Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio describes his own pop-up restaurant experience with Tom: Tuesday Dinner.

on Jan 19, 20110

Well, the eagerly-awaited, both loved and feared Restaurant Wars were upon us this week, and I’d be surprised to hear of any surprise at their outcome. Creating a one-night-only restaurant is a formidable undertaking, and it’s been interesting season after season to see how our chefs approach and execute the challenge. The experience has run the gamut from hair-raising to, well, hair-raising for our chefs, and has never been humdrum for us judges.

As you saw from the introduction of our guest judge, Ludo LeFebvre, professional chefs of note will create such restaurant events, dubbed “pop-up restaurants.” My "Tom: Tuesday Dinner" (TTD) was (and is again) one such venture, in fact. Every other Tuesday for a year, I presented a rather impromptu tasting menu in Craft's private dining room. I've recently begun doing so again, periodically, for a little while. The space is intimate and the kitchen open to the dining room, so that I can connect with the diners and can enjoy cooking directly for them. Many of the dishes I devised for TTD have made their way onto the menu at Colicchio and Sons.  TTDs are always fun for myself and the chefs cooking with me, and our enthusiasm always makes its way across to the dining room. Pop-up restaurants  such as Ludo's and mine are culinary happenings of a sort, but at the end of the day, they still need to be restaurants. No one is expecting the atmosphere at a pop-up to be great, or the restaurant to be built out, but that’s not the point of the pop-up. One goes because one gets the sense that it’s new and only for the moment, and that’s what exciting about it. But a pop-up only works when that excitement is there from the start and is sustained throughout by the chef and his/her staff. All involved in the venture need to sincerely invest in that excitement and communicate it to the diner –- the workers need to have the attitude that they are part of something special. The diner is then brought along on this brief journey. The dishes can be experimental and fun and may or may not succeed, as long as the chef and staff are never imposing anything on the diner. Here, wewitnessed an example of a successful pop-up and one that pretty much imploded. We saw in Bodega the spirit of fun and the sense of sharing a culinary moment with the diners, whereas with Etch, we saw the head chef impose his will on his teammates and his negative experience on the diner. Not fun. The s--tstorm in the kitchen (as the chefs rightly referred to it) got in the way at every turn and translated into a poorer dining experience for the patrons and a loss for the team.

87 comments
m leite
m leite

i agree with some of the comments that i have read in regards to marcel it seems that no one liked him . I feel they were jelous he is great chef many times his dishes were good but they never give him the credit he deserved .no one wanted to take his advice when he was charge chef .Everyone made sure that he failed by not being good chefs themselves .That day he was sent home i believe there was alot more people that had bad dishes and also should have gone home. Well my best to you Marcel i will be looking for you on Iron chef. The day he was sent home i said i would not watch it any more but i wanted to watch them go home one by one & gloat when the people that was happy when Marcel left now i hope Carla wins horray you go Carla

conspiracy theory
conspiracy theory

tom did you eliminate jen because of the quickfire at Le Bernardin where she worked for 5 years? how could that be fair to the other chefs....

MiataNY
MiataNY

I love the show, but have one complaint!!! I think they should make the chef's wear sweatbands!! I constantly notice how much they're sweating over the dishes as they're preaparing them, and it grosses me out!!!!

dottydean
dottydean

Marcel was a head-case, and the only person I was happier to see go home was Jamie!!

westward ho
westward ho

um ... no. i'm watching, and i don't "know" it. i don't know if he should have won his season or not, but why do you declare that he should have won all-stars? because you think he's cute?

fwiw, simply because someone verbally asserts his own superiority again and again doesn't mean he's necessarily superior. i think the judges are in a better position to determine the scope of the cheftestant expertise than the viewers are -- unless your hi-def TV broadcasts in flavor.

Hobbits
Hobbits

Great restaurant war and an obvious winner. Really can't argue as to which team was going to take home the top honors.

A little surprised by two facts: Restaurant Wars came 2 episodes sooner than normal (10 vs. 8 chefs), and the front-of-the-house position is still a role in the contest. While Fabio put his charm and management into full effect, he was more the exception than previous contestents. Given this has been discussed heavily on blogs from previous seasons, I am amused by the producer's stance without explanation as to the continued direction of this role.

