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Mar 19, 2008 12:02 PM

Top Chef Episode #2

Looks like this will be one at the Chicago zoo.
Maybe animal themes!?! :)

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  1. I got the impression that they might be cooking food for the tigers or cooking food with the pressure of tigers in the kitchen??

    1. It looks from the ads that they're in the Lincoln Park Zoo lion house. Until a couple of years ago they used to hold the Winter farmers market there. Just imagine perusing vegetables and whatnot while the great cats prowled and roared behind the stands. Pretty neat and occasionally terrifying for any youngsters in tow.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aelph

        crazy ads!

        They made it look like they were serving food in the lion house. Oh well, they *were* at Lincoln Park Zoo.

      2. Thought that Dale's swearing was totally inappropriate at Judges table. Its one thing in the kitchen, which I can handle but his swearing in front of the people that can send them home, was just horrible. He's totally annoying, a big whiner and it was rather pervasive throughout the entire episode, just seems bitter..

        10 Replies
        1. re: Xericx

          i was really pi$$ed that Dale tried to throw Niki under the bus, especially when he was the one who added the Pecorino cheese to the already ailing stuffed mushrooms. If I'd been judging, I would have been tempted to send him home for that stunt, or for sure to call him out for it. that was so wrong.

          1. re: ChefJune

            I was also ticked at Dale for throwing Nikki to the wolves (keeping it in a "zoo theme", of course. <g>) I had hoped to see/hear the judges blast him more for that, but ultimately, it was Nikki's choice to make the mushrooms (didn't someone do that last season and they came out looking dark brown and gross? When will they learn?)

            And after seeing the previews for next week, I'm thinking that Andrew is this season's biggest tool. I can't wait to see in what context he tells the judges "I'm not leaving - this is MY house!"

            There's something about Andrew that bugs me - he seems way too hyper (and not in a Hung concentration sort of way) and there seems to be a huge lack of focus on his part.

              1. re: newhavener07

                I'm more amused than annoyed by Andrew's, uh, twitchiness. He's got a certain Perry Farrell quality that is funny (and yes, pharmaceutical).

                1. re: jeanki

                  Yeah...he seemed a bit "augmented" to me rather than enthusiastic. Compared to the general repose of every other chef.

                  1. re: jeanki

                    I also think he was jumping with excitement at being in the presence of Wylie Dufresne - he nearly fell over when WD pronounced him the winner. It was kind of endearing, TBH.

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  I'm pretty sure Andrew has some form of ADHD.

                  Just joking...sort of...

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    I think Dale is trying to be last season's winner. But he isn't very good at it.


                  2. re: ChefJune

                    Dale and Nikki both screwed up the mushrooms, but Nikki was the one who chose to serve them to the judges. If Dale had had his way, those bear turds would have stayed hidden. When will the chefs learn that it is always better to discard a bad dish than to serve it to the judges? (For that matter, when will they learn that you should never serve stuffed mushrooms?)

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      I think I agree, except for one detail: doesn't that automatically put the person who made them at great risk? (because s/he had no other dish?) Wouldn't it be sort of like taking a pass on that competition? Perhaps they thought it a better chance to risk serving them so as to be able to offer something rather than nothing?

                3. I loved the quick fire. I think that limiting the NUMBER of ingredients was genius... seems like in the last episode it took each chef 5 minutes to recite all the ingredients in their dishes, so just 5 is a nice change. Tough too! I thought it interesting that so many of them went with meat.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: heathermb

                    That was cool. Spike's laziness and wanting to "experience" the farmer's market really made him look bad. Mark did really well tonight. I wish there was more explanation and reaction on the food but there are still too many people.

                  2. I think Valerie deserved to go home for pronouncing "blini" like "bellini" all night, no matter how many times she heard other people pronounce it correctly. If you can't pronounce it, don't cook it. Actually, since they were the gorilla team and judging by the dishes from the farmers' market peaches were in season, maybe they should have made Bellinis! In addition, Valerie committed the distressingly common mispronounciation of "mascarpone" as "mas-car-PONE" instead of correctly pronouncing the final vowel sound: "mas-car-POH-nay." Shouldn't anyone who deals with Italian vocabulary on a regular basis know the basic principle that you pronounce all the vowels?

                    I like Andrew -- yeah he's a hyper potty mouth, but he's charming in a geeky sort of way. And the glacier was a pretty cool idea. On the other hand, they need to tell these people that beet salad with goat cheese is really trite and tired. The more I see Erik, the less I want to eat in a restaurant he cooks at.

                    Is that the best farmers' market in Chicago? Because from my Northern California point of view, it looked kind of lame.

                    27 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I'm thinking that the growing conditions in Chicago is not as good as N. California. Just came back from San Francisco and was awed again how wonderful the farmer's market is compared to NY's.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        My husband said the same thing about "blini" and bellini!

                        Did anyone else notice how, in classic Top Chef fashion, they telegraphed that Valerie was going to leave this episode? The moment they showed her and Stephanie hanging out and Valerie revealed that they had once worked together I thought, "she's toast."

                        1. re: Cookingthebooks

                          Oh, yes. I knew she was a gonner from the very beginning. Bravo needs to mix up the editing a bit.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          " I think Valerie deserved to go home for pronouncing "blini" like "bellini" all night, no matter how many times she heard other people pronounce it correctly"

                          LOL so true. Worse yet they were so inconsistant they looked horrible. She should have known the minute she started that wasn't going to work out. A bad idea executed poorly. I have to say I thought the stuffed mushrooms looked like the worse dish. I wouldn't even have tried one of those.

