I Hate Jill Zarin Top Chef All Stars February 24, 2011
Bravo meets The Food Network, Paula Deen was last night’s guest judge, bless her heart! She is hysterical.
The very controversial Quick Fire Challenge tonight had the chef’s preparing a deep fried dish. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately Antonia, who has done maybe a thousand Quick Fire Challenges in the past, forgot she had to plate two of her creations as there are two judges.
Her fried shrimp over salad greens apparently would have won the challenge had Antonia followed the rules, oops!
Instead Antonia joined Dale and Carla in the bottom three. Dale prepared oysters wrapped in beef, an interesting combination and Carla’s dish of Catfish and Hush Puppies were apparently bland and heavy.
Carla does seem to struggle with the Quick Fire Challenges, she is much better when given more time, but she also felt stressed because Southern cooking is her “thing” and she was expected to do well.
Mike’s dish added to the controversy as he prepared a dish identical to one that Richard had described to him. This dish was Richard’s creation and he had jotted this down in a little black notebook. His mistake was sharing it with Mike Isabella.
A chicken dish served in an oyster shell with oyster gravy was the brainchild of Richard’s but ended up on Mike’s plate and put him in the top two along with Richard. I don’t know what on earth Richard prepared but it included mayonnaise frozen in liquid nitrogen. I don’t think Richard can prepare food anymore without freezing something with dry ice or otherwise using some high tech preparation method.
Paula Deen announced that Antonia would have been the winner had she only followed the rules and plated one portion for each judge. Mikey refused to even look at Richard while Richard turned to the camera and said, “that is my dish”. It wasn’t clear whether Richard was talking to the camera so that viewers would hear or if he was talking to a member of the production team but he wanted to be sure that someone knew.
It would have been even more interesting had Richard prepared the exact same dish but while Mike only admitted to being “Inspired” by Richard’s recipe it was clear to Richard, and the other chef’s who were gossiping about it, that Mike shamelessly stole that dish.
Mike not only stole the dish but he won with the dish including the $5,000 that came along with the win, that infuriated Richard even more as he came in second place. (Third if you count Antonia)
Twitter blew up as Mike’s smirk angered viewers almost as much as Richard, Chef Tom Colicchio tweeted to fans as many asked him how he felt about what we’d just seen on Top Chef, here’s what he had to say about it:
@Tom_colicchio: It happens every day you would be amazed if to find out how many chefs steal or borrow from other chefs.
@Tom_colicchio: Not cool but menu items cannot be protected under copyright or IP laws
@Tom_colicchio: yes recipes in a book are protected so far as re printing in a book. I specifically said menu items
@Tom_colicchio: Menu items cannot be under copyright
Mike Voltaggio chimed in, although admittedly hadn’t watched the episode:
@Mvoltaggio: would be like saying nobody can make meatloaf, chefs should be happy to inspire
@Tom_colicchio: Agreed but if you borrow you should give credit.
I think that Mike stole the dish from Richard and knowing Richard the way he did, never for a moment thought that Richard would say a word about it. I think Mike was hoping to get away with this and nothing about plagiarism would appear on screen. Mike’s attitude about the entire thing infuriated viewers and Richard even more.
Footage shown of the chef’s back at their Frat House reflected the tension right through the screen as Mike wouldn’t even look at Richard. I’m sure the tension continued for several days. The three remaining ladies were shown in one of the bedrooms as Antonia told the story to Carla and Tiffany. What little respect these chefs had for Mikey is gone.
Paula Deen was joined by well-respected Southern Chef, John Besh for the Elimination Challenge. Instructions to the contestants were to prepare Gulf Seafood, Southern Style for a fundraiser. They were given $200 to shop at Restaurant Depot and another $500 at Whole Foods. Each Chef was also given a helper chef in the form of the eliminated contestants.
Antonia tells viewers that she’s not interested in help from chef’s who have been cut from the competition claiming that they can sometimes be bitter and therefore could hinder the contestants. I didn’t think that was a fair statement, these are professional chef’s, right? With the exception of Mike Isabella.
