Also, Marcel was responsible for the vegetable tempura, which all agreed was delicious. For these reasons, he too was spared.
"Mikey may not be the best chef, but he's a great guy and you let him go for reasons that had nothing to do with the food. Is Top Chef all about the food, or isn't it?" Frankly, when the Elimination Challenge is about creating a successful dish, then yes, it's all about the food. Last week's Challenge was about creating a successful restaurant, so we looked at the overall picture including front-of-the-house, purchasing decisions, hospitality, etc. Once upon a time, chefs were hired by restaurateurs. Today, they are restaurateurs, responsible for a lot more than just the food. The judges analyzed which chef seemed to add the least to his or her team in terms of imagination, skills and overall added value, and settled on Michael.
An example of how Michael dropped the ball: When we questioned him about the money he had left over after buying the items on his list -- a full 20 percent of his budget -- Michael told us he used it to buy extra paring knives as gifts for his teammates. A nice enough gesture, but we felt a more ambitious competitor would have asked himself how the money could have been spent to win the challenge -- was anything missing from the mis-en-place (like dishes for olive pits) or was there something that could have enhanced the overall experience -- bread plates, flower vases? How about challenging Sam and Marcel's ill-considered idea not to serve wine? Instead, Michael lapsed into a passive, list-following mode and then even failed as a mere line-cook, needing Sam to show him how to do some very basic tasks. I liked Michael. He was good-hearted, funny, and great to have around. He added levity to the mix, without mean-spiritedness.