Last night’s “Top Chef: Seattle” was a rough one. In an unprecedented move, the judges decided all the chefs’ food was so bad, no one deserved to win the elimination challenge. Head judge Tom Colicchio actually took the $10,000 prize off the table and, rather than having one winner and one eliminee, no winner was announced and two chefs were sent home.
Most disappointing was the departure of C.J. Jacobson, who was previously booted from season three, and — along with Josie Smith-Malave — returned to redeem himself in the show’s tenth season. Alas, redemption was not to be had, as Padma Lakshmi asked C.J. and teammate Tyler Wiard to pack their knives and go.
Today, C.J. tells Zap2it he’s no longer “pissed off” like he was immediately following his elimination for the team challenge — in which he and Tyler made a pork burger with a crummy crumpet to compliment some spicy dill pickles — though he points out with his usual flare, “It’s not ‘Top Team Chef;’ it’s ‘Top Chef.'”
Still, he says, he’s over it. “I’m not pissed off,” says C.J. “I’m disappointed in myself. I’m more pissed off that I talked s**t on someone else’s food.” Jacobson attempted to throw fellow chefs Danyele McPherson and Lizzie Binder under the bus for their “debacle” of a dessert, but he now admits he got caught up in the drama of the competition. “That’s not who I am,” says Jacobson. “My mom let me know that today.”
Of course C.J. received payback from Tom when the eliminated chefs made it to “Last Chance Kitchen.” Since he had bagged on Danyele and Lizzie’s dessert, C.J. was forced to team with Tyler again to make — you guessed it — a dessert. It was a nail biting moment for those who are fans of both Jacobson and Kuniko Yagi, the prevailing chef in “Last Chance Kitchen.” While Jacobson wasn’t expected to get the boot so early, many thought Kuniko would stick it out until the end of “Last Chance” — even C.J.
“Kuniko is probably one of the top two or three chefs there, if not the best chef,” says Jacobson. But he still knew he would beat her. “I didn’t doubt for a second,” he says. “I was kind of watching her as I was cooking though, which I normally don’t do.”
Ultimately, C.J. and Tyler were victorious, so the nail biters can give their fingers a rest until next week to see if C.J. makes it through another “Last Chance” round.
Beyond “Top Chef,” Jacobson says he is close to opening his newest restaurant in the Los Angeles area. Girasol in Studio City will have a “very, very seasonally driven menu,” anchored by some crowd favorites. One dish he teased is a grilled Swiss chard with oyster cream and a special brine. Our mouths are watering …