Tom Colicchio

Tom takes a closer look at where the Pink Team went wrong.

on Nov 17, 20110

I was nowhere near the Top Chef kitchen for this week’s Quickfire challenge -- I’m not usually there for Quickfires -- but now that I’ve watched the episode I sorely wish I’d been there in person when the chefs had to open their wooden boxes, clearly wondering whether they’d come face to face with live rattlers. Their expressions spoke volumes. Rattlesnakes are associated with the arid desert regions of the South and Southwest, but we have our share up here in NY, by the way -- the Adirondack Mountains, for example, are riddled with them.  I’ll admit, though, that while NY State is home to rattlesnakes, I’ve never cooked one in my life. I salute our chefs for gamely (no pun intended) rolling up their sleeves once the shock wore off and getting to work on their snakes.

36 comments
TX76
TX76

I'm from Texas and currently live in Denver, Co. I have to agree with the corn tortillas for enchiladas, flour means burrito to me with a few other changes. The difference in Mexican cooking depending on the area is definitely something the chefs should have looked into. I love Tex-Mex because I grew up on it. My ex-boyfriend's mother (from Reynosa, Mx/tx) would have been appalled had I tried to make enchiladas with flour tortillas and she made flour tortillas everyday but they had their place. I'm not a big fan of the Mexican food in Colorado because Coloradans seem to think green chili sauce goes on everything and it's drowning the food in my opinion. These two simple differences are evident in the two styles of Mexican cooking that I've been exposed to and I've not studied in food. My thought is if you have studied food or made it your life like these talented chefs have done, they really should have considered that aspect.

viewer1129
viewer1129

I am surprised more people haven't commented on Sarah and Lindsey's behavior. If it was so important for Lindsey to have fresh shrimp why wouldn't she make sure that this is what she got? And none of the other team members spoke up as Keith was thinking about buying it. Then the way they threw him under the bus during judges table seemed straight out of Mean Girls. While on one hand it is an elimination challenge, this particular one was a team challenge first. Maybe if Sarah had told Keith to use corn tortillas that would have put the pink team over the edge to be the winner. Keith probably would have been eliminated on his dish alone but those ladies have left me with a bad taste. I thought he was the most inspirational and interesting of the contestants and was sorry to see him go but wish him luck in the Last Chance Kitchen.

Beth B.
Beth B.

Tom,

Just wanted to say "thanks" - I saw in your blog responding to whether or not you read the blogs. For what it's worth - wanted to back you up on this. Over the many seasons, I've often posted issues I've had questioning the judges decisions only to see you address those concerns later on. I'm not conceited enough to say that it was my post specifically that you were responding to, but that apparently, I wasn't the only one with that concern and you took the time to address it in a later blog.

I don't always agree with the judges decisions, but can usually understand why they made the decision. Your insight is always very much appreciated, and you do a great job with your blogs.

Keep the blogs coming!

Beth

peanut
peanut

I too think Chef Keith messed up,who buys anything pre-cooked for a cooking challenge?I never buy shrimp that way and besides they cook so fast.I have made enchiladas the way he did but did make my own tortillas.I know he had to go but I really liked him and feel sure he has a good restaurant.You really have to think things thru and fast on this show,there is some tough competition here.I know Chef Nyesha won on another show and Chef Dakota seems to be a quick thinker,etc,etc.This one will be a hard one to win.Love it!!!

Noaimode
Noaimode

I agree that Hugh has little charisma. I miss Gail Simmons.

Tonismommy
Tonismommy

Hi Tom, I was very upset about the big ta-doo concerning the enchiladas. As a person who has traveled extensively throughout the US and Mexico, to say that enchiladas are never made with flour tortillas is beyond incorrect. The reason they get soggy is if the chef does not drain off the grease and cook down the other fluids, a flour tortilla does not get soggy if the meat is prepared correctly. Perhaps you should have stated that instead of making an (incorrect) blanket statement regarding the flour tortillas. I was also very upset about the frozen shrimp. Many times on the show you have told contestants "things happen you have to show you can adapt". Why wasn't she penalized for not using the frozen shrimp? If she is in her own store and there is a mix up in delivery would she just cancel the shrimp dish or would she find a way to make it work? That being said, I am loving the new dynamic that Hugh brings to the table, I enjoyed his dry wit on Masters and am happy to see him this season. As always I love watching you and Padma, some people did not see "Snakes on Trains" so her cursing reference was lost on them but I found it very funny, especially since I did not expect it from her at all! Loved the first couple of episodes where they had to compete for jackets and hope you keep the concept. Looking forward to the season!

