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Top Chef #4

Daniel Boulud and classical techniques to open the show. Kind of what people have been clamoring for. I would eat any of those dishes. The favorite movie thing is going to prove to be interesting.

Wow, Richard on a hot streak winning Elimination challenge. Dale winning the Quickfire.

I don't think the bottom dishes were terrible and Tom says so too. I guess they were going for linking the imagination to the food. Interesting.

And Manuel goes home.

And another catering challenge next week.

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  1. Loved the first half of the show - Dale really showed his technique in the Quickfire.

    Unfortunately, I missed the audio for the 2nd half of the show because of a phone call from a family member that I *had* to take. So while I watched the show, the audio was off, so I didn't hear the discussion of each dish (although I did see that Richard won and Memo went home). Will have to re-watch to hear what I missed. But what I saw on screen certainly looked very good!

    1. I hate Spike. I can't believe he made that comment "I'm not going to tell you to send him home," as if he were being generous -- he was supposed to say "I overruled his idea to make food from Like Water for Chocolate, one of the great works of foodie fiction of all time, and said we had to make summer rolls, and I will go home."

      I would have really loved to see Memo grind up some rose petals and cry into his sauce... oh, well.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Adrienne

        Had Spike never heard of Like Water for Chocolate? That's what it seemed like by the response he gave Memo. Credibility: two thumbs down. (To keep with the movie theme ;-)

        1. re: momjamin

          Hate Spike. He made the choice and then cocked it up.
          My monkey could make a better spring roll! ; )
          Manuel got the short end of the stick, and was sooooo gracious on the way out. He should have fought for Water For Chocolate.

          I liked both of the challenges, and am always glad to see culinary biggies (Boulud) around to make it about cheffing instead of shelf-stable chemical salad dressing.

          I am really sick of Zoi complaining about things she apparently feels threatened by. The coming attractions had a number of tantrums...

          And not to pick, but what's with Nikki's pronunciation of quenelles? I thought it's supposed to sound like a hard ken, not a tortured quen. And (cough) Colicchio mentioned her pasta had too much flour and was dry - so much for her ace in the hole. She's dead to me. ; )
          I sooooo wish Nikki and Spike were gone.

          As for movies...I never heard of Xmas Story (Felix of rural GA, you asked), or the cow one. It was funny that the Ozwegian named classics of his region (Once Were Warriors, Mad Max, et al) to the puzzlement of his teammate, who didn't even know US popular film. I liked the idea of critic (film) v critic (reality show judges) - and I thought Roeper played a fine supporting role (I don't know much about him as a film critic one way or the other)

          Loved seeing the winners of the main challenge -- looked like a preview of the final four, minus Lisa. *If Andrew can keep his head between his ears, and those around him veto the insane oompah loompah shticks. About that - wtf?
          But he did cut to the get the plastic OFF NOW, a correct position.

          Stephanie is so unpretentiously excellent.
          In conclusion, I hate Spike.

          1. re: pitu

            I agree you have to give Manuel props for being so professional on the way out. I did think he was the right person to go this time. I was suprised by his presentation of three scallions with a crude bias cut at the quick fire.
            I am ready to see Spike, Nikki and Zoi leave. IMO they are in well over their head. I think Andrew is a wild canon and will shoot himself in the foot before the final.

            1. re: pitu

              Was Spike one of the ones last week who said that Mexican food isn't high end? I know that Erik said it in a stronger way, but I remember Spike saying it as well. Then this week he says that he cooks Vietnamese food, which is really started to be recognized as a great cuisine. Maybe I misunderstood his comment about Mexican food, but I was mystified that he could see Vietnamese food as a great cuisine, but not Mexican.

              WRT Nikki: As an Italian food snob I have some sympathy for Nikki's pronunciation of "quenelle": even though I remember what the French procunciation should be, the Italian pronunciation ("qu" is pronounced like "kw") has displaced it. But I was quite annoyed by their choice of Il Postini, which takes place on an island in the south of Italy, and tortellini, which are most definitely a northern italian dish--I thought for sure that Colicchio would call them on that, even though his sniping for absolute authenticity ("you can't call it coq au vin unless it's an OLD chicken") usually irritates me.

