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Top Chef - D.C. - Ep. #4 - 07/07/10 (Spoilers)

BABY FOOD! Yup, the Quickfire is all about making homemade baby food for Padma's new infant and Tom's little one. Colicchio is the "guest judge" for the Quickfire, as at the time of filming, he has an 8 mo. old at home, and Padma's baby is 2 mo. old. It's also a high stakes QF - the winner(s) gets $10K each (two will be picked)...but NO immunity.

So they're to make a dish that can be baby food AND something for the parents - the pureed food gets put into a baby food jar, while the parent's dish is plated as usual.

On the bottom? Timothy, Alex, Kevin, and Kelly
Tops? Lynne, Tamesha, and Angelo, and Kenny

Both Lynne and Tamesha haven't really been in the picture these past 3 episodes, so it was nice to see someone different in the favored group.

The winners? Tamesha and Kenny.

And for the Elimination Challenge? The Hilton wants a new signature dish for their menu. The cheftestants form into teams of two to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes, capable of being served in both the Hilton's restaurant(s) and as room service meals. All teams compete in the breakfast round; the two team winners are safe from elimination and don't have to cook again. The rest of the teams will move on to the lunch round - two winning teams picked there are also safe from elimination. Every other team moves onto the dinner round where one team will be eliminated - so two cheftestants are outta here tonight!

Looks like Stephen and Amanda are odd chefs out - no one wants to pair up with them, so they pair up together.

Former TC cheftestants Bryan Voltaggio, Michael Isabella, and Spike Mendelsohn are seated there in the Top Chef Kitchen, as that's where the judges will be served, along with guest judges are "restaurant-concepts maven" Beth Scott (of the Hilton Hotels) and organic foods chef Nora Pouillon. And Eric Ripert is back. :-) So the judges get to see what's going on in the kitchen! No, correct that - looks like they leave the kitchen when they're cooking (having seen the judges leave during the lunch preparation and only come back right at the last minute before Padma calls "Time, utensils down!").

Best breakfasts? Amanda/Stephen and Timothy/Tiffany - they're all safe from elimination during the lunch round - funny how Amanda and Stephen weren't picked as a partner by anyone, but they ended up doing SO well together in the breakfast round. :-)

Best lunches? Angelo/Tamesha and Alex/Ed - the latter two squeaked it out after a horrible breakfast service!

Lynne and Arnold are definitely *not* working well together during dinner prep. And Kenny/Kevin's short rib dish doesn't have a whole lot of braising liquid, whereas Andrea/Kelly's short rib dish looks much better. And Lynne and Arnold's pasta now doesn't seem to have been cooked per the judges.

All three teams are called up to Judges Table.

Best dinner? Andrea and Kelly's short rib dish won and their dish will be on the Hilton's menu! Six-day Venice and Barcelona vacations are also part of the winnings...Andrea gets Spain, Kelly gets Italy. :-)

Wow - both of the dishes by Lynne/Arnold and Kevin/Kenny could send the respective team home. I'm not really sure who's going home. Undercooked pasta and a dish that probably would be a hard sell (but was very imaginative) on a hotel menu vs. a seemingly bland and underglazed short rib dish.

Worst dinner? Wow - Lynne and Arnold are out. I really thought that they might squeak through.

And next week the entire group has to work as a team? Seems that way from previews. And what a surprise - Angelo and Kenny are butting heads again.

So...a question - who thinks that the team elimination was fair or not fair? I kind of think that as a team, you're supposed to be able to work together and the team elimination was fair.

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  1. I liked the format tonight and am okay with the team elimination. I just thought it was odd that they did not appear to look at all three meals when deciding which team to eliminate.

    The undercooked pasta was interesting. Wasn't Lynne refusing to put it down when Arnold wanted her to (It's too early...I'm not putting fresh pasta in that early...". At first I thought, nice of you to not throw her under the bus! Then I remembered: if the bus drags her under, he's there too.

    I think I'm offiically anti-Kevin now. I know we only saw a snippet of the converation with Amanda about instructing guests on how to eat their food, but in that snippet he was incredibly rude. Very off-putting. And for the record, you better have a pretty innovative restaurant for me to want someone to need to tell me how to eat food.

    Thanks for the great recap Linda.