ViewerArizona
ViewerArizona

First of all, i love top chef! Second, i love Tom C.!!! And thrird, of course enchiladas are made with CORN tortillas!!! Anybody who says otherwise is just NOT a Mexico resident Mexican! What i mean is, there's a lot of people with mexican roots living in the usa that are not familiarized with authentic mexican cooking. And there's also all this restaurants claiming to make "authentic mexican food" and if they serve a flour tortilla enchilada or claim to be the "inventors of the chimichanga" people tend to believe it! Please, please , don't argue something you heard, or think... Argue when you KNOW for a fact! Thank u Tom for respecting mexican food and culture!

Jerp
Jerp

I have to say I was sorry to see Keith go, as I am from NC where he has his restaurant. That being said, who buys pre-cooked ANYTHING on Top Chef. I thought the tortillas were bad, but pre-cooked shrimp. Come on man! Have you never watched the show? The judging on Top Chef is always top notch and I hardly ever disagree with the dismissals (even though I'm not tasting the food). Y'all always seem to generally be on the same page and don't ham it up and create arguments for ratings, which is refreshing. And the top moment so far is still when you ousted that dude for butchering the butchering in the first episode. So badass. Keep it up!

NoWayHome
NoWayHome

I know filming is done, but could the remaining episodes be edited so Hugh isn't in them anymore? Everytime he opens his mouth I want to punch him in the face. He's got zero charisma.

Anyway. Crazy as it might seem, enchiladas could be made with either corn or flour tortillas. I've got to say, when you've got abuelas saying their own grandmothers used flour, its time to shift your perception. If they were poorly made, that's one thing, but otherwise its picking nits that aren't there.

LDecker
LDecker

My husband and I have watched this show for several years now and absolutely love it. We always look forward to the new twist with each season. We enjoy reading your explanations behind the deliberations and decisions. The judges always seem fair. You, Tom seem to be the focus of some of the former contestants' ire and yet you remain calm and do not allow the personal attacks affect you or your decision. Many of us out there think we can cook but this show is rather humbling. Just knowing your way around the kitchen does not make you a chef. There are so many nuances to being a good chef and this show really points that out. There are many cooking competition shows out there but none like Top Chef. Big fan of the show, all the judges and former contestants!!!

Mascarpone
Mascarpone

I liked Keith, but he did make too many errors in the episode. Plus it's all well and good for him to say NOW that he would have listened if they gave input on his dish, but the episode clearly shows him getting snippy and resentful when they made other comments on his dish. So I can understand why no one would want to bring up the tortillas. He seems like a cool guy, so I look forward to watching him in Last Chance Kitchen.

I thought Padma's Samuel J reference was hilarious! I mean, they did bleep the offensive words.

Great blog, Tom. And a great season thus far.

mike from Denver
mike from Denver

Long time (since season one!) viewer, first time commenter. First, much respect to Top Chef - it was one of the major factors that inspired me to try cooking at home and I can now boast about a dozen+ complicated dishes through trial and error that I'm damn proud of. My boyfriend absolutely loves it, and is expanding his very-limited tastes in food due to my cooking! So yeah, I love Top Chef and view each episode with a sort of religious affliation.

Second, Tom, you rock! I'm guilty of using your Elmo anecdote from last season as a bar pickup line. "Yeah, my sis has a todler who loves firetrucks and Elmo..." Anyways. In the last episode when Padma and you agree that you guys know exactly who should be going home, there just wasn't enough judge deliberation available. I wanted so badly to be able to say, "yeah, I know who messed up enough to get sent home based upon my knowledge of previous episodes plus home cooking experience!" But alas I didn't, and even sent a text to a friend stating, "I *hate* it when judges say they're all in agreement on who is going home. I don't know who is going home!"

I know this is an odd request and probably impossibly difficult to incorporate, but please consider showing enough judge commentary so that foodies or TC insiders can reasonably guess who leaves based upon judge comments. I mean, from a suspense standpoint it was obvious Keith was leaving. But that knowledge was from basic dramatic experience common to most shows, rather than insight gleaned from judge commentary.

Anyways, thank you for continuing my favorite show on television. And thank you for adding Hugh to the judging team (but Anthony was great too!). And Padma needs to keep saying awesomely real things. And bring back the best cooks from past seasons again! And, and, and, offer free TC cooking classes. And make Rick Bayless a judge/host/commenter/blog(er).

