Not since Sam’s dismissal last year have I been so sad as I was this week when Camille Becerra was eliminated from Top Chef. For those who haven’t seen it, the chefs were split into groups of three and each were responsible for an individual course in a four-course tasting menu. Camille’s team went last, and Dale decided they needed to do a dessert. Good idea, if any of them had pastry experience, but they didn’t. The entire course was seen as a failure and Camille was chosen as the worst of the worst for her pineapple upside down cake.
If memory serves, the dessert course is always problematic for contestants on Top Chef. They may think they’re venturing out and taking chances, but it’s best to play it safe this early in the game. As soon as I heard Camille timidly mention she could do dessert I knew it was all over for her team. I suspected she’d be the one to go since the cut-aways in the episode were almost all her. I blame Huong for being a douche about switching teams. If Camille had staid on her original team and prepared a savory course, she’d still be here.
This has left me very vexed. I liked Camille. Not only was she beautiful (pictures provided below), but based on what little we saw of her, she had a wonderful personality. We never saw her flustered. Watch at the beginning of the quick fire challenge while Huong and company run around like cockroaches with the lights turned on and Camille calmly walks to her station, sipping her drink. Her respect for her fellow chefs and lack of arrogance prove what a class act she is - she was eliminated after taking one for the team when no one else wanted to try making dessert.
She’s also adorably positive. In a previous episode the chefs had to pick an American classic to re-invent. Most approached the cart of food like it was toxic waste but Camille exclaimed “I love tacos” with a smile as she picked up her dish. Later in the episode, as the other chefs squabbled and fought around her, she was almost bouncy with smiles as she presented her dish to the judges. This week, we see her kneeling up on a counter top while she whisks over a double boiler. When she told the others she would be going home she did it with grace, tears, laughter, and well wishes for all. It would seem she’d made quite the impression on the chefs due to the hugs and sobs we didn’t see the other eliminated contestants receive.
Her Bravo bio and exit videos mention her five year old daughter whose birthday Camille missed because of the show. We never saw her cry or falter in her cooking because of that. Yeah, I’m talking to you Micah.
In the end, I think Camille’s departure is a big loss for the Top Chef kitchen. I’m not going to stop watching, but I will have to find a new favorite contestant. The next time I’m in New York you can bet I’ll be eating at her restaurant, Paloma, where I don’t have a doubt I’ll enjoy her food as much as I enjoyed her personality on the show.
P.S. What’s up with the uneven screentime anyway Bravo? Give some more time in the beginning to the contestants you know don’t make it past half-way. I can tell you a half dozen different hats that Brian owns but Camille is only worth bikini shots at the hot tub? For shame. Don’t insult the audience by thinking that only the braggadocios are interesting.
P.P.S. There’s an interview with Camille at Grub Street. Still classy, as always. I wonder when her new restaurant will open up.