In Defense of Mike Isabella
Eric Ripert weighs in on "Chicken Oystergate."
Full transcript after the jump.
Hello I am Eric Ripert chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode 11 Top Chef New York, All Star Season.
So the big surprise is to see Paula Deen, being, judging the Quickfire, and being part of the entire challenge actually. And she's very nice and charming. I was very happy to see her. I didn't even know she had a restaurant, I just thought she was a TV host. And she's very nurturing. I would love to have a grandma like that.
So Mike Isabella wins with a play in the oyster shell with a chicken oyster. And it's definitely an idea of Richard, and Richard is very frustrated. The rest of the contestants are kind of like, surprised, and of course, I'm not happy to see that he basically stole his recipe. In a defense of Mike, I would say: Richard, don’t show your recipes to the other contestants if you don't want them to take your ideas. It's fair game. It's a competition. Keep your recipes for yourself, or if you share, you share. And at the end, a recipe doesn't make you necessarily win. Mike won because he executed it perfectly, as well. So I give more credit to Mike for making the dish a successful dish.
Yes, I wanted to try the fried mayonnaise. I was very intrigued by that because, as you can imagine to fry mayonnaise is almost impossible except if you use modern techniques like Richard did to make it happen. I love the idea of the fried avocados. I have never tried that but it looks really good, and actually I liked also, I mean as a viewer, the dish of Anotnia. I would have loved to see Antonia winning, unfortunately she only made one plate, and she was kind of disqualified.
So for the Elimination Challenge, John Besh is coming and he's joining Paula and, of course, Padma and Tom to judge the Elimination Challenge. And I like that challenge, it's about using seafood from the Gulf and supporting, obviously the fisheries over there, and then the fisherman, and people who are involved with the ocean, and the fact that they have to cook for a benefit to support an organization that will ultimately help like I said, fisheries down in the south. It's a great challenge. Obviously cooking for 300 people is not easy. They have little time, they have only one sous chef, and we know right away it's going to be difficult.
Some of the contestants choosing their sous chef, that’s their decision, and some of them are choosing more the protein that they are going to be cooking. I would have decided to choose the protein and then manage with the sous chef. Since I am the chef, and the sous chef would have just to listen to what I have to say. And the protein is very important, so it's based on what you are doing with it not on your interaction with the sous chef.
I was surprised that nobody chose Angelo right away. And everybody thought he was exhausted or mentally not prepared for the next challenge. Actually Angelo is a trooper, and he's really bringing positive energy to dale and supporting him the best that he can. Angelo does the best he can to support Dale, unfortunately Dale makes a lot of mistakes. And he's the one who's going home. But Angelo doesn't have to feel guilty at all, he really supported him really well.
Dale has an amberjack, which is a very beautiful fish, very rich, fatty fish. And he's doing a poor job with it. Raw potatoes, I mean, that's unacceptable. I mean to cook potatoes, it's the ABC of cooking. You cannot make that mistake. If you make the mistake, you don't serve it. And supposedly there are different batch of amberjack, so I don't understand why Angelo gave that to the judge. The mustard seems to be overpowering because he put too much. I think a tiny bit of mustard would have been doing great justice to the fish. Unfortunately, it just kills the flavor of the fish. And as a viewer, I believe he's the big loser of that challenge, and he's the one who's going home.
So Richard as a revenge is winning the Elimination Challenge. And not only is he going to Barbados, but he gets $5000, which he didn't get in the Quickfire. He creates a dish which is a surf and turf, pulled pork with grits and shrimp. When you think about it, it's not necessarily working well together, those combinations. You have to have a lot of talent to make a successful dish. Obviously he has that talent, and everybody's raving about this dish. He's the winner. Congratulations Richard. You did a great job with that tough challenge.
So Marcel and Tiffany is like, I don't know, oil and water or something like that. They don't seem to enjoy, first of all, the company of each other, and they dont seem to work well as a team. At the end the dish is not very successful. I think Tiffany's vision is not really prepared properly by Marcel, and she doesn't have the time or doesn't focus on what he's doing and therefore her dish is very unbalanced, and it looks like the honey is very strong and the shrimp is too sweet and therefore it's more of a dessert with shrimp than anything else. On top of it Marcel overcooked the shrimp. But ultimately, and Tiffany says this actually, she's responsible for her dish so she takes full responsibility. And it's very honorable.
Antonia and Spike are doing a blue crab cake, which is a good idea. They're making a kind of a stew with andouille which is very local to New Orleans and the region there. I think it, I mean, at least it looks like it's a great dish. I would have loved to try that dish. Unfortunately Richard is the best in this challenge, and despite the fact they are on top, they don't win.
I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode of 11 of Top Chef, New York, Season All-Stars.