Jun 21, 2007

Top Chef 3: What's the Judging Criteria?

You know, dahlings, Sandee made a good point in her exit interview on the Bravo TV site. If you are going to judge on the quality of food or a technicality, shouldn’t you be consistent or announce the rules ahead of time?

Let’s take good old Howie. I like him. I like his brashness, the fact that he is Tom’s mini-me, and his outrageous chutzpah in creating something so ordinary (Jamaican Jerk Pork) for a high end party that Ms. Place feels confident she could make the same dish and do better!

So what are the inconsistencies?

Episode One:

Technicality: Howie did not finish plating. He presented half his dish.
Quality of food: Clay’s food fell short of perfection and he was asked to pack up his knives and go.

Episode Two:

Technicality: Sandee poached rather than barbecued her lobster. She did not meet the criteria of the challenge.
Quality of food: Neither Joey or Howie prepared high end dishes. They created comfort food for an ordinary July 4th party instead. And they whined and complained and bickered like little girls in front of the judges. Ick.

So, judges, what are the true criteria? Inquiring minds want to know.

BTW, the judging criteria was so inconsistent, no one was more surprised than the other chefs when they learned Sandee was cut. Before she left they all gave this popular chef a group hug.


RVA Foodie said...

I'd say all four of them should feel taken down a peg for swinging and missing at a pretty easy pitch. Drumsticks? Relying on Texas family grilling experience? Dried out pork? Serving up not one single grill marked item? BBQ'd salmon without a tangy sauce? Yeesh.

If they got rid of all four and then guaranteed us a more insightful season about the kind of cooking that makes an exceptional chef, I'd say "do it."

Lastly, it really sucks that they didn't provide each chef with a charcoal chimney to start their grill. They're $5 apiece at the hardward store. People, lighter fluid is really unacceptable. It smells up the whole neighborhood, ruins the taste of food, and it's dangerous. That's one among many cooking lessons that TC3 could have passed along to the viewing audience.

ArtfulSub said...



As the link above proves, the term Barbeque has different meanings to different people. Since Bravo is an all-yankee enterprise, they apparently don't grasp that.

I'm not saying Sandee should have been spared, because, as Tom said, her food wasn't great.

But, it would have been clearer to her and ME if the judges had said the food must be "GRILLED".

In the South, at least most of it, if you cook a steak over charcoal you are "GRILLING" or having a COOK-OUT. We don't call that BBQ.

Ms. Place said...

Well, now, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I think the term grilled is much better, Art, and I will keep that in mind in the future. I used barbecue like a Yankee.

I agree with you, RVA Foodie, the bottom four could easily have been cut. I get the sense that Bravo is stretching this TC out as far as they can. As for the charcoal grills, aren't there more sophisticated pieces of equipment on the market these days? Those grills looked like the kind my daddy used in the 80's.

ArtfulSub said...


The more I think about it, the more I think it was unfair. You and I probably have more education and know more Yankees than Sandee.

If a Yankee invites me to an EVENT calling it a Barbeque, I do know they mean a Cook-Out. And that there will probably be a lot of grilled meat.

But, if I'm in a cooking competition, and they're also throwing in words like "upscale" "daring" and "innovative", I think I'd lean towards NOT grilling. Just like Sandee.

I would NOT have known that they meant Grilled Meat and ONLY Grilled Meat qualifies as Barbeque.


Ms. Place said...

Actually, my set uses barbecuing and grilling interchangeably. I sometimes poach the meat ahead of time to tenderize it, then place it on the grill for the charcoal flavor and to crisp the edges.

Sometimes we wrap vegetables in tin foil and slow roast them on the grill. Yet all these actions are termed barbecuing.

Very confusing, but a good topic for debate and one that you rightly brought up, Art.

RVA Foodie said...

The reason that the grills they used were so cheap and flimsy looking is the same reason they didn't have charcoal chimnies to start their grills: No sponsor-supplier to bank-roll the equipment. But seriously, cooking outdoors over fire doesn't require a lot of investment. The fact that hardware stores are saturated with expensive BBQs on steroids is just to satisfy men who are compensating for their impotence (since capitalism has stripped the genders of almost all meaningful roles and purposes). But I digress... My point was, no sponsor equals no fancy things.

On the semantic tip, I believe that any real chef will know that to BBQ is to slow cook and/or smoke a pile of meat and grilling is to char directly over flames. The rest of us patio daddy-Os are welcome to invite people over for a BBQ, cook out, or cuz we be grillin' because regular folks don't need to waste their time worrying about splitting these hairs.

Anyhow, for the record, I have a softspot for Trey. He disappointed me, but based on some of his previous creations, I think he'll bounce back.

Ms. Place said...

Yes, I like Tre. He is amazingly talented and has no hubris when it comes to describing himself. So he is a CHARACTER, and for that he must survive another few go rounds.

BigAssBelle said...

barbecue happens in a black-painted 55 gallon drum, cut in half, with a funky bent chimney pipe coming out of one end. this cooker is welded to a set of wheels, as it's a monster and ultra heavy and so is moved in the back of a pick up truck (mandatory) to one of the sidewalks lining Martin Luther King Blvd. in houston, texas. it is manned by a 'cue king, who hands out white bread chicken sandwiches (bone in, of course) and hot links (on white bread) and ribs. all are doused in a sweet and spicy, smoky sauce that makes my mouth water as i'm typing this.

barbecue does not include little salads and such. if salad you must, it's potato. beans are acceptable, baked only. if a fresh vegetable is required, it's a hunk of red onion or a hot pepper.

this was nice outdoor cooking, but was not barbecue. :-)

that being said, i don't think sandy was the appropriate choice to go. they're almost manufacturing drama here, keeping the hotheads, dumping better chefs for the sake of tension.