Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio reflects on the chefs' personal and emotional cooking.

on Mar 2, 20110

This challenge had a very emotional component to it, and as you saw, our chefs embraced this and allowed themselves to “go there.” I think each one of them was teary at some point in this episode. Partly, this is because they were so tired by this point in the competition that their seeing a beloved family member released the waterworks. But there’s more to it than that. They were asked to tap into their childhood and create food memories by creating food, and they did so brilliantly. Picture Mike, who puts forth such bravado and swagger, and who jokes his way through challenge after challenge. It’s incredible to realize that this Italian-American never ever cooked Italian food professionally because it reminded him too much of his beloved grandmother and he didn’t want to constantly be reminded of how much he missed her. Cooking the food now was meaningful to him, and he embraced the opportunity to feel pain about missing her and to cook his dish in homage to her. Here, in action, is Carla’s theory about being able to “taste the Love in the dish.” I believe this is why Mike nailed the challenge and did his grandmother’s memory such justice. This is deep, deep stuff.

Given the level of cooking, coupled with the great emotional work they each did, how could we send any one of the chefs home? Normally, something in some dish somewhere stands out to all the judges as the flaw that breaks the camel’s back, that gets someone sent home. Here, while we mentioned that one element was a tad salty if eaten on its own, it wasn’t intended to be eaten on its own…and it worked within the larger dish. Etc. We were trying to seize on something to send someone home, but we just didn’t have enough grounds to penalize any one of the chefs for what they delivered that night. Everyone did an outstanding job and it was such a great evening that it was just unacceptable to send anyone home.

So it’ll be a longer finale… but it’ll be great. Stay tuned.

155 comments
Viewer23491
Viewer23491

Sometimes this season I feel like people are kept and sent him for the sake of ratings; granted I didn't taste anything but I feel like there were a few cases of eliminations based on drama; 1. Jamie staying as long as she did with Spike leaving during the US Open challenge. 2. Trey and Dale leaving. 3. Tiffany staying. I love her, I really do, but she's gotten by on always having someone screw up worse, not on her own merit. I guess my one criticism of the structure of the show is that elimination doesn't take in to consideration the entire track record of the chef, just that one challenge. A chef (Trey, Dale) who has had an amazing run will be eliminated over someone who has been mediocre or on the bottom all season (Tiffany, Jamie) and I don't know if that's a fair means of judgment.

Luvcattzz
Luvcattzz

Tom, between yourself, Patrick Stewart, from Star Trek, and the enigmatic Ben Kingsley you guys are three of the hottest bald men on the planet

love_blais
love_blais

Richard is my favorite of all the chefs through the years and I have watched every season.

Jessie Yanez
Jessie Yanez

OMG do you guys smoke crack before judges table I know we dont see half of what goes on but CARLA really!?!?!?!?! How many times does Tiffany have to be on the bottom before you vote her off? I went back through this season and she is on the bottom more than the top I am not even sure after this if I will finish the season. truely disappointed!!!

Cher B
Cher B

Come on! Richard arrogant? He helps everyone on that show! He is clearly more technically experienced. He sweats each episode out. He's the thinker! And the worry wart! Gotta give him credit... Why is Mike still here? Tom's blog about chef's borrowing recipes and restraurants using and changing recipes from each other is one thing.. but to look at richard's diary/notebook it is plagerism. Mike should have gone home. I realize the judges don't see the episodes as they are playing out.. but the filming crew should have brought this up and producer's should have done something. Carla is great!! Go Carla!! Go Richard!! And why is Tiffany and Antonia still here? I have been watching this show for all 8 season's.. and some of them seem to be motivated with other than cooking issues... It appears biased in some episodes... And why do most of the challenges feature foods that regular joe's never eat? I would like to see at least one.. where the chef's quickfire challenges are to make TRUELY, peasant foods without all the foams, freezing, and 1000's of ingredients available.. (not cheetos) but canned goods, mac and cheese mixes, what about hamburger helper? Can't top chefs adapt these ingredients and make spectacular dishes as well as fine dining? I'd also like to see one where they have to do restraunt wars from the dollar store finds... Then we would find out who was truely a TOP CHEF!

ciratb
ciratb

Carla should have stayed, not sure why her couple pieces of slighty undercooked beef was so much worse than WAY overcooked shrimp and stringy polenta or what the judges described as "too simple". Wish they would explain that?