    12 Replies
    1. re: debbiel

      Yup - it was Lynne who said 8 minutes before time was called she still didn't want to put the fresh pasta into the water. I would have said the same thing - fresh pasta cooks *very* fast, but didn't they do a pappardelle-type pasta, which is thicker and could possibly have needed more time? And even if Arnold had said something re: Lynne not wanting to cook the pasta early enough, it wouldn't have mattered...the judges probably would have said he should have argued to cook the pasta when he wanted to if he felt it was the right thing to do. Either way - he was going home if Lynne was going home, so I guess it didn't matter - except for his own personal reasons.

      Yes, the stew room conversation/argument about telling people how to eat was an interesting one - I'm siding with Andrea - unless you're Grant Achatz or Wylie Dufresne, I don't think I want to be told how to eat my meal!

      1. re: LindaWhit

        "Yes, the stew room conversation/argument about telling people how to eat was an interesting one - I'm siding with Andrea - unless you're Grant Achatz or Wylie Dufresne, I don't think I want to be told how to eat my meal!"

        Agree completely. His dishes didn't command that degree of control.

      2. re: debbiel

        I was really offended by Lynne's behavior at the end of the episode. In the reaction interview, she says something along the lines of regretting having let a younger chef take control. There may have been confrontations between the two of them that we didn't see (e.g. over whether or not to make a black pasta and mussel dish for a hotel challenge) . However, based on what we saw, the team lost over the doneness of the pasta -- the one thing over which Lynne maintained total control. Talk about a failure to admit one's role in an unhappy outcome...

        1. re: Indy 67

          That really bothered me, too. She and Kevin both looked pretty bad last night in terms of attitude and a lack of respect for their peers. I wish the two of them could have been sent packing.

          1. re: Indy 67

            I agree, they really liked Arnold's sauce and mussels a lot and the pasta was the problem. Her comment made no sense. I wasn't psyched with the team eliminations and was sorry to see Arnold go already. I liked the challenge overall tho, watching them bust their humps. And agree that it's too bad none of the first round people could win those awesome prizes.

            James mentioned Alex's 8 Ball comment and I was thinking, is he gonna regret having that air all over America? I assume it's a joke but he's a chef, who knows ha ha.

            I had a hard time catching what Mike I. et al. were saying at judge's table, lots of mumbling it seemed.

            1. re: Joanie

              Mike Isabella was too busy stuffing his face with food to be able to understand anything he was saying. ;-) Didn't make for a very attractive picture.

              1. re: Joanie

                They may have liked the concept of the dish that Arnold and Lynne made, but I also heard comments from the judges about the appropriateness of squid ink pasta for hotel guests. I didn't like Arnold's attitude about steadfastly serving "his food" despite what was being asked of him to prepare a dish for a hotel guest. It just smacks of arrogance. I am sure that I wouldn't want to eat at his restaurants.

                1. re: araknd

                  I wonder how it would have turned out if they'd used a less "exotic" pasta.

                  1. re: jujuthomas

                    Maybe, not sure how well the mussels and pasta would translate for Room Service, two items that are best fresh out of the kitchen. I have stayed at many Hiltons when I was traveling for work and the food is generally good, but in my experience, just about all dishes suffer when ordered to the room (to my wife's great disappointment).

            2. re: debbiel

              I disagree about Kevin. I want feedback from the chef about how to best enjoy the dishes I am being served. It seems to me there are a huge range of possible food experiences that are both worth having and not possible to have without some instructions on how the chef wants you to eat the food.

              The trick is to not make it bossy. "the chef recommends..." or "It is delicious if you...please, don't be shy." and i'll gladly follow the instructions every time. I love it...to me, Amanda was flat out wrong on this, instructions are great if the logic for them is there.

                1. re: SDGourmand

                  Second with the agreement...if the chef wants you to dip something into xyz or break the yolk first and use it as a sauce...I could care less if I'm a taco shack...tell me how to eat it!

            3. All I can think is... they forgot to get good contestants! Where are the Voltaggios, the Stefan Richters? They have photogenic contestants, articulate contestants, some nice feuds to draw your interest, even a "bad" guy for all to hate. (Angelo) But they forgot to get people who can cook.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Brian S

                I do believe Angelo and Kenny would take exception to your statement, Brian. ;-)

                1. re: Brian S

                  I keep trying to get into this season - but I don't really like anyone in particular. I matched up episodes, and by this time last season, I was a total Kevin fan. Season before I was at least intrigued by Carla (is that the right season?). I have NO ONE this year. Andrea is just annoying - not terrible enough to be the villian. I'll keep watching, but maybe I'll just catch it on the rerun.

