Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio breaks down the chefs' variations on this week's star ingredient -- conch.

on Mar 17, 20110

This week’s Elimination Challenge was not an easy one. Fair enough, it’s the finale –- it shouldn’t be easy, right? I’m not referring to the chefs diving for their own conchs from the ocean floor, but cooking them well on the sandy and windy beach and finding a way to feature them for a table comprised largely of Bahamians –- who know the protein quite well –- posed a challenge. Even just getting the conchs out of their shells was difficult. While conch is available in the States, it isn’t available live, so even Richard, who had practiced cooking with the ingredient in preparation for the finale, had not had practice at removing the conch from its shell. The closest we come up in the Northeast is a whelk (looks similar, but they’re different; a whelk’s a carnivore while conches are herbivores, for one thing.)

I love conch. I typically go to the Bahamas once a year to fish, and I always ask the cab driver to stop off on the way to the hotel for conch salad. They mix the conch with peppers, onion, scotch bonnets and what they call sour orange, and let it all marinate. Sometimes some scallions, as well. The only thing that would make it better would be the addition of some olive oil, but they don’t use it. Still, it’s really delicious. I always have the obligatory conch fritters that everyone in the Bahamas makes, as well as cracked conch, in which they slice the conch very thin and grill the whole thing. It’s also quite delicious. I look forward to all three dishes when I come to the Bahamas.

So I was looking forward to a challenge in which conch was the featured protein. All in all, our chefs did a nice job… once they got the things out of their shells. Once you do, the meat can get tough on you pretty quicky, so it’s usually best to marinate conch. I hoped in this challenge to really taste the conch in each chef’s dish -– I wanted the conch to be an integral part of the dish, though we judges still had to take into consideration the whole dish when judging.Mike’s dish not only best featured the conch, it was one of the most successful dishes of the season. Gail couldn’t say enough about the savory pineapple, for good reason –- it was seasoned so well. The banana leaf lent a satisfying smokiness to the dish and gave it a flavor that was hard to put your finger on. The conch vinaigrette was absolutely delicious, and the fish inside the banana leaf was very nicely cooked. All of the components came together beautifully, and as good as each one was, the whole was even greater than the sum of its parts.  It was a terrific dish.

93 comments
willow tree
willow tree

I HAVE POSTED COMMENTS ABOUT HIS ONE TOO MANY JOKES ABOUT COLONOSCOPYS. I DON'T FIND HIM FUNNY BUT WATCHING HIM ON HIS OTHER SHOW, HE IS ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT PRIVATE PARTS. I JUST DON'T GET HIM.

rumitilda
rumitilda

I've lost interest in this show. I've watched it from the beginning and am just finally fed up and done with it. Women don't stand a chance. I just hope the chefs who are female who do this show get some kind of bump to their career because they certainly won't win. The one season a woman did win won after one of the judges, Tom?, said, "this was Richard's challenge or season to lose." I don't care who wins now. And I don't care if it's just editing that shows Antonia clearly winning and getting sent home anyway. I just see yet another fabulous chef who happens to be a woman, get sent home. Maybe it should not be a surprise given this network's fascination with "real" housewives.

Viewer2
Viewer2

amen! except, i do like mike isabella. still, right on about the crazy inconsistency b/w what we heard about the dishes when they were served -- where richard seemed the clear winner -- and the judging/this blog. also, i don't get the weird anti-richard stuff either. he's super hard on himself -- that's why he's so good.

Feednotfatten
Feednotfatten

Diving for their own conch? Really? Why? Why? Absurd.

Don'tWasteMyTime
Don'tWasteMyTime

Please add this comment: An observation about a judge this season, can't mention any name. Many of us out there are completely and totally disgusted with his crude comments. That's not why we watch Top Chef. It's not entertaining. In the first episode he mentioned his colonoscopy when he was criticizing a contestant's dish. Another episode he talked about a urine test. A blogger said he mentioned private female and male body parts in one of his blogs but wrote it in Italian (I guess it was all right then.) Other conversation during elimination challenges that we didn't hear him use in front of guests when he was on his good behavior --- SO WHY SUBJECT US TO IT? One blogger (thanks, pal) talked about some animal part that I won't repeat here that this person ate during a show of his own. If he's going to be on another season, he should do all of us a favor and seek professional help.

