Tyler Anderson’s attempt at Swedish/Southern Californian fusion cuisine fell short on Thursday’s episode of “Top Chef,” as the chef-owner of Millwright’s in Simsbury and co-owner of The Cook and the Bear in West Hartford became the latest casualty on the cutthroat Bravo cooking show.
In the elimination challenge, the chefs were asked to create dishes that represented their heritage. As his fellow cheftestants prepared Vietnamese, Pakistani, French, Italian and Creole cuisine, Anderson seemed stumped. “I don’t have heritage; I’m a white boy from Southern California,” he said.
Anderson decided to try to merge his Swedish roots with Californian flavors, making a dish of spiced tri-tip, Swedish meatballs, pico de gallo with pickled beets standing in for tomato and scalloped potatoes in the style of a Swedish pancake. “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio called the dish “hereditarily challenged.”
“If you only know one side of your heritage, then just focus on that,” Colicchio said. “He could have stopped at the meatballs and the potato pancake and I wouldn’t have known.” Guest judges Mourad Lahlou and Gregory Gourdet agreed, saying the dish was “disjointed” and had “too many things going on.”
Anderson found himself in the bottom three, facing elimination along with Joseph Flamm and Bruce Kalman. “I was trying to fuse the two [cultures] but obviously it was a bad idea,” he explained.
Ultimately, Anderson was told to pack his knives and go.
“Yes, I deserved to go home for this dish,” he said in a post-elimination interview. “It’s not the idea of heritage that sent me down the wrong path; it’s the idea of culinary heritage, and I overthought that.”
“This competition forces you to think like ‘Top Chef’ now, and when I go home, this will always be a part of the cook that I am now.”
The episode had started inauspiciously for Anderson, as he ended up in the bottom three after the Quickfire challenge. The chefs were tasked with updating and elevating traditional kids’ foods, while using child-sized tools and cookware. Anderson’s Asian spin on spaghetti and meatballs, with shrimp meatballs, zucchini noodles and a spicy shrimp and tomato broth, was inspired by a dish his daughter enjoys, but was deemed too close to Vietnamese pho to stand in for the classic.
Anderson next moved on to “Last Chance Kitchen,” getting a chance to battle against the other eliminated chefs (and in a twist this season, also some “Top Chef” veterans) for a chance to re-enter the competition. He was axed again at the end of the challenge, where he and three opponents made dishes from assorted animal heads.