Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains exactly why Fabio Viviani was eliminated.

on Feb 10, 20110

Many people wanting to experience New York while they’re here will decide to take in a taping of a late-night talk show. Who were we to deny our chefs the same opportunity? Oh, but we don’t do things half-way at Top Chef. Why stop at seats in the studio audience when we could send them all the way on-stage and right into the middle of the action with no warning whatsoever? Our chefs are well used to being in the spotlight by now, though, so as you saw, it didn’t faze them a bit.
 
Jimmy Fallon was the perfect choice of late-night host to serve as a judge for this episode of Top Chef.  I first met him years ago, when I was chef/co-owner of Gramercy Tavern and he was a regular there. He has long been really into food. He’s also a huge fan of the show.
 
This wasn’t the first time I’d hosted a party for Jimmy and his family. He’d bought just such a meal by me at a charity auction, which I did some time ago, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I enjoyed this one. Jimmy’s parents are great –- when you meet and get to spend any time with them, you see exactly where Jimmy gets it all from. This challenge really didn’t feel like work –- we were all having a lot of fun together.
 
Speaking of having fun with people, Jimmy decided to have some fun with everyone prior to the episode, tweeting, “Is it possible to put too much paprika in something?” Folks began tweeting that he was surely giving away the episode (as you now know, he wasn’t), until I finally tweeted, “You people are reading way too much into this!” 
 
Jimmy was looking for the basics. With all of the dishes on his list, all of which was basic, simple fare, there is a standard of what each dish should be. A chef can then put a twist onto the dish, can elevate it, but only as long as s/he has first just satisfied the standard. 

Two of our three bottom dishes failed to do so. I’ll discuss them in a moment. Before people get up in arms that we didn’t send Dale home for over-salting his dish, let me remind you that everything is a question of degree. When Jen was sent home for her overly-salty duck in Season 6, she was one of the final four, the other three dishes showed incredibly skill, and hers was salted past saving. It was inedible. Dale’s was not inedible, merely too salty. The flavors were great, and the whole dish well-conceived. Had Dale not forgotten that the pretzels were salted, the dish may well have sung.  People could eat and genuinely enjoy it for a time… until the salt eventually got the better of them. It was salty enough to land Dale in the bottom three, but in this particular challenge against the other dishes we were served, it was not enough to get him sent home.

157 comments
kitchenfan
kitchenfan

I got hooked on TOP CHEF because of the incrediable talent displayed on season 6. However,All Stars has been exciting from the beginning. I must disagree with many others-I couldn't stand Fabio because he would never shut up.I think his burger was dry because of the volume of carbon dioxide he exhaled every time he opened his mouth.May be some of the chefs who use liquid nitrogen and other chemicals can verify. My favorite is Antonia. She's a straight shooter and ,more importan tly,she knows when to cook an elegant dish or a more complex dish.

Sharon Davis
Sharon Davis

Dear Tom, I never ever blog, but I have to tell you I enjoy reading your explination of judging as well as the history you put behind the challenges. I easpecially liked the background on Ellis Island. My grandparents came through Ellis Island a year after WWI broke out from Germany snd became the best Americans they could be. My grand father was a Machinist and helped develop the engins used in tanks, He was also part og the creation of the Merkel motorcycle, my birth name is Merkel so i guess that is my tiny claim to fame. Any way I love Top Chef and cannot wait to see how this season comes out and to see the beginning on next season. Maybe some day I can afford to eat in one of your resturants.

ArolemArolem
ArolemArolem

@OverEd ---AMEN!!

Something that a lot of folks seem to forget is that the professional cooking world, at the level these people move in, is very small. They're not just competitors, they're colleagues. Think of how often two chefs in a season have known one another, or worked for the same boss.

And cooking in a restaurant isn't a one-person project. One of the things I adore about TC is watching the constant, "can you taste this for me?" "somebody's sauce is boiling!" "15 minutes left, guys!" "who's got cilantro?"

They're all fierce competitors, they all want to win--but ultimately the love of cooking comes first. Feels like home.

once a chef
once a chef

I can only say that I am glad I do not have you in my kitchen, OverEd. There are to many people like you in this world today.

And I also am starting to question if this is a true contest, or if it is based on what the judges want to happen. I hope not.