          2. re: Adrienne

            Not a fan of him either. I'm sure he's talented but can't stand his "I'm so hip cuz I' live in Williamsburg" attitude. When I saw this episode, I think they made the right choice. I was sad to see him go because he seemed like such a nice guy. But I haven't really been impressed with his food (at least on TV).

            1. re: Miss Needle

              As a New Yorker, I'm going to have to blame his actual hometown of Florida for his 'tude ;)

              But much more importantly -- Momjamin, I heard Spike's response the same way. And then I lectured my poor unsuspecting roommate for 20 minutes on the importance of food culture on my life and how I couldn't believe someone who cooks would not see a beautiful, sensual, great foodie movie just because they'd have to read subtitles. Seriously though, to me that would have been part of the pre-show studying -- learning classic techniques, reading about food in popular culture, doing at-home smell and taste-tests, timing myself, seeing what happened to my favorite recipes if I let them sit out for an hour.... there are so many things they could have learned from prior seasons, and it doesn't seem like most of them got that. Granted this specific challenge was new (yay!) but it didn't seem that unexpected... after all, don't dozens of people here on the home cooking board throw oscar's parties where they do the same thing X 5?

              1. re: Adrienne

                Umm... unless they had a a challenge based on my favourite science fiction novel or favourite Roman Empire recipe then I'd be pretty screwed as I watch about 5 movies a year. I don't throw Oscar's parties and I have to admit, I don't think I know any friends who do. Heck, I don't even watch the Oscars.

                Come on, people... let's give these people a break. I mean, there's preparing and then there's over-preparing. Now, having bad knife skills or not knowing how to fry an egg or throwing nachos on a "souffle" made out of mashed potato... that's pretty stupid, but I'm sure you can practice all the classic techniques you want and I will be able to stump you on something or you'll have forgotten.

                1. re: Blueicus

                  It didn't have to be a current movie, though. The example Bouloud gave was Casablanca. Even people who haven't seen a movie in years have a favorite movie, and it's not hard to tie food in, in some way. Heck, you don't even have had to have seen the movie, you just have to know about it. You, for example, could have said that Gladiator was one of your favorite movies and made something based on one of your Roman Empire recipes!

                  My first thought was also "Like Water for Chocolate" although I don't even remember seeing the movie (or for sure that there was a movie), but I read the book. But I think probably what I would have done would have been either "Enchanted April" (northern Italian) or "Prince of Tides" (Carolina low-country).

                  From what Spike said, Manuel suggested "Like Water for Chocolate" but didn't have any ideas of what to cook. Since Spike did have ideas (bad though they turned out to be) of what to cook, he took over. Which was really too bad, because the way he rocked the taco challenge, I think he and Manuel could have come up with something good using a Mexican theme.

                  I think what was notable was that they quality of the dishes was apparently quite high, unlike past dinner party challenges. When a dish ends up in the bottom two because it failed to tie into the theme rather than on the plate, that's an indication of how far the judges had to go to find fault. I have to say I thought all those dishes looked interesting and/or delicious.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Hahaha, actually I've never watched Casablanca before (with the exception of that scene where he gives that last monologue and he's leaving the girl or something)... that's how culturally vacant I am in terms of films.

                    The problem with choosing something like Gladiator is that it's just not enough to tie the dish with the setting (for example Good Morning Vietnam and Vietnamese food and the way Padma kept going on and on about how they chose a movie to fit around the dish as opposed to the opposite) it has to evoke scenes from the movie or a general theme in the movie (besides geographical location). The winners I feel did that. I guess I would make something that evokes the goriness of the Gladiatoral arena... that would probably win over the judges ;). I do agree that all the dishes at least looked reasonable (and there seemed to be no hot messes), although I think Richard's relying on sous vide and the smoke trick too much.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      There was definitely a movie -- I've seen it -- but the book was translated into English and the movie is in Spanish only (last I checked).

