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If you’re going to air your grievances about another chef on national television, you might want to back it up.
Barrel‘s Garret Fleming laid into fellow D.C. chef/restaurateur Mike Isabella in the premiere episode of the new Top Chef, criticizing him for “serving one of the worst bastardizations of Italian food in the history of the world.” Unfortunately for Fleming, his dish during the episode’s elimination challenge finished on the bottom, and the judges told him to pack his knives and leave.
Shit-talking on a show that Isabella used to launch an array of restaurants (and nearly won five years ago) didn’t go unnoticed.
@chefgfleming karma is a bitch
— Mike Isabella (@MikeIsabellaDC) December 3, 2015
Ouch. For his part, Fleming seemed to know he had stepped in it.
Fleming is one of three D.C. chefs competing in the show’s 13th season, along with Marjorie Meek-Bradley (Ripple, Roofers Union) and Kwame Onwuachi (soon-to-open Shaw Bijou). This mid-episode exchange between Meek-Bradley, who used to work for Isabella at his Italian restaurant Graffiato, and Fleming seemed to foreshadow the fall that he was about to take:
Meek-Bradley: The crazy thing is that D.C. is the smallest city ever. We’ve never actually met. That’s so bizarre.
Fleming: I just tasted some of my broth. It’s delicious.
Meek-Bradley: Can I have some of your confidence, please? That would be awesome.
Head Judge Tom Colicchio noted that while his dish—a Vietnamese-style broth with chicken—was “more exciting,” it had a basic cooking error, with some burned garlic causing bitterness.
“I came into the competition thinking that I was going to be a strong contender, so it’s humbling that I’m out this early,” Fleming said in his parting on the show. “At no point did I feel like I was outgunned. I still don’t feel that way. But the competition is fierce, and it doesn’t take that much to send you home.”
Photo courtesy NBC Universal