BarbiQ
BarbiQ

Ummm zettrane. Kevin Spraga Season 7 winner is African-American.

FairObserver
FairObserver

Please post this. I'm really tired of comments here about yacht club members being served by the black wait staff (not servants). There were many nicely dressed black people shown in the restaurant being served by other blacks. It seems that some people use the racism card as an excuse for everything under the sun. I don't care if someone has green skin -- as far as I'm concerned it's how someone talks and behaves that matters.

On another matter, I tried to post this before the voting ended for fan favorite. What is it with all the Dale worship??? I'm so glad he was thrown off. His innocent smile didn't fool me at all. (He could be funny sometimes but that's as far as it goes.) All the bloggers, and Tom C, who think he's matured are conveniently forgetting a few things. Is it mature to be so abusive to the wait staff on RW that Fabio had to come to their defense? Is it mature that Dale didn't answer when someone asked who had the bin of sugar, and another competitor had to speak up that Dale had the sugar. And how does he have time to go off to the side and clean his shoes when the other chefs are crazy about getting enough dim-sum fixed. When the eliminated chefs returned to help out with the gulf/oil spill charity function, Dale said there wasn't enough room in the kitchen for them (I'm sure it wasn't their choice to be eliminated) and they were like "bedbugs". But Dale sure needed Angelo's help at the function, didn't he. Well Dale, I guess you're a bedbug now. BUT THE CLINCHER FOR ME WAS DALE'S SLUR ON AMERICANS WHEN HE CALLED HIMSELF A "GREEDY AMERICAN" BECAUSE HE WANTED TO WIN MORE MONEY. IF HE'S VOTED FAN FAVORITE THEN THIS "GREEDY AMERICAN" WILL HAVE EVEN MORE MONEY.

Michael754
Michael754

Agree! Tasting should be done without knowledge of the Chef who cooked it sometimes. Eliminate the prejudice!!!

Rigged!
Rigged!

I loved this episode how the people that eat conch ALL the sodding TIME could taste it in Antonia's dish but dear Tom who doesn't know sweet potato noodles from pasta said he couldn't.

Same this week, Antonia had the best tasting dish, Tom sticks up for MIKE (whom he already gave away as the winner when he said Mike won a challenge that Antonia won).

Mike wins everybody, Tom wants it ('cos he's his clone) that's what happens.

TrishaN
TrishaN

Such a clear pattern that emerges. This isn't about who is the best chef, this is about who Tom Colicchio wants to win. I have watched this show since the beginning. Watching Antonia go is the last episode I will watch. Total and complete B.S. Fried Chicken vs. Japanese. Iron Chef vs. Cupcake. Yeah that is fair. Nothing taken into account on difficulty. This was setup for Blais to win and everyone knows it. Because the one season that a woman one - you have to make sure that now there is a question. Guess the Good Old Boys club still exists.

alvysinga
alvysinga

The editing of the show is more than ever, intentionally deceptive and is the biggest problem towards creating upset and irate fans. This year the shows are increasingly geared towards intentionally leading people to strongly believe one outcome and then revealing another. This is great if you are watching "Columbo" or "Poirot", but does no service what-so-ever to the fans or the contestants. It leads some fans to mistakenly take it out on the judges who are edited in such a way that they seem to be saying one thing and then contradicting themselves. It also leads the fans to hate those contestants who end up winning or don't get sent home. Through the manipulation of deceptive editing fans are led to believe that their dish was not good enough to win or to not get kicked off.

