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Top Chef Backlash [Spoilers in Post]

OK - Ilan wins....for what???? Spanish food in Hawaii??? Wylie Dufresne seems to have been muzzled throughout. Tom C. bent over backward to praise Ilan's pedestrian takes on a fairly tired approach. Newsflash folks: The culinary world is moving toward new techniques and innovative preparations and, like it or not, Chef Colicchio should get with the program and at least develop an appreciation for such approaches. In this episode he comes off as a culinary Neanderthal. Ah let's all imagine what if Ferran Adria and/or even Tony Bourdain was the executive chef/host of Top Chef. Now there's a program worthy of the 21st century!!

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  1. agree completely... Illan was fourth or fifth best talent wise. They expect me to believe he is better than Marcel and Sam?!?!?!?!?! The show blew the oppertunity to make up for last years disaster(who by the way, is still in boston without a job)what a sad joke

    1 Reply
    1. re: maxpowers303

      I'm not sure what you mean about last year. Harold won (deservedly) and is about to open a new restaurant in NYC.

    2. I am so disappointed in the outcome of this competition. I wanted Marcel to win so badly. I felt sick when I saw the spoiler and learned that Ilan had won with Elia the backstabber and Betty the tart's help. I felt as if Michael and Sam were going to be a hinderance to Marcel initially and in the final product I felt that I was right...they somewhat sabotage him. They could have double checked to make sure that the fish was loaded onto the cart just as well as Marcel. But I watched the after show video on Bravotv.com and Marcel was the bigger person and took full responsibility for the mishap. I think that Marcel was class on the way on this show. Yes, he was confident about his ability and that's what a top chef should be. He is a bit long-winded, but he's articulate and has conviction in what he's saying. I love Marcel. The other "chefs" totally picked on him this season; I wish I could have been there to take up for him. I thought that Elia was at least his one ally, but in the end even she turned on him, and he addresses that question in the post interview as well. I wish Marcel all the success that he deserves. Oh, and can someone tell me what happened to him in Las Vegas???

      9 Replies
      1. re: Keiwei

        I don't think that Marcel was 'sabotaged' by anything except his own personality - as the masterchef is was his responsibility to make sure that everything was in the right place at the right time, and to delegate to the others and supervise... Sam saved his BUTT and he tried to take the credit for it?! At his best Marcel is brilliant... but that meal was far from his best effort of the competition.

        1. re: Keiwei

          Wow, you don't think she turned on him for a reason? And referring to one of the contestants as a "tart" seems a bit unfair, unless you are also going to disparage the perceived sexual proclivities of the male contestantss too! Unless, you meant to call her an apple or pear tart, or even tarte tatin, sweet and warm and delicious, in which case I rescind my objection.

          1. re: Leadbelly

            Well, I don't necessarily think she turned on him for a reason. Elia was consistently childish and hysterical. How many times did she declare "I queet" whenever something didn't go her way? Why conclude that her judgment of Marcel was fair-minded?

            1. re: frenetica

              Didn't say anything about "fair-minded"--but nor would I characterize her as "hysterical", which is a stereotypical putdown for any woman who shows too much emotion. I would have a lot more respect for some of the critiques of the contestants on this board if people could stay away from name-calling and putdowns. I thought Elia explained that he demonstrated a lack of respect for the other contestants in the kitchen and engaged in petty behavior of his own--such as moving other people's equipment around and turning off the burners without asking. I think Elia had the chops, and she showed her skills, but she did not demonstrate enough leadership ability--she spent a lot of time working in a French restaurant kitchen, you think that would steel anyone to some of the stuff they had to do on the show, but she definitely let her frustration show.

              1. re: Leadbelly

                Perhaps you'd prefer 'Drama Queen’ to ‘hysterical’.

                1. re: Withnail42

                  I actually think she was hysterical at times -- what do you call the chocolate sauce all over the place episode? That was a loss of control, for sure. But for sure she was childish and whiney every time things didn't go her way -- I don't think "letting her frustration show" really covers it.

                  And honestly, the point of this board is for us to say what we think of these shows; ironically more than a few people here attack one another in addition to criticizing the cheftestants, which makes me cringe much more than when people say nasty things about the people on tv.

                  1. re: Adrienne

                    Elia definitely seemed off her rocker with the chocolate sauce episode--and yet they were all laughing and having a good time, seemed to me like college students blowing off steam during finals.

