Hello, my little doe-eyed deer. Just to address some of your comments from last week about Heather winning using Edward's recipe. It doesn't matter -- he gave her the recipe. And Tom brought up a good point in his blog that had Ed made the cake, which he could have, he might not have executed it as well. So, Heather won the Venza. I'm not sure how I feel about Heather's attitude in the kitchen, but we'll get to that in a moment because it's really interesting to dissect.
So, this week's Quickfire was all about tequila! Padma also introduced this week's guest judge, Tim Love. As I may be so bold and inappropriate to say this, Chef Love is, well, really good-looking in real life. OK, hopefully that'll be my only 14-year-old girl moment of the blog. Now, onto the Quickfire! This challenge actually reminded me of another handsome chef -- Eric Ripert. Eric loooves tequila. And good tequila. He's not a shot-doer, he drinks it like you're supposed to and as Chef Love reiterated -- by sipping it. As I get older, I appreciate tequila more and more. Someone once told me it's the only non-depressant alcohol, so I like to spread that fun fact (or fallacy -- who knows!) far and wide. But I can't sit there drinking tequila, unless it's in a cocktail or done as a shot. This challenge was about bringing out the flavors of the various types of tequila. Like Chris Crary, I would've selected blanco as well. (I'm really making myself sound like a lush, huh?) I have to be honest and say that, although they were successful, I'm not a huge oyster fan (blasphemous I know), and the thought of pairing an oyster with tequila amost made me vomit in my mouth. As did many of the seafood preparations. Maybe I need to get out more! Even though Heather's didn't work out, the first dish that came to my mind was shrimp too. There used to be this amazing tequila shrimp dish at Eatery in NYC. (Just looking on their website, and I'm not sure it's on the menu anymore -- sorry about that!)
Heather is an incredible chef and runs a no-nonsense, high quality kitchen. You'll be hard pressed to find a finer chef or a better kitchen in Chicago. The fact is, she pushes herself to be the best and she expects the same from the people she hires. It clearly was a problem for her to work with people who don't share the same passion for perfection. She probably didn't respond to it well, but they kicked off the best chef way too early.
Watching tonight's repeat of the game episode, I'm reminded of what a disappointment it was to jump straight to the winner without any discussion. At the very least, a shot of the judges saying "hands down, no other dish compared" would have at least segued into the next segment well.
Are you kidding me? Heather was the only interesting thing in this season! Since I don't get to taste these wonderful dishes, the only excitement for a viewer is the human drama.
Which, after Marcel and Alex and Tiffani and others, is missing this year. I don't believe for a minute that this competition is judged solely on cooking -- as Tom made clear in his blog a couple of years ago. After the Marcel-hazing incident, Tom wanted to send the entire group home, but the producers stepped in. I suspect they step in a LOT, keeping popular/unpopular chefs and sending home the *boring* ones. I expect both Chrises to stick around, for example, based on their looks and popularity as much as their cooking.
Heather had the misfortune to have an abrasive personality and less-than-Hollywood looks, so she naturally had to go. There have been male chefs just as abrasive and bullying on this show, who have gotten all the way to the finish line. You can't tell me it was solely because of their cooking. I guarantee you that if Heather had looked like Padma she'd still be on the show. So while I love the show and watch it with glee, I also watch it without illusions. Like Gordon Ramsay's shows, it's not really about cooking, it's about drama. And I'm okay with that.
Okay, I didn't say anything after sitting thru the tedious eliminations of the super-sized field of chefs (tho wondering how disheartening that was for them, and did they all have to go into seclusion for the duration) . Didn't say anything after the team elimination, and Nyesha got screwed, tho is doing well in last chance kitchen ( I would love it, but would it be fair for her to win, since she will not have had to go thru half the challenges the remaining chefs did?). Haven't said anything about Cris C. being fan favorite even though he is one of the weakest chefs. But now I have to ask why we are subjected to re-reuns during the holiday season? The show is in the can, it's not like anyone connected to the show needed time off for the holidays. Xmas is over and New Year is days away! If you don't think your audience will be there you are wrong. Sitting down and watching a show you look forward to is a respite from the holiday madness!
