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Top Chef - Ep. 4

I didn't see a post for this yet, surprisingly, so I figured I'd start it off.

Although clearly a blatant product placement move, I liked the quickfire concept of creating a dish with a cocktail (At least we haven't heard "Get into your Rav4's" yet this season). I was recently wondering if there was any place for hard alcohol with meals. It looks like it was hit and miss, but probably no coincidence that two of the favorites had a rich foie gras as the main ingredient.

Oh, and is Hung gonna bash every quickfire judge that doesn't think he's god's gift to cooking?

The elimination challenge was interesting, but what was up with those medals around the tasters? I know that they're part of some chic-chic food club, but how pretentious can you get?

I figured that one of the ladies on the dessert team would be gone. They'd want to keep Howie and Mike for additional drama, and the chef who left (don't even know her name) had been pretty inconspicuous so far.

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  1. Thanks for starting the thread, Rock. I am in agreement with all of your observations. Hung's attitude reminds me of Stephen in TC1. Any judge who criticized his dish was "obviously" a moron. Sheesh!

    The girl who was sent packing was so far off my radar that when hubs asked me who was let go, all I could say was "I don't know. Some girl."

    16 Replies
    1. re: KTBearW

      There really are too many contestants on this show. I had no idea who Casey was until she won the quickfire.

      If they had to have a certain number of episodes per series, I'd rather see them cut the number of contestants, and have a couple of Amazing Race-style non-elimination legs along the way instead.

      1. re: beachmouse

        I don't think the problem is the number of contestants (same as years past, IIRC) but rather the fact that the editing is done in such a way that we aren't given the opportunity to know more than a handful of the contestants.

      2. re: KTBearW

        Same here, I thought they brought in a sub or something.

        Hung is buddies with Marcel from TC2, so of course, they have the same attitude.

        I thought Tweedle Dee and Tweedel Dum, (Joey and Howie) were going to mess up again. I understand how Casey wqas just not motivated to give her best especially when she is teamed with those two, but that was pretty unprofessional. You have to put out your best no matter what.

        The tasters seemed to be very obnoxious so I wasn't surprised to see the doodads around their necks.

        1. re: Phaedrus

          It looked to me like joey and howie both had chips on their shoulders about working with casey since she had immunity. Seemed like they mentioned it about every other sentence out of their mouths. They were bound and determined that she was going to sabotage them.

          1. re: revsharkie

            Perhaps joey and howie have bonded over having to work with a less than inspired/inpiring casey?

            1. re: pfarrell

              So Joey and Howie are in bondage? That's kinky! And kind of gross when I think about it.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                oh boy...not what I was thinking about at all.....

                i can't tell which is which anyway...

          2. re: Phaedrus

            I thought Casey's crying was utterly dispicable. She was not at risk of getting the boot, so she should have had enough respect for the people who really had something to worry about to just keep quiet. If she felt that badly, maybe she should have worked a little harder.

              1. re: john

                Ok, I am going to have to jump in here. Casey is one of my best friends and your comments about her are so off base. You have to keep in mind that this is a show that creates "characters" based on what the viewers want.

                Casey is by far one of the most caring people that I know, she is always there for her friends when we need her, all the while serving as executive chef of a restaurant.

                Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but keep in mind that who you are seeing on TV is not who they are in real life.

                1. re: FLFoodie

                  You're right, the fact that everything is edited (rather awkwardly sometimes I think) does come in to play and we should remember that. I will say that Tom C was pretty harsh in his comments to her about being to blame for her team being at the bottom and who knows what else was said in that room that didn't make it into the show. Good point.

                  1. re: FLFoodie

                    I think it would be fair to say that all of the comments on these boards about specific people on the show are directed at the charachters that are portrayed. I would say MOST people understand the difference between the person in real life and how they are portrayed on the show. Just because you don't like something that a charachter in a movie did, does not mean you dislike the actor. That being said, given what we saw, it was a strange time for her to be crying given she wasn't going home.

                    1. re: john

                      I'd have been crying too, just from the sheer stress of it all, trying to work with two people who were convinced from the get-go that I was going to stab them in the back at every turn, and then after all of it--knowing, I'd suspect, that my dish wasn't what it should have been--being raked over the coals at the judges table in what was probably the middle of the night.

