I swear this is the last time I write about Dale’s departure from Top Chef. I wouldn’t have said another word about it, but I just read Anthony Bourdain’s blog on the subject. Bourdain filled in for Tom Colicchio during Restaurant Wars, and he offers a first-hand behind-the-scenes account of what when down.
Dale’s departure and Lisa’s continued presence (in the Final Four no less!) has been fodder for a lot of rage and anger in the blogosphere, but I think Bourdain’s objectivity and Dale’s own reflections (see here and here) on his departure should serve to calm folks down (for a second or two.)
On Dale’s butterscotch scallop dish:
…Supremely bad. Jaw droppingly bad. So bad that there was a long, awkward moment at the table when all the judges just sat there, silent, stunned with disbelief that anyone—especially Dale—could serve something so…disgusting. It’s the only time on Top Chef that I literally could not take another bite.
Dale was in deep, deep trouble from the judges’ first mouthful of this luminously wretched gunk.
Lisa’s laksa was screwed up. Unpleasantly smoky. But I could eat it. Her “sticky rice” dessert was awful. But not dig-a-hole-in-the-ground-stick-my-head-in-pour-in-Clorox bad. Like those scallops. They were distinguished by their sheer degree of awfulness, sucking everything around them down with it.
Shit Happens When You Don’t Win the Quickfire:
He had the misfortune to almost win the Quickfire. Had he lost, and not come in second, he would not have been team leader—and would not have had the additional burden of leadership.
(A burden he was ill suited to carry)
He was even more unfortunate in that he WON the coin toss, after which he made the regrettable and ultimately foolish decision to anoint himself Exec Chef. Looking around at who he had to work with, and knowing, one would hope, that he was unlikely to be able to either lead or inspire them, he could have put ego aside and stayed out of the line of fire and avoided the clusterf**k.
On Dale’s “Leadership”:
Had Dale been a little more mature, a little better suited to lead…had he not fancied himself a crotch grabbing gangster genius..had he not been the sort of guy who unnecessarily calls temp waiters, hired for the DAY “assholes”, then he might well have seen the wisdom in adopting Stephanie’s far smarter attitude over at Team Woodstock. Note the agreement on that team that whatever happened, no one from that team was going home that week. The whole concept, the menu, the division of labor was smartly designed to achieve just that. To protect the team–as a whole. To not f**k up—or allow anyone on their team to f**k up.
Dale, with many opportunities to do otherwise, just couldn’t resist trying to shine as an individual. He reached too far…with a dish he’d never even made before. And he neglected to guard his flanks.
On Dale’s Future:
Of the Terrible Trio, Dale will surely have a bright career. He’s generally an excellent cook. His post-loss interviews have demonstrated commendable insight into where things went wrong for him.
On Judging “Conspiracies”:
Judging on Top Chef, as has been pointed out repeatedly (most recently and succinctly by my learned colleague, Ted Allen) is on a “What Have You Cooked For Me Lately” basis. We are not supposed to care what has been achieved previously. In fact, guest judges don’t even know. The shows air long after filming. So Jose Andres, for instance, can in no way be expected to know—or care—if Dale won previous challenges, deserved to win them, loves puppies and long walks on the beach—or tortures hamsters in his spare time. After deliberation, the judges were unanimous in their feeling that it was Dale who—this week—f**ked up worst.
On Lisa and Spike:
Lisa, who’s appearance and hostile, defiant-looking posture alone seem to have made her this season’s designated villain surely does not deserve the hatred and vitriol seen on blogs and websites. Nor is it likely—barring the most freakish and flukey sudden realignment of the planets and spate of untimely deaths—that she shall win Top Chef. She’s a decent cook…but a lucky one.
Blaming others ain’t gonna take her far.
Spike, on the other hand, can look forward to a long career.
In politics. He’s perfect for it.
Read the whole thing here.