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.
I liked this challenge. I particularly liked "the song" from Antonia, Carla and Angelo. It's a pity that Fabio was a legend in his own mind. He thought that charm would overcome the fact that he couldn't make such a simple dish. It's a pity that he didn't even seem to know what a hamburger is! From the comments at JT, it seemed as thought Dale's oversalting made his dish also inedible. Thanks for explaining this one.
Thanks for explaining the judges decision in further detail but I still feel that you all got it wrong. Oversalting a dish is a Cooking 101 non-no and this is supposed to be top chef. Like Jimmy said on judges table "just taste your food!" Even one of the guests bit into Fabio's burger and said "Now thats a great burger" Dale should have went home.
If the judges weren't able to eat Dale dish because it was too salty, why wasn’t he eliminated? It was stated that they were only able to take one or two bites of the sandwich. Fabio hamburger wasn't juicy enough and/or it wasn't that flavorful, and it tasted like meat balls would be better than eating something too salty. My cousin made macaroni and cheese; I wasn't able to eat it because it was too salty. This was the first time I wasn't able to eat her macaroni and cheese. I rather eat something a little dry with a little flavor than something too salty. Since the judges couldn't send Tiffany home, they decided again to Dale a break because they feel that he is a better chef than Fabio. I feel the judges like Dale and obviously want him to be one of the finalists. Fabio should have won over Antonia last week and Dale should not have been eliminated. Please be fair. I want all the chefs to do their best and want the best chef to win. I am rooting for the best chef to win. This will only happen if the judges are honest and the producers let the judges do their job.
Fabio should not be judged on his comment(s) about it's not his thing. He should be judged on his food. Jamie made comments about not cooking; she was still on the show. I respect you Tom, but seem to be full of contradictions.
I hope my comments will be posted. If not I home the judges and products read this and at least respect the viewers. The only reason I tuned in this season because you had some of my favorite chefs return to Top Chef. I am truly becoming a person who was losing interest, because it seems like the show is not about cooking and wanting to keep drama/controversy. I tuned in to learn something about cooking and to watch chefs compete against other great chefs. If I want to watch Real Housewives I will watch that show. I realize Top Chef is a reality show, but it didn’t’ seem like a reality show. Now, it seems like the chefs are not being judged fairly and Top Chef Judges are not credible.
Please let Eric be one of the judges to taste the food. I respect him and he seems to be point on when blogging.
Carla's love came through! Way to go Carla. It feels like the other chefs don't give Carla the respect she deserves. I am going to miss Fabio, but I can see how his hamburger and fries fell short. Don't get me started about what I thought about his cheese. Melted? On the side? Cheddar? All of that is just wrong. I think if Fabio would have put a little "love" in hamburger he would have been sucessful!
go Carla! go Carla! go Carla! When you cook "love" into YOUR food, you win!! REMEMBER that when you get to the finale. And Richard ROCKS!!! He's exactly what a Top Chef is. Teaching another chef how to cook an unfamiliar ingredient is what a real chef does in the kitchen.
I'm so proud of Carla! Way to go girl. Sorry to see Fabio go too. My main problem w/ this ep. is that when the cheftestants went to the Fallon show, they all looked like bums!!!! Too bad they weren't told to dress decently or at least put on their Top Chef jackets.
Seems Fabio's lack of skill deservedly got him kicked off the show, it was about time. The phony charm only goes so far, somewhere along the line you have to show you can cook and if you can't make a decent burger your true values as a chef come across very clearly. Good Radiance!
I do agree with you about who was sent home in last night's episode. My question is about the awards given to the winners. Why is it that in one episode the winner is given such a generous award and in another elimination challenge, the winner gets NOTHING !!! This is so unfair. Either you give every winner an award or not give anything at all. All the winners work so hard to create a delicious dish and in some episodes, they get nothing in return.
i will miss Fabio so much. I just love him. but i don't taste the food and you do. sorry to see him go!
Carla's food is always safe. The winner should have been someone who had to cook something foreign to them. Maybe you should have a chicken pot pie contest to find out who is the best chef.
I was surprised that Mike I's sausage and peppers didn't get called out for lack of any semblance of originality. I know its a "cook well-executed, straightforward comfort food" challenge and he did make his own sausage but...really? He couldn't do anything else with that dish? At least Antonia's mussels had some fennel in them.
How ungracious of Antonia not to give Richard credit for saving her "bacon", or in this case beef tongue. He did a truly unselfish thing in helping her learn to prepare the dish, as he did in the last episode by helping Fabio. It was especially nice considering he got stuck with the nasty noodle dish. Everyone likes to win, but manners and respect are just as important. Richard showed real class-again.