                    I haven't seen too many personal attacks on posters on the boards. And I think criticism of the contestants is totally appropriate. I just disagree with "criticisms" like so-and-so is a "tart". Honestly, if you think that is an appropriate way to assess whether someone belongs on Top Chef, well, I just don't know what to say. Call Betty a poor chef who did nothing but roast vegetables and make soup, but don't say she doesn't belong in the kitchen because she is a slut. That's just silly.

                    1. re: Leadbelly

                      Given the way the producers distorted things (e.g. making it look like Elia got drunk with Cliff et al. and was involved with the head-shaving prank), it seems unwise to draw any conclusions about the contestants from the show.

        2. I would totally rather eat Marcel's food -- Ilan's seemed like the same old same old that you can find in any large city.

          1. I hope some of the famous guest judges/chefs that lend their name and thus credibility to the show decide tor boycott this farce that has become Top Chef.

            I was really disappointed in the show this seaon, with frankly, none of the contestests worthy of the title (unlike Harlod last year). Ilan played it safe all season, cooking recipes from his job. Top Chef is supposed to be about leadership, which granted, Marcel also lacks, but the only thing Ilan lead was the attacks against Marcel. I think they should have disqualified everyone and donated the $100,000 to charity as a message to future contestants.

            Hopefully, the producers of Top Chef will read some of this public condemnation and not serve up so much BS on the show next year (more cooking, less drama-BS). However, the BS format is apparently successful and, thus, they may serve up more of the same. If so, count me out.

            1. When Marcel was chosing his helpers, I was hoping he would have chosen Mia. When Sam said pick Mike I began to get an unsettled feeling that perhaps Sam did not have Marcel's best interest at heart. Too bad the outcome was not in Marcel's favor-I believe his was the more interesting menu- it looked tasty. Hopefully Marcel's exposure will serve him well.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodseek

                I just figured Sam knew he could tell Mike what to do and Mike would do it without a fuss.

              2. Chef Colicchio should get with the program huh? Culinary Neanderthal? It's his show! It's his idea.

                1. Hold on.....what is wrong with this whole finale? If I had won Top Chef, I would be so happy, jumping, hugging everyone, drinks all around! Why did they all look they were at a funeral? At least Harold looked pleased and grateful when he won last year. I totally agree with sushidog, this season was a bore, all of them a bunch of "Neanderthals." And give all that Kenmore equipment to a homeless shelter. None of the dishes interested me enough to look on the Bravo site for the recipes. And let me say this about the desserts, there is NO crying in chocolate!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: la vida dulce

                    They looked like that because they knew they'd sold out to playground politics and selected a one-dish wonder over the true professional. How much will we hear from Ilan in years to come? Not much. I hope Marcel lands his own show (He's going to be on the View today-- Rosie is his biggest fan).

                    1. re: Gigigirl2

                      Hmmm....being liked by Rosie O'Donnell isn't much of a plus, IMO.

                  2. I was suprised at the outcome. With the exception of the second course, I thought Marcel's dishs were more inventive, whimsical, and appealing. Of course I didn't taste any of them but the judges seemed to think all of them were good. I think that Chef Colicchio probably nailed it (even if it was an aside to the other judges before they announced the winner) when he said that in five years, one of these guys is going to be better than the winner. Imho, Marcel is the more talented, inovative, and forward thinking of the two. And Elia sure didn't endear herself to anyone with her comments to the judges about Ilan's food tasting better when she had no idea of what Marcel et al had prepared, much less tasted it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dinwiddie

                      I honestly doubt Illan will even be in the restaurant industry (as a cook/chef) in 5 years...duno....just my hunch

                    2. ILAN!!!!!!!!!!! What crap...

                      1. Can we also talk about the artificial reality of these 'reality' shows? In the end the focus on individual skill, technique, presentation, vision, management and creativity is mere lip service when Ilan and Marcel had to rely on their recently rejected competitors 'helping' them out in the kitchen. Cut the manipulative drama and instead give me a reality show based on the CIA's Certified Master Chef examinations described in Michael Ruhlman's Soul of a Chef.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mrfood1965

                          Now that's a show I would watch, Mr. Food!

                        2. Of the two, I definately think Marcel will be the one "going places" in the future. I assumed Ilan would win - with all the rumors of his quitting his current job a few weeks ago.

