only imagine how the other chefs felt as they stood by week after week and watched the same ones win again and again. It's getting old. As for Jennifer feeling under the weather, she's no different than anyone else who feels bad and goes to work anyway. No big deal. Tom shouldn't give her special attention just because of it.

retiredwingnut
retiredwingnut

What I don't understand is, how many commenters seem to forget that the judges don't see the edited show before they make ther decisions. All they do is taste the food and ask a few questions. The judges aren't making their decisions based on politics, they make them based on food. If you don't like their choices stop watching or try to get on the show. Otherwise, quit bitching. It's not your decision.

SN
SN

Hi Tom, Love Top chef but I think Eli's comments about Robin using her cancer to win quickfire challenges is disgusting. I also noticed he was Chef Blaise sous chef on an Iron Chef challenge last week. Anyway I know the shows are probably taped already but if you still have contact with the contestants tell Eli that a true top chef or top individual has class. Thanks

David Newell
David Newell

Thanks for the clarification ,Tom. That was an excellent write-up. I think Ashley has done well dodging bullets this long. We have had a great opportunity for insight into her character. I'm glad we didn't miss out on that. From a culinary point of view, I think Hector was likely more talented. However, I would make a point of travelling to a restaurant Ashley cooks at but would not do the same for say, Stephan or ANYONE EVER from HK. Ashley is one of the rarest achievements -- a good egg.

Burnplant
Burnplant

I love to watch this show to see the food ideas, but I can't stand most chefs (including the judges).

That said, Ashley was great and no way should she have been voted off.

I guess the message is that you should be a selfish asshole to make it to the top of the chef world. Top chef did nothing to alter that and so the cycle continues.

It's been 20 years since I had to work with chefs in the industry and it looks like nothing has changed nor will it change any time soon.

Yuck, turning it off now that Ashley is gone.

Viewer
Viewer

A strangely satisfying win and a terribly disappointing loss. I liked the symetry of Kevin's quickfire win and Jen's challenge win, but thought that Ash was the one that should have gone home. I find it frustrating that the chef's don't get credit for prior wins or top place finishes -- because neither Ash nor Eli have been top placed at any point (or I don't think they have).

Jen brings a lot to the table (pun, ha!) and both times that she has teamed with a strong chef she's been in the winner's circle.

danska
danska

First of all: Tom, you and Padma are absolutely great. Thanks for such a classy show.

Now...hmmm...I really think it was a mistake to let Ashley go, instead of Eli or Ash. From what I saw, the judges had more problems with Ash's dish than with Eli's; but if you definitely had to choose Ashley's dish, then Eli was the one who salted the gnocci and didn't even want to touch the prawns.

Ashley showed such class and effort during the entire competition, that it was uplifting and spiring to watch. I couldn't believe that her reward for being professional, ethical and efficient (she was getting better and better) was to eliminate her.

I insist: A mistake.

Viewer
Viewer

One more voice here saying you made a terrible mistake in sending Ashley home. What grace and class! I loved watching her prepare her dishes with such ease and control while so many of the other contestants seem so frazzled all the time.

Rob
Rob

Hi Tom. Love the show. I was curious as to how much you and the other judges see before you make your decision for the week. The season that comes to mind was the one where Cliff was let go because of holding down Marcelle(sp?). Were you alerted for that reason only or were you watching anyway? The reason I ask is because of what happened with Ashley and Eli, if you had watched I would hope you would have launched Eli.

Sam
Sam

Hey Tom!!

Just had the opportunity to eat at your CraftSteak location at the MGM Grand. WOW!!! Food was absolutely perfect!!

Got to eat at Joel Robuchon's at the MGMG as well while he was in his location in Vegas, and I see why you guys are in such awe of that chef. Top off Nirvana with perfection and you start to scratch on the surface of describing Joel's food. It has been almost a week, and I am STILL drooling over that food ( both yours and Joel's).

