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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:


                                              1. re: vanillagorilla

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


                                                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 .

                                                                5. Am I the only one confused by Manuel/Memo? I understand that he is ethnically Mexican and currently runs a Mexican-lite restaurant in NYC (or at least he did until a few days ago) but we also know that he worked for a long time at Babbo and studied in Europe so why did he only cook Mexican influenced food? If you watch the challenges you would think that Manuel’s experience was limited to Mexican cuisine which is, in of itself, fine but his experience is much more expansive and he never seemed to dip into that well of experience. Too bad for him but his performance was really poor in a number of challenges and he deserved to go home.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                    Yeah, I know. There seems to be something missing there, some spark or something. He seemed to be playing under speed throughout.

                                                                  2. I really liked the quick-fire challenge straight forward and deceptively simple; pure technique.

                                                                    1. I, too, feel that they made this decision by taking previous contests into account. If it had been based only on this week's contest, I think Spike should have gone.

                                                                      Zoi is very immature and IMHO, not especially likable. "I don't wannnnnnnnnnna make pasta salad", "how could THEY win?", etc.... her attitude is more annoying than anyone's, I think.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: mercyteapot

                                                                        I agree, and I love how her GF is always saying "she's the best COOK I know." Damning with faint praise indeed, considering the show is Top CHEF.

                                                                      2. Quote of the episode: "I'm going to make them culinarily crap their pants." Guess who?

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                                                          Andrew is just sooooooo wrong, I can't hate him. Plus he keeps showing talent and skills...

                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                            True, he's kind of growing on me. I think the editors are playing games, setting him up as the arrogant baddie then showing us his charming side, as in the quote above (snort). He's also looking better in comparison to the whiny losers.

                                                                            1. re: newhavener07

                                                                              <He's also looking better in comparison to the whiny losers.> Which whiny losers? I haven't heard any this season!

                                                                              Andrew is repulsive. socially maladjusted. acts about 11. I predict he will be out of there before Zoi, much as I can't stand her whining. When he's good, he's usually with someone else who is better..... and when he's bad, he's TERRIBLE! even in the kitchen, plus, when he gets called on his shortcomings, he gets even more obnoxious.

                                                                          2. re: newhavener07

                                                                            LOL! Ummm, since I haven't seen the 2nd half of the show, I'm going to guess Andrew. :-) (Definitely looking forward to seeing the repeat tonight at 9pm after reading these comments!)

                                                                            And even after the first 3 episodes, I think Stephanie is the one to beat - quiet, cool (except for those shaking hands) and confident.

                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                              And she seems to be flying more than a bit under the competitor's radar, at least when it comes to the boy's club. It seems, perhaps that Dale in particular hasn't given her the wary props she deserves. The guys really, really seem to be playing "Top Cock" (with Richard even trying to look the part) rather than "Top Chef" and I think that at least one of hens will have a few surprises for those roosters...

                                                                            2. re: newhavener07

                                                                              the quote of the episode for me was then ryan and mark were trying to find common grounds re: movies:

                                                                              ryan: "i really liked 'dumb and dumber,'"
                                                                              mark: "uh, 'to kill a mockingbird?'"

                                                                              lmao. i don't even need to say anything! ;)

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  also found Ryan's mimicing of Mark's Kiwi accent in very poor taste...

                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                    I was also really turned of by Ryan's remarks.

                                                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                      Yeah, agreed. My impression of Ryan, thanks to many of his own comments, is... well unimpressive.

                                                                              1. Because I am a cinephile, I must comment on Zoi and Antonia's description of 'Talk to Her'. Have they seen it? Yes, the women in it were vibrant-- in as much as women in comas cared for by ex-boyfriends or disturbed nurse stalkers could be. It's about men's projections of fantasies onto women (might as well call Vertigo a beautiful love story)-- and Almodovar is having a bit of a laugh since that's been his career. (Ok, this is my interpretation but still).

                                                                                That said, had they used my interpretation, they could have incorporated projections of fantasy onto beautiful women who were real-- or, I don't know, after talking about the vibrancy of the women and being accused of no vibrancy on the plate, at least they could have shrugged their shoulders and said, 'well, the women were in comas'.

