When you're in a cooking competition like "Top Chef," you have to play to your strengths. But some chefs can play things too safe, and start repeating certain techniques or ingredients in multiple challenges. As talented as they may be, these "Top Chef" contenders became infamous for being "one-trick ponies" when they prepared the same type of dish over and over again.
Jamie, Season 5Season 5's Jamie Lauren was famously called out for her frequent use of scallops by fellow competitor Fabio Viviani. In a confession cam sequence, he mocked Jamie for relying so heavily on scallops, saying, "All she does is scallops! This is 'Top Chef,' it's not 'Top scallops!'" For her part, Jamie admitted that she cooked with scallops frequently, but it was because she loved them so much.
Marcel, Season 2Marcel was big into molecular gastronomy and innovative cooking techniques. In his season, he was branded as "the foam guy," which may have been a bit unfair. While fellow competitors felt like Marcel was throwing foams on any dish that he created, Marcel only made a handful of dishes with foams. Across the 13 episodes of the season, Marcel only made five dishes with foam (one of which was just a milk foam on top of a coffee). He didn't use any foams on his dishes until about halfway through the season, however, which meant the foam dishes were clustered together.
Howie, Brian, and Hung, Season 3When the show was set in Miami, there were three competitors who couldn't seem to travel far outside from their comfort zone. Howie almost always cooked with pork, and Hung was crazy for cooking things sous-vide (meaning in a vacuum-sealed package placed in a bath of simmering water). Brian, who came from a seafood background, cooked a lot of fish dishes. He did make a dish with Spam in one episode, however, as an attempt to work outside his comfort zone and show he could handle a diverse array of ingredients with skill.
Richard Blais, Season 4Originally the runner-up in Season 4, Richard was enamored with liquid nitrogen as a means of preparing food. He also used this technique heavily in Season 8 (the all-star season), where he used it to make a "cookie" for Cookie Monster. Additionally, Richard made his signature "banana scallop" dish three times during Season 4. The first time he made the dish, it won a Quickfire challenge. Later, the "scallops" appeared as a dessert option for diners during Restaurant Wars. Finally, Richard brought the dish back for his finale dessert and paired it with a bacon ice cream.