Tom you can whine all you want about that you have no control, and I do not buy it for a moment. You are the key judge of the Top Chef franchise, a great deal of the show's integrity was established due to your fairness and clarity and your love and respect for good food. You have enough clout to make yourself heard about how things run. I'd be all the more concerned for you, if you are not concerned about this as it makes you and the other judges look like jerks. And it also leads to more upset and confusion in these blogs. You are week after week called on to defend your decisions and be angry with the fans, who are being manipulated by the producers. It is just a mess and the more it is done, the more fans you will lose.

Cajun Mon
Cajun Mon

I NEVER post anything BUT tonight I had to Antiona lost and Mike advance but she had the four votes to his three and she lost. Why have a panel of judges if Top Chef advances who they want?? Understandably viewers do not taste the food but when you have these accomplisded chefs judging their food and the majority vote as best dish loses and the other one advances I question the point of the judges. It looks like the judges that are there weekly had their minds up before this final challenge. I'm sure this comment will not be posted.

Top Chef Fan ??

SkyPilot101
SkyPilot101

Amen to your comments about this guest judge. Good grief.

We have posters here sanctimoniously opining that an African-American chef "can't win it all" on Top Chef, when last year Kevin won. Posters are also complaining about "sexism" in one breath, and then lobbying to everyone about how great it would be if a woman wins. Can we please drop all the politics and focus on the food? If I want to listen to political cat fights, I'll switch the channel to the news. Kudos to Gale and Tom for seeing right through that guest judge, and not let them bully them into voting for Tiffani. God bless Tiffani, but her performance on Restaurant Wars (worst host ever, plus a terrible dish) was abysmal. Compare that to the incredibly talented Jen being sent home for.....well.....nothing. Someone just had to go that week.

Carla was gracious in losing 2 weeks ago - she was perhaps the most delightful personality in all of Top Chef history. Mike has grown as a chef and a person. Antonia is good, but doesn't wow me....ever. I expect to see her cook steamed mussels and a side mango salad for her finale "meal of a lifetime" menu.

To some of you posters, Richard can't win. If he is confident, he is "arrogant." If he is unsure, he is a "whiner." Please. A blind person could see he is the best chef. If he doesn't win, it will be another "Hosea" moment for Top Chef.

Swim Mom
Swim Mom

I have LOVED Top Chef All Stars and appreciate how difficult it must be sending home a chef that you now know unlike previous seasons. Tom, thank you for the time and insight you provide in your blogs. I hope that most folks realize (they don't I can tell by reading these comments) that you have no control over what is kept and what is left on the floor of the editing room. A comment here and there designed to throw off the contestant to be sent home is how the show is put together. Perhaps in the future, you'd consider a LIVE finale.

HCPF
HCPF

It seems all I can do is echo what resonated throughout the episode: Tom: you were so obviously cranky, it was painful. The white "natives" being served by the black servants" (really Tom?): painful. The conchs and choice of fish--species that are endangered/overfished elsewhere: painful! The men's attitude towards the women (as it has been all season): painful! This was all very hard, and sad to watch. Bravo--instead of selling pasta and kitchenware, why not try being a little more environmentally, socio-economically, etc. aware? Yes, its a show to make money, but come on. It wouldn't take that much. Can we stop pandering to men by showing Padma in a bikini, and just cook for the sake of good cooking?

kmcva
kmcva

I doubt this will make it past review and be posted. Based on the editing that makes Mike I. more palatable as a person (although I really can't wrap my brain around that) and that makes Richard a villain, I really think Mike is going to win this season. That disappoints me enough that I will not stay up for the show and just catch the results sometime later.

Why are so many of the reality winners people we can't emotionally embrace? "Hey man, it was nothing personal on my way to a win" is a mantra I'm tired of hearing.

Bela
Bela

CONGRATS TOM ON NEW BABY BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ashrtj
ashrtj

I used to love listening to your critiques Tom, I really did. However, this season you just seemed... off. I've noticed that you're pretty inconsistent when you judge the chefs, too. You say you're impartial, but you're not. You've already formed your opinions about the chefs and you seem to be judging their professional background or personality instead of their ability to cook good food. There's also a gender issue at play here. You call Carla a "cook" instead of a chef, and you don't see any of the female chefs here as any real contenders.

