Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio elaborates on Team Sunset Lounge's win, and, once again, reacts to the fan response to Ariane's elimination.

on Jan 21, 2009

Before discussing this week's challenge, I'd like to take a moment to address Ariane's dismissal last week. The reasoning behind it is pretty clear cut (pun intended): The lamb was the worst dish of the three. It was the worst dish because of how it was butchered. Ariane butchered the meat. Ergo, Ariane was sent home. It doesn't matter that the other two sat back and allowed it. We judges didn't know that. What we knew was that Ariane chose to assume the responsibility of butchering the meat, and she ruined it. Had one of the other dishes been worse, we'd have ascertained why and dismissed the person responsible for that.

The response to last week's elimination of Ariane was mammoth; I'm sure folks will respond in similar number and fashion to the judges' decision this week. Viewers will be outraged that Sunset beat out Sahana and that Radhika was sent home. But as one of the judges, I can assure you that were you there in a judge's capacity, you would have weighed the variables before you, deliberated them all, and been comfortable with the decision that was made, tough as the call was.

Remember two things: First, a lot happens, and it cannot all be put into a one-hour episode. We experienced the two restaurants more fully than could possibly be presented on TV, and editing choices largely determine how the material is perceived by the viewer. And conversely -- and I've said this before -- we judges were not privy to what was happening behind the scenes. The drama between Leah and Hosea? We had no idea. The lack of morale in the Sunset kitchen? Invisible to us. The laudable teamwork and positivity among the Sahana chefs? Equally out of our sight. We were patrons of the two restaurants, plain and simple. Those two dining experiences, coupled with the feedback of the other patrons, shaped our decision. And don't forget that while it may have been close, the other patrons favored Sunset over Sahana.