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                  Never saw Talk to Her,so i can't judge the food. But A Christmas Story was a great idea and Willie Wonka was brilliant. For those who don't know, A Christmas Story is based on a man's memoirs of growing up in the midwest in the1930s and 40s. In fact,I think the author of the book was the narrator of the movie,but I can't remember his name.
                                                                                  Top Secret is with Val Kilmer,Jeremy Kemp ,Peter Cushing,Michael Gough and Omar Shariff.It's a spoof of spy movies ,commies,etc.since it's set in East Germany.The cow scene is when the resistance fighters come to the prison to do a rescue. Well while the "cow" is walking to the prison, they show this calf coming over to this "cow",and you get the idea.Just rent it for yourself to see what I mean.That's why they didn't continue telling the judges what happend with the cow.
                                                                                  AS someone from the San Antonio Area, I was sorry to see Manuel go,but I don't understand why he was so low keyed. Most mexicans I know and work with have a passion and fire,not every day,but they enjoy life and have fun.
                                                                                  Wish he would have brought that to the show. I think Chef Tom couldn't understand why he would just let Spike run all over him.
                                                                                  Even if they did vietnamese food, why a spring roll of all things?
                                                                                  Don't know why someone didn't do Babbette's Feast. My favorite movie of all times is Dr.Zhivago,followed by A Man For All Seasons,starring the late Paul Scofield.
                                                                                  What would have been wild for them to do,would be one of the films by Fredirico Fellini or Luis Bunel,whose last name I think I misspelled.Or they could have done Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman or Les grande Illiusons
                                                                                  By Jean Renoir, or even HAHA,Dracula, with Bela Lugosi.

                                                                                  1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                    Jean Shepherd. His stories based on his early life are classics, they ran in Playboy years ago.

                                                                                    1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                      Thanks for the synopses of the films. That saved me from having to check imdb to figure out Top Secret.

                                                                                      I think its a little unfair, and perhaps a bit well, indelicate, to assume that someone's going to be passionate and fire-y, simply due to their cultural heritage. Its a stereotype, not matter how well intentioned your initial comment.

                                                                                      With that in mind, the Good Morning Vietnam choice was extraordinarily ill informed. That movie was barely about Vietnam, IMO. It was about a radio dj, his connection to the GI audience in the area, and the usual feel good Robin Williams nonsense. If forced to work with that movie, I would have done a riff on an army issue MRE.

                                                                                    2. re: Lizard

                                                                                      I messed up when i tried to correct a misspelling. Anyhow, Sorry to see Manuel go,but most mexicans I know and work with have a zest for life, and i guess that is what Chef Tom didn't see,and couldn't understand why Manuel just went along with Spike.And what's up with spring rolls? There was other vietnamese food they could have done,or even a fusion.
                                                                                      Top Secret stars Val Kilmer,Jeremy Kemp,Michael Gough,Perter Cushing and Omar Shariff.Kilmer plays an american pop singer who goes to East Germany and fights commies.It's a spoof of spy movies about the Cold War.
                                                                                      The cow scene comes when a couple of the resitance fighters don a cow suit to get into the castle prison and do a rescue.While the "cow" is walking to the prison,they show this calf coming over to the "cow" and well,you can guess what happens next.That's why the girls didn't continue telling the judges what happend with the "cow".You have to rent it to see the scene.
                                                                                      Think Willie Wonka was a brilliant concept.
                                                                                      Christmas Story was based on a gentlman's memoirs of growing up in the MidWest in the 1930s and 40s. In fact,I believe the film's narrator was the book's author.Don't recall his name right now.
                                                                                      They could have also done Babette's Feast,or Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman.
                                                                                      Or gone wild with say a Fredrico Fellini or Luis Bunel film,or Werner Herzog film. My favorite movie is Dr.Zhivago and next favorite is A Man For All Seasons with the late Paul Scofield.Oh yeah,now I've heard of Talk to Her.
                                                                                      What an odd film choice to base a dish on,since,as you say the women are in comas. A better choice if they wanted to go that route would have been
                                                                                      Real Women Have Curves.Haven't seen it yet,but there at least the women are alive and vibrant.Don't think Lizard they really saw the movie.
                                                                                      Would have been funny if someone based their movie theme on the Seventh Seal with Max von Sydow.

                                                                                      1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                        I've seen Top Secret, so I got the reference as I did the other films. (Did I imply otherwise or are you now riffing on the film choices?). As noted, I am a cinephile, so it's pathetic the amount of time I've spent in a dark room with my stories.
                                                                                        I think the problem with food related films is the derivative nature-- of course, if someone had done the Timpano from Big Night, that would have been nice. But I do think that while Willy Wonka was dealt with in the best possible way, the others risked setting expectations beyond what they could delivery. I mean, Like Water For Chocolate would really raise the bar in expectations-- who's going to get naked and run off based on the heat of the food? The food that feeds one's soul and leaves one longing would be good, I suppose, but again, fearful.
                                                                                        Real Women Have Curves is a lovely film, but it isn't Spanish (and it seems that Antonia and Zoi wanted to touch on the Mediterranean-- although maybe I'm wrong?)
                                                                                        Which Bunuel film? The obscure object of desire? They offer duos of items that should be identical but don't really look alike? I fear what Phantome of Liberty would bring. Lamb would work for Exterminating Angel, although does one really want to conjure an endless dinner party that mocks the bourgeoisie-- I mean, I might, but how long would I last then?
                                                                                        I do think it's an interesting challenge although it's a drag that so few actually seemed to see films-- not what it's about I know. I loved Mark's endless list. I think Bad Boy Buddy has a roach eating scene if I'm not mistaken, so kind of cute.