Overall, a great night and Marcel's departure was expected. I have seen many great restaurants fail; not from lack of business but because of poor management, both financial and personality (HR). Marcel certainly has some strengths else he wouldn't succeeded to the level he did on two separate seasons but sometimes there is more than just serving a strong dish.

I wish Marcel well and hope that in the years to come he will look back on the DVDs and find an opportunity to grow from these experiences.

The Truth of KC
The Truth of KC

Lisa, you are insane. Marcel is a brat. An approaching 30 year old brat. He does have some technical skill but will never be able to put it together until he grows up. He is rude, venomous and all around mean spirited person. In fact, seeing him getting kicked off made my week! And EVERY chef left has more talent and skill than Marcel. Good riddance!

Viewer in California
Viewer in California

Oh,geeee!...People read this and are all hoping to work with someone just LIKE you!...What did you say your name was? MARCEL????

SanDiegoViewer
SanDiegoViewer

I agree with the above comment. I am so disappointed, I doubt I'll watch the rest of the season. The outcome was completely unbelievable, considering the other errors that were made.

lisa m weaver
lisa m weaver

Tom, come on, Tre was robbed and sent home, but we knew you were waiting on him to slip up. I will watch to see just what happens. at lease he hit em up for the cash first.

lisa m weaver
lisa m weaver

listen, I hate the fact that Tom is soo hard on Tre' I get the feeling you are prejudice. I love top chef and think that you purposely looked for a reason to send him home. He should have won the last two contests. Go Tre' at least you go some cash. I love to cook and bake but I seriously didn;t like that. He can cook circles around Antonia. We can care less about all the Italian stuff you never have straight southern "black" food challenges. What's up with it.

Jud
Jud

I can't believe that Trey goes home and Mike makes uncooked pasta.

Toughbunny1
Toughbunny1

You could probably send him a letter through Bravo/NBC studios in NY.

Lisa Wadsworth
Lisa Wadsworth

Tom, you had something against Marcel. He should have won his season and he should have won All Stars. It makes me sick that Marcel went home and he went home before several loosers. Not only is Marcel the bomb but hes very attractive and looks like the multimillionaire Fairchild! You go Marcel, you have way more knowledge and technical skills than all the other chefs combined!!!! Everyone who's watching knows it. Hold your head up high Marcel, you'll have your own show soon!

texas viewer
texas viewer

I agree. Angelo tried to keep some calm in the kitchen and be supportive of Marcel. I think Tom has had problems with Angelo since his original season and can't help but be negative toward him. Angelo has talent. Period. He may not be the best..hey may..but he tries to always be a gentleman. Tiffany is much nastier about her feelings toward others than Angelo. Tom. Give him a break. Let them all COOK their own thing and judge on that.

texas viewer
texas viewer

Loving the season and think the judging has been fair for the most part. Just want to comment on one thing. Someone said Padma shouldn't criticize the contestants. I agree, but Gail is way worse. She gets personal. When Tom or Eric or other great chefs provide feedback, at least they have been there and have 'constructive' criticism. These aren't children, they are professionals. Try to remember that. Sure, they can have bad days, but shouldn't be crushed at judges table.

willowsilvan
willowsilvan

I love the idea of your challenge! But, you should know that there is at least one hospital that makes incredible food and has been doing so for years. Their food is so good that they also provide catering for small and large events and people are always amazed to know it was created in a hospital kitchen. Enumclaw Regional Hospital in Enumclaw, Washington. A small town one hour from Seattle...and I'd sure suggest Tom check them out and get a little insight into the great fare they turn out; and of course, it also has to fit the nutritional requirements of a hospital setting.

Prepping Weapon
Prepping Weapon

Marcel fans are the most oblivious people on the planet. Watch the extras on Hulu (specifically the video titled "Rude Marcel.") He's pretentious and immature. It be one thing if he was 24, but the guy's 30 years old. He's had three chances on Top Chef and every time he's come off like a prick. If you find a lot of people disliking you, you might want to take some time to reassess how you interact with people.

Oh, and BTW, he got sent home because he 1) couldn't lead his team, 2) made soft, as Bourdain said, texturally monochromatic fish and 3) made an overly complicated dessert that none of the judges liked.

