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.
This has been my favorite show because it has made me think about my latin heritage and what dish I would have prepared. As a designer anything can be an inspiration and cooking and being creative when cooking is filling that void that the lack of work in my field is undergoing. I love the drama brought by the different personalities and I think the most "humble ego", is Taylor's. I'm going to keep an eye on him. He has stood for himself as a knowledgeable chef that no one has stepped on and I do not remember any arrogant comments towards other chefs.
@JREinATL Heather chose the wrong cut of beef to use in the stroganoff. It had nothing to do with the quality of the beef. Grayson simple delivered a dish that was ordinary. Part of proving you are a Top Chef is to take an ordinary dish and elevate it. Grayson did none of that.
I'm glad Heather is gone. She was rude and egotistical. When she droned on about how she wanted to be eliminated for her dish and her dish only, it was poetic justice. Again, I'm glad she's GONE!!!!
Monica Canestar... on December 23, 2011.T-SHIRT for season 9 please: "I mean, Beverly used the pressure cooker, and — she's not here." — Tom Colicchio.
Monica! You're so right. I'll buy Two!
"I mean, Beverly used the pressure cooker, and...she's not here." That has to be the best quote of the show. Pure gold! I'm not sad to see the bully go. She's been on the bottom side too many times. I've dealt with too many chefs like her in the past.
Tom: "if you’re going to go out there and center a competitive dish around a piece of steak, it should be the best piece of meat you can possibly find."
This is a bit unfair when the contestants are limited in what product they can obtain. Both Heather and Grayson got the rib eye that Whole Foods was selling, and neither had a successful end product. Perhaps they should have known this when they planned their dishes, but it seems unfair to ding them for not having top notch product when they have no choice but to acquire it from the show's corporate sponsor.
Hey Chef Tom,
I am surprising my husband for his 50th Bday with a trip to Vegas. I was excited to see you had a restaurant there. I have learned a lot from Top Chef, I could actually read the menu without embarrassing myself. OMG, Chef honey starting at $115.00. What about us regular people we like fine food too. lol I am disappointed we won't be able to eat there. Oh well maybe next time. :) I won't hold it against you, I'll still be a fan!
Beverly's personality is insecure, for sure, but why is that such a suprise? She's in a competition! To say she is not deserving or will not win Top Chef is premature. The judges do not base their decision on the personalities of the chefs or how insecure they are, they base it on the food. And let's face it, if you can put out a good dish under the extreme circumstances they are put through, that says something!
A lot of what qualifies a person as the best in their field is their ability to hold up and still produce under high pressures. This is especially true for a chef. Beverly has held her own and the fact that she seems meek when confronted in front of the judges or refuses to go into a word battle with people like Heather, is only a testatment to her good character. She doesn't need to say anything...she is letting the food speak for her.
I just want to say that I think your challenge was really such a lovely idea. It was good to watch these very tough competitors think back (fast) to meals gone by, possibly very ordinary meals, and use their skills, creativity and experience to honor someone dear to them. Bravo!
We have changed a noun into a verb at our house - like how we all did with GOOGLE. We now "google" things. Well, here we've added being "Whole-Fooded" to our vocabulary, after having bought many, MANY cuts of seemingly gorgeous cuts of prime beef - only to find it stringy, sinewy, and tasteless after a flawless preperation. I felt the same thing happened to Grayson and Heather; poor girls didn't know that Whole Food's beef can look wonderful- but taste terrible and be full of all kinds of nasty junk. Mind you - I'm thrilled the queen of mean (thank you, Padma) got booted off the show... but it's unfortunate that it wasn't entirely her fault. We NEVER buy beef at Whole Foods anymore...
Adding a comment late - but I'll add my voice to the disappointment of NOT showcasing Austin's unlimited music talent - not that Patti LaBelle isn't a force, but she has NOTHING to do with the Austin music scene - eclectic, exciting, and current. Next time you pick a locale, really get to KNOW the locale.
Hi, I wanted to write an email to Tom Colicchio, because I love the show and I have watched it for years. On Christmas Eve, we ate at Craftsteak in Las Vegas, and I am not trying to be rude, but it was awful, I had to send my steak back, it was a ribeye and I couldn't even eat it. I was so surprised, expecting the restaurant to be tremendous. I have to say, the staff was gracious and took the steak off of the bill and actually told us a few other customers had to send their steaks back as well. Their response to our issues, made it much easier, as they didn't argue with our complaints. I'm not sure if Chef Colicchio has been there in a while, but honestly the meal was truly awful.