Sure, you were good in other seasons when you didn't personally know the chefs. So really, how could you have been impartial when you've already judged these chefs and formed your own opinions about them before? Your facial expressions says it all whenever the cameras cut to you. You can call the chefs out on their attitudes all you want, but you should watch your own.

Bring Eric Ripert as the head judge! He's impartial, is better qualified, respects the other judges and contestants, AND he truly enjoys being on Top Chef!

viewer from CA
viewer from CA

Not sure why my post does not make it but I'll try again. I agree with most of the sentiments here. The challenges this season have been more gimmicky than real cooking. I too don't see the point of making chefs dive or run around target for ingredients. It really feels like 'survival chef'. And what's so creative in wrapping something in leaf with pineapple in it? I don't get it. I see this in hawaiian & asian food all the time. I will be appalled if Mike wins this. I don't see much creativity in his dish & he does not inspire me to cook.

Viewer from Michigan
Viewer from Michigan

I don't understand this episode, Tom.

I rewatched the party scene. You did not have ONE WORD of criticism for Richard's dish. ONE guest mentioned that her lobster was undercooked, so it did not appear to be a major problem with the dish. You thought he'd made pasta on the beach, his sweet potato noodles were so good. (And your palate is rarely fooled; admit it).

When Mike's dish came up, you said that the butter was a big mistake. Another judge complained about the dish being greasy. It was mentioned that there were too many flavors going on, although Gail was wowed by the pineapple.

And yet, by the time judge's table was over, Mike was the winner--and now, in this blog, it was one of the best dishes ever in the season. Richard's dish was criticized for inconsistent cooking of the lobster. What gives here?

It seems that for the past few episodes, Richard can do nothing right in your eyes. But he's still cooking amazing food...using ingredients in a far more creative way than the other chefs...and it seems like almost every episode, he's surprised us with something like his "pasta" in this episode. In addition, before the theft of his recipe by Mike Isabella (which you defended, for some reason), he was generous in helping other contestants, sharing cooking tips, advising on recipe concepts, and it was him who *made* the restaurant war's winning dishes with his incredible recipes and plating ideas.

When his recipe was stolen, he was angry, but he behaved with restraint and dignity. Mike Isabella openly mocked him, goaded him, lorded the win over him, and said, "It's my recipe now that I made it." I wonder if you felt the same way when Marcel stole Wylie DuFresne's recipe?

It's true that Mike Isabella is cooking far better than he did in his original season, but he shows far less creativity and far less ability to inspire others in the kitchen--both things that have been mentioned before as deal-breakers for the Top Chef title.

He's sneaky, deceptive, arrogant, crude, boorish, sexist, and really difficult to watch or to like. And yet suddenly he can do no wrong.

You seemed taken aback by Richard's statement that he hates everything as soon as he makes it. I would have thought you'd find that understandable, since it is common among all kinds of artists. I'm a writer, and every time I write a poem, I can't stand it for a while. I feel disappointed in it, even when it gets published. It's only later that I see any merit in it. It's that constant dissatisfaction that inspires a lot of artists to keep moving forward.

I am baffled at this point by your attitude. It doesn't make any sense.

Topchefer
Topchefer

Wow, this is a competition, and you want the judges to go easy on Richard so they don't hurt is chef self esteem? If he can't take it , why do the show? It is just a show, in case you forgot. And I liked Lorena Garcia as a judge. She clearly stated her opinions of the food without letting the permanent judges influence her. Good for her.

kerrik
kerrik

I have to agree with many of the prvious comments about the non-cooking aspects of this season. Giving the chefs challenges is fine bust asking them to dive for the ingredients, stay up all night at a Target store, etc. is just ridiculous. The competition should be about the best food not who can dive better or stay up later.

