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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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You are probably right, but I dislike Lisa more than Antonia.  When they downed the shots with that flippant nope remark I told my wife one of them was going home.  So I was shocked and can only surmise that the other teams food really stank.

I'd be OK with LIsa going home, too. She is always so negative and contrarian - but I guess that honkin' big piece of bread and the asparagus dish itself really DID stink! :laugh:
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What the bleep?

That sums up my feelings about judges table this week. I just watched this week's episode on Tivo, and was very suprised at the decision that was reached.

I think Stephanie and Jen's dish was a bit of a trainwreck, I admit. However, Antonia and Lisa didn't even meet the criteria of the challenge.

To dismiss Polish sausage out of hand like that-to not even TRY-shows a real lack of imagination and desire to rise to any occasion.

Why is kielbasa deemed "bar food"?. Sausage making is an art. Just because it isn't boudin noir or boudin blanc doesn't mean it's in another food group. It's sausage! And, it's packed with flavor!!

Lisa going on, and on, and ON about her pityful station in life because she has to cook a dish that "drunk people" shouted out. And her n=1 experience with kielbasa. And woe is me....stop already! My ears are bleeding!

A sure sign of insecurity and lack of true talent is blaming, excuse making, and cheating.

You call it improvising. I call it cheating. The BS flag is thrown.

PS..Lisa, they say "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Well, when in Chicago, a town full of Polish, don't look down your wrinkled nose at their food.

Let me start a list of dishes that came to me within minutes of thinking about it:

Beer braised mussels with smoked kielbasa

Choucroute

Cassoulet

Anyone else?

Yes. I could not have said it better. Jen bugged me a lot but I defintily expected the other team's Antonia to be booted off for her total disregard of the main item POLISH (Kielbasa) sausage. Even her sorry chorizo was buried under a slab of fish. Then she has the nerve to say that PS is a dish not worthy of a 'Chef' too cook. A Chef should have respect for any properly made dish, especially a revered charcuterie item like sausage! Make a beer sauce for it and serve it with purple cabbage and you'll have a winner, especially if you make the sausage.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Antonio also openly mocked the challenge and rolled her eyes repeatedly in her comments. She didn't take her task seriously at all. I dislike Lisa a lot more, but I think she m ight be a better chef than Antonia. I dont' even remember anything Antonia's made on the show.

I'm eager to see more of Stephanie's dishes as the show goes on. She's great, and I want her to get teh credit she deserves! The commeneter who said she does well in single challenges is absolutely right. I think she's probably too nice to disagree with a nyone.

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I dont' even remember anything Antonia's made on the show.

That's because she's one of those middle dwellers that never get any feed back.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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I like Stephanie, too. She seems to be a little less nervous than when they started.

Lisa bugs the crap out of me, and part of it is the eyebrow piercing, I think. I keep wanting to brush that thing off her face !

Antonia, ah Antonia. Why does she have such an annoying superior air about her? has she done something really good that we don't know about?

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I see a pattern. Any chef who takes themselves too seriously and with no sense of humor is gone early.

re: resentment at some of the challenges- they thought that this was a stage at the French Laundry when they signed up?

re: "I'm doing this for Zoe" Oy, like she was kidnapped by terrorists maybe? No she just sucked and was purged.

Edited by gfweb (log)
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Is it just me or does this season seem to be stuck in a rut elimination challenge wise?

IIRC every elimination challenge so far involved one variant or another on "the prep in the Top Chef kitchen, pack up and serve/finish elsewhere theme"?

Maybe they are planning to rename the show to Top Caterer next season...

As for who went home this week I think blowing off the challenge's key ingredients and cooking something moderately tasty is a graver sin than actually trying to make it work with the specified ingredients and falling short.

Lisa's attitude just plain bites as well IMHO.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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Antonia and Lisa deserved each other. And one of them should have gone home. However, as the judges said, they're nitpicking at this time and Jen got nitpicked to death. The phallic imagery was poorly done, and then sopping it up with the huge piece of bread just was too much for Tom.

Whoa Lisa, take it down a notch, either that or go to an anger management class. Part of being a really good chef is taking criticism. Criticism means someone cares enough to let you know how you can improve. If they don't say anything, they don't care if you fail. And, you don't learn anything.

I was thinking in the polish sausage thing, drunken pineapple chutney with the sausage would have been really good. I know it was just done last week, but a poached pear for the magenta could have worked with them. Then to improv the sausage into a dessert flan could have worked. Somehow Voges au Chocolat keeps coming to mind for me.

