Tom Colicchio

The Rao's challenge and the Italian dishes the chefs created struck a personal cord for Tom Colicchio.

on Feb 2, 2011

Some of our chefs understood the challenge and rose to it. Even Mike understood it; his problem was one of execution. He treated the pasta he made as though it hadn't been put through an extruder. It was going to take a very long time to cook. What saved Mike from elimination was the flavor of his sauce, which was good.

Dale's dish didnt work either. I believe it wasnt kneaded enough, and the ingredients didn't come together. With his mushrooms and brussels sprouts, Dale would have been better off using dried pasta, as it has more semolina, which is a harder wheat and holds up better. He could have tossed the ingredients with olive oil, and the whole dish would have turned out better. I think a lot of people who say they don't like pasta have been given too many dishes like Dale's. Even so, though, neither his dish nor Mike's was as bad as Tre's.

Unfortunately for Tre, he wound up creating something that many people think risotto is supposed to be. About 15 years ago, for whatever reason, people tried to mold risotto into a ring stand. This is simply wrong. Risotto should be soupy. If you go to Italy, you'll be served it that way; ditto, a good Italian restaurant here. Tre's risotto wasnt even creamy. The starch should go into the stock and the risotto should run on a flat plate and not hold its form at all. Furthermore, risotto continues to cook and harden further after you stop cooking it, so you need to be even more careful when cooking it to make sure it's creamy. And, finally, the flavors should be integrated into the dish, not heaped on top of it, as Tre's were. Tre made a dish he didn't understand, and we couldn't give him a pass for the fact that he was taught incorrectly. Both the texture and the flavors were way, way off. Just as it was clear to all that Antonia's dish was the evening's best, it was clear that Tre's was the evening's worst. I wish him all the best he was a gracious competitor from start to finish.