Tom Colicchio

Tom would have rather judged the Mother Sauce Quickfire Challenge.

on Dec 8, 2011

This is why restaurant kitchens are not run by committee. There is a chef and there are sous-chefs. The chef oversees everything and makes sure the dishes cohere, that there is that point of view. It’s important to have that point of view. That’s the problem with these group challenges: the point of view gets lost. Further, there’s no one to whom everyone else must answer, to ensure that a plan of action runs smoothly. There is no one chef to whom all need to listen. Heather took heat from the others for assuming that role in order to keep things moving, because it needed to happen, but the other chefs were her competitors, not her employees, and they didn’t have to listen to her. Heather did not win because she took on a leadership role. She won for her excellent execution of the cake. We judges don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and didn’t know it was Ed’s recipe (I learned that by watching the episode this morning!), but it wouldn’t have mattered -- if it bothered him for her to make his recipe, he could have insisted on being the one to make it. And he might not have done as good a job -- who knows?

I was impressed with Heather’s cake, and, upon watching the episode, I have to say that I’m impressed as well with Ty-Lor’s attitude. He cut himself badly, spent the night awake in the Emergency Room, and cooked under very adverse conditions. It was reportedly 104 degrees that day, which means that it was actually more like 115 degrees… and hotter by the grill. He had to take a break at least once to go indoors and regulate his body temperature. And yet when he was at Judges' Table, he made no excuses for his steak. He took full responsibility without qualification. I was impressed.

The problem with the steaks, I believe, is that they were too thin. When people think about a successfully cooked steak, they think about the sear -- they want that nice seared crust on the outside, but in order to get that without overcooking the inside, one needs a thick enough piece of meat. Think aboutit: the more you cook something, the more you develop flavor. But you don’t want to ruin a good piece of meat by overcooking it. So the thicker the piece of meat, the longer it can be cooked to get that good sear without overcooking it.