                      Although they did rip on those teams (and although I am ripping on those teams) for not bothering to tie into the movies, I think really they picked Manuel because they didn't *like* the actual summer roll -- they thought it was too fishy and they didn't like that chard across the street from the roll that was somehow part of the dish. I don't think they would ever kick someone off if their dish was AMAZING but not good for the challenge (though sometimes I wish they would hold the cheftestants to the rules more) -- I think they really didn't like the summer roll regardless of the challenge.

                    2. re: Blueicus

                      Yeah, I'm not a movie buff either. It's really funny because when I've hung out with people either from LA or in LA, it seemed that movies comprised about 50% of the conversation.

                      I think it would have been interesting to see them do something with the Cook, the Wife, the thief and his lover.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        I think the custodial staff would complain about all the blood they would have to clean up.

              2. Liked this episode a great deal more than previous ones.

                I din't like the unconnected editing, when Spike mentioned Manuel pushed for the Seabass which he said was overly fishy, and then the table complained about the fishiness I felt it would at least be mentioned at the judges table. It wasn't, a casualty I feel, of the wildly inconsistent editing exhibited by the show so far.

                Having chef Boulud as the judge was great, and while I felt the quickfire concept was a little broad, it was executed well. The elimination challenge was REALLY reaching though, especially in terms of using Richard Roeper. As a native chicagoan I have never felt any fondness for him, and his extremely brief appearance showed his limited culinary depth.

                Team 1 did contain my probable final 3, Andrew and Richard. The other team contained my third finalist, stephanie. I really think Andrew, Richard, and Stephanie would be a great finale, and all seem to be great chefs. I pick Andrew for eventual winner.

                I was glad to see Spike stay, even though I felt he should have gone, but as I said before, I feel a large amount of that exchange was left on the cutting table.

                Zoi's bitterness and lack of culinary chops definitely put her for near elimination, especially because Bravo milked the Lesbian couple angle a great deal this time. Next two episodes, soyonara.

                I think Ryan ate paint chips as a kid. Really. Even editing doesn't explain...him. Who can't remember a Christmas Story?

                9 Replies
                1. re: felixjongleur

                  One other thing, I have shopped at the Whole Foods they were at, and was shocked at the lack of either Turkey or Duck. I am currently in rural Georgia, and the nearest Publix had duck, which I am making into a confit. This was shot in the fall, even taking seasonality into account the lack of Turkey astounds me. Unless they were insisting on everything being fresh, which judging by them being in front of a freezer, was not the case.

                  Oh, and I hate the catering challenges. Even though I am waiting with bated breath for the Bears tailgate party. Devin Hester, Hero of Chicago!

                  1. re: felixjongleur

                    I can't speak to the turkey absence, but on a recent trip to WFM in the Boston area I was told they they weren't carrying duck b/c they couldn't find a supplier that met their cruelty-free standards.

                    1. re: heathermb

                      The WF on cambridge street most certainly has duck. not 100% of the time, but they do have it frequently.

                  2. re: felixjongleur

                    Interesting observations, felix.... Andrew as the winner? the final three are going to be thrown to the viewers to decide. imho, unless he cleans up his act a whole lot, everyone who watches will be turned off by him before it;s over.

                    The nerve of him suggesting they should serve their course on their knees, imitating little people!!!! Gross! and his attitude exhibited last week, that he was entitled to something, I also found a turn-off. As of now, I wouldn't vote for him, and I wouldn't want to cook in a kitchen if he were running it.

                    re Richard Roeper... I'm sure they would rather have had Roger Ebert, but I don't think he's doing much public stuff since his surgery, is he?

                    I'm sorry we never got to get a clue of what Memo could do. He''s got quite a resumé and reputation here in NY

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      I don't think top chef will ever do a viewer voting conclusion. They have been way too consistent on how the judges are the final arbiters of the vote, and it is rarely if ever that the actual eaters of the challenge have any real sway on the final judgement.