                  2. re: john

                    It's a GAME show. It isn't a reality show. It isn't a cooking show. The idea is to win. If I had imunity and could use that to get rid of someone I would. There is no honor. In the real world kitchen that these people work in it's a different story, there you must work together.

                  3. re: Phaedrus

                    Hung and Marcel - of course. I should have guessed. Foam and attitude; it all makes sense now.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      Hung is obnoxious and full of himself - don't like him - but I don't think it's to the degree that Stephen or Marcel was. Sadly, it seems he's going to be around until the end (or at least very close). He seems to have more talent than both Marcel and Stephen, too. Stephen was a better FOH guy and sommelier than a cook. Marcel's knowledge of molecular gastronomy took him further than he should have went. Hung simply seems to have the chops, without qualification.

                  4. Yeah, I could not believe the insolence of Hung - to be so disrespectful. Typical of one so young and arrogant.

                    I also wondered who this Camille was! Where did she come from? I don't think she had even uttered a word before this episode. She was definitely expendible in my book so I'm glad she's gone.

                    I really thought that tasting menu needed a vegetable course but I can see how they would shy away from one - since they typically get chastized for doing salads, etc. I thought it was gutsy to do a dessert course given they were not pastry chefs, but they should have been confident they could execute before committing to it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: HungryLetsEat

                      When I heard how inarticulate she was in talking about her dish, I figured we knew why we haven't heard from her this season. I expect I'd have a hard time stringing words together on national TV, myself...I'd much rather write where I can edit ;-)

                    2. I was really frustrated by last night's episode. Tom C and company are constantly telling these chefs to take a risk, challenge yourself and leave your comfort zone. 3 chefs really went outside their comfort zone and while no one told them they "needed to make a dessert", Dale took authority and deemed one necessary for the tasting menu. Granted the execution was absolutley awful and they probably would have been better featuring chocolate or something a bit easier to work with but they took a risk and I thought that was great - I mean come on that is what the judges have been begging for, for 3 seasons!

                      I too have grown tired of Hung's act - if his drama gets anymore over the top he'll be up for an emmy. I think something finally happens next week from his tazmanian devil like scampering in the kitchen - during the previews you can see Hung running with a cleaver and Casey saying "oh my god is that a knife" while Colicchio has a look of shock on his face. Could we have our first Top Chef finger loss! It would be way better than the Sea Urchin BDSM scene from last season.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: wingman

                        Whether or not they have studied pastry at culinary school, you would think (or at least hope) that knowing they are entering a cooking contest, they would spend an hour or two on the internet and memorize a few different recipes?

                        1. re: john

                          I just couldn't help but think how stupid they were to make things that are so dependant on chemical reactions between ingredients, like cake and (attempted) panna cotta. Why do a cake, where obviously you don't know the right proportions, instead of whipping up a basic pie crust and making a lovely rustic pineapple crostata? There are so many excellent dessert options that don't NEED you to know a recipe, that are quite excellent with a bit of ad libbing.

                          1. re: katecm

                            And ad libbing should not include putting a failed panna cotta into the freezer and calling it a semifreddo - these things are clearly not the same.

                            1. re: katecm

                              That's what I was thinking -- why didn't they make a sorbet, at least, which is easy to make and would have been a nice texture difference from the other stuff? And as soon as they said pineapple, my first thought was "grilled pineapple!" but they didn't do that either.

                              1. re: JasmineG

                                Even a pineapple granita would be easier, and probably refreshing for Florida. And they could have dressed it up with something to go with it so it's not just plain granita.

                                1. re: singleguychef

                                  I'm thinking back to the quickfire challenge with the citrus fruit. They made some incredible desserts. Also, Sara is a cheese maker. With her experience in this specialty they could have outdone themselves. Does anyone agree/disagree?