And for all his pomp and posturing, he's nowhere near as intelligent as he thinks he is. Watch the "Rude Marcel" video where he gets into a mini-argument with Mike, who refers to a sauce of Angelo's as "curry-like." Marcel immediately jumps on him, saying "no it's not, it's a French Vadouvan", forgetting/not knowing that Vadouvan is just a French version of masala.

Good riddance, and have fun making foams on the Sci-Fi Channel, as everyone knows the real home of true chefs.

Hal Sullivan
Hal Sullivan

Tom, I love the show BUT, why judge a chef on front of the house performance? As you have stated several times: "It's a cooking show! It's about the food!!"

Why not provide each team in Restaurant Wars with an experienced Maitre d' along with the wait staff?

Brandon K
Brandon K

Best show. Hey why is it that top chefs and judges hold their utensils strangely? They're always using their knives as a fork. Even Tom holds his fork in his closed fist. Is it hip or something?

LastoftheZucchiniFlowers
LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

Top Chef continues to excel as great entertainment in our house. We do miss a show here and there but catching up is easy. TOM - When are you going to make these cheftestants make their own HALVAH. I've heart its nearly an impossible feat and that there are only a few huge turks in brooklyn skilled in the beating of the sesame seed into submission? TC beats all the other Bravo realities. Is it ANDY behind it all? Anyway - love the show and would love to see more of the stalwarts and standard bearers of yesteryear do some judging (like Lidia, Jacques Pepin, or even that stodgy Vermonter from the test kitchen who snarks with the best of them, Chris Kimball. Or do you all have non-compete clauses. PS - when Chang was on Americas Test Kitchens he did a really NONDESCRIPT hamburger on wonder bread. WTF?

CHCC
CHCC

I have a challenge for Top Chef... Something you said in the 'Dim Sum Lose Some' episode that really struck a chord, or should I say "gave me a shot!" I am an RN for more than 20 years now and have heard..."just like hospital food" way to much already. Graveyard shift workers like me are at the mecry of left-overs from dinner and more often that not, it is "hospital food". You've served the Military and their family, the Pentagon, the Fire Department, the Elementary School, etc, etc. Now I hope you can take the challenge of nourishing the night crew in your next season. There has to be some good food out there somewhere to keep us up and running because I can't take no more coffee! I love your show, it is informative and entertaining, and most of all... my cooking has been inspired. I live in the San Joaquin Valley, California's central region, and work at the non-profit Childrens Hospital of Central California in Madera. CHCC the first children's hospital west of the Rockies to receive Magnet Nursing Certification, the highest standard of nursing certification in America. I am inviting you to take the virtual tour of our hospital's wesite to entice you and the Top Chef staff to consider the central valley for your next show's location. Our place is often called the "Land of the Fruits and Nuts", and is one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. We have vast farmlands, cattle ranches, dairies, and vineyards. The next Top Chef show will be one of the over 3 million visitors to the Yosemite National Park which is right outside our backyard. You can take over the Ahwahnee Hotel's restaurant or make a picnic challenge while featuring the first national park in the world! P.S. Thank God for 'on demand', otherwise it would be a challenge to schedule all Wednesdays off!!!

Koko McCune
Koko McCune

Spot on commentary. Top Chef is the only show I both watch and check out every blog after the show. I'm writing because I get quite frustrated with some of the things I see in the comments, and I just need to vent.

1. How many times do the judges need to say that it doesn't matter who acts like an ass-hat in the kitchen, who doesn't play well with others and who whines like a vineyard - the cheftestant that makes the worst dish goes home. Watch the episode and listen to AB's comment when he tasted the peach nightmare. That very second informed who would be leaving, the same as last week when a judge called a chicken's foot inedible.

2. On the reverse, it doesn't matter how wonderfully Fabio worked the front of the house. Richard made the best dish. Fabio did a great job on the floor. Dale did a great job expediting, even if the edits showed him getting a bit loud. Carla and Tre worked the kitchen like the pros they are, along with Richard and his lead by example awesomeness. None of that matters. Richard made the best dish.

