Cast Blog: #TOPCHEF

The Dark Side of Alex

Eric Ripert speculates on Alex's "dark side," and admits he doesn't know much about cooking Ethiopian food.

Full transcript after the jump!

Hi I’m Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, and I am commenting on Episode 8 of Top Chef.

So Marcus was the guest judge, and Marcus has an interesting culture behind himself. He comes from Ethiopia, and the challenge was to cook something inspired by Ethiopian food. And I think it was a tough challenge, because many of us don’t know what Ethiopian food is. Myself, I have eaten in many of them, but I never really know what’s so particular about it besides the fact that you eat with your fingers, which is a fun experience, and the food is fairly spicy very often as well. But I think that the challenge was interesting, and they all did pretty well, considering the fact that they were not very aware of the culture.

Tiffany won that challenge, and I was a little bit surprised. But I thought it was interesting to see that with the goulash, which comes from Hungary, she would win an Ethiopian challenge. That goulash must have been amazingly good and spicy and interesting for her to be able to win. Alex seems to be a little bit “doghouse” lately, since the incident of the pea puree. Although we never found out if he stole the puree or not, the team was very suspicious. He is playing very hard, and we had this little incident with Kelly with fighting for the pressure cooker. He is surely not a gentleman, and he seems to be a little bit aggressive lately, but it could also be the stress of the competition. The competition is definitely stressful, and he may be getting it, and it’s maybe why we see a little bit of the dark side of Alex.

The Elimination Challenge was very interesting, and I would have loved to do that one, actually. Although I am French, I would have definitely chosen Spain. I’m familiar with the cuisine of Spain, growing up very close to the border. Paella would have been nice to serve many people, and it’s interactive, fun, and definitely delicious. Some of the contestants did very well, and some of them did very poorly. Actually, Alex didn’t really deliver something that represented Spain nicely. Even Jose Andres, who’s really the kindest man on Earth, couldn’t say any compliment about Alex’s food, so he’s lucky to be on board. Stephen went home. It looks like it was well deserved. Chimichurri is definitely not from Brasil, he had beans in a can, and then he just had to grill the steak and cook the rice, and the rice being overcooked and mushy – what else is left? So, adios, Stephen.

Well, cooking the day before, and then having to reheat your food with very limited heat is definitely a challenge. You have to think about it, and you have to be prepared to have something that is simple to eat, and that’s not going to change too much and that’s not very sensitive to the cooking because if you are planning to grill something, the day after it’s not going to work. Now, if you do a stew, for instance, a beef bourguignon like Amanda, it’s an easy job at the last minute. You have to always think about how much the heat is going to have an impact on your food – obviously, it is very little. Tiffany won, and I was very happy to see Tiffany win. She also won the quickfire, so it was really a moral booster for her, and she was jumping up and down from winning that challenge, and it looked like she really deserved it. The tamale looks delicious.

So Kevin never did a curry in his life, and this was the first time. I was impressed by the fact that everybody loved his dish, and having Padma as a judge and doing a curry is definitely gutsy, and she was very happy too. So, congratulations to Kevin.

I will be back next week to comment on Restaurant Wars.