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Salon.com Colicchio podcast/interview

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No one seems to have posted this, from today's Salon.com (I'm a premium subscriber, so I don't know what nonsubscribers would have to do to read it): http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/int/2008/...

I haven't listened to the podcast, but the interview was interesting, in that they asked him about which of the winners he would hire (and why).

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  1. Thanks for the link. Non-subscibers can click through an ad to access the interview. I agree it was interesting.

    1. Nice link. It was really fascinating what he had to say about Ilan. And I loved his response to the "bear" comments. Very honest and funny.

      1. Thank you, good read :) His comment about Julia Child being more of a TV personality and not a chef surprised me a bit, is this more of a commonly held belief than I knew about?

        16 Replies
        1. re: enbell

          Well, it's not that it's a belif, it's just a fact. Julia was a TV personality, and a great cook, but she wasn't a chef. that's not taking anything away from her cooking or her cookbooks -- lots of people are great cookbook writers and cooking show hosts and not chefs.

          My favorite quote was this one:

          "You get little rainbow-colored bear things. They just show up in your mail one day, and you know you're an honorary member. "

          Heh, he's pretty funny. I liked what he said about the old contestents too, though I wish he said more.

          1. re: enbell

            chef = person in charge of everyone else in the restaurant kitchen

            1. re: attractivekid

              Right. And Julia never worked in a restaurant kitchen, let alone ran one. She was a highly trained and talented home cook, but not a chef (despite the name of her show).

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Jamie Oliver = chef or not?

                1. re: Minger

                  Yes, although I don't think he's ever run a whole kitchen. But he had professional training and has worked as a chef in a restaurant.

                  Per wikipedia: "At age 16, he then attended Westminster Catering College and then studied in France, before returning to London to work as head pastry chef for Antonio Carluccio at The Neal Street Restaurant. After The Neal Street Restaurant, Oliver worked for Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the River Café for three and a half years; Oliver credits Gray and Rogers with teaching him to create the fresh and simple food which would become his signature. When the producer Patricia Llewellyn arrived to film "An Italian Christmas" at the River Cafe, she spotted Oliver."

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Seems to me that Jamie Oliver is more of a chef than Julia Child by virtue of his time in professional kitchens but perhaps still short of Tom Colicchio's "chef = boss." Oliver never ran a whole kitchen before his stardom. Anybody with the money can open a restaurant and install themselves as head chef. Oliver's one restaurant, Fifteen, is far from excellent:

                    "Don't go to Fifteen under any conditions!!!! The food was awful and way overpriced. Anyone can cook what this restaurant makes using a very basic introductory cookbook. For the amount of money that Fifteen charges you can go to an interesting restaurant like Tom Aikens or Pied a Terre." (from http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32721...)

                    1. re: Minger

                      Is "Fifteen" the restaurant he uses to teach at-risk kids in the UK about the restaurant business?

                      1. re: Phaedrus

                        I believe so. That leaves Oliver without *any* "real" restaurant.

                      2. re: Minger

                        By that definition, most chefs aren't chefs. These days, many "boss" chefs (executive chefs) don't actually cook much -- the day-to-day running of the kitchen is done by the chef de cuisine. How else can Tom Colicchio "have" so many restaurants and be all over the country doing Top Chef?

                        A head pastry chef is actually a pretty high-ranking position. In a restaurant with a pastry chef, pastry is usually a separate department that runs fairly autonomously from the rest of the kitchen (which is why Top Chef contestants are always whining about not being pastry chefs), and "head" implies that he's supervising a staff, making him a "boss."

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Bourdain also writes about the separateness of the pastry department in one of his books. And the Top Chef contestants only complain about pastry the one or two times the entire show season they have to deal with it. Both points only highlight the distinction or separation of pastry from the corpus of general cookery.

                          My point is that Jamie Oliver never got promoted to head chef, not just pastry, without the assistance of his celebrity -- and his own efforts as head chef hasn't yet proven him any other than a food personality. To be a "boss" chef the likes of Colicchio or Ramsay takes not only restaurant food talent but managerial talent. Oliver has yet to master a single restaurant.

                          1. re: Minger

                            The fact that he isn't (some people's opinions) a *good* chef doesn't mean he's not a chef!

                            As for that critique you posted -- isn't Oliver's whole schtick that the food is supposed to be simple? I can't comment on whether it was good or not, but it seems that the main reason the person didn't like the restaurant was because of the concept.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              "But the food is no better than cafeteria-style food. The food is not even bad! It is bland, utterly uninspired, and totally uncreative. For most of the dishes on the menu, the cooking in the restaurant consists of buying things, cutting them up, and putting them on a plate."

