Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Scallopgate: The Final Words

Possums, as Spike Mendelsohn so amply demonstrates, some people just do not know when to shut up. The good thing is, it makes our job much easier; it leaves us with nothing to do but to present the evidence to you, possums. The conclusions practically draw themselves.

Here then, in the simplest version of compare and contrast, we have the blog of Top Chef culinary producer and former Season 1 cheftestant, Lee Anne Wong, and the most recent interview that Spike has done.

First up, Lee Anne:

Here’s the deal: This episode was all about partnering with Allen Brothers, a wonderful Chicago based meat and seafood company, well-known for its steaks….

The Allen Brothers tie-in to the Elimination Challenge was that they donated a bulk of the proteins for the challenge. Keep in mind, as the culinary producer, it’s my job to keep within my food budget for each episode, and the budget’s never as big as you think it is. I worked with Chef Rick [Tramonto]’s corporate chef, Greg Biggers, on making sure the fridge would be stocked with a plentiful variety of proteins and produce for our contestants to work with. However, Tramonto’s was not donating this product -- we had to pay for everything we requested and used. Chef Greg sent me his inventory list with current prices attached and I had to budget out what we could order and what could be donated. While this is not uncommon, I want you to understand why I got the scallops donated, rather than pay for 5 lbs of them. There’s nothing wrong with frozen seafood, but there were no scallops on Rick’s menu at the time, and if there had been, he certainly would not have been using frozen scallops. So all of this hullabaloo at the end of the day is MY fault. I knew the scallops were frozen, and besides the fact that they would be free, they may have been perfectly suitable in other applications, such as a seafood stew or sausage. It still doesn’t excuse the fact that Spike knew this also. He observed the quality of the scallops the minute he opened the bag and he STILL chose to use them. It was bad judgment on his part either way.

And now, here’s Spike [the questions are in dark red and italicized, the answers in green]:

At one point there were allegations that Bravo planted the scallops and that they wouldn’t be in Tramonto’s kitchen...


…And Bravo obviously says they didn’t do anything like that. Tramonto says they may have come in with another provider…

That’s B.S. I think we all know that.

Listen, Rick Tramonto does not cook frozen scallops. There’s no possible way that he has them in his walk-in. It would never happen. I mean, he knows what frozen scallops are and I know what frozen scallops are.

The misconception people got on the show is that I took scallops, looked at them and said, “Frozen scallops. Oh, my God, this is what I want to cook.” Which is not the way it went.


This is where my mistake was: I didn’t take the time to look at them, inspect them and see what I was getting. I just took it for granted that the scallops in this walk-in … last episode, everything’s going to be top-notch, they’re not really gonna screw with us. That’s where I bit it. From that point on, I knew that I had scallops and I had to use them. So, you see me talking myself into the dish. I was, like, yeah, “Frozen scallops, no problem.”

People get the misconception that I saw it was frozen scallops and I had no problem with that, which was totally not the case at all.


On Colicchio’s blog, he speculated that it came in with the Allen Brothers steaks.

Oh, yeah. The Allen Brothers have been dealing in meats for the past 60, 65 years. I’m sure they carried frozen scallops into the walk-in.

[laughs] I just love it because everyone online is calling it “Scallopgate.”

I read Tom’s blog, also. I was like, “Tom, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, kind of.” Why would they come in with Allen? They’re a meat purveyor. They haven’t dealt with seafood since the day they were born. Know what I mean? That was out of nowhere. Yeah, Allen Brothers decided to drop off a bag of frozen scallops that day.

So your bottom line is that you think the scallops came in with another purveyor?

My bottom line is that … listen, this happened a long time ago. I’ve moved on. I’m looking forward. I’m not the kind who looks back. I don’t want to bad-mouth Bravo or the producers. They’ve done so much for me. The whole experience and now my Good Stuff eatery and the launching of my new place, they’re throwing my name out there. But, you know, if I have to this one time, I will. Listen, it’s the top 5. Give us the best ingredients. Why the hell were those scallops in there? I don’t know how they ended up in there or why. I definitely don’t think they want to screw anyone intentionally, but that’s pretty much what they did. That’s not good stuff.

Well, possums, to us it looks like the shooting's on the other foot now.


hughman said...

spike is so full of shit.

1. on the show itself he says when he sees the scallops that they are frozen.

2. Allen Brothers sign outside says "meat and seafood" for christ's sake.

what a douche-hat loser. i hope he goes down as "the one who whined about the scallops" and that's it.

face it dude, your dish sucked and everyone knew it.

cherbitrary said...

Oh Spike: "Why would they come in with Allen? They’re a meat purveyor. They haven’t dealt with seafood since the day they were born."

Really, Spike? Because if you go to their website, you can order SCALLOPS , shrimp, crab lobster, fish - there's a whole seafood section. So, just shut up already.

Anonymous said...

Allen Brothers seafood offerings

Never dealt in seafood? No frozen seafood from them? Spike, we can read and use a search engine, even if that's beneath you.

The Big Shamu said...

What's even more amazing is the remaining chefs commenting on Spike choosing the frozen scallops from across the walk in. He picked them up, held the firm little puckettes in his hand and decided he could use them. What an asshat.

Mary said...

Spike is just an idiot.