What a great challenge! I admire Antonia for not whinning about not knowing a dish. She learned something and stretched herself in the bargin. That is being a true chef. I will miss Fabio but I agree with your statement that not being your thing is a poor excuse. Fixing a burger is cooking 101 for a TOP CHEF in my opinion. Great show and thanks, as always, for your comments in this blog.
Well, I really thought Tiffany was going based on how the fan favorites & Chef favorites have been getting by - like Fabio or Mike. Fabio should've been gone earlier, but he's a fan favorite. Now if you Chefs/Judges can get rid of Mike and Dale - our two gameplayers... Side Note-you Judges are often given the better of the dishes or even fed before the crowds (i.e. dim sum). Maybe to make a more even playing field, you should switch your dishes with one of the "real" people or wait (which would take care of some of the gameplay).
A chef being sent home for a "booooorgur?' My heart is breaking. We all adore Fabio--more for what a really cool guy he is than for his culinary expertise. I hope BRAVO finds many more excuses, however flimsy, to bring him back as often as possible.
This may be my favorite eppy of the whole show. Loved watching someone who was obviously a real fan of the show eat. Loved watching Carla's enthusiasm for the challenge...really impressed with Richard's sense of fair play in helping Antonia....SAD to see Fabio go but at this point I want to keep everyone and just keep watching them cook every week. Well, not totally true...could loose Tiffany and Mike and wouldn't really miss their food. Would miss Tiffany's laugh. At the bottom of it all I've been watching this show since season 1 and have invested a lot of time watching and hoping for these guys.. Lastly, as much as I was SOOO happy to see Carla win again (HOOTIE HOO)...I really wanted to try Angelo's dish...a first.
Thanks for the blog, Tom. However, I am getting tired of the chefs cooking "family-style" meals. Last week it was traditional Italian food. This week is was comfort food. When are we going to see the chefs cook fine dining cuisine again. And I am not that hopeful if the elimination challenge is at Target.
After reading Tom's blog, I guess I can understand the reasoning for Fabio's departure; but last night I was really sad! I love Fabio - his attitude is what sets him apart and he doesn't take himself too seriously. It won't be the same without him, but I will say that Carla has had my vote since her original season! You go girl1
I''m getting really tired with Angelo's attitude. The man thinks that he should win every challenge, even when he admits that his dish could have been better. Ugh!
I loved the concept of this episode - JImmy Fallon, family get together and simple food that everyone watching could get their arms around. My issue was not at all with this but with the quickfire challenge.
I liked the idea of fondue - something different! However, Mike I's comment in advance about the 'gay fondue party' not being his thing...should have been left on the editing floor. He's arrogant, obnoxious and not the quality of chef that should still be among this group of competitors. Shame on the editors of the show...and more importantly shame on Mike for showing such little respect for that part of the audience!!
I had a few issues with this episode. First, Anontia didn't make her dish totally on her own. If not for Richard's help she wouldn't have known what to do to make the tongue edible. Second, Carla also got help from Richard. Yet both these 2 were in the top 3? REALLY???? Thirdly, several contestants on other seasons have been sent home for making their dished too salty. That is basic cooking. The judges couldn't even eat Dale's dish. Yet they sent Fabio home because his wasn't a traditional burger. But it was edible right? How can an inedible dish beat a dish that was good just not the quintessential burger? Seems very unfair. But I have to admit that this AllStars season has been unfair on several occasions. I am not longer watching the show because I don't think it is a cooking show any longer.
But what about TIFFANY? Doesn't she have to play by the rules? That was NOT chicken and dumplings. I'm from the south and it had no resemblance. Shame on her .
When I think of Fabio's time on the All Stars version, he's more fabulous for his charm than cooking skills. He seemed to be less adaptable to the various challenges than other chefs. I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. It probably was based more on his likeability factor than his food. Ciao!
First I am french My english is not great but I love love the show I don't really wacht any show but Top Chef it is really worth my time xox. I am a mother of two 11/2yrs and just turn 3yrs girl, part time working mom and a triathlete I leave and Boulder Colorado where health come first. I cook a lots try to used the best organic healthy food try to have the most vitamine, protein, omega etc the a human body need. ( chia seed , flax, protein, seplt floor, coconut oil , safflower oil , olive oil , try to avoid any process food. but i never see a challange on your show where i mom like me would go on the wed site and look for the recipe to want to try and eat and share with friend and family. Dont take it wrong all the food look really tasty but nothing look the most good for my life style WHY ????
Fabio was doomed from the start. Who's ever heard of an appetizing booger? The extended judges table video is very informative this week.
