Top Chef

'Top Chef' judges explain ouster: Casey's food was inedible

Jan. 7, 2011 at 1:10 PM ET

Viewers still baffled by the judges’ decision to boot season three runner-up and current season hopeful Casey Thompson on the last episode of “Top Chef All-Stars” can rest assured the panel had one very good reason for making that call. The fan favorite simply served up a batch of inedible chicken feet.

“To all the Casey fans out there who are about to write in to tell me that Jamie should have been sent home instead, I have one word for you: ‘inedible,’ ” head judge Tom Colicchio explained in a post to his “Top Chef” blog. “I like Casey very much, too, and I applaud her for going out on such a limb by making chicken feet. And no, she was not sent home because the American judges are not accustomed to eating the feet of fowl. She was sent home because the particular dish she made with them was inedible. Not just bad, but inedible.”

Harsh words but ones that Colicchio’s fellow judge Gail Simmons agrees with.

“Of the two dishes we disliked the most, we felt Casey’s was the most flawed, given that the chicken feet were cooked so poorly you were not really able to eat a full bite in order to gauge its flavor,” judge Simmons wrote.

As for judge and chicken feet enthusiast Anthony Bourdain, he believes the inedible aspect of the dish was only part of the problem. Casey troubles began the moment she made her selection.

“(Chicken feet are) bony, gnarly, gelatinous, and cartilaginous,” Bourdain pointed out on his own blog. “And that's when they're good. They are, for most, an acquired taste. Most people who do like chicken feet like the chicken feet their mom would hand them in the kitchen when they were kids. But when you're not a dim sum expert, not Chinese, and certainly NOT anybody in the dining room's mom, it is a dish that good sense would tell you it's best to avoid. ... Having decided on making perhaps the single worst dish one could choose for a ‘Top Chef’ elimination challenge (other than maybe durian soufflés -- or balut over-easy), Casey hastened her rush over the cliff by then turning this thing over to someone else. The results were inevitable.”

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