Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

Chef Lisa: A Villain Is Born!

Ted Allen celebrates the villain, and answers your questions.

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Plus: Your questions, accusations, and conspiracy theories, celebrated. But first: Finally, a contestant emerges as the villain! A villain so villainous that her villainy has the blogosphere harrumphing vigorously on behalf of ... Dale? The guy who punches lockers, grabs his crotch while yelling at a woman, and calls waiters "a—hole" during service? O-kayyy.

Personally, I like Dale and Lisa, even though they've both had some trouble keeping their cool, and I think they've both cooked some great food -- but until now, the commentoscenti have been uniformly harsh on both of them. Anyway, I've decided to devote this belated post to answering your questions and addressing some of the more interesting remarks and theories.

Let's dig in: Anonymous wrote: Usually I am ok with the judges' decisions, but you all were 100% wrong to send Dale home over Lisa. Hope someone has a VERY good explanation for this.

Ted replied: Sure do. We tasted the food.

Carrie wrote: Scallops and butterscotch sauce? I cringe just thinking about it.

Ted replied: Me, too. For more detail on last week's decision, see Lee Anne's blog. She's got it right.

D in KC wrote: Spike is, or has been edited to appear to be, a manipulative, malicious, duplicitous liar.

Ted replied: In other words, you're not sure who deserves the credit -- the casting department or the editing staff? I agree!

FanFare wrote: Dear Ted et al. So nobody is blogging this week! That certainly is a cowardly way of avoiding the obvious animous felt by the fans.

Ted replied: That's "animus." And I didn't blog because there was a death in my family on the 17th. Priorities.


Alice wrote: Ted, How could you not write a blog when you were a judge in what you probably knew would be one of the most controversial shows?????????????????????

Ted replied: We had no expectation that anybody would be upset about this decision. Remember, when we shoot TC, the judges don't know anything about the story lines or dramas that are evolving among the contestants, nor do we know which chefs are popular with the fans -- and it's fairer that way. We base our decisions on the food.


SteveH wrote: My real problem with this season is with the "Stars" of the show. Chef Tom, Padma, Ted, Gail .... One assumes you don't do the show out of the goodness of your hearts. You get paid (probably very well). What are we to think about the fact that you all seem to be so busy with other interests that you can't spare the time to blog?

Ted replied: Glad you asked. I hate missing a blog; I like this relationship with you viewers. Bravo began seriously ramping up its multimedia efforts around Season Two, and asked us for blogs around that time, but Bravo has not yet succeeded in inventing the 25-hour day. We all like blogging, but it takes a lot of time (not, as someone suggested, five or ten minutes). And the fact is, all of us had demanding careers before TC. Tom has an empire of restaurants, Gail is the driving force behind the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, which happens in June; we're all just really slammed. I'm sure Bravo is looking into ways to get more commentary on the site when the judges can't do it. We appreciate your devotion to the discussion.


Big Red wrote: OK, so the judges offed a guy that has won 3 elimination challenges and 1 quickfire. Meanwhile, Lisa and Spike have won a total of 1 elimination and 1 quickfire (respectively)!

Ted replied: Again: We do not factor into our decisions who did great in last week's episode, or the one before that. Neither does the NFL, American Idol, or the Illinois Lottery. What matters is who did best today. In other words, what have you cooked for us lately?


Big Red wrote some more: Are the judges willing to totally accept mediocrity for ratings?

Ted replied: Dude, ratings are Bravo's department, not ours. We don't even think about it.


ferfer72 wrote: I'm glad you picked Dale. I think the only person I've ever heard whining so much on Top Chef was Harold (I don't wanna cook for kids, fat people, on the street, etc).

Ted replied: Whoa: hate mail for Harold? There's a first. Weird things are afoot at Circle K...


Herb wrote: With six contestants left, the team aspect should be over. Judge them on their individual cooking.

Ted replied: Totally agree, and with healthy budgets and plenty of time, too. I'm pretty sure the team challenges are over.


JJ wrote: Dale over Lisa... REALLY? but then again, what do you expect from a judge that sticks his nose in the air proclaiming a waldorf salad is a midwestern dish while overlooking the fact that one team used chorizo instead of polish sausage?

Ted replied: This again? I addressed the polish sausage question, already: Antonia and Stephanie did use some of it in the dish (albeit not enough, and not well). On the glorious Waldorf Salad, yes, I know it was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria -- in the 1800s. It's not served there any more. What I meant was that today, the places you're most likely to see this dish are potluck church dinners in the Midwest and South; it has become a Middle-American comfort-food classic. It's delicious, but it's not innovative.


jerseycorn wrote: Regarding the Restaurant Wars competition, it makes no sense at all that some of the Top CHEF contestants are allowed to work the front of the house and take no responsibility for the COOKING. This is Top Chef not Top Interior Decorator. The ONLY reason Spike gets to stick around is because he didn't spend any time in the kitchen -- that's not fair.

Ted replied: Totally valid point, Jerseycorn. Still, most contestants and viewers consider Wars among their favorite episodes of the season.


Jay wrote: I have heard rumors that the judges were trying to stack the finals with females this year and up until this week have paid [those rumors] no mind, but now I think there might be something behind them.

Ted replied: Right -- you caught us. And you're gonna love the swimsuit competition!

In closing: The fact that you're as passionate about the show as we are means a lot to us. Thanks for watching and writing. Meanwhile, my personal blog at www.tedallen.net is a little behind because of family business. But if you haven't seen it, please have a look. I'll be back with recipes and other news in the next couple of days. Cheers, T