Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio doesn't claim to be a chili expert.

on Nov 23, 2011


Another episode, another great set of challenges  I thought that the Quickfire Challenge was clever and gave viewers insights into the way this season’s chefs think. While it wound up paying off for Paul to shoot the moon by working with the Ghost chili, he and some of the other chefs were mistaken to think that the hotter the pepper, the more challenging the task of highlighting it. I thought that while it ultimately seems that Beverly could have worked more with her Anaheim, she was thoughtful in her decision to pick a chili with qualities she liked and wanted to feature, rather than going for the big money. Still and all, it was quite dramatic to see Paul win for a dish featuring a pepper with a Scoville rating of over a million. I’d have liked to have tasted that dish.

The Quickfire Challenge paved the way neatly for the Elimination Challenge: the Chili Cook-Off. The Quickfire was a good warm-up for our chefs, a way to put them into the right mindset for making chili good enough to win over Texan cowboys and rodeo aficionados.

I will acknowledge to you that they are the experts on chili, not I, which is why it was fitting that they select the winning team. Chili is not something that I make with any kind of frequency or eat with any kind of frequency. There are many chili aficionados out there who will have a lot to say about this episode and about which chili should have been on top and on the bottom based on their opinions about what constitutes an authentic Texan chili. I will say, however, that all of the teams worked hard to execute their own concepts of what would make a successful chili, and that at the end of the day, the chili that tasted the best was the chili that those at the rodeo selected as the winner, while the one that tasted the most one-note (in this case, sweet) and unbalanced was the one we judges selected as the loser. While we judges don’t profess to be experts on every type of dish, we applied our usual standards for judging dishes to those presented this week, and it seems that our opinions were in accord with our fellow rodeo attendees.