Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio offers solutions to the chefs' dish problems.

on Dec 5, 2012

Don’t get me started on this week’s challenge. OK, never mind -- I’m already started.

You know from watching the episode that I was sorely disappointed by the chefs’ offerings this week. It was totally appropriate under the circumstances to take the $10K win off the table. I think there were a few things going on with the chefs that all contributed to their poor performance in this week’s challenge.

For one thing, I think that because the chefs don’t know one another very well yet, and, apparently, because there has already been some animosity between them, the chefs bent over backwards to be deferential to their teammates, at the expense of the dishes they were creating. They couldn’t seem to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable, without it seeming like a confrontation, and without seeming to be saying, “You suck, and my food’s better.” Or they second-guessed themselves. Tyler, for example, seemed intimidated by CJ, so he deferred to him, even though Tyler knew CJ’s concept was a poor one. Josh didn’t want to spar with John and got talked into a bad idea in order to be polite and keep the peace. In pair after pair, the chefs' desire to seem cooperative and not to seem to disparage their teammates' concepts or know-how meant that no one took a stand or took the lead, and mediocrity was the result.

Another reason for the poor showing seems to be something that normally occurs further on in the competition. At a certain point in the middle of the season, many of the chefs are trying to hang on, to make dishes that are good enough to ensure that they won't be sent home, but they do not take risks, lest they crash and burn. Food that is merely competent, however, is not what the chefs are here to do. As Gail said, they’re here to be creative.