Given that this season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” features 15 culinary whizzes from seasons past who just missed winning in their previous appearances, it is going to hurt every time one of these All Stars are sent packing. That is how I felt when Season 15 veteran Joe Sasto, he of the fab handlebar mustache and a knack for making fresh pasta was given the heave-ho on the March 19 premiere.
It’s true the Lost Angeles-based chef, who specializes in modern Italian cuisine, did commit several cooking sins both during the quickfire challenge and during the elimination round. In the quickfire, he chose to roll out fresh pasta and cook it without knowing how much time his team had to finish. Judge Padma Lakshmi was visibly displeased and described his homemade noodles as being “doughy, dry and chewy.” Luckily, his team made up for his flaws and won the challenge.
Things also didn’t turn out much better for him during the elimination challenge that required dishes to be cooked over an open fires. His flatbread was underdone and he unfortunately made matters worse by drowning it aioli sauce.
However, his flubs seemed much less worse than those of the other contestant on the chopping block, Maui-based chef Lee Anne Wong from Season 1, who failed to fry her tempura correctly in the quickfire and made a truly bad move during the elimination challenge by placing her fish on the grill without covering it with oil first. In a panic, she poured oil directly on the fish, causing the flames to roar and give her dish an off-putting charred taste.
We asked fans of the show whether Lee Anne’s mistakes were worse than Joe’s and she should have been the first to be cut. A whopping 70% agreed that usual judges — Padma, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons — as well as esteemed guest judge Jeremiah Tower picked the wrong chef to be booted off. s
Before he departed, Joe shared a few thoughts about being the first to go. “I don’t think there is anything negative to be seen by being the first one eliminated. ‘Top Chef’ is a once in a lifetime experience and here we all are doing it for a second time in the same lifetime.” The good news is that “Last Chance Kitchen” is back this Thursday online and Joe has a path to possibly work his way back into the main competition.
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