Fascinating that Heather is so heavily criticized for being a bully. Is a man was harsh on Bev and telling her like it is, no one would comment. It would be accepted coming from a man. It seems like the other chefs have an issue with Bev too but Heather was the only one to clearly voice her opinion. In the end, she hung herself, rather than playing it safe like the others. This season is so boring.
I too can't stand a bully and let's face it that is what Heather has been.The thing that jumps out at me is when she said if she went home she would be so po'd.But she did not thank anyone when she won.She was so gearing up to lose and probably blame Beverly,but she won and acknowledged noone.She is looking for a man with that attitude?Beauty is as beauty does.Good luck with that.Karma is real and I am glad.
I agree with the other commenters, Heather is a bully and she's also delusional. She makes excuses and puts other people down in an attempt to make herself look and feel better. She's the worst Top Chef contestant ever.
Thanks so much for a well written blog and great observations about the team. Have to wonder how she is to others in the kitchen. So hard to believe she and Tay-lor are friends. Ditto on Grayson hope she goes far in the competition. And now a message to Heather.
Heather - Please go to Top Chef Season 1 and see how Tiffani behaved and how I think even she has said she regretted it. It is too late for you, but maybe it can save the restaurant you work in. P.S.) No single person has ever looked better by making others look worse, ever.... Heather currently is making Tiffani seem likable compared to her. And PLEASE Heather - do not blame editing, you can't edit mean and spiteful in.
Heather forgot that if she doesn't win, she goes back to her restaurant for which she has killed good will. Chicago is a city with amazing food choices - Moto, Spiaggia, and Aria come to mind - and people will choose based on PR.
If I were on reality TV, I would be so cautious about exposing my own worst behaviors. Why can't Heather see that she is creating a public relations nightmare for herself that will last for years after the show ends? It puzzles me beyond belief that people will act out this way when they know that the public is watching and judging. All I can think of is that people who act like that truly feel justified and can't imagine they could possibly be out of line. That simply shows a constricted mentality--which makes me feel sorry for the individual.
For Beverly to break out into her abusive relationship story is a pitiful situation. I assume she is equating Heather to her abusive partner. That is not a pleasant thing to watch or think about.
"The problem is that a good manager knows how to get the best work out of people, and Beverly does not respond well to aggression. So, Heather needs to try another tactic."
The problem IS that Heather is not Beverly's manager - none of the chefs are each other's managers or bosses. They are teammates and teams work best when every member of the team respects the other members. You don't have to like your teammate but you do have to listen to their opinions and arrive at a mutually agreeable decision. The dish they turned out spoke to the failure of Heather to honor or follow any of these basic teamwork guidelines. As one of the judges said, their dish was like 2 individual dishes whose only relation to each other was the plate they sat on.
I have the best idea of karmic justice for Heather: she can work one night under the supervision of Gordon Ramsey.
I believe that Beverly has proven herself to be an amazing chef on the show. She wanted her shrimp to be perfect. Point blank. Who cares? It was last week. Most chefs want thier food to be perfect and no one harps on them. Instead they get showered with complements and they may even get thier own shows...right Tom? Anyway, Heather seems to be very abrasive towards Bev because she views her as weak and that is wrong. We preach about it to children in school because bullying hurts people and it is not right and I believe that Heather should be made the example by not being able to participate. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior on television and in real life. I don't care if it makes the ratings higher. I'm watching this show because I want to watch talented people cook in crazy, high stress situations. I don't want to see who is the biggest jerk because they are unhappy with themselves. Heather needs to remember that she is there to cook and not judge, which is Tom, Hugh, and Padma's job and if she can't handle the heat then she needs to get out of the kitchen.
Heather's behavior is abusive, which has been noticed not only by her fellow contestants, but also by some of the judges. I makes it even sadder, because Beverley has been through an abusive relatioship prior to this. This explains her having difficulty standing up for herself. I totally admire the other contestants for stepping in when they see this. Hugh wrote in his blog something I completely agree with, you should take into account what other people may have been through when you are dealing with them (whether it's common knowledge or not being respectful is important). There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion or standing up for yourself, but if you're doing it by doing harm to others, there is a serious problem. Maybe Heather needs to examine herself more. I predict when she watches the show she will feel badly for how she treated others.
