Euclid Hall's Jorel Pierce on being booted from Top Chef Seattle

Once you knew you were a contestant on Top Chef, what was your strategy? Were you going on to play the game, so to speak, or cook your heart out?
I was going there to prove something; I was the young guy who would kick ass and win with my technique. I definitely went on to win, as anyone would, because it's a time-suck if you don't get something out of it. And then I fucked up.

Do you regret the experience?
No, and I know a lot more about how I'd approach it at this point. I feel like I understand why the others were successful, and why I wasn't. The nerves -- they killed me. Even on my worst days here, I'm fine, but there, it's such a shakedown.

The chef from Dallas -- John Tesar -- whom D Magazine deemed the most-hated chef in Dallas: What were your impressions of him?
I thought he was a dick. He's cocky, demeaning and rudely outspoken, which he embraces. He's not a bad cook, but I couldn't go to the bar with him and have a beer. I had to deal with him on a few car rides, and he always found an opportunity to be irritating.

Who's the best chef left?
I like Micah Fields. I thought he was a real nice guy. He has something special going on, and he's innovative and passionate.

Who do you want to win?
I want my boy Tyler to win. For sure. A win for Denver would be awesome.

I've had your food -- and I love it -- but Colicchio called your beurre fondue too salty, which ultimately got you eliminated. Was Colicchio's assessment wrong?
When I added the first round of seasoning, it was super-light. And I asked Tom what the purpose of the beurre fondue was -- for pasta or to finish vegetables -- and he waved me off, like, whatever. Had its purpose been to coat vegetables, it would have been perfect, but I guess he wanted me to make it for universal use, in which case, yeah, it was probably a little too salty. And maybe I just didn't ask the right questions. I was pretty beat down by the time that task came around.

Everyone goes on Top Chef presumably thinking they can win -- but going in, what did you think were your biggest strengths? Weaknesses?
I think my biggest strengths were humility, my grasp of classic techniques and my level of comfort with a wide variety of ingredients; there aren't a lot of ingredients that I haven't played with at least once or twice. And my weakness was the ability to take direction. I'm kind of own boss now, although I take chef Jen's advice all the time, because she's proven that her advice is valid. But I had no idea how Tom rolled, and the first day of any job is always the shittiest...and all I got was that first day.


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Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen

1317 14th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
Jane
Jane

Jorel really got the short end of the stick having Tom and his stupid challenge.  I think had he been with any of the other chefs, he would have been through.  Emeril and Wolfgang had real challenges - the eggs and soup.  I thought Tom's was a crappy way to weed in the first place. 

Chowhound49
Chowhound49

One of the worst meals I've had was CraftSteak. The place had no atmosphere and the food and service were lacking. I've always had a great experince at Euclid. Keep up the good work Jorel

jp00
jp00

It won't stop us from coming to Euclid Hall to enjoy Jorel's wonderful food.

nope
nope like.author.displayName 1 Like

I wouldn't put too much stock in what Tom Colicchio thinks about your food, Jorel. He's so rich probably hasn't so much microwaved a burrito in five years.

Jeff
Jeff like.author.displayName 1 Like

The quality of the food and service at CraftSteak is so lackluster that I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about Colicchio's assessment of your skills.

monopod
monopod

 @Jeff I haven't been to CraftSteak, but Craft - the place in LA where Jorel had his reckoning - is absolutely incredible, one of the best restaurants in a city full of amazing restaurants.  Ripping on Colicchio's skills as a chef is ridiculous; he's well-established and extremely well-respected as an accomplished chef, and in any case it's totally irrelevant to his role on the show.  His job on the show is to be a cranky taskmaster that demands miracles from the contestants and then provides withering commentary when they don't quite measure up - and, occasionally, hard-won praise when they do - and he's very good at that.  

 

Jorel has the right attitude; he didn't ask the right question about how Tom wanted the chicken butchered (bone-in or boneless), and Tom rightly docked him for that.  Then he made a sauce that both Tom and one of the random sous chefs in the kitchen deemed too salty.  Both are minor mistakes that even the most talented chef can make, but both are more than enough to get you kicked off of TC.  This wasn't the Olympics, this was reality TV - you can't complain about it not being fair, since that's not really the point.

Jeff
Jeff

 @monopod Gramercy Tavern was certainly one of the best restaurants in the country when Colicchio was there.  I doubt he actually spends much time in any given restaurant in his vast empire these days though, and I think quality control has suffered greatly as a result.  My point was that while he can clearly cook himself (or used to), his ability to assess the value of other chefs' work appears to be lacking.

Lipster
Lipster

 @Jeff  @monopod  Oddly enough, I saw Tom Colicchio at the Chelsea Market, buying ingredients, when I was in NYC in May.  It made me want to follow him home to see what he was cooking.  I suspect he still knows his way around a kitchen. 

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