Bon-Bon-Lon
Bon-Bon-Lon

No need to add salt to Mike's dishes. As he heats up in the kitchen, his fat melts and the sweat just pours off his nose into the food! YUM....Now THAT"S Top Chef material. I've seen that so much this season, along with Mike tasting his food, then dipping the spoon BACK INTO his dish! Talk about double-dipping. When Tom and Padma see this--if they are honest--that HAS to gross them out. They had to eat his drippings! GO BLAIS! Richard should definately be chosen Top Chef. He's all class..NO SWEAT!

Linda belfort
Linda belfort

Chef Tom, I admire the ART of cooking and someday I will stop admiring and be a CHEF to be admired.

willow tree
willow tree

I AM NOT A FAN OF ISABELLA ! ANYONE WHO FLICKS THINGS OUT OF THEIR NOSE, WILL AT SOME POINT FLICK INTO THE FOOD. I FIND HIM GROSS AND DIRTY.

TC fan336699
TC fan336699

MARCEL'S GOT HIS OWN SHOW!! MARCELS QUANTUM KITCHEN on SCYFY. How about that!!

JVB
JVB

@ A Richard Fan: I'm on your side with Richard! That man is definitely ALL that and a bag of chips. He is the classiest of the 3 remaining contenders and I find it extremely admirable that he is able to be forthwith and honest about his views. In my book, Richard is one amazing chef and he is humble and honest. He showed infinite class during the ordeal when Mike pilfered his idea and won with it. He won significant points in my book when he mastered his dish during the Ellis Island episode. English food is not as exciting as it is in other countries and it was not easy to create a winning dish with what he had to work with. Like with Dale.... Richard could throw together tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and make it taste like a million dollars. :D I love Richard. The guy absolutely ROCKS! :)

JVB
JVB

I have to wonder if Antonia is really that good a chef. She has the resume and the attitude to go with it. What amazes me is that she consistently murders the star ingredient of the dish she is cooking and still manages to make it into the top three. I do not want Antonia to win Top Chef. She is fully incapable of learning from her mistakes and the only thing which seems to grow is her self righteous and arrogant attitude. I did not hear anyone say that Tiffany's dish was inedible. I did hear the judges indicate that Antonia had cut the conch too small. Tiffany did justice to the conch. People knew it was in there and could taste it. Antonia killed the conch. You do the math. >:(

alanb
alanb

I am a big fan of Top Chef but this season has left something to be desired. The challenges were unusual and did not encourage great cooking. In retrospect, a different elimination process which gave credit for prior performance might have been in order. The thought that Angelo is off the show because he messed up a challenge in the middle of the night at Target is ridiculous and antithetical to a show which is supposed to be about preparing great food. Life moves on but this could have truly been a great season if the last five contestants were Richard, Mike, Antonia, Angelo and Dale

bookworm
bookworm

I was shopping at Target the other day and came across a Top Chef DVD set for Season 4. Since that was Richard, Antonia, and Dale's season, I decided to buy it and refresh my memory.

What a surprise! Top Chef used to be a lot more elegant in the "old days." Not so much in-your-face product placement and the quickfires and elimination challenges were actually set up so that the chefs could and did have to produce fabulous food! The most wearying aspect of Top Chef now is the overly gimmicky challenges that do not allow the chefs to actually produce great food: the fashion quickfire, the dim sum EQ, the ferry quickfire, and the King of Junkanoo EQ all stand out although I'm sure there are more. Instead, in Season 4, we got the Wedding Wars, Restaurant Wars, and the Steakhouse challenge. Even lesser challenges like tailgating, catering for the zoo, or working the improv tended to produce better and more interesting food than the challenges given this year. I mean, watching the Jimmy Fallon episode was somewhat entertaining, but seeing ramen, hamburgers, and cheesesteaks on the menu was like foodie hell. Likewise, the Muppets were flat-out fun, but the cookies were really uninspiring. Even if the viewers accept mundane food from the Quickfires, is it really too much to ask for EQs that give the chefs a fighting chance to really produce great food? Better kitchens, better serving conditions, and dare I say, even better guests would go a long way.