Next time, Judges, don't send home a team - send home the 2 chefs with the biggest responsibility for the bad dishes. Bev and Heather had NO chance of doing a great dish with Heather "sitting" on Bev the whole time - from the edit that made it to the TV, it seemed Heather was more interested in making Bev subservient rather than creating the best dishes that 2 heads could make. Heather should have been gone in a second. I am not looking forward to another moment of her on the show! I'm hoping that she will be shaken by the kind of response she'll be getting from her behavior in such a public venue - and move out of her selfish world to a more curious and kinder place.
I know it has been said before but Heather is a classic bully. Anyone with good leadership skills is firm but fair and also listens. The exact opposite of the skills Heather has. She is either lacking in self esteem herself and over compensating or just a plain old nasty person who needs someone to tactfully put her in her place. I understand that it is a competition but the way she treated Beverley at the Judges Table was a disgrace. I don't care if she cooks better food than anyone else in the kitchen she is not Top Chef material and I hope she goes home, and soon!
I'm amazed that time and again, a room full of 15 people stand silently and listen to Heather and her revolting high pitched comments going on and on ad nauseum. Why one person in the group does not pipe up and tell her that she is obnoxious - not necessarily to defend Bev [who I like] but just to set the record straight for humanity. I've generally found that the louder people talk, generally the more annoying they are. Heather is off the scale. Unfortunately it is so unpleasant to watch that I may not tune in to watch the show until she's gone- I don't need to sit and be pummeled by a bully, even as a viewer.
I haven't minded Heather's "take charge" behavior because she stepped up when it was needed. Somebody has to lead the slack jawed, security conscious cooks into a unified group. However, she seems to target Bev as her personal whipping boy. Bev is quiet and introverted, yet stands by her food. So far, the cast holds no particular interest for me. They are generic and forgettable.
First time commenting on this season so....real quick about Ed's cake recipe. I don't think Tom's point is valid. Anyone that's baked knows that the recipe is the key, and execution is following the recipe precisely. The argument holds for preparing a dish......but not baking a cake.
I can go on and on about Heather.....but I don't want to waste the time and effort.
But I have to throw in (as everyone agrees), the idea of the team elimination is so mind-bogglingly moronic, its hard to comprehend someone got paid for such a lousy idea. You only need to see a few episodes of Top Chef (with a team challenge) to know its very often that one person can ruin a dish...and to send someone home for another person's mistake INTENTIONALLY is....again just mind-boggling. Oh, and last I checked, this wasn't Top Check On Your Teammate's Work......its Top Chef. And sadly, Nyesha was one of the few chefs capable of winning the entire season.
Hey, Monica, try sorghum on hot biscuits...it rocks! On a different note, I hate double eliminations. It was different in season two when everyone got a pass one week and they made up for it the next, but just eliminating two chefs (and not necessarily the TWO worst) just because you have too many cheftestants for your defined season is crappy.
That was torture watching Heather belittle Bev like that at judges table. I'm sure that Heather doesn't like several things about Bev but you do not treat people like that. There is a professional way to air your opinions and that was not it. That was poor leadership at its worst. Also sad to see Dakota & Nyesha go, they were wonderful to watch. This definitely wasn't one of my favorite episodes.
Heather is a piece of work...and Bravo was making full use of it in this past episode! Looked like something straight out of Top Chef Housewives with the close-ups of Heather giving other contestants stink-eye. Beverly should feel better since she isn't the only one in Heather's line of sight!