AJD100
AJD100

The genealogy episode was interesting, but it looked convenient. It would've been more interesting had chefs like Dale or Elia still been in the mix! For them, their heritage is up front and center and they don't need to look up in a book to know where they came from. Would Bravo have researched in Asia & Mexico to make those connections (not just Europe)? Not all immigrants came to Ellis Island - some flew into JFK airport.

elizabeth135
elizabeth135

You have to have a better way to judge..Dale going home are you kidding me? and tiffany still there...she can't even cut fish and she an executive chef in a sea food place..!!!!!please.. will watch one more and if she is not gone it's time to tune out for good. Tom as you have said all chefs have one bad night you have right and Dales goes and tiffany stays..

TC-Marco
TC-Marco

Richard doesn't bother me with his inflated ego....I've been cooking professionally for 2 decades....I know of few cooks and chefs who don't have inflated egos. What bothers me about the guy is the fact that since he has chosen molecular gastronomy as his specialty, and that he feels that his style of cooking is superior to traditional cooking He can't accept the notion that anyone could possibly like a traditional dish over his. Finishing in the top tier of a challenge isn't enough for him. If someone else wins a challenge, he hangs his head and looks disgusted, and blames the judges for not "understanding" the things he does in the kitchen. It reminds me of James Cameron being bitter about The Hurt Locker, beating Avatar out for the Oscar. How could anyone pick a movie so lacking in technical innovation, over his Earth Shattering Technical Masterpiece. Richard seems to think that TC All-Stars, is a coronation, The Bravo network's fixing the horrible injustice done to Blais in season 4 when he lost to Stephannie, not a competition.

NickO
NickO

Longtime fan, first-time commenter.

This was my least favorite episode of Top Chef to date. At the end of the episode, what changed? I saw the entire episode as filler. a quick breakdown:

-Lousy Quickfire challenge - did I miss something, or was there no reward (therefore nothing at stake)? Regardless, worst Quickfire yet.

-Nobody goes home. Then why watch? Waste of an elimination challenge, to be blunt.

The thing that upset me most in this episode is the possible (and to me, all too likely) influence of the producers on the elimination. Now, I believe Tom, Bourdain, and any other judge that assures us there is no such influence - except for this episode. Think about it: the chefs agree that all five chefs progress, and the producers/execs just roll over and agree to pay for the extra accomodation in the Bahamas? I'm suggesting that this arrangement was precrafted. "Oh my gosh, a final FIVE? They've never done that before!"

Just be real with me. I'll still watch.

fiddlenrose
fiddlenrose

here here Go carla and antonia.I would love to see a woman take this .So glad that the wantabe gangsta chef marcell got curbed.See ya wank.

Chicagonotahousewife
Chicagonotahousewife

Now that I've watched the (reruns) of the last two challenges on top chef all stars, I have a couple of comments. First, the "plating personal history" challenge was a great idea, but the judges should have been more diverse. That became clear when one of them commented on Tiffany's dish noting that it wasn't in her palate. In fact, my impression was that not one single judge at the table had ever eaten soul food, or appreciated it. This unfamiliarity may because they don't have Black friends and there are few, if any, soul food restaurants outside of black neighborhoods, which whites tend to avoid. So there are Tiffany and Carla cooking their hearts out for a panel where there was not one single judge who could fundamentally relate to what they were doing. The same cannot be said for Italian comfort food, for example. We've all had (and love) it. This week there is a southern food challenge. Once again, the judges' palates are skewed. Look folks, this is America in the 21st Century. Young people are mixing it up and its time that you do, too.