Some others have commented on Tom's grumpiness, and I have to agree, but some of the grumpiness last episode seemed to come from the fact that the guests were busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the dishes, so Tom had to be the rational voice that actually pointed out flaws. I was not a fan of Lorena Garcia, though if you ask me why, I cannot put a finger on it. She seemed to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Perhaps she was trying to be too strident in her opinions rather than discussing them with the other judges. Please don't ask her back again.

However, excluding her, especially towards the end of the season, it would be better to have guests with some actual expertise in cooking or food, such as other chefs, food critics, or people in the food industry, and not just the yacht club. Since viewers cannot taste the food, it helps us to have better more informed opinions.

Meanwhile, for all you Richard-bashers, just cut the guy some slack. Yes, he's put himself under a lot of stress and his personality has gone a bit haywire, but it's clear that underneath it all, he's still a pretty nice guy. A lot of people point to some of his snarky comments, but if you read exit interviews of other publications from the other eliminated chefs, they have admiration for his knowledge and skills, praise for his work, and always comment on how giving he is. Tiffany says he helped her learn more than any other cheftestant and she hopes either he or Antonia wins. Carla wishes he would be as good to himself as he is to others. Angelo says, "I have the highest respect, as a person, as a chef, as an innovator, for Richard Blais. I’ve never cooked with anyone at his level." The respect he garners from his fellow chefs is palpable. If you watch some of the different group challenges he's been in, you can see his leadership. When there is no clear leader, he will take charge, but not in an offensive grab for power. The others respect so they allow him to and then he does all he can to elevate the entire team. Richard also gives credit where it's due. He can lead in a way that Marcel or Mike cannot because they don't garner that kind of personal respect.

Meanwhile, it is possible to know you have fabulous skills, and yet be convinced that you have failed an attempt. There's no guarantee that every dish made by the best chef in the world will be a five-star dish. So of course, it's entirely possible to know what you are capable of doing, and yet obsess over failing.

I suspect he doesn't exhibit a lot of this during normal life. Top Chef has probably just really put a huge strain on him...and he probably shouldn't do this kind of thing again. Having Gail and Tom dump on him in blog form is probably not the best thing either, especially as they are part of the vehicle that causes this problem for him. Anyone remember that prank at judge's table a few weeks ago? It's been edited out...though I think it should have been left in for the eternal shame of those at the judging table.

Regardless of who wins, let's just hope there's some good cooking ahead.

SJean
SJean

Many people would feel bitter if they put their heart and soul into a dish and have it come in second best. Cut Richard some slack here. To you, it's just a contest; to the chefs, it's their whole future.

bitesize
bitesize

Oh, yes, I can see why Mike I.'s dish won: it had SOUL. Blaise's was very creative and innovative, but not as much "soul", was focused more on technique. I have to say one thing though: I went into a shock watching them SMASH those shells. That was just horrible, a travesty -- and how could you provide them with hammers?!! Mike's such a loudmouth, but by heaven, I am so glad he got to amke such a winning dish - and w/o having to crack a single shell. One other thing: how come not a single one of them GRILLED the conch or for that matter any of the proteins? You're at a beach, you grill -- or at least CHAR something. But oh yeah, Mike's was best suited for the beach -- love it.

ashrtj
ashrtj

Why didn't you let the guest judge announce the winner?? Must've been because she had a different idea of who should've won than you did!

Viewer1941
Viewer1941

"AMEN"..."AMEN"...."AMEN"...Very well stated.

Viewerjennifer
Viewerjennifer

I was quite devestated to see on the "Island" episode the mauling of the conch shells that were gathered for the cook-off. Did no one around tell any one how to take conch meat out of it"s shell? I guess not, looking at all the slamming and crushing going on. Conch shells are a beautiful natural thing that most people sell for a living were they are harvested. One needs only to make a small hole to loosen the sucktion. I lived in Key West for ten years and know kinda what I"m sayin. Sorry-it was very hard to watch--i tuned out.