                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                          OK, seriously. A bunch of 20-something chefs had 30 minutes to think about movies and plan a menu.

                                                                                          1. re: MSPD

                                                                                            Huh? I'm just riffing and asking Holly about what she proposed for Bunuel. I'm not really laying blame (except for on the Habla Con Ella team, where really, if they say it's their favourite movie, they might want to remember something absolutely key to the film).

                                                                                            Actually, maybe I am laying blame: I think I've said it at various times. I am a chowhound, but also-- and perhaps more so-- a cinephile. In that regard, I suppose all the fussiness of the foodie (discussed on another board) is really mine when it comes to films (where to sit, assessing people on what they watch and like, quality of print and sound, etc.)

                                                                                          2. re: Lizard

                                                                                            Lizard,I was explaining the Top Secret movie to someone else,not you personally.
                                                                                            Maspeth Maven,wasn't stereotyping anyone.I am talking about people i know,i work with ,am friends with. Just cannot figure out why Manuel let Spike run all over him.As far as Bunel, I just was throwing a name out there. I was thinking of one of his movies where the beggars have a feast,and he stages it similar to the Last Supper.The movie title I think starts with a V ,Viranada or something.

                                                                                            1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                              As for response- looks like you were replying to me, so I was confused :)

                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                Which happens to be the name of an excellent restaurant in Madrid, name inspired by the movie.

                                                                                        2. re: Lizard

                                                                                          good point about Habla Con Ella...
                                                                                          perhaps it should have been hospital food!
                                                                                          or a different Almodovar, like Volver where Penélope Cruz runs a cafe . . .

                                                                                        3. Great episode with the exception of Roeper. I can't stand to look at or listen to that smug bastard.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: coasterphil

                                                                                            his food critique was pretty blah. it seemed like the actor sitting next to padma was pretty articulate about the food, though. forgive my ignorance: who the heck is she, and was there any reason for her presence at the dinner, other than "insert famous, gorgeous woman *here*"? did she do a food movie, for example? regardless, i thought she did a decent job critiquing the food, unlike roeper.

                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                              Aisha Tyler - her IMDB bio doesn't note anything about a food movie - she's an actress/comedienne - and she was on Talk Soup (That's the only food reference I found), Ghost Whisperer, 24, Friends, and Siskel & Ebert at the Movies (after Siskel died - it was aka as "aka Ebert & Roeper" - which is why I guess she was introduced as Roeper's friend).

                                                                                              I did find it interesting to read in her bio that she was raised in a "strict veggie household." Since I didn't see the 2nd half yet - was she eating the meat put in front of her?

                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                I actually saw an interview of Aisha Tyler years ago explaining her love for food and cooking for her and her husband. I just can't remember the show. But I do remember her talking about spending a lot of time while she wasn't auditioning for roles, cooking and eating. I agree she did a better job than Roeper.

                                                                                              2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                If you re-watch the episode, you will hear that Richard Roeper was giving a party for his friend Aisha Tyler. She is an actress, comedienne, talk show host and also apparently a film expert, having appeared several times as Roeper's co-host on Ebert & Roeper at the Movies. To refer to her as "pretty articulate about the food" is an insult. She added a great deal to this episode, perhaps more so than Roeper....certainly more so than Padma.

                                                                                                1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                  I was kind of bummed that they paid so much attention to Roeper and not so much to her, she made comments that made it seem like she was much miore into the food culture than Roeper was.

                                                                                                  1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                    i was not trying to insult aisha tyler. i stated that i have no idea who she is or her background in food. i asked about her background in food because i thought she was more articulate about the presented dishes than roeper. i was wondering if there was a food-related reason *she* was at the table, or whether she was a *non-food-related* celebrity guest--i.e. they got her in a pinch because brad pitt or somebody canceled. i thought that the comments she made that remained intact after the editing were pretty astute, but not mind-blowing. i agree with phaedrus that it would have been nice to hear more from her and less from roeper, who was an uncritical non-entity at the gathering. it's nice to know aisha tyler has a food-related body of work for future reference, but i'm not in any huge hurry to go track it down.

                                                                                                    on my committing the unforgivable sin of not knowing who aisha tyler is: i don't keep up with hot starlet of the week, i don't watch roeper's show, i have never seen any of tyler's work in film or in print. if i wasn't told that the clueless white dude at the table was roeper, i wouldn't have known that, either. i did however, know who boulud was. i didn't have to ask about his qualifications, they precede him.

                                                                                              3. dale: spectacular win on quickfire. great skills. it seems to have done wonders for his attitude, although he really seems to have bro'ed down with many of the contestants (not so much with the females). his "omg this is not happening" deadpan expression re: andrew's oompa loompa schtick was priceless.