                      I agree with this. I would love to think myself as a good judge of food, but if you serve me Foie Gras in any form you have my vote. I'm cheap like that.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        I'm sorry, are you saying they're planning to do a final-3 vote? Where did you hear this?

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Viewers vote for the viewer's favorite, not the winner - that would be absurd.

                          Andrew wasn't making fun of little people, he was making fun of Oompa Loompas (though if you look at the original novel, the Oompa Loompas are racist caricatures.)

                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                            Ahh, that makes more sense. My whole world was shaken when I thought they were changing how they decided who would win!

                          2. re: ChefJune

                            Unfortunately, Roger Ebert has lost his ability to speak.

                        2. I really liked this episode overall - finally, a challenge that was about technique, and not "create a bar snack using kraft dressing and gladware bags only" (you know what I mean). It was great to see everyone's idea of impressive techniques.

                          I also enjoyed that a few of the teams did do some sort of tableside service, i.e., tableside saucing and the carbonated drink in the first course. I think in the past episodes they always called people out on not doing something tableside, especially Ted Allen.. haha.

                          1. Best episode thus far.

                            Interesting challenges, delicious food, nice balance of the chefs' personalities, and the editing didn't give away the ending. Plus, we get Daniel Boulud.

                            I loved how the SF chefs just couldn't accept the white chocolate/caviar/celery combo. Yes, there is a world beyond Cal-Cuisines. A closed mind does not make a great chef.

                            In defense of Spike - I think the judges decided to base their decision on past performances. Spike has been fairly strong, Manuel has been fairly weak. Spike owned to taking the lead in envisioning the dish, and he refused to follow in Howie's footsteps. And don't forget how heavily edited the judging scene is - none of us know what Spike didn't say.

                            62 Replies
                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                              Finally! An entertaining, cohesive and worthy episode. Maybe not the best, but definitely a step up, waaaay up. from the previous two!

                              I have finally settled on my evaluation of Andrew: He's a very talented, slightly immature, nerdish guy who thinks he's far cooler than he is (and this is NOT a bad thing). He's excitable and animated because... he's excited and animated.

                              Spike is cocky and not necessarily as much of a douche as I had pegged him earlier to be. Richard, yeah, talented, but replies faaaaar too much on the gizmo factor. Stephanie will be the one to beat I believe. the rest fall at various points in between.

                              Finally we see a chance to cook and see some talent. I'm just so, so glad that no one's favorite film was Silence of the Lambs...

                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                White chocloate/caviar/celery combo?????

                                I think I missed something. I thought that was faux caviar made from tapioca pearls and wasabi/white chocolate.

                                1. re: Docsknotinn

                                  I think there was a similar combination on Hells Kitchen - only with real caviar. And with disastrous results....

                                  1. re: cowlbelle

                                    That was raw scallop and raw beef with chocolate and capers as well. <GAK>

                                    1. re: Docsknotinn

                                      Actually Venison tartare and white chocolate, not beef.

                                      1. re: Dave and Stuff

                                        It for sure had raw scallop as well. Barf.

                                        1. re: Docsknotinn

                                          I had a slice of raw scallop last night, as part of a sushi platter.
                                          It had been sitting on top of a lemon slice.
                                          It was delicious.

                                          Don't knock it until you've tried it, docs : )

                                          1. re: pitu

                                            I think it's the raw scallop + venison + chocolate + caviar + capers that sounded gross. Or at least, that sounded gross to me.

                                            1. re: Adrienne

                                              that's not what doc said, so just letting the world know, raw scallop is not an abomination. I had not had it before myself

                                              anyway remember, the *caviar* is tapioca not fish
                                              and the chocolate was white chocolate with wasabi so . . .

                                              1. re: pitu

                                                There's two dishes being discussed here.

                                                One was the enticing Wonka inspiration on Top Chef.

