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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!