                                                                                                manuel: i think everybody was bummed to see him go, he had a great attitude and calm professionalism. can't help but think if his quickfire was not one of the bottom 3 he might still be around. still, he hasn't made a strong showing yet and i think that the chefs who will be around at the end *have.*

                                                                                                i don't think it's too much to expect chefs to be able to introduce their "pieces" in larger contexts, and antonia and zoi the crybaby did not do this well. they need to realize that sometimes it's not just cooking lamb or frying an egg and be able to describe their thought process and emotional engagement with specific dishes in words, to non-chefs.

                                                                                                spike: what a freaking doofus. he really needs to get a clue. i actually can't believe he served that plate, and can't believe memo didn't stop him. nice call by tom c: "did you use your whole food budget (and then serve us each 3 chard stems and 1/2 of a summer roll)?" it seems like spike has learned just enough about cooking to get himself into trouble, and then he spouts off and displays his ignorance. he and his homeboy andrew are dangerously obnoxious together. can't wait until he's on the greyhound home.

                                                                                                nikki: well once again this pony got her one trick out and made pasta, letting her partner do most of the concept of the dish as well as the technical cooking work. her food is usually crap and when it's not, it's boring. every time anybody points that out though, someone else is around to say: "ooh i just love homemade pasta, it's like my grandma" or "oh it's just like italy-- don't you just love italy." come on. making a vegetable quenelle & mispronouncing the word, and that is your idea of a new technique? do something interesting or go home! and for the love of god, get your *ass* off of the prep table!

                                                                                                richard and andrew: nice job richard, andrew skated through on richard and dale's coattails. i think he actually might know that, as usual he wants to do something plain stupid and immature-- the oompa loompa bit, to grab attention.

                                                                                                jen: very articulate and interesting range of ingredients. wish we got to see a little more of her, she's flying under the radar.

                                                                                                lisa: annoying. what a movie and scene pick for a competition.

                                                                                                i was thoroughly entertained.

                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                  richard and andrew: nice job richard, andrew skated through on richard and andrew's coattails.
                                                                                                  Do you mean Richard and Dale's coattails? I actually caught Andrew's comment before having to mute the sound - something along the lines of him being a 3rd wheel behind Richard and Dale when Dale chose to go on Richard's team. So yes - I agree from what I've seen so far that Andrew seems to know/believe he's not the best of the best.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    yes that is totally what i meant, Linda-- i mistyped. i'll fix that *right now*!

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                      well, Andrew did the faux caviar, he had used the same tapioca trick on his squid dish for the penguins. The caviar must have been an integral part of the dish or the judges would have been all over it as extraneous. I have had fantastic honey-wasabi ice cream so I can see white chocolate and wasabi working, but together with lightly smoked salmon...that was simply an amazing feat. Impressing Boulud with such weirdness, incredible. I am glad for them that the flavors stood up and the dish succeeded without the cloud of smoke gimmick (would likely have been a distraction, actually, so they should feel lucky that Richard's toy broke).

                                                                                                      yow, Zoi what feet-in-mouth disease..."I promise you that doesn't taste good"??? without tasting how would you know??? Oh yeah, she KNEW her pasta salad tasted good..."if that's what they want, then I'm outta here"...Correct. You will be.

                                                                                                      This show saved itself with a much stronger episode that was all about food. These kids' lives really ARE all about food, because they sure know nothing about movies. Of course Ryan loves Dumb and Dumber (see, "feet-in-mouth disease") and wow i cringed for Mark when Ryan had his hands on Mark's shoulders trying to remember that movie about Christmas...some story about Christmas...what was that Chistmas movie called with that story??...STEP AWAY, pretty boy...Spike, never heard of Like Water for Chocolate??? hopeless...

                                                                                                      Loved how the judges were all in Antonia and Zoi's faces about how their food didn't reflect the movie, but no questions about how Stephanie and Lisa's beef dish related to calf-human fellatio...Stephanie's food must just overwhelm them with how delicious it is. Love her! And how she graciously credited Lisa with the caramel sauce idea. Is it me, or does Colicchio have a Tiffani-esque crush on Stephanie?

                                                                                                      She, Andrew and Richard seem to be emerging as the top creative forces.

                                                                                                      1. re: kenito799

                                                                                                        The faux caviar on the squid dish was not the same. That was a hydrocolloid made by making a flavorful liquid with a small percentage of sodium alginate and dripping it into a calcium chloride bath. This time he colored tapioca pearls. It's a low tech technique that can have a similar result.

                                                                                                        What was amazing was that Ted automatically thought he had used a hyrdocolloid, when in fact he'd done something completely different.

                                                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                        Actually, Andrew was implying that Dale would be the 3rd wheel.

                                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                          Ahhh, interesting. Thought it was that he was going to be the 3rd wheel since Dale had just won the QFire challenge.

                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                            Kind of shows that Andrew can be a bit delusional at times. I did a double-take when Andrew made that comment.

