Tom Colicchio

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

on Mar 17, 2011

Mike was on a high going into the challenge, having won the last one in addition to besting Michael Voltaggio in that Quickfire Challenge. Contrast his mental state with that of Richard, who spoke at length about hating all of his dishes. He called it an “artist’s thing,” this urge to smash his dishes the moment he’s completed them. I disagree. A chef could never put together a menu if s/he hated his/her dishes. I like the dishes I create to greater and larger extents, and put the ones I consider most successful onto my menus. I know that psychologically speaking, people often fluctuate between feelings of inadequacy and grandeur, counterintuitive as that might seem, 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…

Richard’s dish was solidly good, and that sweet potato pasta even had me fooled –- I thought at first that he’d made homemade pasta on the beach. Had Mike’s dish not been so fantastic, Richard would have won with his. Antonia didn’t feature her conch as well. And, as Tiffany herself stated, Tiffany was outcooked by the other three chefs. Her placing the cold ceviche into the bowl with what was supposed to be a warm chowder was a strange choice. Chefs have made soups where one spoonful is hot followed by another that’s cold, but that was not what Tiffany did here –- the whole dish was just lukewarm. Further, the dish was not as well seasoned and the flavors not as well developed, and the overall dish was a bit sweet in a way it should not have been.Not that Tiffany should feel bad for a moment. Tiffany is young and doesn’t have a strong resume or a lot of experience. She makes up for that by doing her style of cooking well, and she came a long way in this competition on that strength. Having made it to fourth place in the company of eighteen accomplished chefs is a reason for her to hold her head up high. She is opening a restaurant in Dallas soon. When I’m down in Dallas, I’d love to come by and eat some of her food.  It’ll be a treat to do so in her own place, as opposed to on our show, where she was comporting with and conforming to our various challenges.

There are three contestants left, with two episodes to go. It’s anyone’s game at this point.