Interesting that attractive Chris & Grayson, ahead in the fan fav poll, were in the bottom but Heather left. I think Heather, the show and the viewers had had it with each other but then Karma is a.... Like this season in Texas but too bad you missed Houston, I know, it is a big state.
The only thing I have to say is that Beverly shouldn't be so quick to smirk and dance on Heather's grave. Karma works both ways. Beverly isn't the best chef there, and she does have an annoying meekness to her personality. It's still a boy's world in the kitchen and her palate may be a little more refined than Heather's but she ain't gonna last against the stronger chefs.
I'm glad that the whole Heather/Beverly thing is over. For me, neither of those two chefs is worthy of the Top Chef title and the bullying issue should have been nipped in the bud by the producers early on had they been really interested in making the show about the cooking and not about the drama. Someone posted that watching all that go down was cringe-worthy and it really was! I will also say that in the past, the judges have been critical of those chefs who've stuck to one style of food (Angelo Sosa, for example) and it's been surprising to not see them be as demanding as they have in the past. It would be more interesting to see any of the chefs this season take a chance and try something outside of their comfort zones. Hopefully now with Heather gone, the show will focus more on the cooking and the chefs' creativity, because this season has lacked the spark that made Top Chef a must-watch show in my family. I've been more excited watching the marathon re-run of Top Chef All Stars today than in watching all the episodes, so far, of this season's episodes.
Gee, I thought that's what all bullies do, making up for their shortcomings by belittling or intimidating others. What about the myriad of people who have horrible upbringings, no parents, no talent, no self confidence, whatever their obstacles may be, who don't resort to bullying others to make themselves feel better? She needs to mature (isn't she in her 40's?), and not at the expense of innocent bystanders.
I have to say I am happy with the result of this elimination, Heather is a nasty woman who deserved to leave. She truly disgusted me with her lack of respect towards the other chefs and is a prime example of how people of her character will only bring misery to themselves.
was terribly excited to see heather eliminated!!! then to be eliminated again in the second chance kitchen!!! i have walked out of a wendy's because the boss lady thought she was all that and a bag of chips just like heather - its bad enough when women are beaten physically and mentally by men but when you continue to brow beat and push and verbally abuse a female it just shows how small you are. i'm sure since you've done this on the show for all to see you probably do the same in your kitchen, i would not be a returning customer and having owned a restaurant i know that wonderful saying you lose a dissatisfied customer you lose alot more but you gain a pleasantly satisfied customer you will only gain a few. i will miss that wendy's even if i'm hungry by 30 - 50 miles to eat somewhere else i will put you ms. heather in that same catagory of places to miss!!!
As many of the chefs/judges have blogged before, this is a high pressure situation that one cannot understand without having been there. I would not like what I am about to say to be perceived as a defense of Heather at all, but more an invitation for people not to go too much to the the extreme in their negativity towards Heather. She still has a livelihood to maintain. I'm sure once she has had a chance to see herself, she will do some public apologizing and soul searching.
Heather was clearly employing misdirection tactics to make peace with her growing realization that she could not win this competition. I believe the stress of the challenge was getting to her and she knew deep down that she couldn't hang. Imagine having spent your whole adult life making personal sacrifices in search of professional perfection. Heather was always looking for something that was "worse" than what she had done. Of course, she wasn't going to go after any of the Chicago chefs or her good friend Ty-Lor, so she sniffed out Bev. She continued to bring up the amount of time that Bev took working on shrimp and discounting that as Bev continued to point out, they were perfect.
Heather went before Judges' Table in "Game On" and tried to throw her teammate under the bus during a double elimination. She wanted out. But, no one who has made the life sacrifices she made could deal with coming right out and saying it, right? When she came up in the bottom in "Tribute Dinner" I saw hardly any tension in her and when she was sent packing she seemed almost relieved. Heather tapped out. She picked a really smarmy way to get there, but she indeed gave up.
Beverly Kim Clark may have come off a little over-emotional at times, but she is passionate and clearly a woman with a wonderful heart and great spirit. She has earned my respect.