                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                    The same as you - I loved Kevin at this point of last season. I just don't have anyone to root for this year, although I was glad that a few of those who had been background material have stepped up to the front with their QF win. Will be interesting to see if that continues or if it continues to be the Angelo and Kenny show.

                  2. re: Brian S

                    I think there are a LOT of great cooks this season. I am seriously disliking the editing. I know for a fact that both Kelly and Andrea can cook, having eaten their food. And Kevin, as well. He cooks at a very "out there" restaurant in So. Jersey. and he's GOOD. I think part of the problem may be that most of these cheftestants have little or no previous camera experience. and let me tell you, cooking on camera is VERY different from cooking in even the most stressful professional kitchen.

                  3. Need to preface this by saying I kind of spaced out at times watching this, so I must see it again. For some reason, I don't think I'm as obsessed with this season as the previous ones.

                    I think the team elimination is as fair as eliminating one person from a team. I can see why they're doing it, but I'd rather see contestants eliminated solely for his/her own work.

                    I kind of had a problem with only the dinner teams being eligible for winning the challenge and the trip. Because your breakfast or lunch was in the top takes you out of the running for the prize? While I'm sure Andrea and Kelly's dish was good, who knows if it would have been top if the other contestants were in the running?

                    I'm not surprised that Lynne and Arnold are out. Even if the pasta had been cooked perfectly, they didn't really meet the challenge as their dish is probably not the most appropriate for this hotel challenge. We didn't see too much of Lynne, but I thought Arnold had potential to go pretty far in this competition. At least we won't have to hear him prattle on about his pores anymore.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I agree about the format. Why not give the "safe" teams the option of continuing to cook for the possible win? Given the nature of the challenge, anyone with a brain would have expected that the best dishes would have been dinners since the teams had had more time and were more likely to be in their comfort zones with dinner cooking. Or choose the winner from the breakfast items.

                      It kind of reminded me of how the person who gets selected for having the best menu for the wedding episode usually gets shafted at final judging. It basically sucks to win.

                      1. re: Jwsel

                        " Why not give the "safe" teams the option of continuing to cook for the possible win? "

                        I agree.

                        Andrea and Kelly had not done well at the other challenges, yet they were each rewarded with a super prize and a place on the menu -- which the chefs that excelled were barred from even competing for.

                        Venice and Barcelona are two of the nicest places on earth -- lucky for them.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          Woud you have given up being "safe" for the chance to compete for that prize? I don't think I would.

                      2. re: Miss Needle

                        Miss N, I thought of that as well - the fact that if you were good in breakfast or lunch, you had the ability to sit out cooking another round, BUT you weren't able to be eligible for a really good prize, as well as getting your dish on the Hilton's menu. Definitely seems unfair.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          < the fact that if you were good in breakfast or lunch, you had the ability to sit out cooking another round, BUT you weren't able to be eligible for a really good prize, as well as getting your dish on the Hilton's menu. Definitely seems unfair.>

                          I don't think that was how it was at all. It just turned out that a dinner dish was their most favorite, as well as perhaps being the most adaptable to a world-wide hotel chain's menu. At least that's the way I understood it when Padma announced the winners.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Even if the dinner dish had been their favorite from all of the dishes presented so far, a good number of contestants haven't had had the opportunity to make dinner dishes. Who knows? Angelo and his partner (or some other team) could have made a dinner dish that would have blown the judges' socks off.

                        2. re: Miss Needle

                          Quote:
                          "I'm not surprised that Lynne and Arnold are out. Even if the pasta had been cooked perfectly, they didn't really meet the challenge as their dish is probably not the most appropriate for this hotel challenge. We didn't see too much of Lynne, but I thought Arnold had potential to go pretty far in this competition. At least we won't have to hear him prattle on about his pores anymore."

                          Hmm, it was pointed out on another board that neither "squid ink pasta" nor mussels seem too adventurous nowadays - we are talking about Hilton Hotels (not your local Motel 6), where the clientele is likely to include large numbers of international/European guests, let alone probably fairly sophisticated US guests (at least in the more prominent cities) to whom such a menu item would scarcely seem exotic.

