Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio weighs in on "Pea-gate."

on Jul 28, 2010

We’ve all seen the episode, so let’s just get right down to it and address the green elephant in the room. I’m sure that many of you have strong opinions about Alex and the pea puree. Here’s what I have to say about it:

First of all, if there’s a single viewer who still wondered whether the judges know what goes on behind the scenes (and make decisions with any of that in mind), I would hope that this incident would have laid that to rest forevermore. This episode surely proves that we judges absolutely never have access to behind-the-scenes conversations or goings-on, as there is no way on earth that we would blithely have judged the dishes as we did this week without delving into the matter of the creator of that puree. We just judge the food on the plates in front of us.  Not even I knew about the controversy, even though I spent some time in the kitchen, as I had arrived there after Ed had gone searching for his pea puree and there was no mention of the issue to me by any of the contestants while I was there. The other judges and I first learned about it just as you did, by watching the episode this week, and I was not happy to learn that there had been any question of impropriety. I’m surprised, frankly, that the producers didn’t choose to depart from normal protocol and say anything to us to clue us in about the matter.

I think, though, that the reason for that lay in Ed himself. Watching the episode, I expected Ed to call Alex out on the matter to his face, but he didn’t. Ed may have been concerned that to do so would make him look unsportsmanlike, but I think there’s more to it than that: I think that Ed himself may not have been wholly convinced that Alex took his puree.

Think about it: There are three possibilities, right? 1) Alex may indeed knowingly have stolen Ed’s pea puree and used it; 2) Alex may have made his own pea puree and been wrongly maligned by his co-contestants; or, 3) Alex unwittingly may have mistaken Ed’s pea puree for his own and taken Ed’s, but truly believing that he was using his own. In two of the three possibilities, Alex did not intentionally commit any wrongdoing.