I didnt like that no one called Dale out for using pre cooked philly meat from the freezer section AND he had oversalted food? No one seems to remember him saying he bought the steak meat pre made but heard Padma say it was the best part, so technically in my opinion he didnt do anything good other than make it pretty on the plate.
I don't know why Angelo thought his pork rub was "weird". You see similar combinations at many barbecue joints, on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for example.
I completely disagree with the judges' decision to send Fabio home over Dale. I'd rather eat a burger that's a little on the dry side over a salty mess any day. How could an inedible dish not be the losing dish?? I thought the judges based their decision on the dishes from that episode only, but it seems like you all kept Dale around because he's done some good things previously. I mean seriously, this is a competition for TOP CHEF ALL STAR, and someone who "forgets" that the pretzel bread was salted sticks around? Please!
And in response to you saying that Fabio kept saying Asian wasn't his thing or burgers weren't his thing... If memory serves me right, he did extremely well on the Asian food challenge. He was in the top group. So even though that wasn't his thing, he stepped up and made a good dish. Seems like you all just wanted to get rid of him, so Dale and his salted mess of a philly cheesesteak got a free pass. When I eat a cheesesteak, I want to be able to taste the beef and cheese not a salt lick. Just sayin'!!
I love all of your blogs, Mr. Collichio, and I really appreciate that the Top Chef crew is always very timely with their blog postings. As an adamant viewer, I enjoy hearing what the folks of our favorite shows have to say. I can always count on the Top Chef judges insight quickly after the show. It's great! Thanks so much!
Yes, Fabio is charming and lovable, but I was worried that Dale was going to be sent home for a salty pretzel! So far the only week I absolutely disagreed with you all was the week Jen got eliminated.
I think Dale is awesome! I just hope he doesn't psych himself out too much, one week bland, the next week salty... it could do his head in.
Love your blog Tom!
The biggest comedy segment on last night's show was for me not the Jimmy Fallon bit, but the minutes spent showing the contestants cooking Buitoni pasta for dinner and having one of them 'spontaneously' proclaim- "my favorite is the lobster and crab ravioli"! Please please please include more sponsored advertising during the show, as I don't seem to get enough ads during the approx. 1/3 of the program length already taken up by them. Maybe we can have a challenge consisting of the contestants dressed up as Buitoni past and cooking with Terlato wine next!
Thanks again for your evaluation of this week’s challenges. Seems “chefs” can cook elaborate eye-appealing dishes but lose touch with that down-home atmosphere of “feel good” foods. Ever heard of K.I.S.S? Keep it simple, stupid. Just as Antonia won last week with her simple mussels dish, so should Tiffany and Fabio KISS’d. Guess from now on Fabio will know that a burger when eaten should, as Gail pointed out, ooze reddish greasy juice down your palm and should be sopped up with a napkin or a slice of bun. Personally, I put potato chips on my booger, just under the toasted bun. Cheese sauce made from real cheese? Velveeta is a cheese of choice (try it in fondue, too). Fabio, shame on you. KISS.
I was a bit surprised to hear Fabio say he was from Los Angeles when asked by Jimmy Fallon early in the show. When Fabio chose to make a meat - ball/loaf type of sandwich instead of the American Classic, I was a bit confused especially when the Los Angeles area is home to one of the best tasting burgers you can grab - In & Out (I know some pro athletes who plan runs to the nearest I&O when visiting). This isn't a plug for the chain, but - WOW! How can you screw up a burger?
Great show last night! Loved seeing Jimmy Fallon & the guests. I completely agree. Hubby & I know as soon as Fabio said "meatball" that he was not going to make a good burger. Maybe he should have tried a "juicy Lucy" with the cheese stuffed into the patty.
Too bad for Fabio that he didn't just cook a beef burger. I like Fabio and his chiper personality, but he lacks what it takes to be a well rounded chef. I know he own's a restaurant, and is a good cook but falls short on being well rounded. You would think with making hamburgers he would knock it out of the park. On the other hand what can you say about Carla. She keeps winning, with her wholesome food. How many trips has she won this year, amazing. She might not be the most talented, and tecnical chef, she just cooks wonderful tasy meals.
Gimme a break, Tom. The fact that Dale was in the bottom three two weeks in a row should have been more than enough to send him home. Last week, Fabio was the clear winner and was robbed. This week, he prepares a sub-par dish and is eliminated. Unbelievable and wrong! You have lost a faithful viewer...forever. To me, you and your judges have both lost your integrity, so there is no point in continuing to watch. Hopefully, someday I'll get the opportunty to meet you personally at an appearance so I can you to your face how wrong you were.