3. Angelo didn't keep his head down and hide in the corner until Marcel pissed him off enough to make him. In fact, Angelo snapped at the "wunderkind" for using foam yet again and Marcel just ignored him. Marcel went home, and a large reason for that was his foam. If he would have listened to Angelo, we may be seeing another of our lovely ladies leaving. Angelo wasn't the executive chef at "Bl-etch," so it wasn't his place to do any more than he did. He made the attempt, and I'm sure he said things that didn't make the edit as well, but he performed his role in the kitchen as he would want any cook under him to perform them. That is one of the reasons I will be eating at Xie Xie as soon as I can get to that neck of the woods. Tom mentioned he should have done more, but the judges don't see the back of the house. If they did, I'm sure he would agree with me as well. It wasn't Angelo's job to save Marcel; it was Marcel's job to save Marcel. He failed.

4.Anthony is hilarious and spot-on. Padma is gorgeous, elegant and thoughtful. Tom is tough, seasoned and fair. Anybody who doesn't agree fails at life.

5. Foam-shitting ponies is not a Bourdain-ism. Similar quips have been done quite often before, including rainbow-shitting unicorns in a popular video game. It's still hilarious.

6. Top Chef should contact me about becoming a guest blogger or part of their production team, because it would be a great benefit to all parties involved.

7. Some people are continuing to read this list because they hope I have something else witty to add.

8. I don't.

Travlindiva
Travlindiva

I agree. Fabio is awesome. I would eat at his resturant anytime. He has a wonderful personality and is really concerned about the servers as well as his teammates. If they have a "fan fav" this year it's Fabio for me!

stone harbor
stone harbor

Dale needs to continue in anger management. His attitude and actions directed at the servers just shows he may want to get his backside back in the therapy chair pronto. Nobody deserves to be berated in that fashion. Like the old saying goes, if you can't stand the heat...go get help. Fabio obviously got shafted by not winning this competition....to control an ego and an attitude of that magnitude and still have grace out on the floor, and not have the serves just walk out, is hard to do. Maybe next time Fabio.

Chef Paul
Chef Paul

Tom you are SO wrong about Marcel AND the problems... He wasn't trying to impose his will (in fact he said to the others that you cannot force someone to do something), he just doesn't know how to deal with adversity and mutiny which was forced on him by Mike and Tiffany (in fact I loved Tiffany before this episode). Marcel knows what you are saying about winning and that you need to lead and organize by being supportive, etc. Even YOU, TOM, would FAIL too if I gave you 3 out of 4 mutinous sous chefs that wanted to be difficult. They didn't exactly cook their own dishes well either. FYI - Marcel would have had the BEST dish on his Team if Isabella didn't deliberately cook Marcel's fish soft - HE made it MUSHY, not Marcel (and thast what was bad about it - check the tape!). Plus, Isabella was the INSTIGATOR in most of those arguments...Ask Angelo! In fact, from the very beginning Mike and Tiffany were being difficult with Marcel, and he was trying to field ALL of their input onto a list. MIKE wa the one that STARTED all the arguments. He wouldn't let Marcel tell him anything without taking it as an insult. It is CLEAR that YOU,TOM, are biased, and tend to side with your Jersey/Italian-American counterpart Mike Isabella (sp?). Plus, you have had NO respect for Marcel. Just because other chefs cannot tolerate his BLUNT honesty, and never have, does not mean that he is a confrontational guy. Mike Is very confrontational, and Dale is too (hell he had ANGER Mgmt.!). So, the editing shows that these guys really pushed Marcel to the edge. Plus, he was damn near raped in the first season. Marcel was trying to be alone in that season, what gives is that none of the mediocre intelligence in most of the other chefs can tolerate Marcel's brightness - and he is a great chef in the making. But, Tom, you are wrong about him being confrontational. MIKE was a total A-hole in the kitchen on this episode, and mainly because he was pissed for losing last time on Marcel's team. Bottom line is that Angleo said it best: he would have FIRED anyone for talking to the head chef the way Mike did to Marcel. The fact is that NO ONE would do that in the real world, they'd suck it up to keep their job, and eventually learn that their differences with their head chef could be resolved. MIKE was TOTALLY DISRESPECTFUL, and Angelo should have stepped up and defended him. I thought you just didn't know what was really happening, but to BLOG what you just said about the episode in retrospect, that shows you are really turning the other cheek because you don't like Marcel. The kid will grow, and within 10 years you'll see he is the head of a 2 star Michelin... or better. Marcel has what it takes, he just needs to lose the foam thing... and he will!