And have all the chefs do "their absolute best dish, ever," and put the recipes up.

And show more interaction between Tom and the cheftestants.

And show more interaction between Hugh and the cheftestants.

And show more in-between commercial clips of the cheftestants in the living house (although I abhorr commercials).

And keep the series going! When I'm old and dying and am just a brain in a robotic jar I want to be able to watch TC 200: Cooking on Mars!

But really. Please seriously consider the TC: Mars edition.

Latin Food Lover
Latin Food Lover

What the heck is this bs about flour vs. corn tortillas? Is there no understanding that these things vary across regions? And why was Hugh soooo adament about the fact that one should "know" that the proper tortilla is a corn tortilla???? His condescending attitude is a real bust for the show... regardless of how this episode went.

A Texan
A Texan

I think you shouldn't pigeonhole enchiladas as only in corn tortillas. I've had plenty of very good enchiladas in flour tortillas. And if maybe they had shopped at Central Market the purchased tortillas of any kind would have been better than they would have been able to make on the fly anyway....

rollingmyeyes
rollingmyeyes

i'm from California and enchiladas made with flour tortillas are absolutely NOT the norm. Tom C is correct - corn tortillas are used for a reason in enchiladas - they add a particular flavor to a dish, and of course texture (so they don't get soggy). As to the swearing, it was a joke. It was a play on lines spoken in the movie Snakes on a Plane. And the chefs have been swearing up a storm in every episode I can remember...

Subhadeep
Subhadeep

I like the concept of Last Chance Kitchen between the last eliminated chef and the one waiting in the wings.

I know this season is done. I would strongly suggest that when you do this next season, you should have a completely different judge that never tastes any food from the regular episode to be the exclusive judge for this segment.

It was clear from this episode that you were not in sync with elminating Keith from the episode. You were asking questions to somehow defend his position. I am sure when you tasted Keith's and Andrew's dishes you tried your best to judge it only on the food presented.

But we are all human beings and if the two dishes were really that close there is a chance that your original emotions and so fresh from the elimination episode could tilt the balance, say towards Keith, in this episode.

A neutral judge on the other hand who is judging only the last chance segment won't have any clout whatsoever!

wh
wh

Tom - Why was there no winner named?

Ernestine
Ernestine

I love you Tom! Bravo never posts my comments but I'm sure you hear this a lot!

realatlhousewife
realatlhousewife

I miss Anthony Bourdain! As you said filming has wrapped, but I hope a guest appearance is in the mix somewhere this season, if not please, please get him back next time. You and Padma are terrific, and Hugh is a fellow Georgian and fine chef, but just not same without Bourdain.

Ron Posts
Ron Posts

If you can name the chef who did worst, you can name the chef who did best. I am disappointed that this time you didn't.

Freelancer
Freelancer

How come there wasn't an individual winner announced for this challenge?

danska
danska

Welcome back, Colicchio. As I told Padma on her blog, Top Chef is my husband's and I favorite show. We are not interested in drama, other than the 'drama' that happens in the kitchen. It is wonderful to see all these talented chefs and their incredible dishes. We are not chefs, but we love food and your show has been not only entertaining, but also educational (along with your blogs).

Last season, you and Padma looked to us as if you were fed-up and angry most of the time and we even feared that it could be the last season, since none of you seem to enjoy it anymore. It is very nice to see Padma smiling again and you seem to be in a good mood too. Great!.

We wish you all the best in the world. Thanks for giving us a classy t.v. show, which is becoming less and less common.

Kathy McP
Kathy McP

What the heck? I have list all faith in your judging. Not to say the pink team should not have lost, but really!!! No flour tortillas. How many authentic enchiladas have you had. As a Mexican from Cali a grandma from Mexico enchiladas were made from homemade FLOUR tortillas. And they are never ever soggy. Hugh is spending a little too much time in the carolina's to know enchiladas either. Yeah. I have had them with corn. I have even made them with corn and I like them but it is like saying a burger made with bison is not a burger. Obviously Keith just didn't know how to cook, but I'm not sure you know how to judge at this point. I even doubted myself and googled it. It's a matter of region and personal taste. Holy tamale Tom :)

Lady Love
Lady Love

I just think Sarah and Lindsey were so immature,underhanded and HORRID in not cluing Keith in on the enchilada/corn tortilla thing.They were acting like little juvenile schoolgirls,hissing about the cooked shrimp;I understand big error in purchasing cooked shrimp but at that point[the actual cooking of the meal] they should have been past that,if not for their team,but,also for Blanca's B.D. party.They really showed their a---es.I felt so bad for Keith but he handeled like the gracious gentleman that he is.I really hope he wins,I'll be following him;as for those other two,I hope they go down in flames!!!They deserve it!!!

