A Message for Elia

A Message for Elia

Eric Ripert is jealous of the restaurants in which the chefs got to eat this week, and has some choice words for Elia Aboumrad.

Full transcript after the jump.
I Am Jealous

Hello I am Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin, commenting on Episode 3 of Top Chef New York All-Stars. So the Relay Race for the Quickfire was a little bit confusing for me at the beginning, but then I understood that they were obviously working as a team, and the quicker they will make their mise en place, the more time they would have to cook. And the team of Angelo was very fast, and therefore I thought they already had an advantage in the Quickfire. David Chang was definitely a tough cookie in judging them. And he was going in between the groups and giving the OK or not-OK for the  chopped garlic, the artichoke, and the lamb to be ready. Despite having the advantage of more time to cook, Angelo 's group didn't make it. And Spike's team actually won the challenge with the best dish. And I think they must have been frustrated on Angelo's team to overcook the lamb because I think that's what brought them down on that challenge.

It's kind of amazing to look at the challenge and what they are doing. Basically what they are doing is the ABCs of cooking -- peeling garlic, cleaning meat. I mean cleaning a rack of lamb is not that difficult. An artichoke is a bit more tricky, but any cook, any chef, should know how to achieve those tasks in a timely manner and do a good job. And each time we see a challenge like that on Top Chef, we notice that a lot of the contestants don't have the skills, which is very surprising.

For the Elimination Challenge, they are very lucky to be going to great restaurants in New York City -- Marea, wd~50, Townhouse, and Ma Peche.  They have a great lunch, and enjoy good food, and seem to enjoy themselves very much, and then the challenge is obviously to cook something in relation to the experience that they had at those restaurants. As a viewer, even if I live in New York City, I was kind of jealous not to be with them. I would love to be in each of those restaurants, and have the experience that they had.

So in past seasons, they had a challenge which was a little bit similar, they were eating at Le Bernardin in a private room, and then they had to duplicate exactly the dish that they ate. This time, they have to be inspired by the dish. So, I think so when you have to be inspired, I think it's important to be educated about the style of the restaurant, educated about what the chef is trying to do with the food, to obviously know the techniques of that chef, and be able to create something that that chef could have done himself. And it's not an easy challenge. You have to be in the skin and in the head of the chef.... If I would have been in the competition, I think the hardest restaurant for me would have been wd~50. I am a bit slow at absorbing modern techniques and practicing molecular cuisine. I think I would have done, I mean I hope I would have done well because what Wylie does at wd~50 is not just technique and molecular cuisine for the heck of it, just to make molecular cuisine. Wylie has a vision -- he wants to make the ingredients that he's using, which are high-quality ingredients, better, but he's using those modern techniques. And I think I would've tried to probably take the simplest technique of his entire restaurant and used some of his great ingredients and tried to do something that would have in some ways been similar to what he would have done himself. So Dale knew that Wylie has a bit of an obsession for eggs, and I think that Dale won the challenge, not because Wylie likes eggs, but because he created a dish that was light, seems to be very tasty, in the style of Wylie, and using an ingredient that Wylie likes a lot.
Angelo was at Ma Peche, and Ma Peche is Vietnamese, French-influenced kind of cooking. I think that Angelo was very creative, and took a big risk with a big twist, which was to add white chocolate with fish. I don't even think David Chang would have thought of that, but it was very ingenius and Kate Krader seems to love it, and the panel of the judges loved the dish, including David, so Angelo had one fo the best dish of that challenge.

Antonia catch the spirit of David by doing scallop with peas and carrots. And she's very playful, she pickled the carrots. David like the dish very much, the judges like the dish very much, and I think she's on top becuas she understood his philosophy and created a great dish as well.

So at Marea, Stephen, because he seems to understood the restaurant well, is giving a lot of advice while they're eating, and he has been a frequesnt customer at Marea. In the end, it happened that I don’t think he really understaood the phoilsophy at Marea because he got eliminated. It's too bad because he could have I think if he would've been a bit more careful with his cooking, been on the top, and eventually win. Marea is a great seafood restaurant -- Italian-inspired. It's all about the quality of the ingredients, about elevating the ingredients to the next level. And Stephen could have done that, but something wrong happened, and he's going home.

Dale at Townouse, has the same style in his restaurant at David Burke, and he's happy, he's going to be playful with his food, and he's definitely bringing some fantasy and some little twist here and there. Unfortunately a strange idea of bringing French toast into his dish, and it looks like he's mixing breakfast and dinner or lunch together. At the end of the day, the dish is not harmonious, it's overly sweet, and unfortunately for Dale he's going with Stephen home.

It's Eric Ripert commenting on Episode 3 of Top Chef in New York All-Stars season.

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