                                                Doc and Adrienne are talking about the hideous concoction from Hell's Kitchen. A dish so vile that Ramsay literally puked after eating it.

                                                1. re: pitu

                                                  "that's not what doc said, so just letting the world know, raw scallop is not an abomination"

                                                  ??? I was referring to the combination of raw venison, scallop, chocolate, caviar and capers in a single dish.
                                                  Raw scallop can be had at just about any sushi bar. I very much enjoy seviche although like your lemon scallop that's not raw. ;)

                                              2. re: pitu

                                                Raw scallops are my new favorites for sashimi. Sweet, with a sensuous texture and a slightly flavor of the ocean. Stupendous.

                                                1. re: pitu

                                                  That is actually the *only* way I like scallops - just as you described it. Yum!

                                                2. re: Docsknotinn

                                                  <It for sure had raw scallop as well. Barf>
                                                  Well, you wouldn't want to eat raw any kind of seafood if it weren't pristinely fresh, but in that setting, raw scallops are delicious. Usually served sliced paper thin horizontally.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    Yes I agree. Sorry my other post was not more succinct. I just meant that the HK tartare concoction of chocolate, raw meat, raw scallop, caviar and capers sonded vile. I'm not sure you could have paid me enough to try that.
                                                    The White chocolate wasabi combo from TC looked very appealing. :)

                                            2. re: cowlbelle

                                              actually white chocolate and caviar is a great combination, served at one of the best restaurants in the world:

                                              http://shopping.guardian.co.uk/food/s...

                                              1. re: vanillagorilla

                                                White chocolate and caviar was the subject of a "TGRWT" ("They Go Really Well Together") food-blogging event ->

                                                http://chadzilla.typepad.com/chadzill...
                                                http://chadzilla.typepad.com/chadzill...

                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                  Apparently my comment below (posted some time ago) about the caviar on disks of white chocolate at a UK restaurant was completely lost. But it was a dish mentioned in the novel, The Apologist, and based on a dish at said resto.

                                            3. re: Docsknotinn

                                              The SFers showed some serious provinicialism in their dissing of that combo--they make wasabi ice cream in Japan!

                                              1. re: newhavener07

                                                Yes -- especially the degree to which they were dismissive -- "That doesn't taste good; I promise you." I'll bet that's foreshadowing who's going to be kicked off next.

                                                1. re: Adrienne

                                                  Yeah, although I don't think it's fair to paint all SF chefs with the "provincial" brush. I've seen similarly weird combinations on menus here, including all kinds of bizarre variations on ice cream. But Jen and presumably Zoi are pretty traditional Cal-Cuisine chefs (I don't remember Ryan participating in that discussion).

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    There has been a lot of anti-city-ism going on in these threads -- I don't think we can blame or credit the whole areas for these individual chefs' tendencies.

                                                    I don't think Zoi's whining can even be attributed to her field of cuisine, I think she's just being overly defensive.

                                                    1. re: Adrienne

                                                      You mean, she is being extraordinarily B_____y?

                                                      1. re: Adrienne

                                                        The look on Zoi's face when it was announced that Richard won was the best part of the episode. I hit rewind just to watch it again.

                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                          I wonder if they are tring to make Zoi into Elia from the disastrous season two. Just as Zoi has been portrayed as a sniveler Elia was always starting/a part of some something.

                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                            As I read all these comments, I am really struck by how jaded we all have become. We discuss personalities, which is natural, and then we jump on whether Bravo is skewing the editing to lead us into dark alleys and wrong conclusions.

                                                            Not to say that we shouldn't be jaded about the emotional manipulation but it is somewhat disconcerting.

                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                              I've not seen this episode - *just* got cable back after four days - but I've not really understood the general speculation this season (and in earlier seasons) about the editing forshadowing who was going home. Maybe I'm just dim, but I never notice it, if it does, in fact, exist.