Ginia
Ginia

I can't believe they sent Angelo home for his salty soup, but Dale had a salty philly cheese sandwich and he's still there. I can't stand Dale he has something bad to say about everyone and its sad he's the way he is.

athenafdm
athenafdm

I read what you say, and just to let you know, I respect your input more than any other judge on the show. You have experience as a Chef and, in my opinion, have the right to critique what is said in regards to the food. So, with that being said, I want you to know that I am a nurse and the only training I have in food is what has been given to me by my Italian family.

I read your blog and have to say that I don't agree completely with what you have said. I understand that the burger is not what it should have been but to critique him for choosing to make a burger the same way a meatball is made is not fair. I say this because you defended Tiffani's soup. She chose her interpretation of what the soup was going to be and it was a far cry from what she had picked to do. But, people did like it. If I recall correctly, people at the table also complimented what Fabio made. So, that critique just contradicted what you said was ok with Tiffani. It is over. Fabio went home. He will be fine. But, if you are going to justify your actions don't contradict what you have said in the same blog.

I still have the utmost respect for you as a Judge.

Francesca

pattypie
pattypie

I love this show. It brings me such inspiration. In the last few weeks I have made fabulous risotto that spreads out ! in its soup bowl and an unsalty Philadelphia cheese steak ! This week I plan to make chicken and dumplings. To my eye what was presented certainly didn't look like any chicken and dumplings I have ever made. It looked like clear broth with noodles.

michelle  sumner
michelle sumner

HOW can Tifanny not have been the obvious choice for an "EXIT" i like her; she is one of my favs; and each meal I have made of hers has delivered well . . . but what she did to Chicken & Dumplings (MY FAVORITE GO TO COMFORT FOOD) is just beyond the pale. While I cannot stand Angelo, some his food I've attempted to duplicate is just wildly inspiring.

I guess that is why I have been just holding my breath for Richard and Carla. Fabulous food coupled with a personality you just want to be around them. Truly decent couple of people even now when times are cut throat.

Poor Fabio - I think he just wanted to make his the VERY BEST! In doing so -he shot himself with overkill in attempt to please. "More meats!" "*He didn't say cheeseburger - but oh what if he wants cheese??? " "I know! A melted cheese side-car!" I'll take that any day - over say a "Tiffany" whom; when she can't make what she is told - just makes whatever she feels like. Why were Richard's cookies dismissed as being a cookie?

grneyednrs
grneyednrs

He never said "I've never made a hamburger before"....he said "it wasn't his thing".

Emry
Emry

Sending Angelo home was a horrible decision. Angelo was one of the best chefs this season. If you send a "best" home then the finale is not as interesting. This is the third time in a row. Tiffany plays it so safe and average, but she managed to progress further than Trey, Fabio and Angelo who took risks with their dishes and are better than her by a stretch. People who consecutively do amazing get sent home for one bad dish, while a safe person can weasel their way close to the finale by never being the worst, but is consecutively just okay. I am not even half as interested in this season anymore, as of yesterday, but at least they managed to keep a couple good chefs. Lets hope they don't eliminate Richard next then leaving the mediocre to duke it off.

piratechef
piratechef

@viewer54:

when asked of his dish, Mike never told Angelo his soup was lacking salt; at least not in the final cut of the show, and i doubt the editors would miss a chance to show a contestant dropping the guillotine on a fellow competitor.

he merely stated the dish was "missing something"... out of balance, or flat if you will. angelo should have known it was already salted properly and taken another avenue in rectifying his dish. from the ingredients he was using my guess would be it was lacking in acidity, which common for hearty dishes out of balance. a touch of cider vinegar (my preference would be maple vinegar but probably not found in Target) may have been enough to round out his soup and keep him from the fold.

i really don't see how you can liken it to the carla/casey scenario as casey was out of the competition and had nothing to gain, unless of course casey is an evil spiteful person.

clau1234
clau1234

I agree with previous posts, Fabio should get his own show. Or at least have him come back on another season. I am also sad to see Angelo eliminated. I like Tiffany but she should have been the one to go home. Great Show!

