Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains how Jamie could've gotten her first Elimination win.

on Dec 10, 2008

Far from playing it safe, the "New" Team went overboard in the other direction and, ultimately, imploded. Where to even start...? An interactive dish could have been OK, but to pull it off would have required a team of very good technical chefs. Nothing was cooked right. This was not a dish where everything could be cooked in advance and reheated. The shrimp was ridiculously overcooked. Beef has some tolerance to it and might have withstood reheating, but Daniel overcrowded the pan, so instead of being sauteed, the beef was just steamed. There is a way to cook mushrooms, but Daniel doesn't know it, and they were horrible. The rice was made incorrectly, and Eugene actually thought he could fix it. You cannot fix bad rice. I always tell my cooks that invariably something will go wrong and they should not try to sneak it past the chef - they'd just be passing bad food along to the diner. I just opened a new Craft in Atlanta this week and on opening night the fingerling potatoes were undercooked. One of the cooks put a lid on them, cranked up the heat and started boiling them to death, but I stopped him. There was no fixing the potatoes in time to plate them; they need to be cooked slowly. I turned to the waiter and told him to please go out and apologize to the diner, explain that the fingerlings weren't ready, and we'd be sending out gratin instead. Then I turned and reminded my chef that he needed to have tasted every single thing in the kitchen to make sure everything was seasoned and cooked correctly. Luckily, the chef from Craft Dallas, who was visiting to help with the opening, caught it in time. Checks and balances. Team "New" should have had checks and balances (note: Carla didn't even taste the mushrooms that Daniel added to her salad), but I don't think they had the judgment. They would have relabeled the fingerlings, "crunchy potatoes," and sent them out. Half the table at Gail's bridal shower work for Food & Wine magazine. There's no way bad rice could have been passed off as something else no matter what Eugene added to it or how hard he beat it with that pan. The team had plenty of time to redo the rice the following day. Why didn't they?