Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio weighs in on the great turkey brining debate.

on Nov 23, 20120

Emeril’s team largely did well, too, but once we saw Josie’s undercooked turkey, everyone at the table knew it was all over for the Gray Team. If Josie hadn't had immunity, she would have gone home — this was one of those times when having immunity truly came in handy. Kuniko’s potatoes were clearly the second-worst dish of the evening, so it worked out well for all that she was on the team that was up for an elimination. Kuniko had plenty of time to cook that dish, and it was such a simple dish that any chef should have been safe from elimination with it. If that dish is cooked correctly and seasoned properly, you just can’t get sent home. I couldn’t understand how Kuniko blew a dish like that, or how she didn't realize the fact, which was easy to discover. Honestly, she made our job as judges easy this week.

The challenge itself reflected what’s great about Thanksgiving. Fast Company magazine interviewed me for an article in the current issue about Thanksgiving, in which they discussed the origins of the holiday. “The First Thanksgiving” actually wasn’t… a thanksgiving, that is. Apparently a hunting party shot a bunch of birds and invited some of the Native Americans to join them in eating them, along with harvested vegetables. Giving thanks probably wasn’t part of the agenda, or at least not at the top of it. Large harvest meals were common throughout the growing nation in the autumns that followed, in order to eat up food that would otherwise go to waste, but it wasn’t until 1863 that Lincoln, noting that we didn’t have any official holidays in the fall, declared it a national holiday of thanksgiving in a gesture intended to start to reunify the country. People most likely ate whatever was available locally, which, in New England where the tradition began, would most likely have included a good amount of fish, because cod came into the shallows in the winter, and oysters and scallops were much more abundant than now (think “oyster stuffing”). Squashes, nuts, fall-berries like cranberries, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, parsnips, turnips… all became traditional.

7 comments
sloopie72
sloopie72

I'm usually no fan of Thanksgiving (or Christmas) episodes, but I liked this one. Maybe because of the tilt towards Creole and Italian, maybe because each person had a clearly assigned dish, maybe just because I really enjoyed the quickfire (I had fun looking up all the dumplings I didn't know). I'm enjoying this season tremendously - even though I was very disappointed by both

eliminations so far, they made sense based on what I saw in the episode. There's just enough "drama" to keep things interesting, but there's plenty of actual cooking going on, and no stupid Amazing Race crap. Happy viewer here. 

 

I just wish I could figure out what the deal is with Last Chance Kitchen... like, where is it?

 

SecondTry
SecondTry

I'm sorry, Tom, but this episode was a major step backwards after two very strong episodes.

 

First, it always annoys me when Top Chef tries to tie in to air-time holidays and events.  Season Five was the worst--you did a Thanksgiving episode (which was pretty bad in and of itself), then you did a Christmas episode (with the chefs running around New York City--at "Christmas"--in shorts and open-toed shoes), and then two episodes later, you question whether Stefan's chicken soup was a good idea on "such a hot day".  It's too much of a suspension of disbelief, at least for me.But even worse this time was your participation, and Emeril's.  Maybe you simply need to fire the show's editors, but I've watched the episode twice, and it didn't seem like any of the cheftestants were making ANY decisions--every thought, every idea was run by you or Emeril for approval, even something as minute as whether to add bacon to the Brussels sprouts.

 

You said it yourself, Tom, all the way back in Season One when you were ripping Miguel Morales a new one:  the writing on the coats says Top Chef, not Top Sous Chef.  But that's all the cheftestants were in this episode--sous chefs to you and Emeril.  And given that, when Brian Malarkey in Season 3 offered diners a choice of cheese in his elk dish, you, Padma, Gail, and Eric Ripert eliminated him on the grounds that he "wasn't making the decisions a chef makes", how do you turn around and allow this season's cheftestants to coast through an episode not really making any choices of their own, but simply executing Thanksgiving Colicchio or Thanksgiving Lagasse?

 

The show has been in a downward spiral for me for several seasons, Tom, but I had very high hopes for this season based on the first two episodes.  My hopes are still high, but they are not as high as they were, and I'm crossing my fingers that this episode was an aberration and not indicative of what the rest of the season is going to be like.

lkbrose
lkbrose

Has bravo gotten rid of all boards?  I really miss this feature, and now I've lost my aviator.

Now we can't really talk about recipes.  I've never brined a turkey, but I do stuff it with lots of butter and fresh herbs under the skin and baste a lot.  I also cook it breast side down (use  turkey holder, so your breast doesn't stick, but fip it over for about the last 1 hour and turn up the oven to get really brown skin.  I've never have a not moist turkey (and I actually don't mind it dried out) -- but people love my turkey -- and I see to be the only one that knows how to make a gravy from drippings any more (I from BR, LA) -- an my gumbo is never bitter.  Mess the roux up and through it out...

 

Tesar is a jerk.

 

Carla is a jerk.  She doesn't want to be called sweetie and honey,  how 'bout "broad "(i've been a female Engineer in and all male organization since 1986).  Don't talk about make-up, your great looking ass -- you are giving out double standards.  If you don't want to be treated like an object -- don't act like one...

singingscallops
singingscallops

Tesar's remark in episode 2 regarding time and Kuniko's approach to cooking seems especially prescient now.  She strikes me as a deliberate and thoughtful individual.  Someone who needs preparatory time, as in the actual prep time used in professional kitchens before service, in order to reach her culinary potential.  Cooking on the fly doesn't appear to be her strength.  Too bad.  Was hoping to see someone of her demeanor become Top Chef.

JohnnyRalphH
JohnnyRalphH

Tom, can I ask why Top Chef has never casted a chef from the Twin Cities?  Is it because the producers don't like people from Minnesota or something?

SecondTry
SecondTry

 @lkbrose Hey LK--a couple of us have migrated to the show's Facebook page, or to IMDb.

borbor
borbor

 @JohnnyRalphH

 Yes, Ralph all the Top Chef producers have a visceral dislike for people from Minnesota...