                          I didn't mind Arnold chatting about his grooming concerns (BTW he hardly was "prattling on" about his pores - he said it once, to my recollection, and that was it) - he was a good chef and I would have liked to have seen him go further. Lynne shafted him in more ways than one.

                          1. re: huiray

                            I don't think mussels seem too adventurous these days, but I'd say a lot of people would probably squirm at squid ink. Maybe not the people who would post on CH, but I've seen several people shoot me disgusted looks when I order fideos con sepia or arroz negro. And while I'm not dining at any Hiltons, I am ordering these dishes in a cosmopolitan city. Personally, I would rather choose the pasta dish to eat out of the two. But I think the short rib dish better fit the challenge.

                            And the interaction between Lynne and Arnold left me a little puzzled. Not sure if I think Lynne "shafted" him. True, Lynne did undercook the pasta, but according to the editing elves, Arnold wanted to put in the pasta around 15 (?) minutes before serving time. I think that would have been a greater flaw. I did like Arnold's food, and wished to see more of him as well. But as the famous TC saying -- it is what it is.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Yes, 15 minutes would have been terible timing for the pasta. It would either have been overcooked or cold and even going into hot sauce, I would be afraid it would be gummy.

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                I would agree if it was fresh linguine or fresh thin spaghetti.

                                However, what they were cooking looked to be "pappardelle-like" in thickness and width. You cannot cook fresh pappardelle in a minute. You can also "hold" cooked pappardelle for a short while before you merge it with the sauce, especially if you rinse the al dente cooked pappardelle (no kvetches about 'losing the complex carbs' etc nor "never rinse pasta", please). (I cook a fair amount of fresh pasta of various types myself, for my taste anyway) "Hard"/uncooked pappardelle is not pleasant.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            I think I would have had a problem with this if winning would provide immunity for the next challenge. This doesn't bother me though. They missed out on a chance to win a great prize, but that prize has nothing to do with the BIG prize.

                            I suppose they could change it up to say if you win an early round, you can trade that win in for a chance to keep competing for the big prize of the day. But I don't think I would make that trade for anything other than immunity the next week.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              My understanding was that all the dishes were eligible for the win. It just happened that Andrea and Kelly hit a home run after a couple swinging misses.

                              1. re: gastrotect

                                Ahhh, thanks for the clarification, gastrotect.

                                1. re: gastrotect

                                  Yet in the WaPo interview referenced by dach (see below; post by dach on Jul 08, 4:04 pm) both Arnold and Lynne say they were confused themselves (as contestants) by the format:

                                  [Quote:]

                                  "Arnold: After cooking that many dishes we all deserved a vacation. Yes, it was a cooking marathon and the judges told us they were taking into consideration each dish for each stage, but I wish they'd taken all the dishes into consideration for the final stage. Yes, it was confusing.

                                  Lynne: I was confused just thinking about it and I was there."

                                  [Unquote.]

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  If the contestants knew that the prizes were awarded for the dinner dishes they had two choices. Play it safe and move on by cooking their asses off to produce a good breakfast or then a good lunch. Or they could have chosen to under perform on those two meals so that they could have gone on to cook dinner.

                                  I started to like Arnold, but I disagree with his statement that his food is avant garde. At least from what he was able to before being eliminated.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    "At least we won't have to hear him prattle on about his pores anymore."
                                    ~~~~~~~~
                                    agreed. did you catch his latest gem while they were shopping at WF? something about how he's more than a Louis Vuitton bag? i'm not going to miss that shtick...though i thought his comment about donating the QF money (if he won) to orphanages for kids with HIV/AIDS was really nice.

                                    re: the format, i don't necessarily think that only the dinner teams were eligible for the prize, i think it just turned out that Kelly & Andrea's last dish was the judges' favorite of the day - if you think about it, there weren't any real raves about breakfast or lunch dishes across the board.

                                  2. The extended judges' table video is up on Bravo. Interesting that Padma notes that the two dishes being considered for elimination were among the best dishes they had that evening. In addition to the undercooked pasta, they also discuss the objective of the challenge--creating a hotel dish. The consensus was that Kenny/Kevin created something more suitable for a hotel menu.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: debbiel

                                      How do I find that video on Bravo?

                                    2. I'm not reading 'cause the show just started here, but for a two month old? That would have to be breast milk ice cream!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                        That's what I was thinking, too! Pretty limiting.