                                2. re: JasmineG

                                  I was thinking the same thing -- here's what i would have made:
                                  -grilled pineapple, like you said, I think should have been one of the items, if they wanted to make it fancier they could have carmelized it or served it with a tiny spoon of ice cream or mascarpone
                                  -homemade pineapple marmelade with goat cheese
                                  -pineapple pavlova could have been so simple and beautiful... and berries could be added to make it a little less one-note

                                  and i would have served a pineapple cocktail with it. yay, 3 desserts, 0 baking.

                                  but instead they chose to try recipes they didn't

                              2. re: john

                                Good point. We're in the third season now, so it's no surprise that the handicap many of the chef's have is if they have to create a dessert. Even during the last season, I think it was Sam who said he took advantage of the break before the "Final Four" to focus on desserts/pastry so that he could fill in the holes in his repertoire. I would think that the contestants would know by now to "train" for their contest, just like an athlete.

                                1. re: john

                                  I wouldn't have chosen "pineapple" in the first place. It's not an easy fruit to work with. With limited dessert experience, they would have had a lot better results with... "Chocolate!"

                                  Actually, I'd love to see an episode where they make all the chefs create desserts. So many of the contestants in all three seasons have moaned and groaned about doing them, and I agree... while a head chef may never make a dessert in her/his restaurant, they should always know how to prepare at least three top drawer meal endings.

                                  Just my 5 cents...

                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    You just might get your wish. According to TV Guide, next weeks episode is: "Argentine culinary maven Maria Frumkin joins Padma and Tom at the judge's table as the remaining chefs try to impress the cast and crew of Telemundo's chocolate-themed soap, Dame Chocolate, Sweet!"

                                    1. re: Mushroom

                                      And it also looks like a challenge (quickfire?) will be making pie crust: "It's a dessert storm when the chefs are challenged to create a sublime pie crust, after which they must cook up tasty fare for personalities of the Telemundo television network. "

                                      This will be fun to watch to see if any of them have decent enough baking skills!

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Maybe they should give them all a big box of powdered gelatin WITH instructions and canned pineapples and tell them to go at it.

                                2. re: wingman

                                  Finger loss? I was picturing someone losing at least an arm by the drama'd up commercial.

                                3. Just the idea of a corn foam seems gross. Hung really is full of himself. And his quickfire boring Salmon dish? Come on. As far as Casey is concerned, I felt bad for her when I saw who she had to work with. No one communicated, too busy trying to sabotage each other, she couldn't get a word in edgewise. They deserved to be at the bottom, but she should have put forth more effort despite her team and her exemption from elimination. The dessert course, pineapple? What was that guy thinking? Most tasting menus usually dont include dessert, some do, but the tasting menus with maybe 8 courses I could see a dessert course. But 4 courses? I would have stayed with savory and left pastry to the experts. Dont most chefs have to study pastry? Or do a stint in desserts? A new conversation... Should chefs round out their culinary experience with at least a cursory knowledge of dessert and pastry?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: sharonm

                                    Yeah, I too thought that, atleast in culinary collage you were required to do a semester in pastry work. I don't know, for a guy like me who's main expieriance is pastry work it's sort of interesting to whatch so called "professionals" say things like: "Umm, I didn't know how to use the POWDERED geletin." When I'm sitting there thinking, "Gosh if only I had enough time, a pinapple cremé caramel would be interesting..."
                                    But yes I agree, even if you don't incorperate much of the knowledge into your main body of work, if you wish to be called a chef you MUST do some pastry work. Or, atleast know how to use powdered geletin for christ's sake.

                                    1. re: Chef Casper

                                      The reason the geletin didn't work is pineapple. You can not use fresh pineapple with geletin. It will never set. Maybe she used canned, I was cleaning up after supper and listening more than watching,

                                      As to powdered, that would be what 95% of the average home cooks use. I rarely use sheets.

                                      1. re: Janet

                                        How in the world did she not know that about gelatin and pineapple? It's on the side of the box, for heaven's sake!

                                        1. re: revsharkie

                                          Isn't that what Colicchio said? "Read a box?"