Sharon & David Robinson
Sharon & David Robinson

We enjoy your blogs, Tom, with the additional insights post episodes. People may have their favorite chefs, but in the end we do NOT get to taste their offerings! Thought sending all five was the only fair and equitable thing to do. Can't wait for the next episode ~

ViewerPA
ViewerPA

Go Richard! Go Carla! Good Bye Tiffany! Nice person - Not Top Chef!

ViewerPA
ViewerPA

Totally disagree with the negative Richard comments! He is the best one there - he goes out of his way to help and teach the others. Love his sense of humor and fearless approach to every task. Go Professor Blais!

arribaeltequila
arribaeltequila

Totally true! Carla has done much more than Richard this season. I don't think he is a bad person, but I am honestly getting a bit tired of his cockiness. I think when someone brags too much about something it only shows insecurity and it is tiering and annoying. When someone really knows something and is sure of himself he doesn't need to go around advertising it, it is just evident and it just shines through!... and no, at least this season it has not shone through for him.

I went to Atlanta recently and tried both his and Kevin's restaurants and I must say Kevin's was SUPERB! Richard's was good, it is a different concept and it is based more on the whimsical side than on the fine dining one. I liked it but I hope he had a restaurant with more elevated dishes knowing what he is capable off. For all he talks, it would be nice to see a place where you could see a good chef not only a good recipe. Again, it was good and we were all very pleased, actually I would like to go back. But I feel that if I had the recipe for what I ate there I could reproduce it fairly decently (I have a PhD in theoretical chemistry, so in "theory" I am good with experiments :P) as opposed to what I had at Kevin's that would require way more than even a detailed step by step "How to" video!... but again, both restaurants were really nice, in their own niche and I would be happy to go back to either one of them :)

Walt's Wife
Walt's Wife

Mike Isabella wasn't obnoxious this week and he cooked better....I still can't stand him and hope he goes home next. During his season I was a huge fan of Blais'. This season he's full of himself too....whining too much. Dale has really endeared himself to me because he is a great chef and his personal growth is phenominal. Go Carla!

librarianfromjersey
librarianfromjersey

I agree!!!. I've enjoyed the All Stars much more than the regular season. I think its because the chefs or editing are being themselves and enjoying being in the company of people they admire. I hated the way Mike and Eli berated Robin in their season. And to see him joking and acting a little humble is a nice change. I remember at the reunion show he said he was newly married, he has'nt mentioned the wife thus far, is he still married? Anotino was so used to blaming everybody and she started to do that at the Museume challenge but Triffany admited the ovens are not working from the start and they knew it, just like Anttonio's "I like my pea's a little al dente" (yeh right) and not listening to Spike's suggesstion in the challenge with she & Zoi, I'm glad to see her listening, smiling and showing geninue concern.

minnowvale
minnowvale

From the very beginning of the season I have felt it would come down to Richard and Carla with either Antonia or Dale as the third. Do NOT understand how Mike has made it this far. Richard is the ultimate chef...talented, creative and generous with his knowledge. Antonia would have been gone over beef tongue, and restaurant wars could have been totally different without him. Carla is a beautiful person...I would love the chance to just meet and talk to her. I would love to have her as my next door neighbor. I wish them both much success on the show and in their futures.

excelsior
excelsior

I've watched and loved every single season of Top Chef and a few other cooking competition shows too. Top Chef is the best by far. This season - TC Allstars! THE BEST EVER! Love it! I don't know how you will recreate it but please try to somehow!!!

ViewerRita  G
ViewerRita G

I too am enjoying this season so much because the show is about cooking and not about all of the numerous side issues that have been so much a part of past shows. This is by far the best season of Top Chef ever.

