Tom Colicchio

Tom Colicchio explains that the errors made had little to do with the chefs' inexperience with BBQ.

on Jan 4, 20120

 

You knew we’d be doing a BBQ challenge.  \We're in Texas. So, yeah, you were right – it was only a matter of time.

Don’t be surprised that six of the nine contestants wound up on the bottom of this one. This was a very, very difficult challenge. How difficult?  Let me recount the ways (sorry, Elizabeth Barrett Browning): The mere fact that the chefs were asked to do three different meats and two different sides essentially overnight was in and of itself a lot to contend with. Factor in that the chefs were working outdoors on unstable tables of the wrong height at which to comfortably work. Factor in, too, that the chefs were cooking over an open pit and had to keep the fire going the whole night, watching that the temperature and the smoke stayed at just the right levels.  My restaurants send a team to Memphis for the world championship of BBQ, and I can tell you that open pits have hot spots to be accounted for, particularly when one is cooking with BBQ sauces with sugar in them, which can easily burn. The chefs couldn’t just pop the food into an oven, set the temperature and a timer and come back after catching a nap. Now also factor in that it was at least 95 degrees AT NIGHT and that there was a heat index of 115 degrees during the day, making it at least 135 or 140 degrees near the open pits and making this a challenge of endurance in addition to one of skill. This was a tough, tough challenge.

81 comments
Daveson
Daveson

Great challenge! it was a great show! Respect for these guys! @Michelle45 i completely agree with you. Let's see what normal people can!

Viewer
Viewer

They all killed themselves in this challenge

bananasplit
bananasplit

Just wondering, is the smoke at the pit not enough to have the smokeness on the meat? US BBQ is dry rub and A1 sauce. Asian BBQ is marinade hrs or days ahead of time. I've been BBQing for 25 years. At least 3 hrs and at most 5 hrs.. Its a waste of time and effort if the BBQ is not good after 12 hrs. Again Asian seasoning pave the way which is a bold move by Team Blue in Texas. I can say in my experience going to these well known BBQ states? Without condiments they all taste blend. Compared to Asian BBQ where the seasonings are embedded inside the meat.

SEIndiana
SEIndiana

Tom, I'm from SE Indiana along the Ohio river but have been to the Salt Lick in Austin a couple of different times. I absolutely love their BBQ and it was great fun watching that episode and recognizing the area. I've been to Texas a few times and am really enjoying watching this season. P.S. So glad to see Heather go. She lasted way too long!

Vikkiv
Vikkiv

Maybe I'll start watching again now that Heather is gone

DKP
DKP

Great that she won! That's what happens when your ideas did not want to be considered!

stefano1140
stefano1140

Pretty good episode, but it was hard to watch the fawning over notorious patent troll Nathan Myhrvold. No one is doubting he's a smart guy - and apparently a barbecue aficionado - but his fortune is founded on practices of stifling and punishing innovation.

TCbores
TCbores

This show seems to be on it's last legs.

Rheta
Rheta

Since you were in Texas, did you ever think of going to HEB?

Catrina Grueneberg
Catrina Grueneberg

I am amazed at some peoples lack of knowledge. In regards to Sarah , she had no control of her body simply getting over heated. They would not of called 911 if it was not serious. They would not of put her in the ambulance and monitored her vitals if it was not serious. People die every year from not listing to their bodies and getting the help they need.

I know she really showed team spirit by going back and trying to help her team mates out.

I like top chef TEXAS. It seems some people take for granted cooking some thing as simple as brisket and chicken is easy and if you watched this past episode you saw how difficult it really was. Anyone could be a TOP CHEF in the right environment with the best of ingredients available but it takes a true professional to make the most basic food items into something truely special.

rjlegett
rjlegett

So Top Chef is finding out what Texans already know, that there a huge anti-Texas bias in this country. Texas is pigeonholed as only being about Bar-B-Que, Mexican, and Southwestern cuisine. I'm glad TC hasn't ignored the traditional fare but I am hoping future episodes highlight the high end cuisine that is in Texas. If you can't find high end cuisine in Texas, then you just flat out aren't looking for it.