I don't care how Richard wears his hair. Just as long as he keeps cooking up a storm. The guy is brilliant and then teaming with Dale is just adding to the genius.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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Ya, it sure should have been Antonia or Lisa. The "only" Polish sausage they are aware of is the Cry-o-Vac turkey type of their unfortunate childhoods?

Sausage is one of the world's great foods, and what a gift of an ingredient. And on top of THAT, the incredibly rude swilling down tequila while offering none to their guests/judges. Yuck.

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Is it just me or does this season seem to be stuck in a rut elimination challenge wise?

IIRC every elimination challenge so far involved one variant or another on "the prep in the Top Chef kitchen, pack up and serve/finish elsewhere theme"?

Maybe they are planning to rename the show to Top Caterer next season...

There have always been a lot of challenges that are basically exercises in catering. It's been a little monotonous this season, but I'm still interested.

I used to the think all the catering challenges didn't make sense. But I've come to realize that any chef who wants to have a high profile in their town needs to have serious catering skills. How much of a chef (and restaurant's) reputation is built on catering events like charity function, demos, festivals. Sure, Thomas Keller probably doesn't do it, but these guys aren't going to run the French Laundry. In most towns, it seems like catering type events are the best way for a chef to expose people to his or her food. And you have to get across your style in a single bite finished under less than ideal conditions.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Sausage is one of the world's great foods, and what a gift of an ingredient. 

Not only that, but Richard and Dale didn't whine (or at least we didn't see them whining) about getting tofu as an ingredient. Bet Lisa would have blown that one off too.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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Sorry for my delayed responses. I'm not as quick-witted as some of you. I seem to have to watch each episode at least three times before I can put my thoughts on paper.

So far this season, I’m actually enjoying the Quickfire Challenges more than the dramatic Elimination Challenges. I like the Quickfire Challenge because it dares the Chefs to think on the spot and create a dish in 30 minutes or less. And thankfully, when it comes to the Quickfire Challenge, Bravo doesn’t have the time to air pathetic clips of Dale skipping beer caps and F’ing off Lisa. (Even though she deserves it).

Maybe Bravo took pity on the Chefs this year when it came to the dessert challenge-the usual 30 minute Quickfire was extended to 1 hour and 30 minutes. (If you weren’t watching closely you would have missed the time clock set at 1.30.00 when Padma called for the Chefs to start cooking).

It’s a bit of Top Chef lore that the dessert challenge has brought previous Chefs to their knees. I don’t think the efforts of the Chefs this year were all that bad compared to previous years-but there were definitely a few clunkers among the group.

Although Judge Johnny gave Spike unenthusiastic praise for at least attempting to make a soufflé, Spike’s technique fell short. He shouldn’t have attempted to make a soufflé if he wasn’t absolutely sure it would have worked. If there’s a pastry chef in the house, let me know if a soufflé would be affected by baking it inside of a hollowed out pineapple?? I’m actually curious to know if the liquid in the pineapple had a negative effect on Spike’s finished soufflé. Look at the photo of his dessert on the Top Chef site and it looks like a puddle of wilted eggs stuck in the middle of a poorly carved pineapple. And the requisite little “wee-drink-in-a-shot-glass” off to the side of the dish only accents, in a bad way, the failings of the soufflé. I still kinda like ya Spike, you’re what my 84-year old Father would call a “character.”

This was the week I wished the results of BOTH the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges would have been merged so that Antonia’s snotty ass would have been eliminated. I’ll talk about her sausage ignorance later, but her dessert of “Bruleed Lemon Curd with Lemon Cake,” and a smattering of ugly strawberries and a dollop of cream was uninspired and downright ugly on the plate.

Antonia should have put forth more effort. She could have used the same basic ingredients, but done it in a more thoughtful, more flavorful and more creative manner. She could have incorporated lemon curd in the lemon cake batter and then topped the cake with a “brulee” garnish. Candied citrus peel and fresher looking berries might have given her dessert the upscale appearance it needed.

I liked Richard’s winning dessert of “Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Chocolate Ice Cream,” but I don’t think it was without fault.

I liked the idea of sautéing the banana “scallops” to give them that caramelized texture we crave in a sea scallop. Judge Johnny said that the “similar textures (of the banana and guacamole), were really smart.”

While I like the combination of banana and chocolate, Richard’s “Chocolate Ice Cream,” looked more like slick chocolate pudding dumped on the plate. I’d like to know what type of recipe Richard used for the ice cream base. It’s pretty hard to successfully make an ice cream base, chill it and then process it in an ice cream freezer/maker in an hour and 30 minutes.