Mr. Chef
Mr. Chef

Tom, PULLEEEZ. Dale encouraged his team...? Upi are losing it Tom. Dale is a great cook, but as a head chef he yelled at the satff, he curses constantly, and he DID NOT LEAD THE TEAM - RICHARD DID!!! Quietly but through strength in example and assisting other. Dale is selfish, and rarely assists others - like he ignored helping others in the Dim Sum. Marcel was right about that!!!

Chef Paul
Chef Paul

Tom you are SO wrong about Marcel... Ask Angelo. In fact, from the very beginning Mike and Tiffany were being difficult with Marcel, and he was trying to field ALL of their input onto a list. MIKE wa the one that STARTED all the arguments. He wouldn't let Marcel tell him anything without taking it as an insult. It is CLEAR that YOU,TOM, are biased, and tend to side with your Jersey/Italian-American counterpart Mike Isabella (sp?). Plus, you have had NO respect for Marcel. Just because other chefs cannot tolerate his BLUNT honesty, and never have, does not mean that he is a confrontational guy. Mike Is very confrontational, and Dale is too (hell he had ANGER Mgmt.!). So, the editing shows that these guys really pushed Marcel to the edge. Plus, he was damn near raped in the first season. Marcel was trying to be alone in that season, what gives is that none of the mediocre intelligence in most of the other chefs can tolerate Marcel's brightness - and he is a great chef in the making. But, Tom, you are wrong about him being confrontational. MIKE was a total A-hole in the kitchen on this episode, and mainly because he was pissed for losing last time on Marcel's team. Bottom line is that Angleo said it best: he would have FIRED anyone for talking to the head chef the way Mike did to Marcel. The fact is that NO ONE would do that in the real world, they'd suck it up to keep their job, and eventually learn that their differences with their head chef could be resolved. MIKE was TOTALLY DISRESPECTFUL, and Angelo should hav estepped up and defended him. I thought you just didn't know what was really happening, but to BLOG what you just said about the episode in retrospect, that shows you are really turning the other cheek because you don't like MArcel. The kid will grow, and within 10 years you'll see he is the head of a 2 star Michelin... or better. Marcel has what it takes, he just needs to lose the foam thing... and he will!

ralpha
ralpha

Marcel led like hell. Oh, well.

Butch in Iowa
Butch in Iowa

I SOOOOOO love to watch TC. I am soooooooo envious of the judges and the fact they get to taste the food prepared by these undoubtly talented chefs. I could only hope for TASTAVISION to come quickly. RWs is always a test of team work and cooperation, with these particular chefs all knowing each other from previous competition, it made for the perfect trap for Marcel. Which is too bad, even though I am not particularly a fan of the young man, it still became more of a popularity contest than food prepartion. On up coming competitions it would be great to see RWs come earlier in the competition, before personalties begin to affect the group dynamic. Will be watching to see who is the TC.

Dia Borrow
Dia Borrow

Okay, I am not really replying to you Theresa, but I will disagree with you I think Isabella is a fine chef and does not need to be the next off. My real reason for writing is I need to know if anyone knows how to write Tom directly somehow. My 10 year old son is his and the shows biggest fan and has been watching for 3 years now and has been cooking since he started watching. Any one know how I can contact him ,I would like to share my sons whole story with him.

BIDDYBELLE
BIDDYBELLE

Face it, if you can't get your staff to follow your lead you shouldn't be a leader.

Dale snapped at one sever...Fabio corrected him and that was that. It's called communication during a stressful time.

BIDDYBELLE
BIDDYBELLE

BYE BYE Threatening not to watch is just silly!!!!!

BIDDYBELLE
BIDDYBELLE

How do you know if Marcel or any of the Chef's are great chef's or OK chef's. Can you really tell by looking at the food on the TV screen. I for one have to take the judges word for it because until I find a way to taste the dishes I cannot give my opinion on the taste. But I can give my opinion on Marcel. He was the only TC contestant that didn't learn from his first appearance on the show. Tiffany came back after a bad reputation in season one and ended up being very like able. Dale calmed down quite a bit....BUT Marcel was still an ARROGANT SOB

BIDDYBELLE
BIDDYBELLE

Actually Mike didn't call out Marcel until Marcel started throwing them all under the bus.

another viewer
another viewer

I don't understand why Mike isabella is always so negative in his comments about the female chefs on the show. I think he has a real problem with women.

another viewer
another viewer

I totally disagree with you sephigirl. Marcel just does not get it when mistakes are pointed out. He lets his ego get in the. And if Marcel gets a show somewhere, it will not be a ratings bonanza.

