Team Top Chef's Senior Editor isn't happy with Mike Isabella's behavior.

Feb 24, 2011

Padma introduces everyone to Paula Deen, the Queen of Butter. I don't know that I've ever watched a complete episode of Paula's show. My arteries are so clogged after watching Guy Fieri, that I think Deen's show would put me over the edge. I obviously know what she's all about, though, and you know what? I can get down with it. I probably eat way more fried food than I should. And, although Padma once said that a toe would taste good fried, apparently some things just taste better. And so the chefs were asked to create fried dishes.

The chefs fry everything from avocadoes to mayo (which I want to try.) In the end, Mike Isabella wins with his fried chicken oyster. And herein lies my anger. The minute Mike started explaining to the camera his plan, I thought to myself, "That sure sounds like something Richard would make." I'm not saying Mike isn't creative, but the entire play on words concept sounded like Richard. And sure enough, the dish was straight out of Richard's idea book. Should Richard be showing his book to others? No. Did Mike execute the dish well, whether he saw a picture of it or not? Yes. Was what Mike did -- as Top Chef Kevin Sbraga might say -- totally grimey? Yes. I'm sure we'll be divided on this, but the whole scene left a bad taste in my mouth.

After I virtually consoled Richard and we both picked up the pieces of our broken hearts at Mike's culinary betrayal, we moved on to the Elimination Challenge, where the chefs would cook for a Gulf coast charity event hosted by Paula and chef John Besh. I won't go on and on about Besh and the amazing meal I had at Restaurant August two years ago, but if you find yourself in New Orleans, and want at least one fine dining experience while you're there, try August.