Keep up the good work!!

Frank
Frank

I am a little dissapointed that Ashley was booted. Although she is not my favorite I felt that Eli was the weaker member of that team and should have been let go. He refused to cook the prawns because he didnt want to be responsible for them and oversalted the gnocchi.

Ashley showed the mindset of a champion on two seperate occasions. She could have made excuses and pointed blame at her teammates but instead decided to do what winners do and not make excuses.

Hopefully the judges can learn from that and not make excuses for sending the wrong person home. It is not Ashley's fault for not blaming Eli as you stated in your blog. It is the judges fault for not being thorough in their job. Even edited it was obvious to the viewers who the weak link was on that team. It should have been obvious to the judges as well. No excuses for screwing this one up. Hopefully you learn from your mistakes.

Viewer
Viewer

I just saw an episode of Iron Chef America in which former Top Chef finalist Richard Blais was the challenger to Mario Batali. During the show I saw Eli, from the current season of Top Chef Las Vegas, working as Richard's sous-chef. I wondered if Eli currently works for Richard?

Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan

Actually HolyMole, I don't think Tom ever really got to know how gracious Ashley is towards her teammates. He did mention in the Hector elimination episode when Mattin had lied about the veloute that he only found out about it during the episode airing.

I am concerned about how the judges aren't able to "judge" or see what happens in the kitchens. It's more and more likely that if a chef is a great person of character like Ashley in this competition, that they'd be thrown under the bus.

I wonder how the gnocchi was questioned about. Could it not have gone like "Who made it?" "Who sauteed it?" "Was it fine when you gave it to Eli to sautee?" It worries me that I feel like the questions aren't going that far.

Jeannette
Jeannette

Kind of late to comment but had not seen the episode until today. Definitely Eli or Ash should have gone. They did not do a thing. If you say you asked so many questions did you asked who oversalted the gnocchi!!! point blank? Bad,bad decision on the judges part and I no longer buy the excuse that they only see the contestants when they taste the food. If as you say a lot of questions are asked which do not get air time them the right questions are not been asked.

Amy Marie
Amy Marie

Tom, Now that you see the episode and know for sure that Eli oversalted the dish, don't you think you should bring Ashley back? I bet that of the prawns she did cook, they tasted great, and she decided they should carmelize the gnocchi so they could hold up to the prawns. The gnocchi would undoubetdly have tasted great without the salt, and you would have had some texture. Also, if Eli would have spoken up while plating, the prawns that were undercooked could have gone back on the grill to finish and you would have had consistenly cooked prawns.

Whereas looking at the other team's dish, there were more problems with conception and execution. For one thing, according to Toby, you didn't have any texture. The panchetta was undercooked, chewy according to one guest, and never got crispy for texture between it, the fish and the ravioli. You stated that the halibut wasn't the right fish to use. Overall, no one was a fan of the egg yolk in the ravioli, which to me sounds like a very heavy thing to serve during an al fresco dinner. From Toby's question, it sounds like you didn't have much texture. I think there were more problems with this dish:

Ash considered Michael's decisions to be better. He says on the show that his own idea of grilling the raddichio was not as good an idea against Michael's idea of an asparagus coulis. I would rather eat grilled vegetables any day of the week against a puree or a coulis. To me it is a crime to not be able to experience savoring a beautiful piece of aparagus and instead having it turned it into a coulis. (To me, the texture is like baby food.) If you think you have to have it for color, a parsley coulis, such as the one Ash did for his vice dish the first episode, would have been better. So you all said: it wasn't the right fish, the panchetta was undercooked, and the halibut was overcooked. Also served with a shaved fennel and asparagus salad, it sounds like you didn't have much texture. If Ash would have spoken up, you could have eaten grilled radicchio and it would have had some texture. So there were 4 things wrong with Ash and Michel V.'s dish, plus Ash basically said, "Send me home. I'm not worthy." Another good reason for a total of 5. Ash could have gone.