ViewerSN
ViewerSN

If a Chef says he never made a hamburger before than Fabio doesn't deserve to be Top Chef.

arribaeltequila
arribaeltequila

I love this show, but this season in particular has been very weird, I can't understand the way the judges are deciding who to send home! What seems like an unforgivable sin in one episode, in the next is not that bad... and vice versa, what makes someone win one week, the next is ignored! What is going on, I think they should make sure they are more consistent in what they consider important or not and they would have less people getting angry. For example, last week Dale over salted his dish to the point that nobody could eat it, it was said that he ruined the dish but he didn't go home and just the next episode, Angelo makes the SAME mistake and he is sent home!!! So, in one episode over salting and rendering inedible is not so bad and the next it sends you home. I love the show, but please be careful with those things because that what makes people angry and question the truthfulness of the show from being an honest competition to see who is the best to be just a sensationalist show that only caters to numb minds and cares little about the food... and speaking of what, the quick fire of the "fashion designer", the WORST EVER!!! please, I prefer you repeat ideas than come up with ridiculous nonsense like that!... "we are only going to see it", it doesn't matter if it is made out of dirt or has salmonella for that matter... food is for eating! please let them cook!

LCG
LCG

Fabio was my favorite because of his personality and, the respect he showed others and he will be missed. I agree, with a comment Fabio said "this isn't "Top cook" it is "Top Chef", and being a great chef involves more than being a great cook...with that said. I think the remaining two that deserve to be "Top Chef" are Richard and Carla. They are kind, generous, and real team players. They showed a true respect for their fellow Chefs. They are willing to step in and help their competitors, because they genuinely good people...Fabio is also a good person, and Top Chef, be made that evident by the manner in which he treated the servers during restaurant wars. Fabio may not have received the title of "Top Chef". but he is a Top Chef

OverEd
OverEd

I wonder how far Antonia Submitted by HG on February 14, 2011.I wonder how far Antonia would have made it without Richard's help? If Richard hadn't been there what would she have done all on her own? Might she have ended up in the bottom 3? We'll never know. I don't think the chefs should be allowed to help one another because each one should swim or sink on their own merrits. It's supposed to be about each one's knowledge and talent. For one chef to have to depend on another is wrong like the one chef who got sent home because Antonia did not do the dish as it was supposed to be done even though she said she would. The chefs should not be allowed to help each for any reason

OverEd
OverEd

I wonder how far Antonia Submitted by HG on February 14, 2011.I wonder how far Antonia would have made it without Richard's help? If Richard hadn't been there what would she have done all on her own? Might she have ended up in the bottom 3? We'll never know. I don't think the chefs should be allowed to help one another because each one should swim or sink on their own merrits. It's supposed to be about each one's knowledge and talent. For one chef to have to depend on another is wrong like the one chef who got sent home because Antonia did not do the dish as it was supposed to be done even though she said she would. The chefs should not be allowed to help each for any reason *************************** Spoken like someone that has never worked a line in thier life.

OverEd
OverEd

TAKE FABIO BACKKK ASAP!!! Submitted by Bamattos on February 14, 2011.TAKE FABIO BACKKK ASAP!!! without him this season will be a total and boring "BLAH" he's talented, handsome, funny and everything the audience wants to see on TV! Bravo should give him his own show, definitely he's a total star! who cares if the burger he made was good or not? he has that X factor that makes the difference... *************************** Seriously? You really said "who cares if the burger he made was good or not?" Seriously? This IS still a cooking show. And unless you/we are actually tasting the food...remember - we're not...then we depend on the determinations of the judges on the show. You want pretty people with "x factor" personalities? Watch Rachel Ray or the Food Network or Oprah or some such drival. I'll take the opinion of Tom C, Tony Bordain and the other foodies any day.

dissapointed in all stars
dissapointed in all stars

I agree 100 %. It is already decided and Tiffany or Carla should have been eliminated. They are so mediocre. It must just be a PC show after all. I have always loved it but the past 2 decisions are the biggest dissapointment. I wonder if really fabulous chefs will bother trying out after they see the caliber of Angelo getting eliminated.

IrateViewer
IrateViewer

This has turnout to be the worst Top Chef season ever... I have been a fan and have seen every-single one of the seasons but with Angelo's Elimination last night I have become an Irate viewer... Deleted Top Chef from my DVR scheduling and will not watch it anymore... Have Fun and I guess let the worst cook win!