I’m not a fan of the team up, whether it is contestants being forced to work together or in this case, eliminated chef’s being forced on the contestants, there is always at least one issue. We can never tell if one chef affected the outcome of the other. As the eliminated chefs stood with platters of seafood, each chef chose who they wanted to work with but also had to take into consideration which type of food they would be working with.
I think Top Chef purposely handed Marcel the beautiful white shrimp to entice the contestants to pick Marcel. Tiffany took the bait and announced she would work with the white shrimp. Unfortunately Marcel came along with the white shrimp, or Marcel IS the white shrimp, either way Tiffany drew the short straw.
Someone needs to get Carla some new glasses, she didn’t appreciate working with Tre at all. She announced that she chose him in hopes he would have some experience with southern cooking, but Tre immediately announced that he was a city boy. Note to Carla, you don’t choose Tre for his mad cooking skills, just look at him!! Wow! Moving on….
Mike chose Tiffany and prepared another shrimp dish that the judges and guests really enjoyed. Antonia also hit a home run with Spike by her side she prepared crab cakes that turned out to be one of the judges favorites as well. Dale was left with Angelo as none of the chef’s chose him, Angelo clearly was spent and didn’t want to be there. Dale seemed to be working in slow motion, as we’ve seen before. This doesn’t work well at a busy fundraiser with hundreds of guests. As Dale and Angelo had their backs to the guests begin to discuss that the judges haven’t arrived yet, so they have time, along come the judges who hear the entire conversation.
Dale’s dish was some sort of stew with uncooked potatoes but that wasn’t the only problem, Chef Tom indicated that the overwhelming taste of mustard that drowned out the other flavors.
Carla told the judges that she felt the pressure, once again, of a time crunch but Chef Tom couldn’t understand why she covered her fish in a hot sauce and heavy mustard. Carla has been inconsistent but I think she’s a very talented chef, she just doesn’t handle the time constraints very well.
Richard teamed up with Fabio and prepared a Snapper and Grits that was the winning dish of the night and you could almost see Richard gloating in Mike’s direction.
As Tiffany, Carla and Dale stood in front of the judges, I thought surely with Tiffany’s many appearances in the bottom of challenges, it would be her time to go home but it was not to be. Dale was sent to pack his knives leaving less talented chef’s in the competition.
I understand the concept of Top Chef and I understand that the rules dictate that the worst dish of the night sends a chef home. I also understand that this formula has been followed for eight seasons and the ratings are good. That is the bottom line for Top Chef. However, when consistently season after season mediocre chef’s remain in the competition and more talented chefs are sent packing, maybe it is time to revamp the rules. We watch one chef win challenge after challenge (ie: Dale) and another chef is in the bottom three week after week (ie: Tiffany) but not quite poor enough to go home. The talented chef makes one mistake and he’s gone while the less talented chef remains in the competition.
Maybe they need a point system that carries over week to week, or a “freebee” week that they can use after earning a specific amount of wins over the course of the competition. Like an immunity idol on Survivor, they get a pass for preparing one lousy dish because they’ve earned it from doing well in previous competitions.
I don’t know the answer, but this is really frustrating. Some of the most talented chefs have already been eliminated and with Carla, Antonia, Tiffany and Mike being left with Richard, I no longer care who wins because I think at least four more talented chefs are already gone.
A new system of elimination could have saved Jennifer, Angelo Casey or my beloved Tre. (ok Tre may be pushing it, but he’s hot)
During Season Six (The Voltaggio Season) something clicked and it really did work out that the final four were the most talented chef’s in the competition but in most other seasons, I’m not sure that was the case. I certainly think Sam Talbot easily had more talent than Marcel or even the winner Ilan during his season but that one small mistake allowed him to be sent home while less talented chefs remained in the competition.
Chef Tom Colicchio is forever defending his decision but I no longer question it. For obvious reasons, we didn’t taste the food and I don’t doubt they are sending home the worst dish. It isn’t Tom and the other judges who should be questioned but the entire process of how they choose who to send home, that is what should be questioned.
Until Next Time..