As for Eli and Ashley's dish: two things were wrong: according to Toby, only some of the prawns were undercooked. And thanks to Eli, the gnocchi were oversalted. They get a total of 2.

5 vs. 2? Let's trade an Ash for an Ash. Send Ash home and bring Ashley back!

Also, Tom I am a chef who pleases a lot of people culinarily. I am committed to excellence and passionate about food. How can I try out for Season 7? Thank you!

Trish
Trish

Top Chef is one of my favorite shows. As a non-chef (and non-cook, actually), it amazes me how the chefs can just whip something up with ease. Tom - you are the best, and I love Gail and Padma and all of the guest judges you have on the show.

I was sad to see Ashley go as well, I thought she made a lot of progress throughout the season. But, that's the nature of the show! I think a lot of the comments on here are so critical and at times angry. Everything is fair and we don't know what goes on during the actual cooking/serving/judging, we just see the edited version. Just enjoy the show and root for your favorite chef!!

A fan from Stockholm, Sweden
A fan from Stockholm, Sweden

Hello Chef Colicchio, I just want to say that I love Top Chef, thanks for a good show. You should take the show on the road and visit Stockholm some time. Its unfortunate that you have to base your decision just on the food. In the real world, a chef would never serve a overcooked fish. So its a bit unfair to blame Michael V. he had no choice, he had to give you guys something.If he had some more fish and some more time, he probably would of made it all over again. Blame the "sous chefs" instead. at least Ashley and Mike V showed leader qualitys. With that said, Im looking forward to see the next episode and I cant beleive that I have to wait a whole week. Bye from a rainy, windy Stokholm!

Eric
Eric

I love Top Chef, I really do, and I completely understand the appeal of having each episode be an independent & enclosed story that doesn't require having seen any previous ones for the purpose of Bravo syndicating them.

But I'm begging you, for next season, please, please use some sort of cumulative scoring system and stop with this.

In a show named 'Top Chef', for Mike V to possibly leave 4 weeks before one of Robin, Eli, Laurine, or Ash borders on insanity. Yeah, it makes for 'more exciting TV', but it's mind-blowingly obvious who the top 4 chefs are this year, and it would be nice if the show reflected that on a week-to-week basis

ogatty
ogatty

I was so sorry to see Ashley go - a very warm, gracious personality and an understated talent.

I also have to agree with a few of the posters about working "under the weather" -- what should be heroics is, for many of us, just another bump in the daily grind.

Sheila
Sheila

I'm going to miss Ashley--she was my favorite--but the class she showed in the end will stick with me for a long time. She was the first one to not blame the judges or a bad day, but to own up to her mistakes and look to the future. My goal is to eat at a restaurant of hers someday. :)

Kian
Kian

Sorry, Tom, but comparing triumphant moments in sport to Jennifer's winning performance while sick is a little over the top, no? It wasn't that exciting and turning it into a moment of triumphalism is quite classist considering a lot of people can't even see a doctor nevermind even consider not working while sick. Its too commonplace to be heroic.

HolyMole
HolyMole

Tom, why didn't you press Eli and Ashley more about the gnocci? Are you waiting for contestants to throw each other under the bus. Is YOUR judgment dependent on that happening? I also can't help but notice that you didn't press her on this subject, even though you knew from previous challenges that Ashley was exceptionally gracious with her teammates. Was this a failure of judging, on your part? I'm not saying that it was, but it is a question worth asking. I'd love to hear more from you on this. I am not trying to point fingers, but curious what you think.

Let me also say that I am enjoying this season immensely and as a fan of Vegas' culinary offerings, I am happy you chose to shoot it there. Good job! Will we see the chefs visiting any more local culinary spots? I'd love to see it.

kbsnparis
kbsnparis

Thank You Tom C. for your insights and for adding other dimensions to the show. While the editing cutting floor may be 4 layers deep of not-so-good for 'good' tv moments, why be so very low key of 2 contestants that did not pull their weight. Indeed each 2 leaders were sticking their head out graciously and with full responsibility of their respective teams, however their cumulative TC performance were SO far Superior to both 2nd fiddles throughout tonight and every other episode.