OliveAnne
OliveAnne

My grandmother was 13 years old when she came to America with her two sisters. They stayed in NY and met husbands who all worked as head waiters. My grandmother gave birth to 4 children - 3 lived and buried her husband at the age of 22. Our relatives were pioneers too, coming from countries so far away. She was Polish and Catholic. Yet she lived amoung Polish Jews who taught her to cook. She used to ride the Greyhound Bus from Conn to VA to see us with her Train Case full of Glumkies (stuffed cabbage) or Blintzes. And we ate them with no ill effects. When we traveled by car, we would stop in NJ and out would come a complete chicken meal with stuffing, roasted potatoes and vegtables. No paper plates. I have the most wonderful memories. My Mom sat her down and she told my Mom all her recipes. It might be a handfull of sugar - and my Mom would measure it. Or all tomatoes till dark pink color. My grandmother cooked most of her life on a woodburning stove. Most of her meals were started in the morning and left to cook all day. I so enjoyed this show since it made me think of my food roots. Thank you. OliveAnne FloridaFan

Top Chef fan
Top Chef fan

All the people dissing Richard and saying he doesnt respect women- Do you all know he gave up his reward one time to Stephanie in his season just because she volunteered to do the wedding cake when no one else was ready.

Richard did not win that many challenges this time, so I don't know why he seems cocky!! He needs a win pretty bad for himself, that is why he looks nervous. He definitely is a better chef in comparision to others. He is more rounded than Carla or Antonia or any one else for that matter. (they got their niche cooking, they cannot cook all - No one can argue this! Look at history Carla has been in bottom so many times, even in her season. She has learnt a few things though, including muddling with liq. Nitrogen :) Only time will tell if Lady Luck favors who?

If Padma doesn't give any more scares to Richard, ofcourse. To me, he doesn't need the win, he is a winner, anyway!

Krisr
Krisr

Just want to say...Please pass this on to the Director..Editors...whoever... This has been my favorite season yet. Gone are the romantic...sexual hits seen in the pass...just the true stress, strenght,endurance, respect these Chefs have for cooking and within themselves to compete. I work shift work so I tend to record the episodes and then delete after I have watch. Not this season....I can't bring myself to delete anything after episode 3. So glad about all five going to the finale....can't wait to see what comes next.

Thank you

Sheri L
Sheri L

Now that Dale is gone it's Richard's too lose. Was it set up all along because he lost to Stephanie? I love Carla and her husband too. She needs her own show!

malibusal3
malibusal3

Richard needs to win. He's the best chef overall. He might not have won as many as the others but he has been in the bottom many fewer times - over the course of his season and this one. It will be a travesty if carla, tiffany or mike win - as many times as you can say carla has proven herself - she still has been on the bottom many times. If we are calling the show top dish - then maybe she deserves it. Overall top chef -it has to be richard. No one else in the top currently even makes sense except for him.

LaurieinJersey
LaurieinJersey

Richard has such a surly and negative attitude--particularly when it comes to the women chefs. His attitude is entitled-and yes, he can cook- but he's not the only one.

Carla Rocks!!!!!!!!
Carla Rocks!!!!!!!!

I really liked this episode. But, I do have to comment on how sick I am with Richard's attitude. I understand that this is a competition and every chef thinks that they are the best or one of the bests. I have nothing against people saying that they are the best or showing confidence. But, I do have issues when people put down other contestants. I feel that Richard sometimes does that in his "interviews", rather he means to or not. For example, in this recent episode. He stated that he is the only "big chef left" and it may be his time to go. Um... and the other four chefs are chumps? I understand that three of the chefs didn't make it to the final three, but that doesn't mean that they are not as good as he is.

Some Guy
Some Guy

The fact that dale wasn`t around this week only proves the point that the show (which i love, incidentally) i mis-named. This is "Top Dish," not "Top Chef." It sort of makes me angry.

CHARMING
CHARMING

One of the most exciting shows of all time! I particularly like the challenges where they have to "make do" with limited resources. I cater in a rural area where dirt roads are the norm and if you forget something one must be creative as the closest store is 2 hours away. I've been infusing my food with love, compassion, joy and peace (depending on event) for many years and I love it when someone comes up to me and tells me that they can feel the "love" as they ate the food. Often times these comments come from people that may not necessarily believe in that type of thinking or belief system. Looks like the judges picked up the energy from this round as you all looked slightly dazed. Can't help but root for Carla whom is a never ending source of great energy! Hope she continues to follow her intuition and she will surely be THE ALL STAR! Looking forward to more from the Top Chef franchize-I can't get enough!

bookworm
bookworm

Why would you do that?