                                  2. I thought the Bombay Sapphire commercial - sorry, Quickfire Challenge - was ridiculous. I can't imagine anyone with a "sophisticated palate" coming within a mile of any of those silly drinks. If something contains gin and is served in a martini-type glass, it's called a martini - sorry, it just ain't so.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: judybird

                                      I like gin a lot, and I couldn't agree more--those drinks were ridiculous, most of them tragic wastes of good liquor. I was completely with Hung rolling his eyes at the raspberry-mint-whatever he drew. While Hung is totally obnoxious, if that judge really devised all those stupid drinks I would question his taste too.

                                      Cocktails really are to be savored alone, before dinner...pairing with food is an interesting idea but sort of goes against the whole concept of what a cocktail is. But then again so did most of those drinks!

                                      1. re: kenito799

                                        a cocktail is served with food. hence cocktail parties...without the food, you would have a lot of very drunk people!

                                        1. re: ceeceee

                                          so THAT'S why all my glasses are always broken...

                                          Yes you're right, there is some food around, but the concept of matching a dish with a cocktail is unusual, yes, that makes the challenge interesting. For me, anyway, the cocktail takes center stage...enjoying a very nice gin cocktail right now, actually, with some potato chips and cashews on hand...

                                          Match this:
                                          Jaslime, 1.5 oz Plymouth, 3/4 oz Campari, 3/4 oz Cointreau, 3/4 oz lime juice, dash Angostura bitters...WWHD (What Would Hung Do)

                                        2. re: kenito799

                                          dont get me wrong ...i've drank plenty of them without food though!

                                      2. I agree about Hung, he's been that way from the very beginning, but I think he's worst than Stephen. At least Stephen had a subdued arrogance. Hung is just too in your face and is constantly kissing his own ass.

                                        I really wanted to try the shrimp tasting menu though. That looked pretty cool. The beef was an easy route, I think.

                                        I feel bad for the dessert team. It was a big risk. Although, how hard is it to use powdered gelatin? I actually think that woman who made the frozen panna cotta should have been the one to go because she was just as inept last week with her weird chicken ala king.

                                        Yes, those weird medals the tasters were wearing were pretentious. Still, it wasn't big enough to cover one of the woman taster's breasts, which definitely looked like it was made in Florida (by a plastic surgeon). ;-)

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: singleguychef

                                          Those did bring alot more sunshine to the show - was wondering if I was the only one who noticed the outstanding camera work!

                                          1. re: wingman

                                            How do you think I noticed the medals?

                                          2. re: singleguychef

                                            I agree, Sara should have been the one to go. Not sure why they sent Camille packing, the unset panna cotta was worse than the misguided upside down cake. IIRC Alton Brown did a variation of pineapple upside down cake that used cornmeal, I think he said it was a combination of two of his favorite dishes that his grandmother made.

                                            Here's info on the heavy medal crew - http://www.chaineus.org

                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                              Hmmm a chapter in Buffalo but not Manhattan - weird.

                                            2. re: singleguychef

                                              And always comparing the other contestants to a monkey, which I find ridiculous. how many times is going to say "come on, my monkey could do that"

                                              1. re: singleguychef

                                                Does anyone know the name of the pretentious, obnoxious, medal wearing foodies? I would like to know more about them - especially the one guy who described a dish as "dreadful". Also, did anyone hear that the host, Padma (I think), is going through a divorce? her husband is leaving her I heard.

                                                Quite a few hot girl chefs this season - nice!!! Casey is definitely one of the hottests. God was kind to her.

                                                1. re: Over EZ


                                                  I think that's the group with the medals. And yes Padme requested a divorce from her husband Salman Rushdie (yes THAT Salman Rushdie, of The Satanic Versus fame, who has a fatwa on his head).

                                                  1. re: Bunson

                                                    Does he still? i thought it was taken off, or else he wouldn't be still living in the limelight with Padma. He was in hiding for 9 years.

                                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                                      I heard it was taken off for a bit, but then the new guy came to power and put it back on.


                                                      1. re: Bunson

                                                        I wish they'd make up their dang minds!!!!!