Any dish with TOO much salt is unbearable and a major turn off, and may be one of the fastest polluters of one's palate! Spotted shrimps undercooked are not as much of a turn off (ref: amaebi) Eli should have been the one on the block. What was his actual participation besides: oversalting while saute'ing, and plating 6 of the plates... and running to get a good counter top + burner spot?!?... and squirming at the judge's table. Indeed Ash should NOT have dropped his partner - however gifted he is - to set up the table for 10mn...

BTW it was the most heartwrenching departure of any chef so far in this season and ever on Top Chef : the warmth of each embrace speaks volume on Ashley's personality thorough her competition, her professionalism and the respect rshe commanded from the other chefs in competition. The brothers exchange was so real (cover, protect and respect during this episode followed by 'sh*t the f**k up in the preview!)

While it's trickier to watch TopChef as www.bravotv.com blocks European viewing, I am still a deeply committed TC fan for what You and Your Team produce for us Foodies! Thank YOU TOP CHEF.

jeff
jeff

I'm curious about input (or lack of input) from the judges in the editing of judges' table comments...I suspect there is no input, which is a shame.

from the on air edited version, tyler florence gave a ridiculous, inane retort to michael v's statement that the electricity went out. michael's later comment was spot on: while you would never go out to a diner and make an excuse about the stove..on the other hand, you use more time (i've sat forever waiting for a dish from the kitchen) and extra supply to correct the issue, or you tell the diner that the kitchen is out of that entree..not at all comparable to this situation.

it seemed that michael v. was trying to say the same statement that he did in the voiceover...that he recognized the mistake and tried to fix it, and wasn't successful because the fish was overcooked...he did own up to this at judgement.

If on the other hand the fatal flaw was to have walked away from the halibut in the first place as stated above...that's understandable..but I wish that comment from Chef Collichio were in the edited version that aired on TV

Carol
Carol

I agree tht Jennifer was a real trooper to compete and giving 100% regardless of her suffering. I have been rooting for her since the first episode. I want her to be the 2nd woman to compete to the end and win it all. Not just because she is a woman, but for many reasons. She can cook her tail off even under pressure, she's a real team leader, like she said, "I'm fair in the kitchen but tough", as she pulled off the episode of feeding out troops.

I know everyone talks about a brother cook-off, but where one faulters the other is strong, Jen is really showing Eric Epar just how well he mentors.

Viewer
Viewer

Ashley is gone and ROBIN'S still there???? What's wrong with this picture?

MIma4
MIma4

Tom, your blog is intelligent, informative and well thought out. I love watching the show, and I love your blog take on it almost as much. Kudos from a fellow N.J. foodie.

Sandra
Sandra

I don't know where else to write this. I am hoping that Chef Tom reads the comments or someone with bravo does.

Once, there was an elimination challenge when the group prepared low cal dishes for overweight kids at a camp. What about having an entire season focusing on low cal, low fat dishes. I'm sure it would go over big with your audience!!!!

Mary Fusco
Mary Fusco

CAn someone tell me how the heck Robin is still in this competition?

Ronald Edwards
Ronald Edwards

Chef Tom, Thank all of you who are responsible for putting this show on the air. I'm in the middle of my fifth decade and grew up on TV. I can, no I have sat through an entire day of T.C. marathon. My mother made sure all her sons could cook, wash, clean bake etc. We have a Caribbean background. Tom, what I cannot understand is why so many of these very good chefs have a problem with delivering bland food. Why do so many have this problem. Finally, on more that one occasion contestants served either undercooked,overcooked or ammonia smelling,bad tasting shrimp. On the ranch you got rid of the shrimp. How could a chef serve ammonia smelling shrimp? This is an elementary sign of spoiled shrimp. While this year we might not have personalities that intrigue, the cooking still reigns supreme.