Seems like someone from the Judge's Table or production company owes Blais an apology. After an episode that's supposed to be uplifting and humanizing, Bravo resorts to a brutal prank and leaves a bad taste in quite a fair number of Top Chef watchers, not to mention the aforementioned Richard. Under extreme emotional pressure, he had the wherewithal to stop his honest assessment in mid-sentence and do the classy thing of thanking the judges. Which, of course, only served to make everyone at the table look even slimier.

What's his transgression? He wants to win really really bad. And he has put an enormous amount of pressure on himself to do it. Blais does have an ego, but he walks a pretty fine line of being ultra-competitive while at the same time being uncommonly generous and kind with his fellow competitors. There aren't many people like that. And instead of showing the same kind of class and respect to someone with pretty good ideals, you prank him in the worst kind of way.

Pretty shameful.

southernimprovedyankee
southernimprovedyankee

I miss Craft Atlanta!

I forgot to add a PS to my comment earlier about the Craft Atlanta restaurant. I had the opportunity to dine there during its last week, and my only regret is that we didn't go earlier. It was, hands down, the best dining experience I have ever had. From the atmosphere and furniture, to the impeccable / knowledgeable / unpretentious service, to the diverse wine list to the "oh my God you have to taste this" food .... it was a night we will always remember. We were calling friends from the car on the way home to urge them to visit before the close or they would miss something extraordinary. Thank you Tom and we hope you are back in this area soon. If not, I will be visiting your other locations when my travels take me in those directions.

a "ski" from Milwaukee
a "ski" from Milwaukee

This recent episode (Ellis Island) is one of the many reasons why I love watching Top Chef. I've not only learned so much about cooking and cooking methods and terminology; the show has also provided me with learning experiences outside of the realm of culinary arts. Ellis Island is dear to my heart as my grandmother and her parents and sister submitted to every inspection, every question, every scrutiny possible...all to get to their family in Milwaukee. I adored every minute of this episode and also got teary when some of the chefs were explaining their dishes. Oh, how I wish someone would have had a relative coming from Poland! Thank you Bravo, for creating this show and keeping this show informative and not the uninteresting 'reality show competition' it could have become.

Steve H
Steve H

The Elimination Challenge was fantastic and well-judged (though Padma could have spared Richard the potential heart attack). The QuickFire, not so much....while it can be difficult to be creative with mostly junk food, the fact that the chefs did not know how much time they had to complete task detracted from the challenge. How do you know when to start cooking a dish which is to be served hot when you don't know when it will be served? Were the hot things really hot???

j.abreu
j.abreu

Really, Mike Isabella?

Liaisonbri
Liaisonbri

Dear Ray from Virginia---

I don't think your threats to stop taping the show due to no elimination this week has the producers shaking in their respective boots! There is no doubt that you speed through all the well-thought-out, elaborately produced, beautifully composed, magnicently written, wonderfully choreographed, and academy award winning caliberly acted commercial messages and product placements. There are no free lunches! If you are unwilling to support the 22 minutes (28 with extended episodes) of commercial messages and 3-5 product placements -- then your voice does not count. Please do not comment again!

...and I bet you do continue to watch [or tape] the forthcoming episodes.

Hobbits
Hobbits

Chef Tom:

Great episode from the setup to the execution. My only regret was not being there to taste the food, including those items that I don't routinely eat.

With that said, great job to the judges and producers for bending the rules a little. There are times when perhaps two dishes are so bad that both cheftestants should go home and challenges like this one that keeps everyone for another challenge. In the end there can only be one Top Chef but the energy and excitement created with this challenge and seeing all 5 chefs head to the finals was a memorable moment.

dsm
dsm

I truly enjoy this show! Can't wait for each new episode each week. I love the quickfire challenges. Most people complain about them, but what I love about them is that you are challenging the chefs to create solid dishes, with limited ingredients/time/space. That is the true challenge for any situation in life, not just a cooking competition how will you do when thrown a curb ball? I don't understand all these "food snobs" who think every single meal should be a masterpiece and work of art. Do you really eat that way everyday? I would love to one day see the judges ge put through their paces, and actually do a quickfire and elimination challenge, as they say, "walk a mile in someone elses shoes" before passing judgement.