Austin TX
Austin TX

What a great challenge! I live in Austin TX and can relate to the heat and difficulty of this challenge. But despite all the heat, differences in BBQ types and style - a chef should know the dos and don'ts. 1) Never put sugar in your mop sauce cuz it WILL burn. 2) Low and slow no matter what kind of style -and you can't go wrong...

NatalieOB
NatalieOB

Any tv show gets to seem redundant after several seasons. I still love it, and Tom. Who still uses TiVo anyway??

Honey Hunter
Honey Hunter

Where the HELL have I been? Oh, right.. .there. Handsome Chef Tom Colicchio has a blog!! Now I won't sleep all night because I have to start reading.

marciterp
marciterp

I have enjoyed Top Chef since the first season, but do admit that the show seems to have lost itself in group challenges. While it is true that a successful kitchen is the result of team effort, executive chef is a job held by a single individual who is judged on his or her abilities. This season, we have a firm grasp on who is able to work well with others, but (in my opinion) have little understanding of the cooking styles/strengths/weaknesses of individual chefs. It is my hope that the producers return to individual challenges and retain both the original premise of the show and viewer interest.

Beth Heiser
Beth Heiser

You missed the mark on this season. Not a happy camper. Plus, Hugh and (as much as I like) Emeril, they have to go. Tom and Padma, you can stay.

Just curious
Just curious

Hi Tom, I'm just curious as to why you have not participated in top chef masters or iron chef. My husband thinks you are afraid to be critiqued on television because you have a good thing going(like your tv show,great restaurants-craft) and a bad showing in competition will lower your value in the industry. Just to be clear, I have seen many great chefs competing on television like Wolfgang,English,Hubert,Oliver,Susur.

Viewed
Viewed

I'm trying to remember an episode that was less about food and more about drama than this one, but nothing comes to mind. This was like watching the cast of Survivor cook for the Flintstones. And what kills me is that in previous seasons, well-executed smoked meats would have been called simple and uncreative. Are we really finding a Top Chef with a slab of ribs? I wish they would have just put them back in the kitchen after a good night of rest and seen what they can do!

MarkInLA
MarkInLA

Normally I'm glued to my TV on Wednesday nights for TC. Now I fall asleep watching them on TiVo. The food is not innovative and the food is not exciting. Tom & TC Producers, I really think you are doing a disservice to this seasons cast with the odd challenges; normally I'm thinking wow, I want to go to that guys restuarant or wait, which town was he in or "have I been there". Nobody is showing off their talents and this season is like Tom said in his previous blog everyone just trying to stay on the show.

I know this season is already filmed in entirey, next season, can we keep things in the TC kitchen, get some real cooking utinsels without whacko twists like use a cart as a cheese grater oh and you can only cook with your toes.

I was talking with someone who mentioned what he got his kids for xmas and my family had no idea what it was (this sous-vide water bath thing). So the discussion turned into talking about new foods and cooking, thanks to Richard Blais, the Voltagio brothers, Eli, Dale, LeaAnn, Stephen and other cast members from seasons past for showing off new and cool things in cooking. My only thought on the BBQ episode was "I wonder if Chris washed the beer cans before stuffing them in the chickens and what if the paint comes off the can, thats goign to make it taste weird".

noelle
noelle

actually if you think about the perspective of the show in it's truest sense.. Top Chef implies just what malibu said.. it's not top sus-chef. so.. it leads to this thought. who is the best leader? who can cook and give instruction and listen to their people while firmly abiding by their stand point and execute it with clear vision. I think too that a few more individual challenges would be nice. But, When I thought about the point of the show.. I had to widen my horizon on what I expected this to bring to me. Their was one season I saw so much complaining and back stabbing in the stew room I had to turn off my volume until I got to hear what the judges said. By far one of the most pleasant seasons I've had the pleasure of watching because even with all the team challenges.. for the most part, I see them holding their own nicely. If I wanted drama I'd watch the.. well never mind if you can't say something nice.. don't say anything. and Tom... Thank you for your after thoughts on each show. you are the reason I watch to begin with to see you on last chance and to hear your perspective brings the judging to a whole other level.

