Eli Kirshtein

Eli Kirshtein explains why the Ellis Island challenge was a great opportunity for the chefs.

on Mar 3, 20110

Everyone has ancestors, and with America being the melting pot it is, the majority of people have different backgrounds to trace. With all of that in mind there are culinary memories and cultures that come with an ancestral past. In someway or another all cooks and chefs try to pull from that component of themselves. Some chefs go to it more than others, but all chefs tap into it at least a little bit. The exciting part as a diner is that you can benefit from the cultures of the team cooking your meal.

Speaking for myself, I know some of my heritage but by no means all, or even a majority. I would have loved to have this opportunity myself, being able to have my families past laid out for me so concisely, and then being able to draw from it, to cook inspired. Really it’s just so cool, so exciting. I have often times cooked dishes that reflect what I know of my families background but I have never known how far back it goes, and to exactly where. With a clearer picture you can get excited about components of your history and highlight them and really tell a story.

Having to cook for family members is a really hard challenge and presents a set really of unique difficulties. In a situation like this, your family will always try to be supportive and proud of you, but you always will want to impress them. When you ask for input, it takes a lot for you to get any sense of negative critique; they don’t want you to be upset or ashamed. Your on show more than ever, and trying to please several types of people. It can also put you on edge because you know to at least a certain extent they are campaigning to the judges for you. You have a doubled level of concern and emotion added to the puzzle.

It was a huge and pleasant surprise to me that all five chefs got to move onto the finals. With the exception of the first attempt at Restaurant Wars in Season 3, where they called a mulligan on the whole challenge, I can’t recall there ever being a challenge where a chef wasn’t eliminated. I think that this really attests to the quality, vision, and execution of all of the chef’s dishes. I also feel it really speaks volumes to the judges knowing that you can draw a line somewhere and know that it simply might not be fair to send a chef home for producing a great dish. I’m not saying that there should ever be two chefs that win the title in the end, but in a challenge, you shouldn’t go home for doing a great, inspired dish. A very respectable decision, that I think is great for the fabric of the show.

7 comments
Viewerjb
Viewerjb

Give me a break. Your heritage is obviously European Jewish, and all you seem to cook is pork. You're disconnected from your heritage so badly that it's comical.

Not_over_the_top
Not_over_the_top

Seen every episode ever....still don't care enough to correct somebody who's been ON the show. (And yes, that's a dig at the 3/4 comments that suggest Eli should bone up on his Top Chef knowledge.)

Regardless of past elimination, it's clear Eli was moved by the fact that no one went home when no one sucked. If they had sent someone home on this challenge for what they refer to as "knit picking" that would have sucked...since they say they base every judging on the meal before them and not the meals before. One bad dish can send you home...so no bad dish, no one goes home.

JillianB396
JillianB396

Actually, the first part of the season 4 finale in Puerto Rico WAS an elimination. Antonia was sent home. the final finale was only Stephanie, Lisa, and Richard.

JeffreyG
JeffreyG

Season 4 Finale Part 1 also had no elimination. The final finale was 4 people, Stephanie (the winner), Lisa, and the returning allstars Antonia and Blaise, who have now done the no-elimination to the finale twice.

katja
katja

Eli, I remember four other times that the judges elected not to send anyone home. (Or three, depending on how you're counting.) 1. Season 2 -- a team challenge at a kids' camp where the winning team was accused of cheating. Two chefs were eliminated on the next challenge. 2. Season 2 -- Cliff disqualifies himself over the head-shaving incident. The judges keep the other four in the game (no one was eliminated based on food). 3. Season 3 -- the aforementioned RW mulligan. 4. Season 5 -- one of the fridges shuts down overnight, leaving two chefs scrambling the next day. No one goes home.

Fooooood
Fooooood

So out of curiosity, what kind of food do you consider a part of your heritage? BTW, I think Anthony Bourdain would not have a problem criticizing dishes in front of family members. Maybe that's why he took this episode off?

Clot doc
Clot doc

It's a cooking contest. Obviously, this elimination challenge wasn't challenging enough since no one went home.