I find it interesting in Heather's interview with T.V. Guide that she said: "If people thought I was abrasive, it would've been nice if someone said at the time, "Hey, I think you're being mean" or "You're not being fair to Beverly" or whatever. But people didn't."
Funny, I thought that was what Grayson was trying to do in the "Game On" episode. I guess you have to spell it out for her?
I appreciate your insightful blog. I adored hearing Patti LaBelle sing and critique the food. She was great to have on hand. Regarding the Heather situation. I'll take your word for it that her dish tasted the worst. From the description, Grayson's seemed the worst due to lack of imagination AND execution (she screwed up cooking steak, for goodness sake). Nothing of Heather's dish looked like stroganoff or looked appetizing. I liked your dig at her during JT. However, where were you last week when she humiliated her partner (Bev) to the point of near tears? Why didn't you admonish then, while she was acting like a brute? Instead, you and your colleagues sat there slack jawed and passive to her cutting comments.
Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! New Year 2012 FAST approaches! YAr, the cuts of meat are all important. Heather's leather feather failed. Prime suck. Then sea was not white with foam but an overcooked shrimp on last chance cheffing elimination. This has to be the worst bunch of chefs to complete. ANd you stated with 30?! BRING back guys who wear no shirts when they cook. Ratings will go up.
Heather commented after being sent home that being on Top Chef made her a better chef. It is too bad that it didn't make her a better human being.
Bye bye Heather! Don't worry, your drama will not be missed by this viewer. Karma is really something to behold. Enjoying this season but it seems to me some of the chefs are weak compared to previous seasons. Wait and see I guess. It was a shame to see Nyesha go home last week. She deserved to stay. But she did beat Heather is last chance kitchen. I saw Nyesha on chef hunter not to long ago and she pervailed over two other chefs! Recognized her right away and was happy to see her win. Go the distance girl!
Hi Tom, I have a request.
How about a nursing home challenge? Having just sat with my mom through one of the worst Christmas meals ever, it seems to me that it would be a great Top Chef challenge to have them cook for the residents and families of a nursing/assisted living facility. Meet the dietary needs and budget with fresh, tasty food. It would be a marvelous gift to those of us sentenced to the institutional food of these places, and perhaps an inspiration to some of them to see what is possible.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thanks for what has so far been an excellent season.
At first I thought they were gonna make dessert because I heard a lot of sweet ingredients in the song that Ms Labelle sang. Haha, I thought they were supposed to incorporate those ingredients into their dishes.
I have to agree with CandyO. You missed an amazing opportunity while in Austin to showcase the actual talent of Austin. While Patti LaBelle is an outstanding artist...her relevance to the music and city of Austin is nil.
Thank goodness Heather is gone. If she continued with her behavior, I would have stopped watching. Very unpleasant. Better things too do than watch her point fingers.
Ditto to everything Hatteras Girl said, and said well! I shudder at the thought of braising a rib eye--Seems like cooking 101 would have one know better. I too was inspired by my grandmothers & dutch Indonesian grandfather. This was my favorite episode in several season. I also agree, less drama, more cooking. That being said however, Karma rules!!
bibimbap is traditionally prepared with a sunny side egg on top so that the yolk will mix into the rice. also, the broth in kalbijjim is the best part - beverly should have used it in a sauce.
Heather, you do make your own future, keep on being a bitter person and you will not ever be happy. Quit worrying about others and focus on why you are so unhappy and maybe you won't be such a nasty, unlikeable person.
I found myself thinking of my grandmother's pot roast and polenta--my family's favorite Sunday dinner. I've made it recently (with venison instead of beef), and it's still pretty fabulous, though I have no clue how I would (a) cook it in the two hours allotted or (b) "update" it!
Tom, your blogs are always fun to read. I especially love getting the details of what you and the judges were thinking. Yes, I'm also glad to see Heather bombed with the stroganoff. I LOVED Nyesha wiping that smile off her face. How far will the last chance challenge go on--til the final 4? Please reveal!!! LOVE THIS SEASON!
I have actually worked with Heather at the Atwood Cafe in Chicago and she is a true professional. Yes, a kitchen is a stressful fast-paced environment and until you have worked in one... as a woman... you will never understand Heather's personality. She is a remarkable chef and a great person. I was rooting for her! Bummed to see her go. Proud of you Heather!!!!!!!
