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‘Top Chef’ contender Bruce Kalman weighs in on what happened at the Judges’ Table on the heritage challenge

By in Press Enterprise on December 30, 2017

By Sandra Barrera

If you thought Bruce Kalman was frustrated during the elimination challenge on the Thursday, Dec. 28, episode of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” you’re half-right.

It was also an aha moment.

The contestants’ challenge was to create a dish that represented their heritage. For his part, Kalman, the celebrated chef-owner of Union in Pasadena and Knead & Co at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and frontman of chef band Foie Grock, made a Hungarian lamb goulash in honor of his grandfather who had immigrated to the United States from Budapest.

The dish turned out to be one of the judges’ three least favorites of the elimination challenge, which saw Tyler Anderson pack up his knives and Chris Scott get the win — something Kalman said he was hoping to get during his on-camera interview.

Speaking by phone from his home in Pasadena on Friday, Kalman said he was coming off a series at the bottom — from the “beautiful pasta dish” that he and Joe Flamm made during the four-course progressive menu team challenge on the second episode to the food truck challenge in the third and then being in the judges’ least favorites for both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges on Thursday’s episode.

“It starts weighing on you,” he said. “You feel like you can’t do anything right. I felt like I made a good dish.”

At the Judges’ Table, Head Judge Tom Colicchio told Kalman that the lamb was “not cooked right at all.”

Judge Gail Simmons added she “wanted coziness, and I didn’t get coziness. In fact, it was a little chilly because it was spread out over the plate.”

Looking back, Kalman said maybe his presentation was, as Colicchio put it during the judges’ deliberations, “too chef-y.”

“Originally, I was going to put it in a bowl and make it like I make it […]    

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