A ‘Top Chef’ Roundup (and a Few Insights from Tom Colicchio)

Over at weeklystandard.com I blogged on the elimination of Top Chef contestant Chris Jones who, by the way, has moved up to become culinary director of the iNG restaurant group (as opposed to the ING investment bank), overseeing miracle berries. What are miracle berries? Apparently they turn sour food into sweet. Click here to learn more. Jones, with whom I spoke earlier today, said that by creating his healthy chicken salad (tofu instead of mayo), he “got punished for it” and lost the competition. Or maybe it’s because he used tofu. Actually the judges penalized him for pre-assembling his sandwiches, which turned dry under the Texas sun. Jones is also not a fan of Last Chance Kitchen, saying “once it’s over, it’s over”(perhaps he’d feel otherwise had he beat out Beverly Kim). In addition, he didn’t like all those team competitions, which didn’t allow for chefs to distinguish themselves as much, although if the contestants were to each serve up a dish anonymously, I’d guess Chris’s would be the one with dry ice, a liquified olive that in fact turned out to be chocolate ice cream, and a shabuccino. Plus, you’d need to take a red pill beforehand to reverse-engineer all the flavors. (Kidding! I love molecular gastronomy! Or at least I love looking at it.)

Also this morning I spoke on the phone with Tom Colicchio, who is as intense and smart-sounding as he is at judges’ table. He was also generous with his time. Colicchio insists none of the other producers has input over who packs his knives—the producers aren’t even allowed to taste the food. The final episode has already been completed—as it turns out, the gang leaves to go overseas (Colicchio wouldn’t say where). None of the lines are rehearsed and there isn’t a script except for openings and intros, etc. There are six cameras in the room. He was reluctant to do the show at first, worrying about ridicule from his peers, but he knew the creators (who did Project Runway and Project Greenlight) were capable. Next thing you know, “Daniel Boulud is calling and saying ‘I got to get on your show.'” Regarding next season, I suggested Top Chef: New Jersey. He said Snookie could be a guest judge.

The entirety of my conversation with Colicchio, including his potential plans for D.C., will be made available in a future post. Stay tuned.

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