I also felt the presentation of Richard’s dish was not up to his usually high standards. Part of the presentation looks very upscale-you see a swish of chocolate sauce on the plate next to the “banana scallops.” Yet the plate is muddied up with a big dump of “chocolate ice cream.” It’s a minor point, but I think Richard should have taken a few more seconds and shaped the ice cream into a small quenelle. That would have been a more appropriate accent to the overall presentation of the dish.

Richard also scored points with me this week when he said that “I’m not a one-trick pony” and “sure, I can do the chemical thing,” bit “I can cook, like making a dessert.” That’s the measure of a “Top Chef”-someone who recognizes their talent and builds on their strengths, yet doesn't allow weaknesses to prevent them from surging forward. Well said Richard.

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He shouldn’t have attempted to make a soufflé if he wasn’t absolutely sure it would have worked. If there’s a pastry chef in the house, let me know if a soufflé would be affected by baking it inside of a hollowed out pineapple?? I’m actually curious to know if the liquid in the pineapple had a negative effect on Spike’s finished soufflé

Interesting question. I recall that pineapple juice has an enzyme that can prevent gelatin from gelling, so I guess it could also affect the proteins in egg whites.

While I like the combination of banana and chocolate, Richard’s “Chocolate Ice Cream,” looked more like slick chocolate pudding dumped on the plate. I’d like to know what type of recipe Richard used for the ice cream base. It’s pretty hard to successfully make an ice cream base, chill it and then process it in an ice cream freezer/maker in an hour and 30 minutes.

I don't recall the ice cream, but it's also possible that sitting out under the TV lights did not help.

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He shouldn’t have attempted to make a soufflé if he wasn’t absolutely sure it would have worked. If there’s a pastry chef in the house, let me know if a soufflé would be affected by baking it inside of a hollowed out pineapple?? I’m actually curious to know if the liquid in the pineapple had a negative effect on Spike’s finished soufflé

Interesting question. I recall that pineapple juice has an enzyme that can prevent gelatin from gelling, so I guess it could also affect the proteins in egg whites.

While I like the combination of banana and chocolate, Richard’s “Chocolate Ice Cream,” looked more like slick chocolate pudding dumped on the plate. I’d like to know what type of recipe Richard used for the ice cream base. It’s pretty hard to successfully make an ice cream base, chill it and then process it in an ice cream freezer/maker in an hour and 30 minutes.

I don't recall the ice cream, but it's also possible that sitting out under the TV lights did not help.

You are probably right, i.e. the camera lights having an effect on the look of the ice cream. There is a photo of the dish on the Top Chef site on the Rate the Plate tab. Aside from the large mass and outside/glossy texture of the ice cream, I wish Richard hadn't put such a large glob on the plate.

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I forgot to mention another loser in this week’s Quickfire “Dessert Challenge.” Our Aussie Mate Mark, the man who adorns his various headbands with frilly red flowers. It seems like his sense of fashion is about as bad as his sense of cooking.

Mark's certainly providing some humorous moments on Top Chef this year-like the infamous bathtub romp with Spike. But really, looking back at the dishes he's produced so far, Mark's food has been pretty forgettable.

Mark's personality rates much higher on the "likeability" scale than those snot-nosed, rude sows Lisa and Antonia. But being a nice guy who cooks unremarkable food doesn't always cut it on Top Chef.

Regardless of Mark's hair garnishments, the Pavlova's were "mixed-up" in Judge Johnny's opinion. Mark hasn't shown much promise and he'll probably be going home soon.

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Late as I am, I hope you’ll indulge me. With episode “8” looming just hours away, here are some thoughts about last week’s episode “7”, the “Improv” episode.

It was refreshing to see a challenge presented in the format of a private dinner party rather than a “Zoo” catered event, a “Block Party” catered event, an “Elements” catered event or a “Tailgate” catered event. Enough with the catered affairs already!

First Course-Andrew and Spike (winners)

Inspiration-“Yellow, Love, Vanilla”

Dish-“Butternut Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche”

The street name for Spike’s dish would be “The Revenge of Soup.” Now Antonia, you can “vomit in your mouth if Spike wins.” Soup revenge is so delicious. Spike proved, albeit a couple of week’s after the Great Top Chef Soup Debate, that a chef can create a simple, delicious, outstanding dish of “soup.” Andrew and Spike met every element of the challenge--Yellow-Butternut Squash, Love-Vanilla, Vanilla-Crème Fraiche-- by combining the rich, buttery flavor of the squash with the exotic scent of sweet vanilla in a soup that whispered “love” to the diners.