Greg
Greg

This is the first season I have watched Top Chef. WOW!!! I was rooting for Ashley and was sad to see her go. Tom, your blog has really helped me understand your process of judging. But, i wonder, in the elimination challenges, do the judges base decisions solely on the dish you sample or is it a accumulation of bad dishes? For instance Ashley struggled in the first few challenges and Eli didn't seem to. Just wondered if that was a factor in the decision to send her home.

Sam
Sam

Ashley gets sent home for cooking or in this case not cooking but Eli is safe because he played safe. Mike V was the worst on his team because Ash played safe. I think the "safes" should have been up for elimanation.

Viewer
Viewer

I would like to be considered as a participant on your program. I have been watching your show for two seasons and eating food all my life. Your program inspired me to get into cooking so I got a job two months ago as a line cook at McDonalds. I have learned all their food preparations and I am ready to move on. I have become creative in my preps at McDonalds, sometimes I add more catsup or mustard, other times I spice up the french fries with a splash of lard, I believe adding a gourmet touch. I take great pride in arranging the hamburgers and fries on the trays, I use the juxtaposition of the sodas to enhance the presentation of the meal on the trays.

Viewer
Viewer

Just watched out tapped show of TC last night. Where in the heck were Bryan and Laurine? They were not shown AT ALL during the cooking for the elimination challenge? What up with that? And then for them to bring in one of the top dishes - is it because Bryan is so serious and soft spoken that you don't think he makes for good TV? You should highlight all chefs equally.

Thanks.

Happy Viewer
Happy Viewer

It amuses me to no end that bloggers who didn't taste any of the food think they know better than you who should have been sent home.

It seems there were 3 problems with the losing dish:

1. It was conceptually a bad idea to serve a heavy dish like gnocchi on a hot night in Las Vegas. Eli went along with it, but it was Ashley's idea. Two thirds blame to Ashley, one third to Eli.

2. The gnocchi were dense and salty. Ashley made them too dense and Eli made them too salty. Half blame to Ashley and half to Eli.

3. The prawns were undercooked. Ashley cooked the prawns and Eli plated some of them. 90 percent blame to Ashley, 10 percent to Eli. One opiner on one of the other blogs had the chutzpah to suggest that Eli was more responsible for the undercooked prawns because he allowed them to be served. As though Ashley was supposed to just put them on the grill and take them off and wait for her partner to tell her if they were done or not!

Eli will probably go home soon enough, but from what I saw, it seemed like you made the right call.

Viewer
Viewer

Tom - thought Mike V. had a bit of an attitude (walking away from you during the walk-through and basically dismissing Ash in the challenge, which was probably why Ash tried to (albeit in a passive aggressive way) throw him under the bus during judging) and was glad to see him in the bottom. PLEASE no more Robin and sort of glad crying Ashley is gone too. Hope Jennifer or Bryan wins!

Viewer
Viewer

I'm not sure how Ashley ended up packing her knives in last night's session ~ rather than Eli! Her kindness is heart warming but I wish that she had spoken out on the over-salting issue and shown the judges that Eli was definitely the less talented of the pair. It seems the decision may have been different had the judges questioned the situation a bit more. I'll miss Ashley - sorry to see her go...

Viewer
Viewer

I agree with viewer Steve, almost verbatim. I felt bad for Ashley and feel she had a style, better attitude and capability than others. But I, too, rather have her go than any of the perfect quartet -- the Voltaggios, Jennifer, and Kevin. So, how do you only choose three? Don't! Go for the Project Runway approach and let these four brilliant artists go to the finals. I, too, am rooting for a four-person finale. Please!!

gardenchef
gardenchef

I love the show have my own TOP APRONS! My fav is Tom C as judge, Padma's cool too. I'm frustrated that Robin is still in when other chefs clearly have more talent are voted off. Ashley wasn't my fav at first with bachelorette episode but I realized she is kind and genuine. Unfortunately this week's episode is an exapmle of 'the good guy finishing last' YES she should have stuck up for herself but I love her integrity and kindness in not 'throwing someone under the bus' to save themself...far too common in our society.

