'Top Chef' Contestant Brandon Rosen Admits He Should Have Cooked the Beef
The private chef doesn't mince words about his underwhelming tartare.
Hindsight is always twenty-twenty and for chef Brandon Rosen, his hindsight on the beef challenge and Tom Colicchio’s comments about his dish, is crystal clear. Rosen was doing well this season of Top Chef, cooking dishes week after week that blended his California roots with a touch of Asian influences and an emphasis on local produce. But last week’s beef challenge sent him home thanks to a steak tartare that Tom described as “slimy”. As he stood in front of the chef’s table it became clear to Rosen (and the other chefs) that the challenge which seemingly focused on showcasing butchery skills was actually a test to see which chef would be brave enough to let the beef stand alone with a few simple accompaniments. Rosen's use of xanthan gum to thicken the vinagrette that bound the tartare together ended up being his downfall.
Rosen’s elimination came as a shock to many, including him. Below, we asked the chef who he thinks should have gone home, what he would have made instead of the tartare and what his game plan is going into Last Chance Kitchen.
Food and Wine: What inspired you to compete on Top Chef?
Brandon Rosen: I wanted to challenge myself! I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, and get back into the place that I thrive the most. I love to compete and being in the hustle of the kitchen is where I can focus the most. After one year in a private chef role, I knew I had to keep my skills and speed sharp and Top Chef would be the best place to do it.
FW: What did you think when you first met your competitors and saw them in action?
BR: After first meeting the competition it was great to see the wide range of backgrounds. I knew that this group would have a lot of different flavors to throw into the bowl which will make for a very competitive competition. There was a very wide range of skill sets between the chef which excited me for the opportunity to not only see new things but to challenge my own skills against a wide range of talent.
FW: What do you wish you had done differently in the elimination challenge?
BR: The entire evening before I kept thinking that I should just do a cooked beef dish because I knew Tom would say it was a missed opportunity. Even that morning I rewrote my dish multiple times but I told myself that I wouldn’t second guess my decisions, not to mention that I didn’t have enough produce to really make the change justifiable.
FW: If you had to do the beef challenge again would you do a different dish?
BR: I would have done a cooked beef dish, I knew in the back of my mind that Tom would call it a “missed opportunity” and would judge me harder because of that. Doing a cooked beef dish could have eliminated a lot of that beginning animosity.
FW: Do you feel like one of your competitors should have gone home instead of you? Who?
BR: I believe that Sara should have been sent home during the “Carne” challenge. Although my dish had issues, I think her dish was a bigger representation of failed technique in this scenario.
FW: Who do you think is going to be Top Chef? And who are you rooting for?
BR: Right now I would say my money is on David, Kelsey, or Eddie. I am rooting for Eddie because I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he won! Priceless!
FW: Do you have any tricks up your sleeve that you wish you had gotten the opportunity to show the judges?
BR: I think that the deeper you get in the competition the greater the opportunity you have to really cook the food you want. I have a lot left that I wanted to show the judges! But first I will have to start with Tom in Last Chance Kitchen!
FW: What was the biggest lesson during your time on Top Chef?
BR: My biggest lesson was learning how important it is in a competition like this to make your dish stand out with bold flavors. You’re not creating a menu that can guide people through your experience and vision, you need to do it with one dish and sometimes only a bite or two!
FW: Did you learn something new about yourself or your cooking that you'll take with you?
BR: Top Chef really helped me to get a grasp on what my style of cuisine really is. this is something that I have been working on for years.
FW: What’s your strategy going into Last Chance Kitchen?
BR: My strategy was to make great flavor forward food, simplify my food and represent myself through the flavors. I knew I needed to make things Tom would like. I also made it a point to use as many ingredients off the table options as I could in my dishes.
FW: What advice would you give chefs who are thinking about competing on Top Chef?
BR: The most important thing is to stay focused of you food, make sure you acidity, spice, and seasoning is on point! and remember they have to taste sometimes 15 plates, so you need to make yours stand out!