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Top Chef: Tom Colicchio’s Thoughts on “Chef Law”

February 28, 2011 10:00 AM by Shayla Perry

When Mike Isabella used Richard Blais’ concept of chicken oysters for the Quickfire Challenge in last week’s episode of Top Chef: All-Stars on Bravo (and proceeded to win the Quickfire with the dish), his fellow cheftestants called foul, claiming that Isabella broke rule #1 of “Chef’s Law.” But in his blog, Tom Colicchio comes to Mike’s defense, and explains why what he did, though poor form, is something that chefs do every day.

First off, to clear up any misconceptions, Tom Colicchio assures viewers that Padma Lakshmi and Paula Deen had no idea that Mike got his idea for the chicken oysters from Richard Blais.

“I can assure you that Padma [Lakshmi] and Paula Deen first learned that Mike [Isabella] had been looking through Richard [Blais'] notebook and seen the idea for such a dish when they saw the edited episode,” explains Colicchio. “It’s not until then that they ever see any other footage — there’s simply no way that they would have known while judging the Quickfire Challenge about the question of who first conceived of the dish that Mike made.”

As for Mike’s so-called violation of “Chef’s Law”…

“Intellectual property laws do not govern dishes,” says Tom. “Menu items that appear in one restaurant can be reproduced in another. Even recipes that appear in a published and copyrighted cookbook can be made in any restaurant in the world. In fact, if a chef changed one single ingredient, s/he could even reprint the recipe in his/her own cookbook.”

Colicchio goes on to explain, “Richard had an idea, and ideas are neither copyrightable nor trademark-able in any discipline.”

So Tom Colicchio’s final verdict?

“Yes, it’s bad form to life a competing chef’s concept so baldly, and it is rotten for Richard that Mike did so, but Mike still had to execute the concept well. There’s no Intellectual Property law governing such a move, and no Top Chef law against it. It was poor form. From now on, I’m sure Richard will keep his diary under lock and key.”

What do you think about Mike Isabella’s move in last week’s Quickfire Challenge? Poor form? Fair game? Let us know!

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Photo credit: BRAVO

Topics: Bravo Reality TV Shows, Top Chef |

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1 Comment »

One Response to “Top Chef: Tom Colicchio’s Thoughts on “Chef Law””

  1. Beatriz Almansa Says:
    March 3rd, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Mike ISaabella totally stole Richard Blais idea of the chicken oysters. I agree with the the chef’s … “Chef’s Law” was broken. I lost all respect to Mike as a chef.


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