                          I really didn't care one way or the other this season but if I had to pick one or the other, Marcel is the one who intriques me more, makes me want to taste his food. It seems he is more forward thinking, more interested in learning - unlike Ilan who is relying on old tricks.

                          I also got a bad feeling once Marcel picked Mikey. WTF? Even my husband, who hardly watched the show, knew enough to realize this was not in his best interests. Mia at least would have paid attention. It seemed like Mike was just there for the ride.

                          Wish I'd known Marcel was on The View today - I would have put it into my DVR...

                          1. If I wanted an interesting "food experience" I would want Marcel's food. If I was hungry and wanted a good solid meal, I'd prefer Ilan's. There is a place for both in restaurants these days, but Marcel needs a lot more experience working with other people. Ilan's surf and turf sounded like the best dish to me.

                            1. I thoguht Collichio was an appropriate judge....me thinks that bravo may have dipped its hands in a lot of what went on.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Xericx

                                No question that the producers were playing with "good television". Marcel may not have been the best chef, but as the top bad guy on the show, this was a great "white hat" / "black hat" set up. Pitting Sam and Elia wouldln't have had nearly the drama -- or generated nearly the audience or the comments.

                              2. I'm sorry, but Marcel's "new and innovative" techniques are a merely a laundry list of very common ones done already (and for a while now) by the more well known "molecular gastronomist" chefs. The isomalt capsule?--seen it (by Jose Andreas) Coffee caviar? It's done with calcium chloride and alginate. (pioneered by Ferran Adria.) I promise you, Wylie was likely yawning inside at these copycat techniques, poorly recreated by a tecnho-groupie.
                                Yes, it's cool, but is there any soul there? Does it taste better or is it different simply for the sake of being different? Manipulating textures and contrasting expectations of your diners is very innovative, but there's a very thin line between one's own interpretation of techniques, and simply jumping on the bandwagon.

                                1. If you imagine Tony Bourdain would agree with you, you should probably read his take on "Top Chef"--and the contestants, especially Ilan and Marcel--on Ruhlman's blog.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Leadbelly

                                    I don't care if Bourdain would agree with me - I read his review and of course the Astro Boy stuff is good Comedy Central material no doubt about it - but I think that he would do a better job at keeping food and culinary chops at the forefront. And he'd have the chefs use more offal, fugu and the like. When Tom Colicchio pops some top chef contestant's fugu in his mouth then Tony Bourdain can sit on the sidelines.

                                  2. I've pretty much had it with this show.
                                    It's a shame that it focuses more on the drama and less on the food. Obviously, thats what people want to see, considering it's the majority of what they show. I'd rather see more of the preparation and the formulation of the ideas for the meals, but that's just me.

                                    1. How is Colicchio the has-been and Marcel the innovator when Colicchio took one look at the vinaigrette "capsule" and suggested it might be a problem in Hawaii's humidity and that didn't occur to Marcel till he was plating?
                                      The finale challenge was to make the best meal you've ever done, not the most innovative. Why on earth is it such a scandal for a young chef to use what he knows? Casa Mono isn't any more archaic to most of the world than foam.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: SusanSDG

                                        I think it occured to Marcel that the humidity might be a problem: when Colicchio asked him about the humidity while he was practicing the technique he answered something like, 'I'm going to go with no...I hope' or something very similar. He was so eager to do it that he was in denial about the likelihood of success, although I suppose a kinder way to look at it would be that he knew it was a risk but it was a risk he wanted to take...

                                      2. I just found this online:

                                        TOP CHEF IS BACK FOR A THIRD HELPING!

                                        From the Emmy-Nominated Producers of
                                        PROJECT RUNWAY, PROJECT GREENLIGHT
                                        and LAST COMIC STANDING

                                        Bravo is once again giving a group of talented chefs the opportunity to show America their talent and creativity! Do you think you have what it takes to become a star of the culinary world and compete to become the next "TOP CHEF?"

                                        We are looking for trained and self-taught professional chefs. You do not need years of experience but you do need to be creative, highly skilled and ready to compete for $100,000!

                                        HOW TO APPLY

                                        To schedule an interview and to find out more information about becoming the next top chef, please email us at bravotopchef@yahoo.com with your picture, resume, and why you should be the NEXT TOP CHEF.