                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                It does exist. Basically, they never send someone home who has been lurking in the background of the episode -- it's bad theater to send home someone about whom the audience is going to say "who?". Especially in the early episodes where due to the number of contestants they can't give time to everyone, if someone suddenly seems to be getting more screen time -- and especially time outside the kitchen where they talk about their philosophy, the families, some touching personal story, how they feel about competing, etc. -- that's a pretty good sign that person is going home. The prototypical example would be the first episode of season three -- look how much time Clay got, and particularly the story about his dad committing suicide, compared to the other 15 contestants.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  Thanks - I don't disbelieve (well, I guess it sounded like I did) but just never picked up on it ;-).

                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    I will say that I don't think it's deliberate foreshadowing -- the editors aren't trying to give us clues as to who is going home or trick us, and people who like to read all kinds of subtle things into various editorial choices are often wrong. The editors are just trying to make sure that when someone does go home his or her story has been told, so if you see someone whose storyline is being expanded for no apparent reason, then that's definitely something to be aware of (if you care).

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      I agree. Bravo pretty much does it on a whole...(I've spent many a day on the couch with a bad flu this past few weeks, watching that supermodel and the fashion design contest too! LOL) But Top Chef is my obsession. Always the same MO...Here's previously unfocused on Chef...a quick "I miss my kids....if I got the money I'd start a cheese farm in Jamaica...etc etc"

                                                                      1. re: sommrluv

                                                                        Lets not for get the sudden emergence of the 'friendship' or 'bond'. That is as lethal as waring a red shirt, denoting one as an expendable crew member, on Star Trek

                                                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    Hah. Well said. The moment Manuel got a confession, I knew he was toast. This is also why they amped up the relationship angle: to give Zoi seemingly unforshadowing screen time since she'd be one on the chopping block.

                                                                2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                  I don't know that this is jaded, but critically aware that what they are watching is a reality programme that uses certain tools to produce characters, suspense and stories. Commenters here seem to be picking up that the formal qualities of a reality show inform the story that plays out. Not jaded, media literate.

                                                                  I know discussions of editing, camera, and sound-- and questions of on and off screen action can appear like discussions of shady manipulations, but manipulations need not be shady. They are part of our everyday world-- everything is mediated.

                                                                  Top Chef is not simply a competition, it's a competition on television, and that makes a difference.

                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                    I don't know that 'jaded' is the word. People are critically aware that they are not watching a competition, but a competition as television programme.

                                                                    Everything you see on television or in film is mediated, and is often shaped by formal decisions like editing, camera, plotting, sound... it's all to help produce characters, story, and suspense (or another emotional response, like compassion, outrage, etc.) It's not a sign of a downfall, it's always been that way. Consider that even observing the competition in real time, getting a look at all the activity of the chefs, is simply not possible in the time allotted. It will be edited. And no editing is innocent. That people are savvy now means that people are developing a much needed media literacy.

                                                                    There may be varying degrees of responsibility in the presentation (the ethics of which are a longstanding argument, to be sure). It's not like we were ever getting a clear window on the world, but suddenly, the propagandists have set in, clouded the view, and those who see how have become resigned to the fate of truth. The conflict of truth of the photographic image and its artistic mediation is a longstanding one. (Come on, the first film 'Workers leaving the factory' was staged. They were leaving the factory at Lumiere's behest.)

                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                      Well, the reality show genre has blurred the line considerably and I think of The Real World as the main pioneer/culprit in defining the genre in terms of dramatic editing and of actually having a storyline.

                                                                      You assume that this is an accepted practice, the heavy editing to feature a character etc. And I suppose it is in this day and age when people are used to it, but does the fact that we are used the dramatic editing and storylines make the practice right if the show is being advertised as being reality?

                                                                      In reading over the comments here, I see people who are inure to the method and watch the show with a jaundiced eye towards being manipulated, and then there are those who accept what is presented as the unadulterated truth, for how can the camera lie. And then there is the vast spectrum of those in between who realize their emotions are being jerked around but are wishfully hoping that the truth vastly out weigh the manipulations..

