I'd like to hear some examples of this. I haven't noticed her doing anything different than the other contestants.
Check her technique on some of the other shows. While you're not "seeing" the health code violations, some of the temperatures she kept the food at (and failed to follow through with temperature gauges on some of the food cooked) are pretty much textbook commercial cooking practices that are required if you're going to sell food to people.
I don't want to sound patronizing, but I've worked in a kitchen, and I've had people both in my immediate family as well as close friends who have worked in public health. Merriman isn't the only one who scared the unholy fuck out of me, but the brothers and Kevin are the only two who seem to actually practice good kitchen hygiene, even when the cameras are rolling and the people are watching and the timeframe is very, very, very short.
We'll have to see if your theory holds up now that she's transitioning out of Branzino (see Stranger article). I've talked to many people that have eaten at Branzino and loved it (and did not get sick). I've eaten at Tilth but I'm not sure it was when she was still there. My food was lovely.
Glad you liked it. I got excruciatingly ill from it.
"Transitioning" in Stranger-speak is usually "she done gone fired and nobody wants to be rude about it". This -is- Seattle; home of the passive-aggressive, cheerfully coded and linguistically accurate but completely counterintutive to the meaning. And The Stranger is definitely (pardon the pun) no stranger to that kind of pun-ishment. I could, of course, be wrong, but I'm also highly suspicious of the changes especially right after her appearance on Top Chef and her rapid migration to another gig. It's possible someone decided she was the new best thing to haute cuisine and shoved her front and center into a brand-new hip restaraunt for the added cash eaten and fifteen seconds of fame celebrity to milk another $5 off each entree.
But what I based this on was not a "theory". It was a gauging of her work record through publicly available inspection records and two food-borne illness incidents at the restaraunts. Your mileage is different than mine, and I have recently eaten at a place that got two red criticals on the health inspection records that I forgave as soon as I ate a bite of their omelette. (because oh, dear god, if you can get me to eat eggs, I'm DEFINITELY going back). I simply don't want to go back to her restaraunt again, while she's working there, and get sick. Again.
The phrase "fool me once, shame on you" comes to mind....
I have very low tolerance for the Seattle hipster vibe and I don't get this attitude from her at all. Throughout the competition she was courteous to the other chefs and didn't even hype herself up when it might have saved her from being in the bottom (or, as the case last night, eliminated). YMMV, of course.
Again, that's a matter of interpretation, and the Cap Hill-esque vibe that bothers me more is the lack of interest in what she was doing. Some might see it as a lack of pretension. She didn't hack on everyone. But there was a sense of entitlement throughout her entire appearance that bugged me; and that's pretty much what bothered me about her - as much, if not more than Mike's flagrant dickery towards his fellow contestants.
I won't deny that I was hoping for the last five episodes that she'd be cut from the group - less because she did the cooking that eventually washed her out, but because of my personal prejudices against my experience with her and her bitching about the bachelor/bachelorette party she had to serve*. But also, realistically, I wanted her to be cut because I spent two hours after eating her cooking clutching my stomach on top of a porcelain throne, having paid around $120 for the priviledge.
*Don't get me wrong, I'm all for marriage equality. However, if someone thinks that the noble thing to do is to whinge on cable TV rather than, say, shoving hard against the idiots systematically plaguing YouTube with commercials implying that Armageddon is just around the corner if gays are allowed to commit themselves to legal monogamy contracts, then I too am a cake made of marzipan.
"Eees Top Chef! Eees not Top Scallop!" - Fabio