                                                                                                      3. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                        Wow -- I couldn't have said it any better. We're thinking on the same wavelength.

                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten


                                                                                                          I don't know that it true that Andrew was riding coattails here. Andrew conceptualized and executed the tapioca faux caviar which chef Colicchio specifically mentioned as being excellent. I would say it was Dale who contributed the least to the conception (not necessarily the execution) of the course.

                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                            Re: Dale - read the Burning Questions Blog with the Quickfire winner on Bravo's website. Two best comments of his:

                                                                                                            Re: Zoi saying in the Stew Room that his team's food wouldn't taste good:

                                                                                                            I mean I love Zoi and the others, but really I mean I'm not one of those chefs that gets carrots from some organic farmer ... farms fifty miles away, and sings to his carrots in the morning and gives them a massage ... then sells them to you for 15 dollars a pound -- that's not me.


                                                                                                            Bravotv.com: Were you a Top Chef fan before? Who were your favorites to watch?
                                                                                                            Yes -- I was a big fan since the beginning. Love to watch the first host -- what was her name -- she's now married to Billy Joel. She was as exciting as watching paint dry.


                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                              I think you're unfairly projecting your dislike of Andrew's personality onto his food. The dish was clearly a team effort in both conceptualization and execution.

                                                                                                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                possibly. i will concede the tapioca caviar was andrew's and andrew's alone. i do need to give him credit when credit is due. it's made for interesting discussion.

                                                                                                              2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                Manuel - Classy, but unclear on the concept of a "cooking competition", didn't bring his "A game" in time. And wasn't he Mario Batali's sous chef for awhile? For some reason I imagine Batali being a little peeved and annoyed at the show for Manuel's early departure.

                                                                                                                Spike - Smarmy as hell, seems to enjoy the camera time, I don't mind the hats but they don't belong in the kitchen or any place where he is officially functioning as a chef. I like a "clean look" on chefs, nothing on the wrists or hands. But it seems like these chefs are all intent on wearing their "13 pieces of flair" for the cameras.

                                                                                                                Andrew - Andrew for Top Chef! However, as someone pointed out upthread, he will probably shoot himself in the foot before he makes it all the way. No explanation from Colicchio about his apparent outburst, oh well.

                                                                                                                Ryan - Rocco's comment that Ryan is as dense as his gnocchi doesn't seem so misplaced, now, does it?

                                                                                                                Richard - For some reason I just don't like him, but I have resigned myself to the fact that it looks like he's going all the way. He shows no emotion ever about anything.

                                                                                                                Antonia - Her no-nonsense attitude is appealing. Her demeanor reminds me of Sara M from last season, who I also liked for her no-nonsense professional "get it done" approach, only Antonia seems like a better cook.

                                                                                                                Many of the contestants, with the exception of a few, seem to exhibiting these humorless, self-important, immature traits. Unfortunately this could shape up to be a Season Two-like group, which detracts from the enjoyment of the show and the cooking. As for the cooking, the judges were in the happy position of judging good dishes from good dishes, with no terrible or bad-tasting dishes. If these chefs could chill out a little, this could be a good season.

                                                                                                              3. Hmmm...I wasn't in love with this episode. I thought the quickfire was a good challenge but the judges used the movie descriptions too unnecessarily to judge the food. So what if Zoi and Antonia made one slip up and said vibrant colors - does that mean their food sucked? You could say that but don't judge your whole decision on that...I was a little disappointed. But, in the end, I think Manuel, though nice, was unmemorable so I'm not too upset he left for competition sake.

                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                                                  our local paper said one of the chefs had worked at bouchon in yountville but i can't find out which one
                                                                                                                  does anyone know?
                                                                                                                  thank you

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                                                    I think they did make kindof a big deal about the vibrant colors thing, but I also think you have to hold the contestants to really following the challenge, otherwise what's the point of the challenge? The dish they made might as well have been conceived as a "make whatever you want." Not that they should be sent home for that in comparison with Spike's "I'm going to make vietnamese food" crap, but I think that really following the challenge should be criteria to win.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                                                      I think the main reason that Zoi and Antonia were in the bottom was that there dish was less good than the others. The judges said that the food was fine, just not great - not very flavorful, kind of boring, weird texture on the lamb, etc.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                        Personally, I think they were there because they needed to pick another losing team and they were probably the worst after Manuel and Spike. It's kind of like everybody knew from the get go that either Manuel or Spike was going to be sent home. But it wouldn't be good TV without a second pick. I kind of felt that they were really nitpicking Zoi and Antonia with the whole vibrant color thing and how it should have been one chop instead of two because they needed to justify a second potential losing team. And while it's fun to think there's some sort of Bravo conspiracy that Spike makes for better TV, I believe Manuel was sent home because the judges really had no idea who to send (they didn't call each other out), and Manuel scored lower on the quickfire.