Jackie Blue
Jackie Blue

I have been a loyal watcher since the first season. I am of the opinion that the producers thought the shows premise was being perceived as getting stale so they thought changing it up was a good idea. I agree with the majority of the readers that it appears as if this was NOT a good idea. Okay producers, you tried it and it didn't work. Go back to maybe one group challenge to see how they play nice with other workers but then call it good. Boring food this year and too much drama.

cleveland girl
cleveland girl

Bravo won't post this so I don't know why I bother, but you people realize that the season is over right? Asking for more individual challenges at this point is ridiculous. We can just simply ask that the Bravo network go back and watch the 1st 3 seasons of Top Chef when it was wonderful, and interesting, and innovative. And we got to know everyone and what they were about. PLEASE LISTEN TO YOUR FAN BASE and stop the insanity. Go back to your roots and listen to your loyal viewers and give us some decent challenges that don't make us cringe or feel downright uncomfortable.

Terry M.
Terry M.

It angers me to read so many ignorant comments from individuals who seem to view Texas/Southwestern cuisine is beneath them. I've just about had it with food snobs. Viewers who have paid attention in any of the Top Chef seasons should be able to grasp that being a great chef involves more than just cooking a small batch of gourmet dishes using only premium ingredients and the most expensive equipment under perfect conditions. There are challenges inherent in any cooking situation and we've seen the gamut over each of Top Chef's excellent seasons.

Comments about the perceived quality of each season's cast are as predictable as they are tiresome. I'm willing to wager that cheftestants such as Paul, Sarah, Bev and Edward would match up well with any other seasons' final three.

Mascarpone
Mascarpone

Way way way too many team challenges this season! But I am really looking forward to restaurant wars. As some of the other viewers have pointed out, the Texas setting kinda gets to be a drag after awhile.. there are only so many steaks, chilis and BBQs that can be made before it gets old. But I am still enjoying the season and can't wait to see who wins.

Tess23
Tess23

I've watched Top Chef since Season 2 and look forward to each one. So I'm sad that this season showcases boring food that I make at home for my own family--chili, ribs, Mexican, blah blah blah. Where are the fun, exciting dishes that make me want to experiment and become a better cook and WHY all the team challenges? I've never watched Survivor and don't want to now. Think I'm deleting Top Chef from my Tivo and hope that the production team uses common sense next season.

rules question
rules question

Quick question. Does the copy of the complete set of "Modernist Cuisine" won by Ty reside in the Top Chef house, and If so, do the rules allow for Ty-Lor or any of the other cheftestants to continue to refer to it while in residence?

Debir
Debir

Can't wait for Beverly to go! I am so sick of her whining and crying, - she does not appear to have the capabilities of the Top Chef. Karma to you Bev!

Carol S.
Carol S.

2011's summer was Texas' hottest summer on record. The conditions were not even average for BBQ'ing outside. Glad no one got seriously hurt.

GinaFan
GinaFan

I agree with "Losing Interest". Quite a few of the challenges seem to have very little to do with being a "Top Chef". Barbecue over and open pit...how many "Top Chefs" have any experience with that. It is a specialty. That is the reason six of nine ended up in the bottom. Staying up all night, cooking on low tables, etc, etc, etc....does not prove who is the best chef. Usually, when tv shows that are not based upon drama...begin to hype the drama...the end is in sight.

Viewer23213
Viewer23213

I used to want to eat the dishes that appeared on Top Chef. This season, everything looks the same. bbq, steaks, chili -- everything looks the same to me, chefs make it Texas-style and no innovation. Tom, I think you've said that before when critiquing TC --everything is just standard. Please let these chefs innovate and give us something yummy.

Linda Lee
Linda Lee

I hate this top chef "survivor" show. What happened to individual talented chefs cooking their food? Cooking food for 300 people in over 100 degree heat and only 3 cooks? That is ridiculous. I do not like this at all.

Top Chef Viewer
Top Chef Viewer

I agree Top Chef has turned into something I don't enjoy watching. Tantrums and whining, drama and back stabbing, this is all just non-sense and makes for mindless television. Not to mention, I 100% agree this challenge was over the top. I don't think you'd allow your staff to work under these conditions. However, I do like watching Last Chance Kitchen. You get to see the intention of the two chefs competing. We miss out on that with the television episodes. And what's nice to see is these chefs enjoying what they do. I even like the other chefs commentary while they watch the two chefs compete. Seven minutes of LCK is a thousand times better than a whole hour episode.