Melissa M
Melissa M

So bummed Team Pink all turned on Keith. Keith is awesome and I was looking forward to watching him cook.

lschlageter
lschlageter

to all the judges on top chef you obviously are not from California nor have you been here because keith's enchiladas were very authentic here. In every mexican restaurant in california there spinach mushroom enchiladas are made with flour tortillas.

cjp
cjp

I am sad to see Keith leave, he was one of the contestents I wanted to follow. I think Top Chef has focused too much on the recognized young chefs and not as much on the chefs in local kitchens working so hard to make good food. Mexican food is very subjective to the local area. I came from a decidedly non-Mexican area to an area where a person has many food options in Mexican food. I still go to the local hole in the wall, but I agree that Mexican food can be elevated. I just cannot make it to Vegas or Chicago to try the superstar chefs Mexican food and that elevated Mexican food is not typically available to most people. I love my hole in the wall food, and the idea that chefs need to eat around the nation is silly.

PaulainVa
PaulainVa

Great challenges this week! I totally agree that Mexican cuisine is much more sophisticated and varied than many people suppose - no surprise at all that Blanca had such insightful comments on the dishes presented. I think most Mexican mom's prepare intricate and fabulous food on a daily basis; and NOONE doesn't do their own tortillas. It is such a prevalent cuisine in this country, I'm a little shocked more of the chefs didn't understand the flavor profiles and cooking techniques better.

grybear
grybear

I'm sure I would have said more than someone was going to pay, but Padma was great.

highlandangel
highlandangel

I always enjoy Top Chef, and rarely disagree with the judges, because I understand that you only get the food. But Keith told the truth - Mexican restaurants in NC use flour tortillas pretty much for everything. I have eaten at Mexican restaurants in Wilmington, and all over the state, and we have one of the largest Hispanic populations outside Texas and CA. I have eaten at generic Mexican restaurants, and hole in the wall places where the menu is in Spanish. I have never seen enchiladas made with corn tortillas. Of course, I didn't get to eat Keith's food, but there was so much emphasis on that point in the final cut vs fritters described as tasteless.

LGKavanagh
LGKavanagh

Why does the fact that Keith bought precooked shrimp matter at all? If Sarah hadn't mentioned it, the judges never would have known the difference. She diliberately threw him under the bus to save her own behind. What happened to this competition being about how the food tastes and how the food looks, when does the shopping come into play? I don't understand at all the reason for making this decision. Sorry Tom.

ever-blind?
ever-blind?

Will the judges ever do the elimination judging blind?

juliaxxx
juliaxxx

I strongly believe Sara should have gone home and I found your comment about Sara being a great cook and where she cooks in Chicago very wrong. You were trying to persuade the other judges not to send Sara home because of where she works when she should have been judged on the mexican dish. very sad to see your actions.

Dave McCarthy
Dave McCarthy

Tom, I wasn't sure if after last season the show could get any better. It sure seems like you all pulled it off !! Though editing sometimes leads us viewers into thinking a different chef should be sent home, it's good to be reminded that you judges are basing the decision on the food alone and not the behind scenes drama. If the food is half as good as what I had at the beer paring in your restaurant last March .... you guys have a tougher job than some might think. Thanks for keeping it interesting.

HMBFog
HMBFog

At this point we are all still forming opinions about the contestants, and I immediately chose Keith as one of my favorites.

Unfortunately, as soon as he said "enchiladas" I knew he was in trouble. When he bought packaged tortillas, strike two. When he chose the cooked shrimp, strike three. I didn't have to watch the rest (though of course I did) to know that he was going home.

How can top chefs make such boneheaded decisions? The tortillas I'm sure would have been excused if decision one or three were both executed better. But to go with a cliche dish, use the wrong type of pre-packaged tortilla, and buy pre-cooked shrimp...sorry Keith, I wish I had a chance to see what you really can do.

Proofredhead
Proofredhead

I love your show and have watched every episode,every season. To hear Padma swear this week was both shocking and sad. Please don't allow this to be a trend, swearing at the contestants and putting it on the air for fans to watch. Please.