Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio on why Hung came out on top over Casey and Dale.

on Oct 5, 20070

Many young cooks see their training as a chance to step away from their background, and proceed, tabula rasa, towards the culinary ideals they've worshiped from afar. In doing so, they may earn marks for proficiency, but can often leave important elements of themselves out of the picture. I know this, because I did it myself. I grew up in a working-class Italian family where it seemed as though every adult -- my folks, their parents, all the aunts and uncles -- could cook. I witnessed their approach to food, the knowledge they had inherited by watching their own parents and grandparents, dating back to the old country. Once I started out to be a chef, I worked hard to teach myself classic French technique and completed two stages (work-as-you-learn stints) in celebrated French kitchens.

Voila! I now cooked French food. But gradually, as I set out to establish my identity as a chef, my background crept in, almost despite itself. Eventually I came to see this as a good thing. It made my food more storied and nuanced. It made it more me. Once I allowed my family's influences in, it opened the door to allowing all of my experiences -- especially travel -- to impact the creative process: Two culinary trips to Japan opened my eyes to an extraordinary palate of raw fish and (who knew?) hand-crafted tofu. A trip to the north of Spain, where I inhaled plates of Catalonian squid and rice with cuttlefish ink, inspired a dish of cuttlefish-ink ravioli. I got married on a sheep farm on Martha's Vineyard and fell in love all over again with lamb. A dish of roasted cod was bolstered by a whip of salt-cod, inspired by my Grandmother's incredible baccalà. In other words, my background, my life experience -- even my day-to-day -- seems to find its way into my food, and I think my cooking is better for it.

4 comments
gfdgvd
gfdgvd

man eloquent epilogue. I agree that Hung was the man in season 3. I rooted for the short wirey guy with the confidence and self-measure to not bend to peer pressure. Casey and Dale were a-holes for asking Hung how he reproduced a dish and called him a bad person for not giving up his method. A lot of chefs on Top Chef forget that it is a competition. It's not good sportsmanship to give someone their method of success. IT's a chump move. It's actually poor sportsmanship to put someone on the spot to sell out their own position in the game for the sake of others to catch up. IF you're playing to win it. You have every right to keep your method for success a secret. MAybe after the competition, if they still want to know, go ahead and tell them. But untill that time, please act accordingly.

Guillermo Lopez
Guillermo Lopez

I love your show and will always continue to watch it I do have some ideas on cooking challeges you have not shown yet and that are important to improve the taste of food. Such as why not take the chefs to a hospital and try to improve the food there for the patients. You can always e-mail me if you like this idea and want more. Thank you for a good time and God bless you all.