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/315816

                              again, anybody with the money, and in this case celebrity, can be a chef. i believe colicchio has a higher standard in mind when he uses the term.

                              granted this is oliver's social experiment where he trains troubled youth but that leaves him with no real restaurants of his own to lay claim to head chef, other than the pastry chef stint i have qualified earlier.

                              1. re: Minger

                                But Oliver was a trained culinary professional (since we can't agree on the word "chef") before he became a celebrity, not some guy with money who decided to open a restaurant. By the standards you're attributing to Colicchio, many of the contestants on Top Chef aren't chefs. He doesn't seem to have a problem with that.

                                Anyway, the original question was whether Julia Child was a chef, and the answer is still no. She was not a professional cook. She never worked in a restaurant. She was a well-trained, talented amateur. Which is not to say she wasn't a fabulous cook, a wonderful person and a star in the culinary firmament.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  "But then chefs started coming out from behind the stove, and you started to know who they were as people. I'm talking chefs. Julia Child was a great TV personality, but when you say the word "chef," it means "boss," and I don't know what she was boss of, but it wasn't the kitchen. Not to take anything away from Julia; she was brilliant. But she wasn't a chef. The first chef to step out from behind the stove and become a personality was Paul Bocuse."

                                  You can take "chef" to mean anything. Clearly, Colicchio hints at his standard for "chef" by the example of Paul Bocuse. He is not a random guy found in the kitchen who opened his first restaurant only after being discovered on TV. If Jamie Oliver is a modern day Paul Bocuse, I stand down.

                                  Again, I ask, where is Jamie Oliver's first real kitchen? It's not Fifteen.

                                  1. re: Minger

                                    It seems like the only point of your argument is that you think Jamie Oliver is no Paul Bocuse. I don't think anyone is going to disagree with that.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      yes Ruth, Tom Colicchio would consider a food celebrity who has yet to run a real kitchen to be a "chef."

            2. Thanks Ruth, that was a fantastic read.

              I too found it interesting that he kind of dug at Ilan. Sam must make great food because I didn't get the feel that he was that far ahead of anyone else. It almost sounds like he thought Sam should have won instead of Ilan.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Phaedrus

                He'd have Marcel win if he had his way, remember?

                1. re: attractivekid

                  I think it was not so much that he wanted Marcel to win as that he thought the others should lose (over the attempted head shaving incident).

              2. Thank you, Ruth, for sharing a real find.
                And good questions, well answered.

                (Although a question about the abyssmal Bravo website still needs asking.)

                Was he right in twenty days to shoot TopChef?

                6 Replies
                1. re: shallots

                  I know I've read upwards of 30 days for film time, but I guess if you count the # of episodes, and figure out if they had a "next day" or same-day elimination challenge from the QF, it could be as few as 20 days.

                  And I liked the article - interesting on who he picked out as those he'd hire and his comments on Ilan's immaturity.

                  1. re: shallots

                    20 days is what the man said. Looking for a certificate of proof?? :-)

                    1. re: Minger

                      If you listen to the podcast (which I finally got around to), he says that they take a month to five weeks to film, but that he works "every other day." So he works about 20 days out of about 40 days.

                    2. re: shallots

                      He said twenty days in the context of twenty or 200 days. He said 20 days to make a point. While not exactly 20 days, it was closer to that than 200. I don't think he was being literal.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        OK, lets look at this year. 16 contestants in all, four semifinalists. Lets just tackle the days in Chicago because I think they spend a little more time preparing in Puerto Rico, especially for the finals.

                        That is 12 contestants that needs to knocked off. IOne show per contestant, two days per show. Quick fire the first morning, unveiling the elimination challenge the first afternoon, shopping and prep that night. the challenge the second day and judges table into the wee hours of the night. Wake up the next morning for another quick fire. That is 24 days minimum, not including Puerto Rico.

                        1. re: Phaedrus

                          as ruth posted, he said it takes about 5 weeks to film a season, but he only works every other day. so he ends up working about 20 days.

                          interesting interview...the podcast was VERY long.

                          did anyone else think the interviewer sounded a little off her game? and do we know who it was? her voice reminded me of meredith from CH.

                          who knows, perhaps it was just a phone delay, but there were quite a few awkward pauses, and she seemed to be scrambling for things to ask him at certain points.

                    3. Thanks for sharing Ruth. I highly recommend the podcast of the interview -- the written transcript doesn't convey Tom's candor, intelligence, and humor half as well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Minger

                        Yeah, at first it seems like it's just a rehash of the article (or rather, that the article is just a rehash of the interview), but there's some stuff that didn't make it into the article and much fuller discussion the subjects covered in the article.