I agree with Grinning Cat's comment, although this is the first TC blog post of yours I have read and so can't speak to the pattern, but here's a possible translation of some thinking in this one: "Heather's behavior is X, and in some sweeping, simplistic way I am also X, therefore while I cannot outright condone Heather's targeting of Beverly, I can relate to and almost admire her aggression." Heather's seeming delight in the attack goes well beyond "sauciness" or "personality" differences. The "too tough" description implies strength -- bullying is a weak, not confident behavior, yet many seem to associate it with leadership. "The problem is that a good manager knows how to get the best work out of people, and Beverly does not respond well to aggression. So, Heather needs to try another tactic." Who exactly made Heather manager? The equation of aggression with strength and the assumption that it naturally qualifies a person to take the "manager" role could be misconstrued as endorsement of pathological power relations. People who see Beverly as somehow Heather's inverse, the weaker party, in this false notion of strong/weak should consider that it takes a much stronger person to leave an abusive relationship than to instigate one. Furthermore, approaches to the job may arise from different philosophies, social, economic, or cultural backgrounds, and styles as much as from temperament. Heather said Beverly does not "think like" a chef-- who's to say what any chef does or doesn't, should or should not "think like"? Rigid thinking such as Heather displays in this episode seems more likely to prevent a person from becoming a great, groundbreaking chef. But, all that being said, watching a reality show it's hard to differentiate approach from game strategy. Maybe taking an eternity to peel shrimp or singling out one competitor to drag out petty grievances from a previous challenge are two sides of a coin.
While Heather may have been a bit out of line last night, I also see where she is coming from, especially with regard to the shrimp in the last challenge. I would have been angry too if a member of my team (a professional chef, no less) took their sweet-**** time working on a single component of a single dish.
Also, Beverly is no saint, either. In the first several episodes, she showed herself to be obnoxious and inconsiderate (taking cuts in line at the deli at Whole Foods, taking over the kitchen during the progressive party, etc) and likes to play the victim. While Heather could have taken a different approach, ultimately, Beverly needs to step up her game. Also, Chris Jones is an idiot. Get a haircut, stop trying to be clever and just make good food! I hope he and Bev are the next to go.
BTW, I think Heather's behavior is bullying but it is a bit overblown. Of course it's bad, but she isn't an awful person... It's just that her behavior is awful.
Pure and simple, Heather is insecure and unsure of herself (I'm guessing number one on her list would be her appearance. Oh sorry Heather was that insulting?) and Beverly is an easy target for someone like her. What would garner more respect is if Heather would pick on someone with a fast-talking loud-volume voice. What would garner even more respect is if she would cook instead of insulting others.
I agree that Heather is a bully! I wouldn't eat at her restuarant, even if by some fluke she were to win. I would prefer no more team challenges. I think each chef's position should be based on their own merits and not on that of others. I realize that working in a kitchen is a "team" effort, however, this is Top Chef and not Top Team Kitchen. I do love the show however, no matter how they want to do the challenges.
One thing is for sure. When restaurant wars comes around it's going to be interesting. The cheftestants have all seen what Heather can do. I hope they're ready to keep her in line.
Nothing wrong with someone who is outspoken, says what's on their mind. Heather is a great chef. Stop your crying, and execute your craft, and you won't have to worry about the "bullying". Its a competition for F*** sake. Its not like we haven't seen this before on season's past.
Rock on Heather!
For the past couple of episodes Madame Heather has been saying that all "Beverly does is Asian and the judges are going to get tired of it." I'm sorry but did anyone say that Mr. Fabio only cooked ITALIAN! or that that Mr. Richard only did molecular gastronomy??? NO! When it's something other than Western European food (ie. white) it's somehow narrow??? Heather should point the finger at herself and wonder what's up with that "rustic farm to kitchen" approach of hers. Can you say midwestern dooodooo? If you've ever been to "ASIA" you'd know that the food there is more diverse than anything you'd find in little Europe. If you dig into Beverly's Korean heritage you'd find that just in the borders of Korea are some of the most diverse types of food out there!
And btw, funny how Heather didn't notice that Whitney spent SIX hours on slicing potatoes. Good thing Collichio et al noticed! I don't think Heather's got a problem with Beverly's "work ethic" here, I think there's something else. Read between the lines.
I don't understand the Heather fans, she's been talking smack from git go!
