Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Dallas chef John Tesar cooks for his life on Top Chef: Seattle
The keyword is pickle.
John Tesar is the kind of guy who shares his pickle. “That’s who I am,” he said during Wednesday’s episode of Top Chef: Seattle.
Why was the chef behind Dallas’ Spoon restaurant in a pickle to begin with? Spoiler alert: He was placed in the bottom two after the elimination challenge and had to participate in a cookoff against fellow cheftestant Lizzie Binder.
John and Lizzie were asked to re-create the burger that chef C.J. Jacobson made a few weeks back, which got C.J. eliminated. John and Lizzie were instructed to make a healthy version of C.J.'s burger, and each turned out a dish that judge Tom Colicchio didn’t complain about. John made a lamb burger with fried egg and spicy pickle, tomato, and pomegranate salad. Lizzie made a chicken burger with goat cheese ricotta and dill pickle roasted pepper salad. Who won? First we'll reveal a few made-for-TV moments with hometown chef John.
During the first part of the elimination challenge – before John and Lizzie found themselves in trouble – each chef was assigned a memorable moment from the first nine seasons of the show. As the chefs considered how to make their dish healthier, John mentioned in passing that he hired Anthony Bourdain years ago. He then apparently introduced Bourdain to Eric Ripert -- the pair who recently toured through North Texas together talking food. They're internationally famous, thanks to John. "And the rest is history," he boasted.
John was assigned the dreaded risotto, which caused many cheftestants grief in past seasons. John churned out an umami risotto with chicken, salmon roe, burdock root, and carrot emulsion. The presentation was great. But host Padma Lakshmi didn't like the dish, and the judges agreed that the risotto was unevenly cooked.
Lizzie's scallops were the other loser. Judges said they didn’t taste fresh, and Lizzie agreed. John later called them “foul, raw food,” defending his dish. He blamed his improperly cooked rice on unlevel pots, which caused his competitors to roll their eyes.
Superstar Kristen Kish made the best dish, winning $15,000. Her calorie-conscious chicken pot pie will inspire a new Healthy Choice dish.
Back to the burger challenge: As John and Lizzie cooked to save their spot on the show, John snatched up the jar of pickles, which were required in the final presentation of the dish. When he shared with Lizzie, he was quick to point out he was doing her a big favor.
It wasn't the first time his sour attitude left a bad taste in the judges' mouths, but it was the last. John was told to pack his knives and go, after which he graciously said, “Thank you for letting the old man play the game.”
John faces C.J. in Last Chance Kitchen, a behind-the-scenes segment aired online only, where chefs kicked off the show compete against one another to snag one spot back on the show. See the battle between John and C.J. here.
But that couldn’t, wouldn't be all. “I think it’s bulls**t,” he said later.
Upon his exit, he told enemy chef Josh Valentine, also from Dallas: “I like you. Don’t be a d**k anymore, alright?” The kitchen should heat up next week, when the chefs have to compete in a twist on Restaurant Wars.
Our two cents: We're going to miss John. He made good food and caused a whole lot of tension. Who will become the know-it-all now that he's gone?