                                                                                                                        And to LindaWhit -- I think Season 4 Dale is hysterical -- similar to Season 3 Dale but a bit meaner. From the first show, it seemed that Dale had a lot of talent but was just not showcased. While he's probably someone I wouldn't get along with personally, I hope he makes it far because I just love his commentaries.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                          Miss N - I agree. Dale's been less shown on the first few episodes, so glad he got to shine on last night's episode. I was disappointed there wasn't more on his pork skewers last week, as it definitely looked very tasty! But at least Bravo is putting the recipes on the website (although it takes a bit to find them - had to use the Dale "tag" to find a list of Dale TC4 recipes).

                                                                                                                          And I did get to see Dale's "WTH is he thinking?" look when Andrew was doing his Oompa-Loompah chef impersonation. :-)

                                                                                                                          While I don't mind him as much as I did Hung last year, there's still something about Dale that sets me a bit on edge. Did I read that he's involved in a shouting match next week with one of the women?

                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                            I actually really liked Hung, and thought he was just misunderstood. My SIL kidded around saying i should start a Hung fan club. He seems pretty sweet and no-nonsense to me. I think he's genuine, which I really respect. I'm not sure I can say the same about some of the other contestants.

                                                                                                                            Dale (season 4), on the other hand, does seem like he's got a chip on his shoulder. I think he's fighting with Lisa next week. It seems he has the potential to be a bit cruel. But he's a personality that's good for reality TV.

                                                                                                                            But my personal favorite from all of the contestants was really Lee Anne Wong -- a straight shooter who's really respectful of others and can cook! She's a smart cookie and will probably go far in her life. I'm really happy that she's still working there behind the scenes. And I'm liking Stephanie's attitude as well so far. I'd like to see her make it all the way to the end.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                              ITA on the admiration for Lee Ann - she should have been final 2 with Harold. And also think, unless she screws up, that Stephanie will do very well.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                                                Lee Ann is a *very* smart cookie. When you choose to go on a reality show, you have to understand that the primary value of the experience is in making contacts and getting exposure. Only one person is going to win, and that win itself is not going to assure you any kind of professional success. So the primary objective of any reality show contestant should be to maximize the effectiveness of the exposure and connections that come with the show. Be professional. Don't be an jerk -- even if it gets you more attention, it won't get you the right kind of attention. In addition, use it as an opportunity to take an objective look at yourself through the camera and the editors. That's what LeeAnn did: she behaved like a professional, was easy to work with, and she parlayed that into a cool job that will give her a lot more career options. On top of that, after seeing herself on camera she lost weight and got herself into shape. Even though she didn't make the finals, she got more personally and professionally out of it than Tiffani did making the final two. She's really the poster child of how to make a reality show experience work for your life, even if you don't win.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                  In a way, she is having a better time than Harold. Even though Harold won and he has his own restaurant, I would much rather have Lee Ann's job now than Harold's.

                                                                                                                                  She is in charge of a very specific function in a very big enterprise where she can network and learn from all the people involved in the production. I have no doubt she would want to own a restaurant like Harold someday, but she is gaining a lot of experience that she can call on when she does do her thing.

                                                                                                                                  I watched the bits and pieces of when Harold was working on starting his restaurant and the whole time I was wondering what would happen after the luster of Top Chef has worn off as well as having the expectations of being the next big thing according to hype. I have no doubt Harold as an honest chef will survive but I wonder just how much of a beating he and his restaurant had to endure and just how ready he is to deal with things that are out of his control.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                                                                                    Exactly. I bet if LeeAnn wanted to open a restaurant tomorrow she could flip through her Rolodex and find a couple of dozen people with deep pockets who would love to back her, while the 100K from winning Top Chef is just a drop in the bucket for opening a restaurant, especially in a major restaurant market. Meanwhile, she's having a great time at a job that's a lot less stressful than standing behind a stove and building even more connections with heavy hitters in the restaurant industry.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                      Yup. And her personality seems so well suited to working with all different types of people. Harold seems like he just wants to concentrate on the cooking and hates dealing with the public. Lee Anne's got it all -- a very well-rounded young lady.

                                                                                                                      2. I'm getting a vision of Spike wearing a hair net OVER his hat. The hat is almost as grating as that stuff that passes for a beard, and I wouldn't want the hat or the beard bending over any food I chose to eat.

                                                                                                                        That rant over, I was so darned hungry after last night's show. And next grocery visit will include wasabi and white chocolate. And a hope to get some idea of the real flavors the last course ladies used.
                                                                                                                        Last night was about the food. And it was good.

