Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains why Eliza's dish was worse than the others on the bottom.

on Dec 12, 2012

Whereas Danyele’s nervousness brings up a point I’ve mentioned before that’s worth restating. There are a great many chefs who, while terrific chefs, would not fare well in this competition. In this kind of competition, where there is very little time to come up with a dish and cook it, you have to commit 100 percent to the choice you make, only tweaking it should you find along the way that you need to fix something that just isn’t working. If you start second-guessing yourself, your food becomes unfocused. If you’re not confident in selling it, the food reflects this lack of sureness. I usually find in this competition that a chef’s first instincts are his or her best instincts, which is why experience gives a chef a leg up: the more experience one has, the greater an instinct one develops about how foods go together… and the faster one will be at arriving at a smart dish for any given challenge. This competition bends itself towards someone who is very comfortable thinking on the fly and moving quickly.  

And so just because we send someone home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she isn’t a good chef; it may just mean that he or she isn’t good at working under the unique pressures of this particular competition. The chef may be less experienced or may simply be one of those chefs who needs to spend time working through his or her dishes… which there simply isn’t time to do in this competition. There are a lot of great players in pro tennis who just may never win a grand slam tournament. They’re still great players. I’m hoping Danyele can move past her nervousness. We’ll see…

Fun fact, by the way: I first met Chris Pratt during the filming of The Five-Year Engagement. Chris played Jason Siegel’s best friend, who becomes a big chef, kind of by accident, and lands on Top Chef. Emeril, Padma, and I had a ball filming the scene, which we all basically ad-libbed all the way through… but it wound up on the cutting room floor. Good thing we didn’t quit our day jobs.