                                              2. Yummy foie gras.. i would enjoy that tasting. I think a chocolate course would have been interesting given all the "snob" chocolate around these days with the high cocoa content. I probably would have done a 3 course chocolate tasting that would have included chocolate in a starter, a main dish and a dessert. nothing too obnoxious.
                                                I see my man Brian again did well with a seafood dish.
                                                I still dislike Hung but his arrogance sure gets him lots of TV time!!!
                                                i also agree there are so many contestants..this will go on for a while but i still enjoy it.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Ela0427

                                                  Brian did do really well didn't he, though I would like to see him eventually do something other than seafood. Have you eaten at Oceanaire yet, if not it's really quite good.

                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                    I don't understand how Casey did so badly.Even if she was working with Howie and Joey,she still should have put her best forward. I 'm glad Howie and Joey stayed.Even if Howie's dish was a bit heavy handed compared to Joey's to me it would be terribly wrong to penalize them for her mistake.And Casey told the judges that they shouldn't punish the other two for her mistake.
                                                    If I was on the dessert team and did pineapple,I would have done a pineapple mango sorbet maybe with a touch of ginger.
                                                    If you use sheet gelatin,you can use the powdered stuff.They do have directions on the box it comes in,even for professionals.
                                                    I could have made the pastry for the tart or the pineapple upside down cake Camille screwed up,however,my problem would be remembering the recipe.
                                                    And what was with those crazy medals the guests were wearing?
                                                    All chefs should know how to prepare pastries.
                                                    After all,if my grandmother and mother could make everything from soup to nuts,why not a chef? They are professionals and need to learn other culinary skills.I guess a lot of modern chefs prefer to specialize which is fine,but if someone is out,you need to be able to cover that person.
                                                    And yes,Dale and his team did take a risk by doing dessert.i know nothing about tasting menus,but they did try to stretch themselves and so should get some credit for it.
                                                    Thanks for the chaines link.I see they are even in San Antonio.I think I had heard of them before,years ago.

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      I'm thinking Brian is gonna be this years sam...(only, hopefully, winning)

                                                    2. re: Ela0427

                                                      I actually like Hung, he's very straightforward and confident, in sharp contrast to Hell's Kitchen's crying-fat-asian-cowboy Aaron, but I think his badmouthing of the judges is in poor taste.

                                                      And knowing that Hung's buddies with Marcel, I had to crack a smile when he was describing his dish, and he said "foam".

                                                      1. re: Rocknrope

                                                        I'm with you. I think Hung is hilarious! And, in my opinion, all his posturing is clearly partly an act. Certainly there's not the obvious antagonism between him and the other contestants that there was last season with Marcel. The other cooks all seem to really respect him.

                                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                                          I agree that Hung is putting us on. He is, after all, the one who said for the commercial that he was going to be "the bad guy."

                                                          Also, the one time I remember him being interviewed when he wasn't talking about his own feedback, he came off as very normal and likeable (I think it was when he was lamenting Sandy's being sent home that I decided I didn't hate him).

                                                    3. Is it just me?
                                                      I've always been glued to the tv during TC seasons. Now, I find myself forgetting it's on, or doing something else and not really caring if I miss it or not.
                                                      I just can't invest myself into any of these people this season. (That sentence is wrong in some way...it doesn't look right to me, but you all get the point)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: QueenB

                                                        I lost interest last season, and now I am half way back on the wagon.

                                                        This is the one show where the contestants actually have gotten better over the last three seasons. Hell's Kitchen and next food network Barbie/Ken doll seems to attract the advanced amateurs.

                                                        1. re: QueenB

                                                          We definitely feel the same way. Last night we were flipping through channels and my husband said, "Oh, top chef's on" and we decided to skip it in favor of some other silly reality show. We also (like some of the posters above) had no idea who the woman who left last night was... just cannot get invested. Maybe when the group gets smaller?

                                                        2. I'm having a tough time with this season, and I've been a fan since halfway through season 1. I guess the problem is the lack of likable contestants, although I blame the Bravo production staff for that. Hung's attitude is obnoxious, although I think he is certainly one of the most talented. Based on where some of these people are working, they must be talented, but with so many to still be eliminated, none of them are getting much camera time, especially those who have been falling in the middle. Still, there is a difference in this season....I was immediately drawn to Harold in Season 1, and Sam and Ilan in Season 2, even early on...so why don't I have a favorite 4 episodes in?