Di
Di

I wholeheartedly agree with all of the other viewers who believe it was a mistake to let Ashley go. She is a person with real character and class, unlike many of the remaining contestants you have. Eli and Ash clearly took advantage of the "sous chef" role, and skated through this challenge. As for Robin, I cook better than that woman on a daily basis, and I am not a professional, just love to cook. I hope to see Jennifer, Kevin and the brothers all survive to the end. They are clearly the superior chefs, and if you do not allow them to make it to the end, you judges are all crazy.

CR
CR

I think that Eli should have gone home too. The gnocchi definitely didn't need extra salt. Also, I am so tired of seeing scallops, ceviche and lamb almost every week.

di
di

Hiya, Chef was sad to see Ashley be let go...maybe a turn of events and she will be re-added? She's much better than the salad lady. Please bring on one of the top chef masters to judge, I am really not taken with Toby Enjoy the show as always!

Claire
Claire

Chef,

I have to agree with most comments - that Ashley should not have been sent home. In previous years you have sent home chefs for lack of contribution - what did Eli contribute other than salt? He and Ash (BEGGING to be sent home...) were by far the weakest of the lot - at least Mike and Ashley conceptualized and executed their dishes (almost singlehandedly).

I also have to mention that it was very telling when Michael (of Michael and Robin) described "his" dish on serving - with no mention Robin, despite his utter lack of knowledge with the ingredients. Every other chef introduced their team's dish by saying "WE made X, WE did Y". I hope he gets bitten by the same lack of respect he seems so content on exhibiting.

AC
AC

Ashley had a great attitude and she seems to be popular with viewers too, I'll have to try her restaurant now. Please to see Tom Douglas as guest judge, he's very personable and awesome restaurant guy, his restaurants are excellent and he has a great weekly radio show, listen to the podcasts at mynorthwest.com...

TJ
TJ

I was disappointed that Ashley was eliminated. Ash walked away from the fish to decorated the freakin' dinner table while the other dude, Mike V. was doing the rest of the work. If Ash, from his own lips admitted that Mike was a better cook than he is, what would make him think that he would become a top chef? Get real.

janet
janet

i was very sad to see Ashkey go!!! she was so sweet and funny, i think Eli should have gone home because he oversalted the gnocchi and he was watching ashley cook the prawns and he didnt say anything about it, i think he was not a team player and just watched and let ash burn! im very sad she was my favorite chef, i was outraged when i saw her go and it broke my heart. the show is not gona be the same with out her. :(

Steve
Steve

I feel bad for Ashley, as she was nearing the top of the middle of the pack.

Still, I'd rather have her go than any of the top tier of the Voltaggios, Jennifer, and Kevin. How do you only choose three?

Yikes!

I'm rooting for a four-person finale.

Katherine
Katherine

Thanks for your enlightening blog. It added another dimension to what was a less then excellent episode. TC has done far better with it's challenges. It helped to read your blog and understand what you were going for in this episode. it did not really come through on the screen, however, and the whole thing just looked like sloppy, rushed chaos. Very sorry to see Ashley go. She seemed to be one of the kinder contestant and had made some very delicious sounding dishes.

ann
ann

I am sorry that Ashley was eliminated last night, she was a great chef, I'm finding that each week, there are other chefs that should be eliminated, oh yeah by the way when are you going to choose an AA to be top chef, I've never seen an AA become top chef, why is that? even though they are contestants, except for Carla last year she came close but still lost. if they are not good chefs then why are they chosen?