Go Carla...WIN!

TSMyrie
TSMyrie

Dale is a strategist indeed! I think he chose Marcel as captain not only because he didn't want to work with him, but because he knew of Marcel's poor people and leadership skills, which would give Dale and his team the advantage! Leadership isn't about bossing people around, which Marcel has failed to learn in two seasons.....and his parting comments show that he still is unwilling to be introspective!! Everyone else is always wrong in his eyes. I share Isabella's sentiments....these things can come with time and maturity...hopefully, Marcel get's it soon.

Betsy Simek
Betsy Simek

First, Marcel did not try and advise and/or guide, he tried to impose his will. Not a good quality when you want your "help" to rally around you. And, it began in the apartment, when they were chosing names, and he smugly said his idea, complete with hand gestures was still "up there".

Though I didn't like her in her season, and still didn't like her in this one, at least Tiffany F. saw her shortcomings when she watched her own season. It's too bad the same can't be said for Marcel. Talent only gets you so far.

stone harbor
stone harbor

Yes, Dale "put together a winning team" but he really needs to sign up for more anger management classes when this Top Chef ride is over. He is a little man, with a huge temper and it has no place in any work environment. I hope apology's were handed out to the servers he talked rudely too.

fan1000
fan1000

Is it true that Dale only plated for the judges and did not make food for the diners in the dim sum episode? If so, that is just wrong.

Theresa Bell
Theresa Bell

Glad Marcel is gone, Isabella should be next

BarbiQ
BarbiQ

I agree with you, Fabio was robbed. Casey was eliminated for FOH duties and a bad dish, Fabio should have won for great FOH service and great dish.

BarbiQ
BarbiQ

I'm tired of reading how Marcel is a great chef. No he isn't. He is a good chef. Marcel has only won 1 quickfire and has never won a challenge, that should tell you something. The team leader ALWAYS goes home and that's the way it should be. Tre team leader eliminated, Kenny team leader eliminated, the only reason that Elia was not eliminated on her team challenge is because Mia eliminated herself in order to save Elia.

Latta Lil Foamy, Holla.

general1318
general1318

Yes, you are so correct. But my angst is with Tom reaming Angelo and accing him of doing nothing but keeping his head down. Basically only saving himself and nit caring about his team. That is NOT Angelo and Tom should know better than that. There would have been blood spilt back there if not for Angelo. But these are grown pepole with big egos and even Angelo could not do the cooking for them. The atmosphere reflected in their food. Tom says they look at tapes...then he owes Angelo an apology IMO. Peace.

general1318
general1318

I agree, Tom you even remarked that you had never seen such great running of the front, especially how great he managed the work staff and kept every aspect of service running like clockwork. He hit 3 home runs 'cause he even had to keep Dale & his foul temper in the kitchen in check, Richard with is petulant attitudehad to be soothed...Fabi was FABULOUS!

summer chef
summer chef

Angelo put it best when he stated that Mike should be banned from the kitchen, and presumably from Top Chef for his attitude. If a line cook ever mouthed off to the chef in a restaurant the way Mike did to Marcel he would be out in the street before his spoon dropped to the floor.

Just ask Ken Lee the first chef eliminated on Top Chef.

Judd999
Judd999

Loved, loved, loved the pop-up concept for restaurant wars. Wasn't actually sure the "Bodega" idea would fly. You're "Let's give 'em a little poetic license" line was dead on. It was the team that made it come together. I tend to agree w/ both your blog and the other commenters - it was total teamwork that wouldn't have had the magic w/o Richard's insights and Fabio's magic. Wish both could have won. Great blog.

Steffie26
Steffie26

YAY...Carcel's gone, Jaime's out. I love the chefs who show up and cook, without all that complaining and whining. My favorites are Tre, Richard, & Carla. They always show up and adapt. Some of the others makes me think, why are you cooking if it makes you whine so much.