                                                          I'm also tired of all the contradictions within the show. In episode 3, Tom said the contestants were taking a "too literal approach" in re-recreating the dishes in the elimination challenge, yet when judging Sara, the first thing out of Tom's mouth was "Does this remind you of chicken a la king?" Wasn't the point to take the ingredients and re-interpret?

                                                          I hope it gets better as we go, but I'm not sure how many new fans this season is attracting.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: azhotdish

                                                            I don't know, I definately have a favorite (Brian) but I think that's more because all of us San Diegan's are hoping he'll pull through for SD and prove to the world that yes, there is decent food here. Unlike last season, none of the contestants send my heart all aflutter (Sam) or make me want to throw things at the TV (Marcel).

                                                            It feels like they are trying to push certain people, especially Hung, into the Marcel role, but I just don't see it. Joey and Howie are merely annoying, and I think Hung is kind of a badass who is full of himself -- he doesn't have that cringe-worthy aspect that Marcel's 'Character' had.

                                                            1. re: Jeters

                                                              I went to UC Santa Barbara and was pumped to see Clay on the show, then I saw that first episode and wanted to hide under a rock. I think it's wide open this season, better quality chefs from top to bottom. I say Joey and Sara M. are the next two to go, then it's too hard to tell.

                                                          2. I too had no idea who Camille was. How badly can you screw up tuna tartare? If Casey's crying hadn't looked so genuine, I'd have thought she did it deliberately. I think Dale et al - while they did go out on a limb - should have known better than to try to do desserts - it's much harder, IMHO, to achieve an acceptable result doing dessert/pastry than it is savory meals, especially if you don't have recipes. The science either works or it doesn't - they should at least have known that well enough to decide not to. I was wondering if some sort of interesting cheese course might have worked better. Obviously not just some slabs of cheese, but I think there would be room for a lot of creativity, and cheese is a course that, like dessert, that is typically used to end a meal.

                                                            1. I like this season's Top Chef, it's certainly head and shoulders above Hell's Kitchen and TNFNS. It just comes across as more professional, they actually screened the contestants and made sure they knew how to cook rather than just finding someone with a little bit of food knowledge that would be good for TV. It's only 3 shows in and the contestants that people don't know about are the ones under the radar - they've neither come in first or last so they just haven't been getting a lot of air time.

                                                              Hung has confidence and the skills to back it up, but his arrogance when talking down to the judges is annoying. Until he successfully opens and runs his own restaurant he should maybe look at what the judges are saying, it may help improve his approach and skillset, hurt pride or not.

                                                              1. The blatant product placement seem to be visual only; you SEE the Toyota RAV4 logo, but you don't hear Padma. You SEE the kitchen stove logo (whoever makes it), but you don't hear them talking about the "Kenmore Kitchen". I can deal with silent product placement.

                                                                And what a surprise - Hung was ticked off at the guest judge who didn't judge his dish the best. Hung's petulant little pouts are getting tiresome. Will be interesting to see what he does with that cleaver next episode. I just don't see him winning, however. Tre seems to have more on the ball than Hung.

                                                                Re: pretension from the gourmet club - exactly what I thought. And I thought they might have chosen someone from the other bottom team, but editing was such that when the Dessert team was called in, I figured Camille would go. (BTW, her pic is the last they show, I think, during the beginning credits.)

                                                                Edited to add.....did you read the blogs at Bravo TV? Ted Allen took on the members of the gourmet club, and hit the nail on the head when he said "Should people wear sashes, medals, chains and ribbons to their dinner functions? If you’re Jacques Chirac (or Jacques Pêpin): yes. If you’re a 35-year-old Miami attorney? Robo-dork!"


                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Ted's blog was brilliant, setting the record straight on the lobster faux pas, LESS cholesterol than chicken breast (and setting the record gay on Dale "falling on a big sword"...after dicking around with conch!!!), then the digs at that gourmet society...he's been a plus this season, for me...

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Jacques Pépin would not be likely to wear "sashes, medals, chains and ribbons" to a dinner function. In fact, he'd be very apt to roll his eyes at anyone who did. He's a very "regular" guy.