I agree with Grinning Cat's comment, although this is the first blog post of yours (Monica) I have read and so can't speak to the pattern, but here's a possible translation of some thinking in this one: "Heather's behavior is X, and in some sweeping, simplistic way I am also X, therefore while I cannot outright condone Heather's targeting of Beverly, I can relate to and almost admire her aggression." Heather's seeming delight in the attack goes well beyond "sauciness" or "personality" differences. Your "too tough" description implies strength -- bullying is a weak, not confident behavior, yet you seem to associate it with leadership. "The problem is that a good manager knows how to get the best work out of people, and Beverly does not respond well to aggression. So, Heather needs to try another tactic." Who exactly made Heather manager? The equation of aggression with strength and the assumption that it naturally qualifies a person to take the "manager" role comes a bit too close to endorsement of pathological power relations for me. Some commenters here and perhaps you also Monica see Beverly as somehow Heather's inverse, the weaker party, in this false notion of strong/weak. Note, it takes a much stronger person to leave an abusive relationship than to instigate one. Furthermore, approaches to the job may arise from different philosophies, social, economic, or cultural backgrounds, and styles as much as from temperament. Heather said Beverly does not "act like" a chef-- who's to say what a chef does or does not "act like"? Perhaps her rigid thinking will prevent Heather from ever becoming a great, groundbreaking chef. Perhaps she perceives Beverly as an unconventional threat. But, all that being said, watching a reality show it's hard to differentiate approach from game strategy. Maybe taking an eternity to peel shrimp or singling out one competitor to drag out petty grievances from a previous challenge are two sides of a coin.
I don't think Heather is a bully but she must be very tough in her restaurant. What she doesn't realize is Top Chef isn't a restaurant it's a reality tv show..All the chefs are there because they qualified just like herself. When she watches this at home she'll probably cringe. Especially about the shrimp over and over again.
Heather is a bully.
Two weeks in a row she is harping on Bev's shrimp. In the same challenge one chef only made compound butter. OK.
Long time fan but I don't believe anyone is bringing it this season. Season should be called Safe Chef.
I am totally Team Heather. Let's take a look at Bev: - cries a lot - didn't listen in the mother sauce challenge and made a plate of soy sauce - cut in line at the meat counter - took up the whole kitchen at the progressive party - obviously has her comments edited because she doesn't stop talking i.e. Ryan Season 4 - acts victimized when if she doesn't like it she should stand up for herself - she's a chef, not a sous chef - Heather is not the manager in this kitchen, she's a contestant. However she's wigged out be Bev - oh and let's not forget taking two days to devein and pickle shrimp if you're not Team Heather, get over yourselves...
This episode just showed Heather's true character. A mean bully. Sure Beverly can be annoying but Heather's abrasive and demeaning manner was uncall for. Their team was unsuccesful because of Heather and her treatment of her teammate.
It was not a surprise that Bev had been in an abusive relationship. I had a feeling somebody in her past had really beat her down. The last thing she needs is to have King Kong after her. Julia Child always treated all cooks/chefs with respect and was eager to learn some culinary talents from them. Closing your mind to what others can bring to the table is not allowing to yourself to grow.
The Elim challenge was designed to bring out the best - $10K win, double elim if you lose - yet Heather didn't care - her vendetta was more important to her than ANYTHING else. She's loud with everyone, talks over everyone, and her food doesn't look that good either. Big deal, she cooked a good cake last week, this isn't the dessert version of TC. I felt so sorry for Beverley, she didn't deserve that treatment, and since Heather outweighs her by about a hundred pounds and is a foot taller than she is, she couldn't stick up for herself if she wanted to, could she? If Heather stays, I just hope the show keeps her away from Beverley so she can do her best. If H wins, it would be a crying shame!!!
Some folks defending Heather's criticism of Beverly's slow work is kinda befuddling to me! Considering that she was working slow what part of that dish did not get done in time?
Actually, if you see the steak episode in more details, you will see that not only did she meaninglessly go after Beverly for her slowness BUT between Lindsey and her rushed the steak dish and did not listen to Ty-lor's instruction. They fired the steaks too soon and then let it overcook and get cold waiting for service!
Moto Chris should also start focussing on the food rather than a pre conceived shape, art, etc. He messed up the cigar chicken dish in the progressive party and in this its clear he wanted that sweet potato fence no matter what the episode was about. If the flavors are not there then does not matter how much art and gastronomy you use the plate of food is a failure.