                                                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                        I was about to write things, but then I realised I was really going off topic. I don't know that it's so much a truth versus manipuation but the logics of presentation, and questions of ethics and respect.

                                                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                          People who think there's such a thing as "unadulterated truth" are naive. Even if you were standing there watching the show in person, you would be editing by choosing what and whom to watch more carefully and what or whom to pay less attention to. No one sees or hears everything that is going on around them, as studies of eyewitness accounts prove. Haven't you ever gone to a play or a movie with someone and come away with a completely different impression because you chose to focus on some elements while the other person focused on others? That *is* reality.

                                                                          Editing is not necessarily lying. Editing to make it seem like something happened or was said that didn't -- that's lying. But I don't think anyone is talking about that kind of editing when they're discussing Top Chef. Editing that chooses some footage over other footage to create a story line is not lying, nor is it untrue. It's just choosing to pay more attention to one thing that's really happening than to others.

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            I remember reading that the cast of the first season disputing some of the story lines that Bravo went with, of course they are bound by the contract they signed so they couldn't say a whole lot.

                                                                            To me, its all very muddy. Editing to advance a story line can involve taking footage out of sequence and making the timing seem different which does a lot to change the nature of the "truth".

                                                                            1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                              Bravo knowingly manipulated the Marcel head shaving incident by showing the footage out of sequence...after Cliff did the chokehold, etc., they still went on with their headshaving party and even did interviews making fun of Marcel. The footage was presented as if they did the headshaving and the final event as it was "getting out of hand" was when Cliff was on top of Marcel.

                                                                              1. re: kenito799

                                                                                They never did shave Marcel's head. The discussion makes it sound like they did.

                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                  I think they really did shave Marcel's head.

                                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                    No, they did not shave Marcel's head. They wrestled him to the ground and Cliff put a nasty full-nelson on him but they didn't shave his head.

                                                                              2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                Not liking a story line doesn't mean it wasn't true! Although as I said above, the whole concept of truth is really not relevant. At what point does taking something "true" out of context make it "untrue." Again, in real life we never see the whole context of something -- sometimes we see very little of it. If you're watching something live, but don't know the context to understand it, is what you saw "real" or "true"?

                                                                                I guess my point is, that people shouldn't expect "absolute truth" (or even "truth") or "reality" from any experience. Believing that it's possible is just fooling yourself, and being shocked/outraged/disappointed that something you see isn't "absolutely true" is ... silly.

                                                                                Top Chef doesn't claim to be a documentary. I don't think they even call these shows "reality" anymore -- they call them "unscripted." It claims to be (1) entertainment and (2) a competition. Now if you can tell me the competition is rigged somehow, then that would be something to be shocked/outraged/disappointed about, but please don't try to tell me that television should be telling "the truth."

                                                                              3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                Editing to make it seem like something happened or was said that didn't -- that's lying. But I don't think anyone is talking about that kind of editing when they're discussing Top Chef. Editing that chooses some footage over other footage to create a story line is not lying, nor is it untrue.
                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                But Ruth, I recall a LOT of discussion about TC2's distortion of the "truth" during the Marcel head-shaving attempt. The video seemed to show that Elia still hadn't yet shaved her head when Cliff was wrestling Marcel to the floor (she was in the background with what looked to be a full head of hair), where the preceding scenes seemed to show that she shaved hers first.

                                                                                So were the editors distorting reality and lying by their editing of those scenes and which were shown first/second? It seems so.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  I agree that was, if not lying, distortion. But the kind of editing we're talking about in this thread, where the person who is going to be eliminated gets more focus during the episode doesn't fall into that category.

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    I actually missed the first few minutes of the show (where Memo says how he misses his family or something like that). So when I saw how Memo was saying that he was going to be sent home, I really thought it would have been Spike -- because that's what editors usually do -- they never send the person who's stating the obvious. I'm glad to see that Bravo is starting to mix it up a bit more now. I actually should stop watching Top Chef trying to guess who's going by the editing because it takes away from the pure enjoyment.