                                        COME MEET THE CASTING PRODUCERS
                                        Monday, February 5th
                                        12pm to 4pm
                                        545 Post Street
                                        Between Taylor and Mason
                                        San Francisco, CA 94102

                                        To find out more information, please go to bravotv.com/casting

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Brioche57

                                          Make sure you bring your hair clippers or scissors to the interview.

                                        2. You guys should actually listen to his interview on CHOW.com <http://www.chow.com/stories/10435>. He was very happy with Michael's workhorse attitude and was underwhelmed by Sam.

                                          While Marcel's "innovative techniques" may be old and have been done by others for around 10 years now, it takes a lot of guts to do them on this show with 100k on the line.

                                          Marcel is definately the one to watch of these two.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: chowaddict

                                            yeah, definitley. btw, i hear he quit too. wonder where he's off to.

                                          2. i think what nudged ilan into the winning spot was his execution at the last meal. marcel was disorganized and delegated poorly. leaving behind mise-en-place for one of his courses was inexcusable, and if the highlight of that salad was supposed to be a tiny lemon tear, that was still lame.

                                            ilan played it safe to be sure, but his dishes all came out without a hitch.

                                            being a chef isn't just about putting cutting edge food on the plate. you have to be able to have your staff respect you, and you must be aware of EVERYTHING. never just assume they're doing it right. especially a dope like mike.

                                            as for bourdain and adria as chefs, they would be the first to say you must know classic techniques in your sleep before you start bending the rules.

                                            i'm sure both men will have solid careers.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              But at some point you have to step outside your 'zone' and push things.

                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                i don't disagree. but lots of chefs don't and have very successful careers anyway.

                                                i missed season one, and this season doesn't make me wanna tivo season three.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  I think one of the reasons this topic is so big is because of season one. There were some very talented chefs. Some you liked some you didn't but for towards the end they could out cook and class this group with out the time and effort it takes to crack and egg.

                                                  IMHO if you placed Marcel and Ilan with last years bunch they wouldn’t have made it past the midpoint.

                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                    I think one of the reasons this topic is so big is because of season one. There were some very talented chefs. Some you liked some you didn't but for towards the end they could out cook and class this group with out the time and effort it takes to crack and egg.

                                                    Now THAT I completely agree with. Season 1 chefs, for the most part, had it heads and tails above Season 2.

                                            2. Why would I want to eat any of Marcel's food? I have my own teeth, so I don't need to have everything I eat atomized into a foam, thanks.

                                              Maybe Marcel can become a line chef at the restaurant in that old SNL sketch, Pre-Chewed Charlie's.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                Ilan's chocolate chicken liver turd on a plate sure was haute cuisine. That dish alone should have barred him from ever setting foot in a kitchen.

                                                1. re: RBCal

                                                  it was his attempt at being 'creative'

                                                  1. re: nuxvomica

                                                    Yeah, if that experiment was any indication, he made the right choice in sticking with food from casa mono for the rest of the competition.

                                                  2. re: RBCal

                                                    The guest judge's response was that he would have liked more liver flavor.

                                                2. Call me crazy but didn't Ripert actually say that he would never have it served in a fine dining restaurant?

                                                  I mentioned this elsewhere but Alice Medrich does a beautiful pan sauteed chicken liver dish with cacao nibs and sherry sauce in her book Bittersweet. My guess is that this was a terrible attempt at recreating something of the sort (right down to the sherry sauce).

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: gingersweetiepie

                                                    The comment I remember from Ripert was "Did you accidentally drop meat into some chocolate?"

                                                    1. re: RBCal

                                                      That book "Don't Try This at Home" has a story by Michelle Bernstein about how when preparing a terrine of foie gras to be served to Jean-Louis Palladin she accidentally dropped it into a vat of chocolate sauce. She couldn't get all the chocolate off but decided a little tasted fine, and served it as "chocolate-painted foie gras."

                                                      Palladin cleaned his plate.

                                                      1. re: RBCal

                                                        That was in response to Elia's "mole." He said it something like "maybe some chocolate fell onto the chicken in the walk in?"

                                                    2. frankly, i have never been much of an ilan fan. yes, he can cook. but, only Spanish food. in my opinion, a top chef can cook a wide variety of food. in addition, a top chef must also act professionally. based on what i saw on the show, ilan still needs to learn some manners. he still has some growing up to do.

                                                      for those who dislike marcel, i also realize that he's not quite yet at the level of a "top chef". however, i believe he's closer than ilan.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: goldenroxy

                                                          I agree with everything you said.