                                                                                                                        1. Definitely found this the best episode yet. Actually about skills and real food. As for personalities: I disagree about the Richard Roeper and friends point. To be honest I thought it was good when they said "you know it really is good", to which Ted Allen had to comment that they are being very nit-picky and looking for things to be wrong. I think sometimes it is good to be reminded that really most of the food actually is very good.
                                                                                                                          Otherwise I was most taken by what a giant jerk Ryan was. Surprised no one mentioned it so far. What a cocky rude american. Ugh. He was SO dismissive of Mark and where he was from and not listening to him and just putting down EVERYTHING!!! And despite Christmas Story being his idea, he barely knew anything and it struck me as Mark's work. He is my new least favorite.
                                                                                                                          And agreed that Zoi and Spike and Nikki are next in line. Don't diss other people's food if you haven't tasted it. Everyone at that table, judge or "amateur" eater thought it was great.

                                                                                                                          1. as for Wasabi and white chocolate being "innovative?" I don't think so! Katrina Markoff of Vosges Haute Chocolate in Chicago (with stores in Soho and Vegas) has had a candy bar with that combo of flavors for some time, as well as an ice cream.

                                                                                                                            I believe I first tasted it three years ago at the Fancy Food Show in New York.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                              Pierre Marcolini had been experimenting with these kinds of chocolates well before that. However, I haven't seen this paired with Salmon.

                                                                                                                              At the same time, I did read a book called 'The Apologist' recently, which described caviar served atop white chocolate discs, and that this dish was served somewhere-- The Fat Duck, I believe.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                Wasn't there also some kind of celery pear bubbly drink or something like that? I thought that was the part everyone thought was crazy... Whatever they served was certainly not something that overall, as a dish, I could ever have anticipated.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                  wasabi white chocolate bar with salmon 'n' soy chunks? I didn't think so.

                                                                                                                                2. I don't have a very good read on the all contestants yet, but I'd say Richard and Mark are the ones to beat. They both seem to have good palates and aren't afraid to try unusual combinations and make them work.

                                                                                                                                  1. Jfood really liked this episode and having Chef Daniel on the show was a breath of fresh air. Don't you just love that guy.

                                                                                                                                    Gotta love Dale, Richard and Step. Their stocks are increasing like an old Tech IPO, shooting like a rocket. The Quickfire for Dale was fantastic and then the first course by Richard was brilliant. And even when his smoker went limp, he rallied like the Caveman in GEICO, and smoked with wood, now that's novel.

                                                                                                                                    But what jfood does not understand is why noone chose The Rat Movie, e.g. Ratatouille. But that's for another thread. Good Morning Vietnam was a Goodbye Columbus, what were they thinking? Then Spike, aka the reincarnation of the devil, acts like the 4-star general (oops wrong show) and leads his team to defeat, only to say Bye Bye Manny. The judges could learn something about fire the leader from the Trumpmeister. And Andrew should stop trying to act like the Gecko in the GEICO commercials.

                                                                                                                                    Willy Wonka was brilliant and then the execution was over the top. Of course Mz Zoi whined her way through the storage room, someone please stick a large Gladware bowl over her head.. Even her main squeeze seemed to be getting frustrated, can't wait for that pillow fight (previews seem to suggest blow up is next week). Interesting that it was Andrew who last week stated I ain't leavin' my house was part of the winning team that cry-baby Zoi said i'm outta here about.

                                                                                                                                    Steph once again was the cool, well presented entrant. She should definitely be around for many weeks to come as the nutso chefs get the boot. Niki thought the pasta was really thin and the judges said it wasn't that great. Stay tuned as she may re-think whether to make pasta next week.

                                                                                                                                    Now onto the judges. Gotta love Roeper basically telling the judges to shove it. :-)). Ted once again proved that an idiot speaking with authority is still an idiot, now just more annoying. Le Coq was way trying to impress everyone at the table. And last but not least can someone please tell Padma to keep the knife out of her mouth, she must have stuck the thing in her mouth a half a dozen times. And poor Daniel, his forehead must be sore from his palm slapping it over and over all night.

                                                                                                                                    But jfood liked the show, the chefs were able to display some of their talent, or lack there of and remember when you want a turkey, Whole Foods ain;t the place.

                                                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                      " poor Daniel, his forehead must be sore from his palm slapping it over and over all night"

                                                                                                                                      Getting visuals of the headon commercial. LOL

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                        As usual, thanks for the great comments on the board. I used them in my interview of Manuel this morning: http://www.chow.com/stories/11042, and always appreciate how detailed you are. Something I noticed that I'm surprised no one has mentioned so far: how much of their own equipment were the chefs allowed to bring? That scallion curler that Spike had didn't really seem like technique...just equipment.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                          Exactly what I thought! That's a gadget, not technique.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                          Padma and her knife, reminds me of the Goops

                                                                                                                                          Oh the Goops, they lick their fingers/the Goops, they lick their knives/they spill their broth on the tablecloth/Ugh, the lead disgusting lives./The Goops, they talk while eating/and loud and fast they chew/and that's why I am glad I'm not a Goop/are you?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: charlesbois

                                                                                                                                            Some of my observations about this episode, and season in general..