CTfan
CTfan

Agree with most of the other comments...this is becoming more like "Survivor" than "Top Chef"...

Willis
Willis

Way too many team challenges. Show's gotten boring.

Viewer
Viewer

As a Memphian and Cook-off attendee, I can say that this episode had me salivating. The challenge of open-pit grilling is underestimated by many. As for this episode, I think Sara(h) should have taken more "heat" for her decision to head to the hospital and ditch her team. She is far too young and healthy for the temporary increase in BP to have been a huge problem. Her teammates suffered because of it. Ordinarily, I'm a Sara(h) fan, but she went down a few notches in this week's episode. When it comes to team challenges, I'd avoid her like the plague.

Pam
Pam

Loved this BBQ episode. Really showed off the BBQ hertiage in Texas. Kudos to Grayson. I am from Wisconsin too. YOu go girl

Denise S.
Denise S.

I have to say, I don't like this season at all. Not one chef has impressed me or jumped out as the one to beat. Look at the talent you had in the Voltaggio season. I don't see anyone in this season that could even compete with them, except maybe Nyesha who SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ELMINATED (because Dakota can't cook!!!). Enough already with the team challenges, these chefs are there to compete one on one.

myhrvold is a patent troll
myhrvold is a patent troll

I suppose you don't care about the little people anymore, but the fact of the matter is: Nathan Myhrvold is killing off creativity and competition by speculating on patents and then drowning small companies in a barrage of lawsuits. He may well be the smartest person on the planet, but he's smart in the way brutal tyrants are.

For shame, Tom.

FierceGoddess
FierceGoddess

Chef Tom, perhaps they went more traditional than you wanted them to go in this challenge because they misunderstood just what it was that was wanted from them? Modern or Traditional? I did hear the word, TRADITIONAL, emphasized when the challenge was announced. Perhaps you should have specified that some twist was expected? I don't know. That's how it LOOKED to this viewer at home. Perhaps the challenge wordings can be nailed down tighter with more precision in the future?

I am noting a lot of comments this season pertaining to the "quality" of contestants themselves, and the crowd seems to be less than impressed. I say it is all relative, folks. A few stand outs among a bunch of young sou chefs in the previous seasons vs. ambitious, super competitive, truly talented chefs this season ... this is how it looks to me right now. I personally HAVE ALREADY SPOTTED stand outs in spite of all the smoke and mirrors (as well as combatants' mis-assessments of their relative places in the culinary constellation) because talent and creativity have a way of asserting themselves.

This group is not worse than usual; they are just bottlenecked, and quite talented ... and scary ambitious. They are also contending with EXTRA BRUTAL TREATMENT by the production team, which has jacked up the sadism level for whatever reason. Watching at the comfort of my own home I've been cringing here ...

It does not help at all that so many challenges were MENTAL-tests, as well as team (ugh), which puts more stress on mindgames and strategies as well as sheer endurance and stamina, which have claimed talented chefs in the past as the season wore on. It seems that the production team spotted early on the EGO LEVEL of this particular collection of individuals and could not resist playing that gift card. More power to y'all, but would it kill you to let them at least catch some snooze every now and then? Three people of Korean genetic background still in it -- Beverly, Ed, Nyesha. Do you have ANY IDEA what you are messing with? Mess with our temperament at your own peril is all I will say, seriously. Heed this warning.

Also ... what is it with so much PICKLING going on this season? (not a complaint but an observation that EVERYTHING is getting pickled ALL THE TIME by all) And why such preponderance of corn season after season? Do you have some sort of a deal with the Corn Council of America or something? Why not give them more variety of stuff to work with? As one lovely Babette once cried out, every Artist yearns for just one thing -- the OPPORTUNITY to show off the very best they've got. Let them show off. Treat the viewers to the sight of geniuses at work. I have just two words to persuade you to take this more appetizing approach: TRIBUTE. DINNER.

I do love Top Chef. Totally. I adore Chef Tom and Lovely Padma. I really like The Last Chance Kitchen. GO NYESHA!!!!!!!! I would like to continue to see Hugh Acheson's involvement.