I took several cooking classes in DC with Carla the spring her season was airing. We made chicken pot pie in one of them. As soon as I saw her assignment, I knew she would kill it. Go Carla! Sadly, I think I lost my printout of her recipe in my last move. Hopefully Bravo has it up somewhere on the site!
Back to the previous challenge, I find that you erred in sending Tray(sp?) home for a risotto that was not so creamy that it flowed across the plate. Look, somewhat al dente rice is entirely enjoyable (preferred in this household), whether or not it is authentically Italian. Instead, you let continue the other contestant who produce undercooked pasta, and that's simply inedible.
Tom-- I am actually not commenting on this week's episode, not do I expect that you read all comments, but in hope...I have an episode idea. You all do an exceptional job at showcasing the importance of fresh foods, farmer's markets, eating in season, and one of my all time favs...the problem with healthy food in schools at thier budget. One area you haven't addressed is food available from food pantries and/or emergency food boxes. While you have done canned fooded (in essence...the supermarket lanes challenge), these are main food sources for many, as well as many others donate to them, not grasping that thier canned donations really equate to 'bad" food...albeit, food- and thus keep donating!! How about an episode in the future where the cheftestants spend an afternoon working in a food pantry, sorting the loads of canned yams and green beans, and making emergency boxes...to not only open thier eyes, but the eyes of all your viewers. And then, of course for the elimination challenge, making a dish out of an emergency box (Top Chef would provide of course- so as not to take away from our very important pantires)...other parameters up to you (staples from Top Chef kitchen, etc.). What a great way to shed some light and knowledge. Every major city has a large one and would love for the exposure. This is a serious issue in todays world, and another way for Top Chef to continue to make an impact on the issues many Americans face. Thanks for the ear, and keep up the good work!
It seems to me there is a conflict here. Fabio clearly tried to do something to elevate the burger (boogher), but you and others wanted 100% beef. Seems to me you could get that at Whole Foods (with garlic or bleu cheese or other types). So I don't see how this preference gave Fabio any room to maneuver to create a chef's dish versus something I could make on a grill at home.
It has been mentioned that it takes a long time to cook tongue, but what about pulled pork? In my experience true pulled pork requires barbecuing (i.e. smoking) a pork shoulder for over five hours! Is it just me who's wondering how Angelo pulled (pun intended) that off? That's the real miracle!
This was a fun episode.
All of the "critics" here drive me nuts....it is what it is.
While I hated to see Fabio go, he didn't understand the challenge. It's unfortunate. He's a great guy, I cook his "last meal on earth chicken" winning dish from his season, often....to rave reviews. But he blew it.
Having said that, I am sick to death of the negative comments by the mediocre cooks (Mike I) about others who win. I am beyond annoyed that he's been around so long, skating through while totally being a jerk to the contestants who "get" the challenge and win (*ahem* Antonio w/the mussels).
As we get to the end of every season, our favorites get pared away, and usually, my personal favorite doesn't win. But that's just the way it is.
Oh yes, and a final note...to Richard Blais, he is the same gentleman Brian V. was in an earlier season...helping others with his expertise where he is able. It's a huge plus in my book. He wants to beat the best, not sandbag. Class Act. As Julie Powell said "No Fear, Julia!".
P.S. What's with the Dale hate? He has grown as a chef and a person, why is he so hated?
Braised it. It's not difficult, and with Angelo's choice of rub spices, etc....it was bound to be rockin' delicious.
Xochitl R - The 'pre-made' steak Dale was talking about was when he was a kid or a teen, not for this challenge. Clearly he was slicing raw ribeye steaks.
I think the worst dish shown on this episode has to be the contestants' Buitoni meal. Did they actually eat that stuff? I never could.
This was the worst episode in a long time. It was particularly disappointing given that there were 8 great chefs left and so much interesting stuff going on with their food. Why focus on stupid, offensive, immature innuendos about homosexuality, not once, but four times? Why make the whole thing a shtick towards a mediocre comedian? We want to hear about FOOD and the CONTESTANTS. Tom, you had fun yupping it up (and being an offensive jerk) with your buddies. Fine. We don't want to see that. It's not remotely interesting or funny to us. Give us what we came here for -- a show about food. I'm really disappointed.
So Dale, in Episode 8, according to the guest judge - "didn't know you could make pancetta taste bad, but somehow [he] did it". Instead you let Tre go because he overdressed his risotto.
Then in Episode 9, made a Philly CheeseSteak so salty that the guest judge said "the first bite tasted great, then the second was a bit salty, but by the third bite I couldn't go on". Instead you let Fabio go because his boo-ger was too meatloafy.
Since when is "bad" food worse than inedible food Tom? You claim the dishes weren't inedible, but I guess a dish worth 3 bites is technically edible.