                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                      Hey - I'm just quoting what Ted Allen wrote in his blog. I'm sure it was said tongue-in-cheek commenting about the gastronomical society doing so.

                                                                  2. Most of those cocktail recipes are insipid. Sapphire, pomegranate juice and pineappIe juice to make a "Sapphire P&P". You're joking, right? I guess they have to appeal to the average viewer by using the big or trendy flavors and calling everything a martini. Why, if you can't come up with a real name for a drink, do you have to call it a martini? It's a cocktail glass, dammit, not a martini glass. Just call it a cocktail.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ultramagnetic

                                                                      Agreed - and while I can see some of them, maybe, being appetizing w/ vodka, not quite so w/ gin.

                                                                    2. They had Casey dead to rights on the tartare. I've had what sounds like the same tuna tartare at Shinsei and it was bland and tasted of nothing so much as olive oil. It's the only dish on the menu that I will never order again. I was honestly shocked that with the jalapenos and everything the dish was so bland. Needed salt and some lime juice or something.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: dalaimama

                                                                        I haven't read every response to the original post, but has anyone mentioned why they didn't consider a cheese course as the 4th course? It would have been an appropriate finish to the meal and one of the dessert team members is a cheese-maker! They could have selected three different styles of cheeses and paired them with things like quince paste, dried fruit, honey, etc..and tied all the dishes together.

                                                                        Also, I know someone mentioned that they got critized for going out on a limb when Tom constantly remarks how too many people "play it safe" and I agree to an extent with the comments. However, if you cannot read the instructions on a can of powdered gelatin and cannot make panna cotta, what's the point of trying? Were they thinking that a basic panna cotta topped with diced pineapple and pineapple upside down cake were going to blow away a crowd of "elite" eaters?

                                                                        1. re: goat

                                                                          I said the same thing - cheese course instead of desert ... I agree with you completely.

                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                            What they should have done was incorporate sweet into savory..like what Casey did with the french toast baguette. Best of both worlds. Lemon basil sorbet, cherry goat cheese bruschetta..etc.

                                                                          2. re: goat

                                                                            cheese course would have been seemingly smarter as it's hard to mess up but you know the judges would have called them out on it. They would have said it was too little work done, I mean the most you could do with a cheese course is find a good cheese and pair it with a nice fruit or nut; there would be absolutely no work other than thought. The judges called Lia out in the last episode for lack of work and if these guys were to do a cheese course, it would probably would have made them the losing team. I think last course is the worst, you can't make a savory type dish because you know the judges would reprimand them for not making a full course.

                                                                            1. re: digkv

                                                                              I guess I was thinking of more complicated - maybe mini cheese souffles, paired with an appropriate fruit compote or something - surely these chefs know how to make souffles?

                                                                              1. re: digkv

                                                                                I agree, the team would have gotten dinged if they did a traditional "cheese course" for lack of work, and if they turn it into 'souffles', then it becomes something else other than your traditional end of meal finishing course. Either way, doesn't work.

                                                                                1. re: Rocknrope

                                                                                  I think there would have to be some effective way to use cheese and or sweet in the final course -- but maybe not with either as the theme. What if the theme were foie gras and each was served with either cheese or a jam, for example? Or as sugarbuzz suggested above.

                                                                                  Unfortunately, going out on a limb isn't worth anything unless the food is edible first. I do think the judges have been a little fickle about what the rules are, but sometimes it might just be hard to express HOW bad something tasted. I think they would have been pleased there was a dessert course if the dessert had been any good.

                                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                    Well what about doing an intermezzo course? It might be too easy but it would have been easy for all of them to do something like a small sorbet or some other palet cleanser, but generally that with large 7 course meals, and I have a feeling the judges would have called them out for doing such a small course.
                                                                                    But, yes I agree if you don't know how to do baking you can still try to do a desert course by just mixing sweet and savory, like foie gras on french toast or an artisan cheese platter. It woulden't be leaving you'r comfort zone as much, but personally I think the creativity that would have to be involved would make up for it.