It's difficult for me to remain neutral in the Heather vs. Bev debate or sugar coat Heather's behavior. The Heather's attitude and its manifestation as insults is inexcusable on a professional and personal level. This type of negativity should not be encouraged! I understand the frustration she may have much like the other chefs, but why let that be funneled into a personal attach on Bev? I hope the community cheers for top chef, who encompasses the character and skills of a great chef. Please no more sugar coating bad behaviors.
Oh and p.s. who DOESN'T find Paul adorable?! I was more in love after hearing him speak about his teammate Sarah.
Frankly, I side with Heather on this. The first two or three episodes I thought more than exhibited Bev's selfish behavior (cutting in line at the deli at Whole Foods, taking over most of the kitchen during the progressive party, just to name a few incidents) and I feel like she plays the victim more often than not. I also agree with Heather about the shrimp fiasco from the previous challenge. I would have been upset too if a member of my team was taking their sweet-ass time working on a single component of a single dish. As a professional chef, Bev should have been able to execute that task in a more timely fashion. I personally can't stand Bev or Chris Jones and hope they are the next to go.
great blog and insight!
you summed up my feelings on last night's episode pretty much to a T...Grayson and Paul are my wife and totally my favorites, but we both really admire the majority of the cast this year...
heather is talented, but she needs to learn that she's just coming across as incredibly nasty and vindictive and NOT, in ANY way, as a leader...
in fairness, Bev DOES need to suck it up a bit though, although i can't even imagine having to just continually be put in these grueling, marathon situations...
so far, this is one of my very favorite seasons and casts
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas
Heather, please, just shut the hell up and stop being a passive agressive bully. I hope you're gone soon.
Isn't Top Chef exciting enough without all the focus on Heather and Bev? I get it, they don't work well together and their communication styles don't bring out the best in each other. Duly noted, but it's time to move on. I am just as interested in the other remaining chefs and the challenges ahead of them. I do have to say that Dakota's guilt over failing Nyesha in the double elimination challenge brought tears to my eyes. It was refreshing to see a competitor take so much responsibility and to communicate that so openly on camera. This was the first time I'd seen Dakota and Nyesha work together, and while they ultimately failed on the execution of their dish, they did have a key ingredient which was missing in the Bev/Heather team: respect for each other. I'd rather of a Dakota or Nyesha on my team than a stubbornly aggressive Heather or stressed out Bev - any day of the week. I will say that I was very worried that another poor decision on the part of Chris J. was going to send Grayson home, which would have been tragic. Grayson has shown some excellent classic cooking expertise as well as some actual professionalism (she didn't go after Chris J. in fact making an active effort to protect the dish/team -- Heather could take a page from this book), and I wouldn't be surprised if Grayson's strong performance up to now is what saved that team from elimination. At this point in the season, clear contenders are beginning to emerge, but Chris J. seems nowhere close to having what it takes. I was pleased to see a win from Ty-Lör and Ed, particularly Ty-Lör, who won both the Quick Fire and the Elimination Challenge. Chris C. was not far behind in the Quick Fire, so the guys really ruled this episode. But with a lot of strong female contestants and several early eliminations on the guys' side, it's nice to see some of the male contestants really beginning to shine. But overall, I do feel that the double elimination challenge is not fair. If working in a team is truly important for the next Top Chef, show Heather the door. But the next Top Chef must have superior culinary skills, so let's not set up a challenge where that person has to go home for someone else's mistake.
If that chef Heather was in my employment she would be stuck washing pots and pans. Leaders come in a variety of packages, each with their own strengths. She comes from no leadership type that I ever wished to asdpire to. The last challenge where she and Bev were to cook duck I clearly heard her say she did not want asian influences on that plate. She also seemed to think that because she was paired with Bev that she was going to loose the challenge. She comes off so charming with the right people around yet I've haven't seen a clearer case of discrimination, bullying and rudeness. I'm just as surprized to see that there is not a stronger influence amongst the other chef to say enough is enough, keep your rude remarks to yourself. There is only one reason I did not want her team to loose, Bev deserves to loose with a higher class of chef.