-- your very loyal and supportive viewer

Devoted Fan
Devoted Fan

Oops, I forgot to add: Texas in the summer is cruel and unusual punishment and another bad choice of the producers. Those of us who really love the show would just like to see the chefs have a chance to cook great food without all the gimmicks...

Devoted Fan
Devoted Fan

I've watched every show of every season of Top Chef since the beginning (multiple times as my poor suffering husband can attest) but I am not enjoying this season as much as past seasons. I think Texas/Southwestern cuisine is a poor choice and is very limited for creativity. How many hunks of meat will they cook with what (limited?) flavors. I grew up in New Mexico and love Southwestern cooking but think this season of Top Chef is boring to watch as far as the food produced... I do like the Last Chance element.

LovebugsNonna
LovebugsNonna

I agree that Chris C. should have got some sleep before the second chance challenge, where I believe Beverly should have been. Time for her to go home. Although, this is probably Top Chef's way of making us hate her so she"ll end up in the finale.

Losing Interest
Losing Interest

Hi Tom, Good Blog. I wish you Produced and edited the show. Pretty sure they won't post this-- Been a TC watcher since inception. This is BY FAR THE WORST SEASON EVER!!! What is up with all of the "Bravo Drama"???? I have a hard time getting through each episode. I used to eagerly wait for the show on its scheduled night and time and now if I miss it I do not care!! Please tell the Producers to get back to the show's ROOTS!!! Cooking!! Paul, Ed, and Ty seems like a very qualified chefs. Nyesha was axed way too soon. We barely see any cooking anymore...All stupid AD PLACEMENT and DRAMA! Enough Bravo. Or maybe we will start a TC Boycott

Texas Living
Texas Living

I really felt for these chefs during the BBQ challange! We had the most 100 plus days this past summer and we found that any work we had to do outside was done before noon or after 6 p.m. Heat stoke can set in very quickly!

Ralpho
Ralpho

Personally, I enjoy and prefer the contrived tortures the cheftestants must endure, such as lack of sleep, using items found at a gas station, broiling rib eye with a hammock, preparing food with flavor... The true test of a chef, said Georges Auguste Escoffier in 1876, is fluffy buns while storming the Bastille. In the real world, customers desire good tasting food that's visually appetizing. On Top Chef, Tom, Hugh, Gail, and Padma desire good tasting food that's visually appetizing! What a SURPRISE!

cjp
cjp

OK, we had the Mexican food challenge, rattlesnake cooking challege, steak for 200 challenge, chili cookoff, and now BBQ. All but one team challenges, really these challenges make a "top chef" ? These challenges are not my idea of a top chef which is why I have missed so many episodes.

Let's see next is a New England Top Chef where all the chefs cook clam chowder, lobster rolls, lobster newburg......boring.

Susan Rohrbacher
Susan Rohrbacher

Tom, I think a lot of viewers agree with me that we are tried of seeing group challenges where the chefs are forced to work in dangerous and inhumane conditions. I really want to see them do some individual cooking to show what they do best. I love reading your blog!

lbaird
lbaird

i agree with lainiec5- we havent seen enough individual cooking this season, while team challenges show the personality of a chef, its not the style. there isnt really a chef on this season yet that im dying to eat at his/her restaurant because we dont know their styles. i LOVED how ruthless you were in the beginning, like the kid who couldnt break down the pork, but where is that now? beverly is consistently underwhelming and she keeps making it through! undercooked beans and i can only imagine that slaw tasted like it came from a bucket? are you serious? ugh!!!!

bananasplit
bananasplit

Credit to Paul and the two ladies. Texas our proud of their BBQ. To use Asian spices in TX is suicide. I have not observe how they prepare their spices. For one the difference with Asian and Western BBQ is marinate and rub. And Asian BBQ only takes at most 4 hrs. not the whole night.

Jill from SR
Jill from SR

Lisaquirk, your logic for wanting Bev to be sent home is erroneous--her sides were good, they just weren't cutting edge, they were tame but edible. The judges said that Malibu Chris's sauce was over salted, hence, "inedible." Having the adjective inedible applied to one's cooking is always a ticket to home. The right chef was sent home.