Top Chef's Melissa on the "Harshest Critique of My Career"
Melissa Harrison, Top Chef
Cheftestant Melissa Harrison thought her seafood dish on this week's Top Chef was screaming creativity, but the judges — especially new addition Toby Young — found it to be quite the contrary. Young even went so far as to compare the dish to "cat food." Find out what Melissa thought of her unforgiving critique, Toby Young's one liners and more!
TVGuide.com: Why did you choose fish tacos for this week's challenge?
Melissa Harrison: I wanted to represent myself with a little Latin inspiration, and I thought it would be cute. I was trying to be creative, and apparently, Tom didn't think it was that creative. None of us were really impressed by anyone's dish that day. We tasted each others, and no one was carrying the torch home on that one. I do think Jamie's was the best and she deserved to win. Do I think I deserved to go home? No, but I'm home. But I have learned from my mistake and am really trying to think outside of the box.
TVGuide.com: What was it like watching Toby Young compare your dish to the taste of "cat food"?
Melissa: You kind of just want to punch him in the face, and I'm a really nice person. [Laughs] When he said that, it was like, "Wow dude, I thought you're supposed to be critiquing my food, not coming up with harsh little one-liners. Are you acting, or are you a judge?" It was the harshest critique of my career. I don't think any of us were a fan of Toby Young, but I respect him as a judge. He's a very qualified food critic in England and he did his job — but we all wished Gail was there.
TVGuide.com: How about Colicchio?
Melissa: I really respect Tom. He's a very talented person, and I think out of everyone, he's the most qualified to be judging our food because he's a chef and knows what it's like. But it was hard to hear when he told me he didn't think my dish was creative and original. It's still resonating with me. That's something I had always been proud of, but one day I will show him.
TVGuide.com: What was your experience like as a whole?
Melissa: Extraordinary. I made new friends and got to meet all these amazing chefs who ate my food. Words really can't describe what it's like to be on Top Chef. One moment you think you're going to puke, and the next moment you're fine. It's a constant rollercoaster of emotions. We even got to be rock stars one night when we won the Foo Fighters' challenge. It was just a crazy experience.
TVGuide.com: What's next?
Melissa: I'm opening a new restaurant the beginning of February called Happy Noodle House in Boulder, Colo., so I've been working hard on that and am really excited. It's my second restaurant opening. It's a little easier the second time around but it's not easy ever!