Full transcript after the jump
Hello I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, commenting on Episode 13 of Top Chef in New York, the All-Star Season.
So in that episode, I am in the Bahamas. I was very happy to join the team, and it was a beautiful surrounding. And we started very well with the Quickfire, on this beautiful fort. And I was very impressed with the food that was cooked on that Quickfire.
So they are very surprised to see the winner of the previous season that they compete with, and basically the challenge is to beat their competitor who previously won the challenge against them. And psychologically, I think it's, either way, it's scary for some of them, and for some of the others it's basically a revenge. So it's a good challenge, it's good energy actually in between them, and it's funny to watch.
So Michael Isabella wins against Mike Voltaggio, and I think it's maybe a surprise for a lot of the viewers. I didn't have a preconceived opinion of what would happen. So I just went and test the food. And at the end of the day, despite all the techniques that Mike Voltaggio used, all the technology he's using and everything else, Mike Isabella really has a more tender, and better duck. And therefore he wins.
I was happy to see Tiffany winning, because she needed to have that with her. She hadn't won anything yet, so that was very good for her morale. And she did a great dish. I mean, it was the first bite we had, of the entire challenge, and we were like "Wow, if we're starting like that it's going to be really interesting."
Everybody did great food actually on that challenge. Richard is the one who won, and by far he was the winner.
It was interesting that in between Tom and Padma and I, we agree immediately at each table who was the winner. It was no controversy. It was, right away, we were together.
Except for Michael Voltaggio, Padma thought his dish was better, but then Tom and I thought the duck of Mike Isabella was much more tender, therefore, better to eat. So the Elimination Challenge is very misleading, on purpose. And they're supposed to cook for Bahamian royalty, and the idea is to put in their mind that they have to do something sophisticated, or do whatever they want, but we believe they're going to think sophistication, something elaborate and so on. In fact, they're cooking for the king of Carnival. And the restaurant where they cook, it's a tiny restaurant where they have some local food, and it's not really a luxurious place. And I think they are a little bit surprised and confused. And then it's a big fire in the kitchen. They have to stop completely, the production of the dinner they're preparing. They have to start again. I mean, it's really, really difficult for them psychologically to provide a meal to us.
Well, so basically after the fire, they can redo their mise en place, and they can change the dish that they had in mind. I think it's fair, I mean it's, you know you''re starting again, you have more information about where you are and so on. So why not change? And two of the contestants change. Antonia change and Richard change. And the others do not, but it's fair game
So after the Quickfire, we had very high expectations because the food was so delicious. We thought we were going to have something really amazing. And we were kind of let down a little bit. The food was not as good as we expected it. And I think even themselves seems to be disappointed about what they have cooked for us. Again, it's a very difficult challenge. I mean, just the fire itself, the drama of the fire, it's difficult to digest.
Carla, unfortunately has to go home. And I say unfortunately for any of them who has to go, because at this point we don't want to see them going home. But again it's a competition. Her pork was undercooked for some of the guest. Mine was perfectly cooked, but I guess I had the one end piece. It was on the sweet side, and it was almost too sweet. And it was rich, it was sweet potato and then the applesauce, and then it was an apple twirl, and the pork on top. So unfortunately because of the mistake of cooking the pork, and the sweetness, her dish is not a winning dish. And we are sad to see her go home.
Mike wins with his chicken, and after deliberating for a long time, we decide that it's the best dish. It's close to some of the other contestants, but at the end of the day, it's the one we prefer. So Mike, congratulations. And actually Richard is also on top and he knows already right away that he's going to the next challenge.
So Antonia completely change her dish. I don't know what would have been the first version of what she wanted to cook for us, which was the lamb. But it's not really successful. She's basically lucky that Carla has a dish that doesn't work because of again the sweetness and the cooking aspect, because it could have been Antonia going home. But she's lucky that Carla is not doing well, so she stays.
So at the restaurant you have on one side Padma and the king, and then it's Tom and Gail and myself on that little booth. It's difficult to move, but it's. . .they're convivial, and we are having fun. We have a good time.
I'm Eric Ripert I was commenting on Episode 13 of Top Chef New York season, the finale in the Bahamas.