MemeOMGstillwontletmepostonthenameIfirstused
MemeOMGstillwontletmepostonthenameIfirstused

Do you mean Velveeta? That's crap processed cheese (loved by Gail apparently). I hate Mike but what he said is true. You don't have spreadable cheese on a burger. Except if you're Gail and the rest of the judges apparently.

Like Mike I've never had spreadable cheese on a burger in my life. Hell when Wendy's in NZ changed from REAL cheese sauce to fake crappy "IT'S USED AT THE SUPERBOWL, PEOPLE!!!!" yellow/orange "cheese" sauce on their baked potatoes their sales went down.

Tip: Real cheese ain't day glo yellow, colby cheese defo ain't orange. Cheese sauce ain't any of that and it don't stick to the roof of your mouth when you eat it (hello Superbowl fake cheese beloved by so called chefs and Gail).

MemeOMGstillwontletmepostonthenameIfirstused
MemeOMGstillwontletmepostonthenameIfirstused

Okay, just watched the last ep where Angelo was sent home for being overly salty and there's no blog up (and I'm a day ahead of you guys and a day late) so I'll say what I think on here.

You say that Dale's dish (looked wonderful!) wasn't "that" over salty that you couldn't eat it, but I don't recall Angelo's being called a salt lick. You said you couldn't get past the salt on Angelo's but you get past the salt with a salt lick??? I mean, come on!

I have to wonder if you guys even know what a salt lick is. I'll give you a clue. You lick, you taste salt, you lick, you taste salt. This is what you guys said when judging about Dale's dish. For all I know that's what Angelo's dish was like too, I'm not complaining about his being too salty (my Uncle who was a chef and died a few years ago had a really bad habit of way too much salt. I barely added salt to my food before he died but he confirmed to me not to do it when he died young).

But don't go calling Dale's a salt lick and then saying "it weren't that bad" because that's bollocks. I really think there's no WAY people would say it's a salt lick if it wasn't exactly that. Yes Fabio's cheese was a solid "ick" but it was optional and not a big part of the dish. You could still eat it (the main not the cheese).

The juice Gail was missing was FAT. I used to work for a meat export company and we made our mince (ground beef) too lean (98CL). I really don't think from the meats Fabio chose it was 98CL. People who aren't healthy like 85cl, they can cope with 90cl at a push. We settled on 95 cl because it's not gonna clog your arteries like you guys appear to want but there's enough fat in it to fry/grill without adding more.

However in conclusion...Dale being a salt lick good, Angelo, bad. Dale's gonna reckon NZ food is crap when he comes out here because guess what? It's the bovine that eat the salt lick not the humans. Uncle Chef that died young (did I forget to mention he was only 40?) complained there was "not enough salt" when he was on a trip over here and seeing as you guys reckon the salt he added wasn't too much he'll merrily keep doing it.

lovetoeat
lovetoeat

I will miss Fabio and now Angelo, We all know that they can cook! why is Dale still there? I know its about food and not attitude,but he has to go. Richard is the only one left that can cook. Tiff and Dale need to go. I agree with the other posts regarding a "fix is in" mentality. Fabio deserves a show of his own. Again I agree with the salt..Dale can do it but Angelo can't? I read Tom's blog regarding why Fabio went home.

Peter C.
Peter C.

I'm not one to comment....at all!!.....However, I totally agree with the comments regarding Fabio...Especially the last restaurant war. Fabio "clearly" should've won that episode. If not for his hosting and his dessert that team would not have won. Also, I really didn't understand why "Tre" got eliminated over "Mike" whose "background" was Italian and he couldn't even cook homemade rigatoni properly. Even the guest judge clearly stated Mike's skill set wasn't up to par for this dish. I don't know,... maybe the judges are just too tired or worn out with the show or being "paid off"....... It just doesn't make sense to me or anybody else for that matter.....My passion for this show has diminished drastically

ima Viewer
ima Viewer

Amen to Mediocre. Me thinks the winner is already decided. Especially for a blah personality.. Antonia or Dale... ugh

Viewer 54
Viewer 54

I have to agree with this comment esp. tonight. I wonder about the "role" Mike played in "suggesting" to Angelo that he add salt to the dish. If I'm being machiavellian, I'd say that Mike figured out Angelo was the guy to beat and pulled a Carla/Casey on him. As other blogs have noted, the contestants were very exhausted and not feeling lots of confidence. I could see Angelo lose some of his usual focus when he teamed up with Mike in the first place. Too bad he was the one they chose to toss - Tiffany is not as inspired imho and doesn't add the same panache. However, I understand why the judges chose to boot him - as they said (and always say) "you have to taste your food."