Kidkel13
Kidkel13

Happy all 5 going to Bahamas. Extended judging clip indicated there were more problems with Richard's dish than we saw on the edited broadcast version. So perhaps producers/judges just couldn't send him home...

Richard is creative and a master technician... but Antonia and Carla, in addition to having great skill, both cook from the heart - which comes through in the perfect marriage of flavors, and the sensory memories the dishes bring to the diners.

Though we were not shown why Antonia won - I think it was this aspect of her cooking that raised her dish above all the others.

barriobrit
barriobrit

Carla? Come on! She has cooked her butt off and won more challenges/Quick Fires than Richard, but I don't hear you saying anything about sending HIM home!

Sylvie Featherfoot
Sylvie Featherfoot

I think Antonia won because of her perfect risotto - a VERY difficult dish (I keep trying, but not perfect yet). Carla is my favorite, too, but don't be fooled - those "simple" dishes, if you look at the recipes, are all listed as being at a "challenging" skill level - lots of more complex-seeming dishes are listed as "moderate" skill level. Have you looked at her recipe for chicken pot pie? I have made many of these, always to good reviews, but the complexity of her process was daunting. Check it out.

UncleKaiser
UncleKaiser

Did I understood the preview correctly for next ep? I don´t know...you tell ME But is every contender in A.S gonna go head to head with the winning chef of their season? I think so. Oh Mike is SO screwed, when the "Voltaggionator" is back! Serves him right! But stranger things have happened on Top Chef, we lost Dale too early for example

arribaeltequila
arribaeltequila

I am so happy, best episode of the season! I have only good comments, the challenge was very nice and emotional, the food looked AMAZING! I have said it many times, let them do what they do best, cook their own food and wow us with their talent and you'll have tons of happy viewers :). Really looking forward towards the finale! I am super pleased with Antonia, Mike and Carla.

Cavaco
Cavaco

I am a Top Chef addict. That being said, this was by far one of the most touching and emotional episodes that's ever been aired in Top Chef history. There were such special moments that were truly felt by the viewer and I can only imagine what it must have felt like to the judges as well as the beloved family members. I know in the end a final decision must be made, but if any of you top chefs actually read this, I am routing for all of you for showing such passion and love through the medium of food. Great job, guys!

Nata'
Nata'

Carla is great, and she has won more than any other contestant still standing in elimination challenges. She is a great chef, just because you don't like her personality, it's no reason to down her ability and talent. You have obvious issues of your own.

Dan Cabaniss
Dan Cabaniss

Carla or Tiffany will win. That has b een decided.

Dan Cabaniss
Dan Cabaniss

I agree someone should have been sent home. It is ge tting very difficult to continue watching this show. This episode was my last!

dee too
dee too

How can you be sure that Carla and Tiffany had the worst dishes? I believe the "tad too salty" comment was about Antonia's dish, who, by the way, was the winner. Carla has won more eliminations (and at least 1 quickfire) than anyone. A better question would be not what they have on the judges but what do YOU have against Carla and Tiffany? I applaud the judges for allowing all 5 to continue. I did not taste the food but according to the comments made by the judges and guests (Moms, wives, husband), ALL the dishes were very good so without an obvious mistake no one was sent home.

How can you be sure Carla and Tiffany had the worst dishes? I believe the "tad too salty" comment was about Antonia's dish, who, by the way, was the winner. Carla has won more eliminations (and at least 1 quickfire) than anyone this season, and was in the final 3 in her season. Surely, she deserves to be a contender. Tiffany has had ups and downs but cooked very well in this round.

A better question,grandy, is not "what do Carla/Tiffany have on the judges" but what do YOU have against Carla and Tiffany!?

peachyj
peachyj

um, Carla has been in the top 3 and won several times...i think she's proven herself