Top Chef's Ty-Lör: We Should've Been More Organized
Did Ty-Lör Boring think he was going to get eliminated during Top Chef's Restaurant Wars? No, but he doesn't have any objections to it. "The only thing I really remember is that Restaurant Wars is probably the worst service ever I have had in 20 years of cooking in 16 countries on four continents. It was just a very intense situation," he tells TVGuide.com. "And I remember thinking if I got sent home for that, then it would've been accordingly. And I was. There was no way to recover from it." The Brooklyn-based chef was dinged for underseasoning two dishes, but he doesn't think that was the boys team's most egregious error.
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Were you surprised you left? It seemed like it was between you and Chris.
Ty-Lör: When we were out there, at least in real time, the judges went through each one of us and how we all messed up in our own ways. I thought it could've been anyone. Some of the judges weren't really excited about Chris' dessert, but Tom was not happy with the Thai dish that I did. At the end of the day, it's a competition and somebody's gotta go home and it was me.
You had been on the bottom a lot. Did you think your time was running out?
Ty-Lör: I had a very serene approach to being at the bottom at that point. I went from No. 29 to No. 8, and while I'm not Top Chef, I did pretty damn good. I'm happy with my performance. Did I want to go out during Restaurant Wars? No, but it is what it is.
They said both of your dishes were underseasoned. Did you think so?
Ty-Lör: I definitely think my dishes were underseasoned. I don't know if they showed it or not, but I did talk to them about that. It was underseasoned for being a Thai dish. It could've been spicier. The flavors could've been better, same with the fish. But at the same time, you don't normally open a restaurant in 24 hours. Sometimes it's easy to lose that perspective. The challenges are hard for a reason and it was an amazing feat to have opened a restaurant in a day and to do 120 covers instantly.
What went wrong? Were you pressed for time and couldn't taste everything?
Ty-Lör: I did taste things. We were pressed for time. I think the guys team wasn't organized enough. We should've been more organized and taken more control of our dishes and maybe done things that were more simple to execute on a such a big and quick scale. If the idea is to win the challenge, then maybe you shouldn't do food that's terribly complex; you should do something really simple and straightforward that tastes great and [allows you to] concentrate on running a great restaurant as well.
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What happened with the expediting? Did you guys forget about it during the planning?
Ty-Lör: We did think of it, but there were a lot of difficulties. I don't know what exactly came across on television, but we had some enormous problems with the staff.
They seemed very incompetent, more so than in past Restaurant Wars.
Ty-Lör: [Laughs] Yeah. I don't know what I can or cannot say about them, but it was horrible. It was a complete disaster, so it didn't really matter how we expedited because when the wait staff came, I would, like, tell them to take these two fish entrees to Table 1 and they would take them to Table 12. And so on and so forth. A mistake like that would happen and they wouldn't even care. But, you know, that's part of running a restaurant and it's a huge part of the challenge. I mean, we have to decorate the restaurant, menu-plan, cook, do front of the house and deal with the incompetent wait staff in less than a day. It's a very intense schedule.
Paul said you guys were too afraid to step on each other's toes when it came to being the leader and expediting.
Ty-Lör: Yeah, we definitely had a huge problem expediting. I expedited for a while and then I decided to go back and cook, and Paul expedited. It was a mistake having the window open into the kitchen and having everyone see all our issues with the wait staff and stuff. If we had closed it, no one would've seen our issues. The girls had a closed kitchen, but now all of America has seen their problems. [Laughs]
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Did you think you guys beat the girls after you dined at their place?
Ty-Lör: No, I knew they would win. I asked somebody who saw the show last night how the girls' segment went and he said the girls' service appeared weird on TV. I didn't think their service was terrible. As soon as we walked into their restaurant, I knew we lost and I repeatedly stated that the entire time we were there. It's not just based on the food or the service; it's about the total experience, the ambiance. What is it like when you go to a restaurant? If you were to go out to Applebee's — there might be tons of restaurants whose food is better — but you can have a better time at Applebee's. You have to provide the entire dining experience. The whole thing has to come together and the girls just did a better job of executing that. Regardless of what happened to them the back of the house, none of us saw that because they kept the kitchen closed, so your dining experience is not affected by that.
How big of a role do you think your open kitchen and expediting problems came into play for the judges?
Ty-Lör: I don't think it was, like, [the tiebreaker] or anything. But it's more, like, if you're having a bad experience at a restaurant and you can't see the kitchen, the only thing you have to go on is your mind. All you can do is imagine what's going on back there. But when our kitchen is open and the judges may or may not be having a great experience, they can look 15 feet away and go, "Oh, yes, it is in fact a sh--show." [Laughs] That doesn't help you. That was definitely our biggest mistake. So when you're on Top Chef or Top Chef Masters and you get to Restaurant Wars, close the windows! Never keep them open!
What are you up to now?
Ty-Lör: I'm opening up a pop-up restaurant at Prince and Mott [streets] in New York City during Fashion Week. ... I'm also trying to open a real brick-and-mortar restaurant here in New York City. We have to find the space and opening a restaurant in New York City of all places is not easy!