A Richard Fan
A Richard Fan

I don't understand the Richard bashing here. One minute you say he's all high handed and the next he's too critical of himself. If he did think he was better than everyone else he'll act just like Mike. Mike bashes everyone else but do I hear as much bashing of him? No. I have heard RIchard say the very best things about other chefs over time (Fabio for example). But has Antonia ever said anything nice about other chefs? I THINK NOT. And does anyone say anything about that. No again.

You can't be a better version of yourself if you are not critical of yourself. And you can't be creative if you don't believe that you've got some amazing talent. It's the right balance that Richard has and that's why he'll continue to be an amazing chef. I am not an artist but I know many and they are all critical of themselves. This pushes them to be better while their believe in their talent keeps them from giving up. Both qualities I have a deep appreciation for. This isn't any different.

I am rooting for Richard and I while I think Antonia is a worthy competitor, I don't think Mike deserves to be there. I hope we don't have a repeat of Carla's season when Stefan deserved to win and Carla deserved to be the runner up and instead we got what's his face as the winner.

GordonsGirl
GordonsGirl

In an interview, Carla mentioned that, socially, there definitely was a gender split over this season. Blais was the only male on the show who routinely socialized with the women.

Teresa Parsons
Teresa Parsons

Abrasive, annoying GASBAG Mike---I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!! He's still there, unfortunately, but let's at least be glad that Tiffany finally made her last less-than-mediocre dish.

I can't believe I watched this episode, I tried to boycott after they threw my bestie, Carla off, but curiosity got the best of me. Nevermind the fact that Bravo is my favorite network and they insist on re-running & re-running & re-running episodes...

I'm on the Richard train now. All you have to do is compare his wins to that of gasbag & Antonia. He's the better chef, enough said.

ViewerN
ViewerN

I hope Antonia wins because Mike is an ass and inconsistent. His making snide comments about the women is annoying and sour grapes. Richard is a bit wishy washy lately. food not consistent. Tiffany should not have made it this far.

Since you say a top chef is not just a cook... then choose accordingly. I miss Carla, but I know her dish was not up to par that time. She had both the talent and the respect a top chef should emulate. Would like to see more of her quality on the show than some of the knuckle heads that have been on the show from day one of season one. Whomever does the selecting does not have a good criteria. Don't like seeing this show going the way of those awful Housewives crap shows Bravo insists on putting out.

Top Chef Masters is top class.

eagcil
eagcil

The winning team in the museum episode cooked vegan food.

njgurl
njgurl

Thank you for your insightful blogs. As someone who can only watch and not taste the food, it adds to my understanding of why someone was sent home.

liaisonbri
liaisonbri

I believe last seasons Kevin is African-American!

Annessa Kaufman
Annessa Kaufman

Hi Tom, As an avid Top Chef fan since the first season, I have to say I was extremely disappointed with this episode. I don't mind that Conch was the featured ingredient of this episode, but I felt that it was highly irresponsible for the producers to leave out any mention whatsoever of the fact that while conch fisheries in the Bahamas are relatively stable at the moment, conch itself is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Commercial conch fishing in the US collapsed in the 1970's due to over harvesting and has never recovered. The same has happened in most of the caribbean.

As you mention in your blog post, conch are herbivores. They are an essential part of coral reef ecosystems in that they eat algae, and are essentially "cleaners". In reef systems where conch populations have suffered, reefs are dying by being literally smothered to death with algae. While conch do play a major role in the culture and history of the Bahamas (and the rest of the Caribbean), lifestyles have to change with a changing environment (sea turtle meat and eggs were also a major part of Caribbean life once upon a time).