Magnoliasc
Magnoliasc

Love Fabio! Will so miss him. Really tired of Carla and Tiffany. Richard is obviously a generous and decent person.

Magnoliasc
Magnoliasc

LOVE Fabio! Really tired of Tiffany and Carla. Richard is obviously a decent guy as he shares his experiences and tips.

Consistant Viewer .was
Consistant Viewer .was

Here too ... totally enjoyed Fabio... Why oh why was dale not sent home for salty food but this week Angelo was sent home for salt???? Do I detect a set-up? Dale and antonia are dull -dull -dull- and are so critical and mean spirited of the other chefs... If either does win we'll know it is preset !! Of cource we cant taste the dishes but we can see and hear your comments so salty is salty and Dale got a pass... Is Carla the next to go??? May not watch anymore cause Fabio and Angelo and Carla are the only ones worth watching. Also Gail has gotten a bit of a big head after one season of "dessert" show... drop her... shes no good either... Bring bacjk Fabio and Carla with their own show..

Viewer02
Viewer02

Another night, another good cook (Angelo) sent home. The only ones left are mediocre and some of the chefs are actually bad cooks. Yet, they are still there. So disappointing!

Marian72
Marian72

Dear Tom: Im from Argentina and never miss Top Chef. I love cooking an copy every recipy I like from the show. I think you are a very solid chef and A VERY HANDSOME MAN (an inevitable complement)

foodfighter
foodfighter

I love this show. I will miss Fabio but, thats OK . I watch it for Tom he's my jam

foodfighter
foodfighter

I agree i think fabio is hot hot hot hot

Topchefer
Topchefer

Richard didn't cook her tongue, he only showed her how to use a pressure cooker. If he didn't want to, he shouldn't have. His mistake alone.

Topchefer
Topchefer

He did not use precooked Philly Steak. Again.

AlysabethInAustin
AlysabethInAustin

@mavs........bourdain's book is razor sharp, hilarious....it conjured up rich visuals of trips i'll likely never take. there is a ton of cursing,to the effect of perfection. this is anthony bourdain-perhaps you are familiar with his work? by page 37, it was my favorite read of the year. i can't tell you how many juicy details of the food world i was privy to-or how many times i laughed out loud. you would hate it.

lawrence H
lawrence H

HG, Why look like a total jerk in a situation? What about the situation where the chefs genuinely liked each other as happened two seasons ago where Brian helped Kevin when they were basically going head to head? I thought it showed a lot of class and confidence on Brian's part and that he liked Kevin.

I can see the merits of your argument though as Antonia may well have produced a losing dish without Richard's input. I'm reminded of the season where one of the cooks asked Hung what ingredients he had used when they were replicating restaurant dishes. I thought it showed a distinct lack of class on the chef's part but Top Chef portrayed Hung as being selfish when it made no sense to ask the question or to give an answer.

TommyLady
TommyLady

I love Top Chef and have recently started reading the blogs. My question is how do the judges eat all the food and how long do they have in between servings? The Jimmy Fallon challenge: it looked like big servings (not just bite size) and I saw a lot of empty plates :) So I was wondering how full do the judges get and how long is it really between the chef's dishes?

Thanks for an awesome show!

herstory
herstory

FABIO WAS THE ONLY REASON THAT I WATCHED. ISABELLA MAN AND ANGELO ARE DIFFICULT TO WATCH.

For Pete's Sake!
For Pete's Sake!

Let the judges do their jobs. They know food, we just know good TV.

Kavanagh
Kavanagh

Ok... yes, Dale's dish was too salty. But, apparently, it wasn't salty enough to be worse than Fabio's dish. If there was someone manipulating the show to get viewers to continue watching, then Tiffany would have been the one to go. No one else here got to taste the food, and when you really think about it, everyone is too focused on the suave, funny Italian to realize that his track record is far from the perfection people say it is. He should have been out waaaay before he was on season 5, he should have been gone waaaay before now this season. At least Dale and Tiffany have some sliver of talent! I'm glad he's gone.