                                                                                                                                            There are TOO many people! They just don't focus on a lot of the details that others have mentioned, that I would really like to know. It makes me wonder...are they trying to take this more out of the realm of a 'Cooking' reality show, and just be a reality show? I feel like we're seeing a lot less of the food and concepts this season.

                                                                                                                                            For instance, the quickfires. This episode especially...we only see a select few, because there are just too many.

                                                                                                                                            They mentioned the locker full of ingredients, and than never revisited it again...it was allowed for the first quickfire, I'm assuming it was allowed for every challenge since? Or not? Is no one using theirs? Or just no time to highlight it? And GREAT point Meredith...I thought Padma said in that first episode it was $200 in ingredients, but Richard brought his smoker and an immersion circulator..and..what else?

                                                                                                                                            Spike has his curler..or was that provided? (and WHERE do I get one? LOL)

                                                                                                                                            I do wonder...the 'chefs' all play so well together, but as soon as they took those two first groups out, the lowest guys on the totem started chipping away quite quickly. While my first regret is that no one whaled the whining Zoi with a skillet, I can only hope she's the next to go. My next regret is that there will be no "hells kitchen" style portrait, immortalizing the face she made when Richard walked backed in and let everyone know he had one.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                              whoops, I mean, let everyoned know he had won

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                                Not to be annoying, I have another question...how many Chefs has Ryan worked for? Bayless pretty much alluded that Ryan worked there a week, and than he fired him because he swaggered. Than Ryan said on this episode that he worked for Bouloud for a "very short time" or something akin to that....

                                                                                                                                                Is he a serial kitchen floater? Well, at least he didn't put it on his Bravo Bio ;)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                                I know, I was thinking of that smoker too. Richard's smoker is the Marcel's foam of Season 4...You'd think he wouldn't want to use the same thing every episode because you know he's gonna get burned for it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                                  I couldn't believe it when I saw the plastic wrap again.

                                                                                                                                                  He's one of my favorites, but I've seen him on tv shoes, etc beforehand. Having that thing crap out was the best thing to happen to him. Remember how pizzled Tom got when everyone kept making Tuna Tartare? I see him reacting the same way to that plastic wrap......

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                                    So true. If I were served a dish with plastic wrap on it I would think it was very 1999. Plastic wrap? I mean, plastic bags are outlawed here in San Francisco.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                                      I was thinking that the smoke thing is not a bad idea in and of itself (although I was surprised when he tried to do it a second time) but the plastic bothers me from an environmental and aesthetic angle. There's got to be some way to capture the smoke and not have it leak out other than plastic wrap, which would remind me of reheated leftovers from the microwave.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nettie

                                                                                                                                                        What about the old school room service style stainless steel lids? He did say the smoke was more for scent, etc, not a heavy 'smoke' taste.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think it's a bad thing at all. With not one dish failing in that elimination competition, it's obvious ANY edge is an edge.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm reminded when Jill Davie made a balloon of some sort, and put it under her dish. Of course, that was the same Next Iron Chef competition where she froze some herb or something and they hated her smoke balloon, so...don't listen to me!

                                                                                                                                                        I'd rather pop a balloon, than peel plastic wrap, personally.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sommrluv

                                                                                                                                                          Season 3 Dale's blog mentioned his dislike of Richard because he uses a method he was showed by Grant Achatz when he took over the kitchen at Trio. I believe he mentioned they used a glass dome or something like that.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: mudaba

                                                                                                                                                        That's it - the plastic wrap is tacky in addition to eco-wrong.
                                                                                                                                                        Something durable (glass) or something edible would be much more appealing

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                                          i'm sure if a glass dome was available, he'd have used it...but it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                          smoking food isn't a gimmick, it's another method of cooking. It's just that most restaurants don't have bbq smokers in their kitchens.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                                                                            But he's not really smoking the food, although that's what he did when his original plan failed. He's trapping smoke in the dish so that the aroma will be released when the cover is punctured or removed. He even says when he describes the dish to the judges that the smoke is for aroma, not for taste. I don't have any problem with that, btw, just what to make sure what's he'd doing is characterized accurately.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                              Even though he says that the smoke is for the aroma and not the taste, I'm thinking that part of the smoke gets infused into whatever he's smoking. I remember a judge saying in an earlier episode how Richard's dish worked because of the smoking process.

                                                                                                                                                              I think the issue with Marcel and his foam was that he used his foam indiscriminately. It sometimes didn't make any sense -- kind of like Casey adding salmon roe for color at her finale dish. It seems that Richard uses his smoker with a purpose (so far).

                                                                                                                                            2. i liked the interview with spike where he's talking about compromise. sounds like spike slips up and compares manuel to his own employee, then quickly corrects himself-- "i mean co-worker!"

                                                                                                                                              1. No smoker this episode, but there were scales...as well as a strange 2 minute meltdown. Here's my interview with Zoi: http://www.chow.com/stories/11057

                                                                                                                                                Meredith of CHOW