                                                                                2. re: digkv

                                                                                  a fantastic cheese course frequently includes various savory mignardise as well, and can be very creative and labor intensive. I have a friend who's a chef in Toronto who specializes in them, and his beautifully crafted accompaniments to the cheese are always well thought out and executed.

                                                                              2. re: dalaimama

                                                                                Also, on last weeks show, she nearly scorched her rice... I would hope that the executive chef of a Japanese place would know how to boil rice????

                                                                                1. This was published in the daily news today: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/... . Howie did spend a week at Gotham Bar & Grill.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: wingman

                                                                                    Interesting that they report that he is the "odds-on favorite" to win this thing - I would not have thought that - but I've not checked in with my bookie lately (smile).

                                                                                    1. re: wingman

                                                                                      *Five* in the finale? What is this, the super-size season?

                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                        I agree - they had 4 chefs in last year's finale, and that was almost too much.

                                                                                    2. For those of us who enjoy reading Bourdain, he's filling in as a guest blogger in Tom's space on the bravotv.com TC site.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                        Quite simply - the Best. Blog. Ever. on Bravo's TC site. I repeat:

                                                                                        Best. Blog. Ever.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          I agree wholeheartedly! Bourdain is so completely devoid of BS and unafraid of telling the truth. His impressions of the TC personalities (and food) are totally in line with mine. I wish he could be a regular judge!

                                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                                            The thing I enjoy about his views is that he can be so overt and funny that it is very easy for his to go over the edge into a caracature of himself. He always walks that fine edge between funny and obnoxious and rarely, if ever, falling over the abyss into ugly.

                                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                              Loved Bourdain’s guest blog on Bravo, and noticed there is now a new guest blog in Collichio’s place by Barton G. that is perhaps the most gracious I’ve read by a guest judge and includes some interesting thoughts on the dessert controversy.

                                                                                              1. re: intuitive eggplant

                                                                                                Barton G's commentary was pretty generous, though I was somewhat amused by this quote: "That sort of thing speaks to me, because I’m the king of "on the fly"! " Please ... his Miami Beach restaurant is painfully formulaic and calculated, with its claim to fame being the cartoonish presentations (swordfish on a sword, duck in a duck decoy) and not the flavors.

                                                                                                For those looking for the Bourdain blog, the link is -

                                                                                      2. Does anyone have more information on the dining guests of this show. Those guys really fascinated me with all their medals. What are they Girl Scout-like badges for eating at particular restaurants. More explanation was needed there in my opinion. Anyone remember the group's name so I can attempt to google them?

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                          According to Ted's blog, they're called the Chaine des Rotisseurs Dining Society. Here's a link: http://www.chaine-des-rotisseurs.net/en/

                                                                                          1. re: Elyssa

                                                                                            I did some googling and the wonderful people at Something Awful may have found the info -


                                                                                            I don't have the episode recorded, but if anyone does, can you check the following page and see if the diagram at the bottom matches up with what the members are wearing and confirm?


                                                                                            1. re: Bunson

                                                                                              Oh my...these people just need to get over themselves! They have more badges, ribbons and medals than the girl scouts.

                                                                                              1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                                                                                So lame... Since when did that become the way to eat, by joining a by invitation only society who eats at dinners made exclusively for them by the chef in black tie events always??? Is that what good food is about?!?!?!?! I feel sorry for these fools ;-(

                                                                                          2. I agree in general with the comment, but am surprised that you do not know about the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a/k/a the Chaine. It is one of the oldest and most well known culinary societies in the world. These are people who REALLY know food and wine. There are over 150 chapters in the US. The medals and ribbons are part of the society. For further info go to http://www.chaineus.org/ .

                                                                                            1. Almost a hundred replies and no one mentioned the winner. I'd never heard of Lia Bardeen before but she's a sous-chef in my favorite restaurant in the world, Jean-Georges, and I'm surprised she hasn't won before. Out of Jean-Georges' kitchens comes some of the finest food on the planet, and you don't go from a job as line cook at Olive Garden to executive sous-chef there without a surfeit of talent. . Perhaps, though, it's not surprising she's not noticed. She comes across as colorless because all her effort is concentrated on her food. Egomaniacs and drama queens don't last long in a four-star kitchen.