Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains why Heather and Grayson's dishes failed from the moment they selected their cuts of meat.

on Dec 21, 2011


I know what you’re thinking, and I agree -- how great was it to kick off our sojourn in music-centric Austin with iconic American singer Patti LaBelle?! I was as excited as our chefs were to have her as our guest judge this week.

I liked this week’s Elimination Challenge, as well. I think it’s a fitting one for the week before Christmas. Most of us who celebrated Christmas as a child can't help but think back around this time of year on holidays past  And whether we look back with nostalgia or antipathy, the holiday meals we experienced are usually an integral part of the memories. The chefs this week were asked to pay homage to those who gave them a huge gift by first instilling in them their love of cooking. A perfect challenge for them, and, potentially, an inspiration to the rest of us as we enter into the Holiday Season and plan our own family gatherings and meals.

As an Italian American, I always loved the feast of the seven fishes that my grandmother made on Christmas Eve, but I use it as a springboard for my own feast; I do not make the same exact meal. I remain fairly true to my grandmother's timeless beet salad and salt cod dishes, but I do a fresh reimaging of the rest, which makes the entire meal, when taken as a whole, a creative take on the feast of my childhood. Think about it: there are surely plenty of dishes from your childhood that you remember loving but that you can acknowledge that you’d probably like a lot less if you tasted them today. Yeah, I loved cotton candy as a kid, but I don’t particularly want to eat it now. Furthermore, our taste in food in general is not the same as it was in decades past. Food has been updated, just as have fashion and décor, and with food, our palates.