On Wednesday’s episode of Top Chef 2, Cliff was sent home after what he described as “a very stupid plan or joke” that involved “try[ing] to shave Marcel’s head.” Instead, Cliff tackled Marcel and held him in a headlock as Sam and Ilan encouraged him. On the show ,head judge Tom Colicchio told Cliff, “I’m sure that you meant absolutely no harm to Marcel, but once you physically handled him, it crossed the line.”
However, Tom now says that he wanted to send all the chefs home for their part in the incident, thus letting Marcel win. Instead, however, producers vetoed his decision, and Cliff alone was held accountable.
In his BravoTV.com blog, Tom writes that, when he went to the set, he “was pissed — it was my birthday, and my wife had flown into town to be with me.” Then, when he saw the footage from the night before, he writes, “it seemed the chefs had swung the pendulum as far as they possibly could in the opposite direction, undermining their efforts to date with a ridiculous — even cruel — act of juvenile intimidation.”
His conclusion: “they were all to blame and I was ready to send the lot of them home and let Marcel win by default.” However, Tom notes that he was not allowed to do so: “For the first time all season, the Producers stepped in with a veto. Sending all of the chefs but Marcel home wasn’t going to happen.”
Instead, “Bravo’s Legal department advised us of the Top Chef rules, which stated that harming or threatening to harm other contestants was potential grounds for disqualification. According to these guidelines, it was clear that Cliff needed to go. I was sent to the Chef’s loft to deliver the news that he was no longer welcome on the show.”
Because of the incident, Tom says he “lost a lot of respect for Cliff, Ilan, Sam and Elia after what they did (or didn’t do.) Not as cooks, necessarily, but as people — and thereby as chefs. Chef means “chief” in French, and ‘chief’ implies someone who leads — not by bullying or even popularity, but by example.”