Fans of Bravo's "Top Chef" witnessed a shocker last week when former model Kristen Kish was eliminated, taking the fall for her failed restaurant concept and the underwhelming dishes that were served. Many (including this reporter) feel that Kish took some undeserving criticism in her ouster, taking much of the blame for teammate Josie Smith-Malave's shortcomings and saving her from the chopping block.
Well, karma's a you-know-what, because Josie was sent home this week, losing a fried chicken challenge with a dish that judges labeled inedible. The competitor spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her elimination, and how she's handling the backlash of sending home fan-favorite Kristen.
The chef defended her performance in the Restaurant Wars challenge that sent her teammate home last week, claiming that editing made her appear lazy and strategically sabotaging the challenge when this simply wasn't the case. "I think what everyone needs to understand is that there are many hours that you don’t see, so there’s plenty of interaction between the chefs that you aren’t privy to, and you’ll never be. When I sat down to watch that show, it was probably one of the episodes that I was dreading reliving," she said. "That whole 'restaurant wars' experience made me want to shoot myself in the head. I've had to do plenty of events, set up remote kitchens for catering events. I just feel that through the entire process, I mean, you saw it -- there was a bit of cattiness happening. If that cattiness is the height of what you think happened, multiply that by 20 and then come back at me."
She continued, "Let’s call a spade a spade -- had we won, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The fact that we didn’t win put us in a position where everyone’s flaws rose to the top. There was a lot of sabotaging and it wasn’t from me, believe me. I tried to work with what I got, tried to make it happen in the time, and at one point you might have noticed I seem to be removed from the day. At that point, I was just thinking to myself, 'Josie, you just have to get this done. They’re not being very nice right now. Do your thing, work around what you have to work around, make it happen. You’ve said your peace. You’ve already suggested that we pre-plate the dessert and cheese course, because they don’t require any heat, any cooking.' This is what every single high-end caterer does. I’ve done a tasting menu before, and when there’s 200 people ordering a tasting menu, it gets hairy."
Particularly offensive to Smith-Malave was the cattiness on display after Kish's elimination, in which some of her fellow competitors piled on the hate train without Josie's knowledge. "You’ve seen what they say. No one ever said any of those things to my face, so it all came as a big surprise to me. Like nails on a chalkboard. The comments about 'class,' which I think are just completely out of line," Smith-Malave said.
The bullying and everyone piling on just seems typical of a competitive atmosphere where at least one or two people will get pigeonholed as "the annoying one". While this behavior is petty and small-minded, I can't say I wasn't one of the many viewers who was happy to see Josie get the boot. Regardless of whether she performed better in the challenge than what was shown, she had been skating on thin ice and close to elimination for weeks leading up to that point while Kish had been comfortably in the top tier.