David Pines
David Pines

Had dinner at Fabio's in Moorpark last night for wonderful dinner. I now know what Tony was talking about when he discussed his potato pasta. It was outstanding.

All should know that Fabio now has a burger on his lunch memu and told me if I did not like it he would take it off the bill.

Cooking myself his mistake was the pork products and the fat content. The Cheese sauce was doomed without other products to smooth it out. Although I would die before I would use it, Velveda would have worked better.

Thoroughbred
Thoroughbred

I think Fabio deserved some wins he didn't get, especially lately and in restaurant wars. What the hell happened there? I'd sure like to think the judging is fair but sometimes I really wonder.

Going back -- A quickfire on food aesthetics was no more odd or ridiculous than a quickfire on how fast exec chefs/restaurant owners can peel an artichoke or chop enough garlic to fill a large container. Generally isn't the purpose of served food that the sight & smell should draw you in. Carla's & Richard's were a feast for my eyes and I wanted to eat what they fixed. The only thing ridiculous about this quickfire were the dishes that some of the contestants came up with. Some of us get it.

Diamond girl
Diamond girl

The reason Dale wasn't eliminated is one word - demographics. Tom went on and on about cooking Jimmy's favorite foods in a traditional way. How in any stretch of the imagination is a Philly cheesesteak on a very thick pretzel roll, a traditional way to serve it? Plus Tom said Dale "destroyed" the sandwich because the whole thing was too salty. Gail's explanation that Dale was "overcompensating" because he didn't want it to be bland, didn't cut it with me. The demographics thing has been unfairly evident before.

Paula Ray
Paula Ray

Couldn't agree more .. let them cook their own food and sink or swim on their own merit .. no one to be allowed to help each other for any reason .. Antonia would have gone if Richard didn't cook her tongue .. if they have to remember all the recipes and can't bring cook books or notes, then why allow them to ask each other for help? isn't that the same way of cheating ??

OliveAnne
OliveAnne

Dale used precooked Philly Steak and bakery buns - so what did he do - oh he added more salt. How unfair that Dale stayed and Fabio PHK. I adore Fabio. He is well rounded. He is much more of a TC than most of the contestents. The way he handled the front of the house for RW. TC needs to more about being the best chef - leader - menu planner - setting the tone - making corrections of the other chefs dishes.... And not Top Cook. They should be able to cook. Tom, I am sure you could pull from your experiences things that have happened in your resturant and if you as TC hadn't stepped in - everything would have gone to hell in a hand bag. Recreate some of those events and have the chefs try and solve the problems. I think all Elimination Challenges should be team work - no one is a TC alone. Bring back Fabio as much as possible or better yet give him his own show - I bet FN would pick him up in a flash. I was really sad, like my friend had told me she was moving - when Fabio left. OliveAnne FloridaFan

Bamattos
Bamattos

TAKE FABIO BACKKK ASAP!!! without him this season will be a total and boring "BLAH" he's talented, handsome, funny and everything the audience wants to see on TV! Bravo should give him his own show, definitely he's a total star! who cares if the burger he made was good or not? he has that X factor that makes the difference...

CocoT
CocoT

I'm glad Fabio is GONE.... That burger sounded and looked disgusting... Oh yeah, I won't miss his confessionals!

Girl from Jersey
Girl from Jersey

Hi Tom,

Love love love your blog. It always gives an insight of the show. I think you are a great host and I love your food. But...

Fabio is fun and I was disappointed to see him go. So I chuckled when he was eliminated for a bad burge. The reason is within the last 2 weeks I was at Colicchio and Sons tap room and ordered the burger. Now what I say is not necessary a dig, but just a perspective on judgment. I was surprised about the burger that was served because I have been to your various restaurants before and the food was excellent, but honestly "you" make a terrible burger. First, terrible bun - it was a very dry and I almost felt it was a day old bun. I ordered the burger medium, it came out rare but it was still kind of dry and tasteless. Plus I thought the burger was very small in relation to that terrible bun. As a rule, I never send back food, and I was with a bunch of friends and we were having a great time. Your staff was very attentive and I did not want to put bad spin on a great evening. I just chalked it up to never ordering the burger again. I loved everything else. Don't worry it will not stop me from going to your restaurants in the future. As you know, what might taste delicious to one person does not to another.

Thanks Tom for being part of such a great show and such a great judge.