                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                      I've just realized why I don't see the foreshadowing - I fast forward through all the personal stuff/downtime etc.! I don't feel quite as dense now.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        You've probably got Tivo. I actually like all the personal stuff/downtime stuff. It adds to the whole experience. Guess you're a pretty hardcore foodie -- concentrating on the food.

                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                          I have a cablebox w/ the dvr in it - didn't mean to belittle people who do like to watch that stuff if it sounded that way (after all, I'm ridiculously fascinated by The Housewives of NYC!) - it just dawned on me why I wasn't catching on to all this stuff. (No fhardcore foodie - just a 'hound!)

                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                            Oh, no. I would never think that you were belittling those who liked to watch the stuff. If you can say you watch Housewives of NYC, I can admit that I watched the last few minutes of Showgirls on VH1 -- kind of like a trainwreck, you just have to watch. ; )

                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    I don't know that the question is whether or not the 'truth' is distorted; I think it's a given that any mediation disrupts transparency, and calling it lying seems a bit rough. (John Grierson, a pioneer of documentary, called it 'the creative treatment of actuality'.)

                                                                                    The issue is sensitising oneself to the ways in which the story is told, and how certain choices reflect certain agendas.

                                                                                    Assuming there was ever a point of a pure authentic filmic moment is, as Ruth very rightly notes, naive.

                                                                                2. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                  "And I suppose it is in this day and age when people are used to it, but does the fact that we are used the dramatic editing and storylines make the practice right if the show is being advertised as being reality?"

                                                                                  Just because it's called "reality" doesn't mean that people automatically assume it's actually "real". Reality would be one camera (or several?) catching everything running 24/7. I know nothing about making TV, I enjoy watching Top Chef and I guess just don't spend much time analyzing how it's being edited or to what end - I just don't care enough, much as I enjoy watching it for entertainment purposes.

                                                                3. re: Docsknotinn

                                                                  you are correct Docs - tapioca *caviar*, and a paint brush smear of white choco/wasabi/celery root sauce
                                                                  I thought that was an inventive answer to an inspired choice of movies ("the gum tastes like roast beef" etc)
                                                                  The judges wanted to hated it, but they just.couldn't.

                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                    My first thought was Yikes! But I have to say it looked rather unique and cool.

                                                                4. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                  Maybe the SF chefs should take a little road trip up to the French Laundry...

                                                                  1. re: momjamin

                                                                    I think in general SF diners are a lot less demanding of chefs judging by this crew--just gussy up some endive and stick it on the plate.

                                                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                                                      Right. Let's judge not only all SF chefs but all SF diners by "this crew." SF diners are pretty damn demanding, which is why SF is well-known for the quality of its mid-range restaurants -- the kind where real people eat on a regular basis -- not just a handful of top-tier restaurants.

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        Amen, Ruth. My thoughts exactly. And I would say that of the four candidates from SF, the only one who fairly represents the excellent mid-range dining we have in SF is Jennifer, from Coco500, a nice mid range ingredient driven restaurant. Erik Hopfinger's Circa is not a top SF restaurant, Ryan's Myth Cafe was good but no longer exists, and I don't believe Zoi is a restaurant chef at all (isn't she a "consultant"?).

                                                                        1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                                          what are some sf hounds' impressions of circa and myth?

                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                            Ryan was at Myth Cafe, which was a casual breakfast-lunch place attached to the main restaurant. From their website: "Cafe Myth is located next to Myth ...The café is open for breakfast and lunch, offering an assortment of espresso drinks, teas, homemade ice cream, pastries, cookies, cakes, and tarts. The fresh kitchen offers a café fare of soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche, and bag lunch specials."

                                                                            So although Myth has been regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city (although it's now closing, or maybe not, if they can find new ownership), Myth Cafe is not a fine dining destination. I believe Myth Cafe has already closed, so Ryan is presumably out of a job.

                                                                            Not sure about Circa. Jen's restaurant, Coco500, is well-regarded .