On Elia Aboumrad:
Chef material? Not just yet. Why not? Her insistence on making everything to order "a la minute" during the "Hollywood cocktail party" was a really bush league move. And the "I quit" business--same episode.( Leaving the line for emotional reasons--unforgivable in a professional kitchen). Everybody who's ever done a volume passed hors d'oeuvre party knows from painful experience that you have to make compromises. (half cook that shit in advance!) Drunks want food fast. They want it hot. They want it NOW!
On Michael "Beer Bong" Midgley:
Let this guy run a kitchen and the food and booze would be running out the back door with his cooks--who he'd probably be drinking with. That said? I love this kid. There would have been a place for him in nearly every kitchen I ever ran. Probably the grill. (Don't let this Manimal NEAR saute!!)
On Betty "Spice Rack" Fraser:
Forget about. Very limited skills--and it showed.
On Cliff Crooks:
VERY solid cook. And will definitely be a solid chef as well. He crossed the line Big Time with the Marcel incident and he knew it. He deserved to get canned, would have been canned--and surely sued--in any professional situation where he behaved similarly. Period.
On our chulo chef, Carlos Fernandez, whom he (unintentionally?) dubs "Alex":
Nice guy. And back in the minor leagues--where he should have stayed.
On Sam Talbot:
Probably the closest thing to Chef material this season--with the most chefly demeanor and attitude (generally speaking).
On Marcel Vigneron:
But his Chef potential? Presently zero. You have to get along with the people you work with--and I can't imagine this guy "working with others" over time. He's petty, vindictive, immature, a loudmouth, not a team player by any stretch of the imagination.
On Ilan Hall:
Okay: So Ilan cribs his offerings shamelessly from Andy Nusser. And he's a manipulative, conspiratorial, vindictive, weasely little shit....(Hardly impediments to a career as a chef). These are classic assets. If Ilan has a fatal flaw, it's that he let Marcel get up his nose so easily and predictably. And that when he (again and again) conspired to sabotage or screw over his enemy--either directly or through surrogates, he was both obviously behind it--his fingerprints all over the place, and worse--FAR worse-- unsuccessful!
On THE INCIDENT:
I agree with those who suggest that it would have been fair if EVERYBODY involved in the "full-Nelson incident" had been kicked off the show. The event reflected most poorly on Ilan. Who came off as an instigator--and a weasel. It would have been appropriate for him to have stepped up and thrown himself on his sword when Cliff got canned. Wouldn't (and shouldn't) have saved Cliff--but it would have been the Right Thing to do. Instead, he behaved like a punk and let the black man take the fall. It was sickening to see him stand silently by while Cliff took the full freight. Notice that Cliff kept his mouth shut, blamed no one else, took his jolt like a man.
Bourdain has now posted this in response to some of the comments on his post on Ruhlman's blog:
An earlier response disappeared into the ether, but I'd like to add that Marcel deserves a lot of respect for simply having the strength to hang in there--in the face of relentless, naked hostility. It's an admirable character trait that will serve him well in the business. I'll stress again that he clearly deserves to be in the top two. Bottom line for me was: Do I want to eat his food? And: Would I ever want to hire the guy? I base my judgements/opinions, btw, solely on close viewing of every episode, on nearly 30 years as a chef/manager/employer and ONLY one day as an actual judge who ate the contestants' food. Fair comment above. And it was "Carlos" NOT "Alex". Apologies to the departed.