Furthermore the two fish that were highlighted this episode were red snapper and grouper--both of which have highly stressed populations due to overfishing. For a show that spent so much time talking about sustainability and eating responsibly, how could you guys not bring up any of these issues?? It was a perfect opportunity to explain to your viewers the considerations one has to take when eating different seafoods, especially on vacation. What may be well managed in the Bahamas is critically endangered in other parts of the Caribbean, but your viewers won't know that when they order conch, red snapper or grouper on another island.

bakabakaian
bakabakaian

This was the stupidest episode of all time. It's the finals -- we don't want to see the finalists in swimsuits diving for conch. We want to see them cooking! And didn't anyone think that the entire challenge -- cooking for a bunch of colonialist white yacht club members, while being served by the "locals" -- had more than a twinge of racism? GET BACK TO THE FOOD! THESE CHALLENGES ARE RIDICULOUS!

Antoniafan
Antoniafan

I was annoyed that the show took a turn for the worse forcing the chef's to swim for their supper. C'mon, this is a cooking show, not Survivor. How embarrassing for them. Go ahead and put Padma in a bikini, we get it, she is beautiful.

Eulonda
Eulonda

Was I watching the same show Tom Colicchio was judging...hmmm. It is definitely something fishy going on. Last episode was interesting. Watching the show I was a bit surprised Tiffany was eliminated. Did I hear the same comments that everyone else did? I mean clearly they have their favorite. I'm sorry Tiffany was not outcooked..but I assume out masking ingredients is the way to go. So watch out Richard and Mike before you are out masked next. For the judges let your comments match your decisions. Clearly you forgot your comments at the table while you are at the judges table. For Tiffany great job of course they couldn't let a "young, not strong resume, or a lot of experience" out cook anyone. How dare she??

YouToo
YouToo

Wow, you criticized Richard for a change (very mildly of course). I'm sure he's a talented chef (at least you keep telling us so) but he is just exhausting to watch. Does he have no self-awareness? Does he not realize how he comes across in the confessionals? I am sick and tired of him belittling the skills of his competitors. I am sick and tired of his constant fishing for compliments about his dishes from those same competitors (loved Antonia's verbal smackdown of him for doing that). And, most of all, I am sick and tired of his enormous sense of entitlement. It's one thing to have the confidence to believe that you can win, but Richard believes he is the ONLY one who SHOULD win. I'm hoping for an Antonia win; I'll reluctantly take a Mike win; but I fear it will be a Richard win.

Joanne (Scotland)
Joanne (Scotland)

"but if Richard hates all of his dishes, why does he always think he should have won with a dish that he hated? Just asking…"

excellent question ! I personally think he is sneakily fishing for compliments. The same way a lot of women say "oh my hairs a mess" fully expecting their hubby to reassure them and tell them its gorgeous hahaha.

Im so sick of Blais and will be sick if he wins this. Infact I am fed up seeing, Blais , Fabio, Marcel and all the others they keep bringing back for the "specials". Roll on Season 9 and some deserving new blood.

Dont mess with the judges line up though, except to give us more of Anthony Bourdain of course.

sweetestbaboon
sweetestbaboon

Tom,

Your commentary is usually so insightful &, more importantly, honest, & thusly, I am disappointed that you did not share your thoughts on the guest judge (although I appreciate that doing so may put you in a difficult position with the brass as it were). It seemed to this viewer that she was foisted upon you as some sort of cross-promotion for NBC's show, "America's Next Great Restaurant" (a misnomer to say the least). Not only did she seem unprepared for the task, both intellectually as well as culinarily, but her bias toward the female contestants was blatant to say the least. Her torpedoing Richard's dish by her claim of purported undercooked lobster seemed suspect indeed. I am not claiming that Richard should have won per se (not having been there & not seeing the unedited judge’s table), but his chances were severely lessened by this seemingly agenda-driven assertion.

Please stand up for the show's integrity & fight for judges that are qualified to do just that: judge, in an expert & unbiased manner. Chefs, critics, writers, restaurateurs & other folks in the field who are actually involved in the creative process are those that can share valid opinions from places of experience & authenticity; those who simply invest monies in what they think will be the next big thing obviously know very little about the aesthetics involved therein.

Thanks for many great seasons (& many more to come); my lovely bride & I really enjoy the show & feel you are certainly the foundation of & principal reason behind said enjoyment.