                          1. re: Docsknotinn

                            Definitely deserved to be ousted for "bellini", but those pancakes bore not resemblance to blini anyway.

                            why would you attempt to cook something you never cooked before? Unless you are a cooking prodigy, that alone would be an indication that you are out of your element in this competitive kitchen.

                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I wouldn't get too caught up in how peope pronounce stuff, how many people have said Matzoh-rella? And I believe Mascarpone is correct both ways, although true Italians do pronounce it either with an Nay or Nee at the end. The Bellini thing was annoying at first, but my girlfriend and I were more disturbed by the fact she even attempted that, let alone cooked them first. Wehn she said "200 Blinis" we said "GoodBye" at the same time.

                            1. re: jhopp217

                              The typical TC mispronounciation of mascarpone is mixing up the consonants and calling it mar-sca-pone

                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                              If they hadn't got rid of that woman, I would have run amok! Another mispronunciation that bugs me is "MAR-sca-pone"! Also, Valerie's voice--like nails on a blackboard!

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                the blini vs. bellini thing drove me nuts!!!

                                1. re: cor

                                  Did anyone notice that judge Gail Simmons was also mispronouncing them? She said bellini a few times as well...I'm pretty sure I saw Tom C. smirking at one instance.

                                    1. re: heathermb

                                      My roommate and I definitely noticed that too! Has everyone gone mad? Let's just put whatever sounds we want in... those little pieces of dirt were thicker than pancakes anyway.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    The contestants obviously used the
                                    Southern-Italian/American... pronounciation for mascarpone....remember they are Famous/Infamous for dropping final vowels when speaking Italian!!!

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I can not defend Valerie calling blinis, "bellinis", however regarding her pronunciation of "mascarpone": My father's family came from Southern Italy and Sicily and southern Italians tend to cut off the final syllable (often a vowel) when they speak. My grandparents, my father and dad's siblings all spoke fluent Italian and ricotta was pronounced "ricot" in my childhood home. Prosciutto was "proscuitt". That last vowel sort of dies a silent death, if you will pardon the pun <g>.

                                      1. re: MysticYoYo

                                        Mascarpone is not a Southern Italian cheese -- it's from Lombardy. I looked it up before I posted on three different sites and they all had "mas-car-poh-nay." But you're right "MAR-sca-pone" is even more annoying. That's not even Sicilian Italian, it's New Jersey Italian.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Thats why I called it "Southern-Italian/American" definitely in NY and NJ my Italian friends and neighbors dropped the final vowel...all I can say is that they seem to use a lot of both Ricott(a) and Mascarpon(e) in their desserts..my favorite Italian Ricotta Cheesecake has a good helping of mascarpone in it to smooth out the texture...great stuff...can't get it here though....sigh

                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                            Ugh, enough of this pronunciation debate! I don't care what a chef calls something, as long he or she knows what do with it. This kind of silliness is like a serving of Kwanzaa Cake to Sandra Lee fans. (So how exactly do you pronounce "Les Halles?")

                                            1. re: newhavener07

                                              If you don't care for the discussion/debate just move on....if you can't add anything to the discussion...page down....

                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                Assuming your question wasn't rhetorical: "Layz Allz"

                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                  Sorry Indy, but the H is aspirated, making the pronunciation "LAY AHL";

                                                  1. re: mnosyne

                                                    You're so right about the "ahl". I can't imagine what I was thinking when I over-enthusiastically stuck a "z" on the end of the second word.

                                                    The pronunciation of "Les" in front of the a word beginning with an "h" seems to be something of a conundrum. My French teachers drilled the "Layz" version into my head for Les Halles specifically. Challenged by you -- and since your pronunciation of Halles was spot on -- I did some research. To keep this food related and media related, I found the following excerpt from an online discussion with Tom Sietsema, food critic of the WASHINGTON POST.

                                                    Chatter 1: Please settle a debate. How, precisely, do you pronounce "Les Halles"?

                                                    Tom Sietsema: You say: Lay-AHL (there's no "s" sound on the end)

                                                    Chatter 2: Wrong, wrong. It's lay-zahl. H counts as a vowel, so you slur the s into the H. Also, this is how Tony Bourdain pronounces it in the audio version of his book (he reads it himself).

                                                    Chatter 3: Uhh, Tom...it's LAYS-Ahl. Since you have a vowel sound begriming the second word you pronounce the s in "Les"

                                                    Chatter 4: If anyone is questioning Tom's pronunciation, he is indeed correct. My grandmother was a university-level French professor, and one morning, after hearing us call it "Lez Ahl" (with the liaison between the two words) she erupted with the fact that it is, indeed "LAY AHL." If I recall, the lack of liaison has something to do with the name of the Paris neighborhood, which has its origins in Latin.

                                                    Tom Sietsema: Who knew that there was no right answer?

                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                      The lack of liaison is because Les Halles is a proper noun.

                                                      1. re: cor

                                                        You mean "elision" right? I'm sure Les Halles isn't so proper that it hasn't been host to many liaisons!

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Actually, elision is the removal of a vowel when two words "join," as in j'attends vs je attends.

                                                          Liaison is the redistribution of a consonant that would otherwise be silent, as in je suis une femme = je sui-zune femme.

                                                            1. re: momjamin

                                                              The things I learn on this site. Amazing.

                                          2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            i definitely think they got to the farmer's market after noon-- everything looked wilted. it looked like a smaller, older market-- coolers rather than mechanical refrigeration, even for meat. probably grandfathered in.