It's funny how Heather always bullied Beverly, but just about everyweek Beverly outcooked Heather. Who does she think she is. It was frustrating watching Beverly take Heather's crap every week. Karma is sweet revenge. I must say Beverly can be annoying crying all the time.
I watched the rerun of this episode with my 11 year old (who reads the Top Chef Cookbooks before bedtime, along with Harry Potter) - she asked - why didn't the judges stop Heather from bullying Bev? I explained to her that the judges don't see what is going on behind the scenes. Then, she remembered what happened with Cliff and Marcel. (Big on TC marathons in our household). I didn't have a very good explanation, other than that Clifford had laid his hands on Marcel, and that crossed the line. Of course, in my daughter's school (and in the state of NJ now) verbal bullying is crossing the line... So it was a good question. She didn't ask why the other cheftestants didn't take a stand against the bullying - which is also, something to discuss. Teachable moments!
Tom - I would like you to clarify your position on Ed's dish and that Ed's grandmother's bimbap would not traditionally served with a sunny side egg. The least "traditional" aspect of the dish that I saw was the absence of the 'hot stone boll' that heats the dish while you're eating and crisps the rice on the bottom. However, I have also had bimbap without the stone boll.
That being said - the dish (while sometimes vegetarian and sometimes not) that I've been served has always come with an egg. So Tom, if there was some special and different about what Ed did with his egg - I'd love to be educated. However, if this is due to never having had bimbap - I recommend definitely going out and trying it as it is an amazing comfort dish.
T-SHIRT for season 9 please: "I mean, Beverly used the pressure cooker, and — she's not here." — Tom Colicchio.
PS. As much as my pleasure from this show came from watching "the villain" go home, I'm also glad for the show that she did -- I watch Top Chef for the food and the creativity, not to watch one woman bully another.
This episode was exquisite. Tom's little "pressure cooker" dig was just wonderful, and after his barely-repressed snarkiness at the Highland Park dolts adds to my respect for the man. (I know, I know, I read about the back pain -- I'm not convinced.) And then to see Nyesha add a bit of her own karma? Like a scoop of ice cream on a hot fudge dulce de leche brownie.
I cannot believe what happened last night. I thought for sure Chris or Grayson would go home because I really liked both of them and despised Heather. I guess I am just used to reality shows keeping the horrible people longer than they should (project runway) for entertainment value. I wish Bev would have won and I am starting to like her more. At first she was annoying but, honestly, I think she is just a nice lady. This season is great because I like mostly everyone. Like I don't want to see anyone go home.
Heather was probably the most unlikable contestant that I've ever seen on Top Chef. She was arrogant, brash, rude, bossy, mean and did I mention she was every bit a bully to Beverly? What a thoroughly distasteful individual. Bravo To Beverly and she's right, what goes around comes around....Karma is indeed a bitch. Thank you Tom and judging panel for eliminating her...I truly could not watched too many shows with her in it.
It is good to see a season where the food is winning and it doesn't seem like the producers are choosing who to eliminate based on controversy. What makes it to the screen is more about the kitchen and less about the house. Less bitching, sniping, arguing, and kissing... it much better. I was glad to see Heather go and her to loose in last-chance-kitchen. She was so focused on farm to table/rustic style/whatever that she didn't want to adjust to more refined cooking. Having said that, it would be nice to see a challenge where the chefs are asked to cook a dish two ways, for their family and for their restaurant so we learn who knows the difference. Some might be surprised.
Go on with your bad self Beverly. I'm on your side, and hope you win. Even though the taping is through and winner already determined. Now, about this adjective going around about Patti Labelle. Amazing? More like dreadful! Pantera was an Arlington band. Now that's Amazing. And tragic.
Heather did herself in with her rant against beverly..it was obvious they sent her home because she was a bully, not because she deserved to go home.
Tom - Happy Holidays! How about a challenge that tackles the ever expanding food allergies we are seeing in young children? As a Mom who did everything according to the book, and still ended up with a kid allergic to eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat and dairy - I would love to see how the chefs do and what they come up with. For my Christmas menu has me in tears and utter frustration!