Second Course-Stephanie and Jen (the biggest loser’s)

Inspiration-“Orange, Turned-On, Asparagus”

Dish-“Ménage a Trois of Orange with Goat Cheese, Asparagus, Salad and Olive Tapenade”

Stephanie and Jen’s attempt at a threesome turned into an ugly romp of messy ingredients covered by an oily blanket of melted cheese. Steph and Jen spent over $50 on Boucheron cheese. They should have simply sliced the cheese and served it as an accompaniment to the main components of the dish, orange and asparagus.

The ladies chose to make a bed of soggy bread, limp asparagus that was neither “erect” nor “turned-on,” and then cover it with an oil-slickened blanket of cheese.

Stephanie’s attempt at presenting sexual innuendo to the judges as she introduced the dish came off as fake. Lisa and Stephanie’s attempted to heighten the sexual tension by slurping limpid spears of asparagus. If that’s their idea of a ménage a trois, no thank you.

Jen needed to go home to sate her sexual urges, but I don’t agree with the judge’s decision to send her home for the dish. At the very least, Jen and Stephanie attempted to meet the challenge, even if their cooking fell down.

Third Course-Dale and Richard (the biggest winner’s)

Inspiration-“Green, Perplexed, Tofu”

Dish-“Tofu Steak Marinated in Beef Fat with Green Curry”

Dale and Richard are clearly the two standouts at this point in the competition. Week after week Richard has successfully worked within the guidelines of the challenges before him. In my opinion, Richard doesn’t see the challenges as “limiting” his abilities but rather as a “challenge” to create an exceptional dish. He didn’t just put some spinach on a plate with confusing blocks of tofu and meat-he took his dish out of the safe zone and onto a higher plane.

Dale is the perfect teammate to compliment Richard because he shares Richard’s creative thinking and level of execution.

At first glance, I’d probably yawn a bit if I were presented with what I was told was a block of tofu, cut into a “steak” and then grilled, sitting atop green curry and fried eggplant. But after one bite of Richard and Dale’s tofu, I’m sure I would give the Chefs a perplexing glance. What is that beefy taste Richard? You said it was tofu but it sure doesn’t taste like tofu. It’s white, it’s creamy, but it has grill marks and tastes like a “beefy” steak. I’m perplexed. But I’m satisfied. Thank you Chefs.

Fourth Course-Lisa and Antonia-(should have BOTH lost and been kicked in the ass as they walked out the kitchen door)

Inspiration-“Magenta, Drunk, Polish Sausage”

Dish-“Sea Bass with Purple Potato Puree, Chorizo and Tequila Sauce”

Antonia and Lisa limited the small amount of creativity in their feeble minds by blatantly disregarding the parameters of the challenge. They purposely chose to disrespect the city’s rich history by not using Polish Sausage and it showed in the final dish.

I agree with the suggestion that braising Polish Sausage in Beer would have met the challenge, but there’s so much more that Antonia and Lisa could have done to create a top dish.

They could have taken a turn on a classic dish of Choucroute Garni by using red cabbage for the “magenta” color. They might have selected beer for the braising liquid-the “drunk” element-or they could have taken a turn and braised the meats and cabbage in wine.

Just because Polish Sausage was one of the elements of the inspiration that doesn’t mean that there was no room for creativity. The Chefs could have “improvised” by pairing the sausage other appropriate cured meats like Smoked Pork Loin or Bratwurst.

Fifth Course-Nikki and Mark (Not winners, not losers)

Inspiration-“Purple, Depressed, Bacon”

Dish-“Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes, Grape Sauce, Natural Jus, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta”

Mark and Nikki probably are both nice people, but I just don’t think they are at the level of a “Top” Chef. Mark’s description of the “bacon being depressed because it had to share the plate with Brussels Sprouts” was weak.

I’d like pork and sweet potatoes for Sunday dinner, but it wouldn’t excite me if that is what Mark and Nikkie brought to the judges table.

Chef Colicchio wins the award for The Best Line from last week’s episode:

Tom was drilling Antonia and Lisa about why they chose to use Sea Bass in their dish when the challenge clearly stated “Polish Sausage.” After spewing some obviously insincere excuses, Antonia finally broke down and said “from now on…..” a reference that she wouldn’t make the same mistake in the future.

Tom: “IF there’s a from now on!”

Great line Tom, but sadly, you made the mistake of allowing these two wicked witches who blew into Chicago to stay in the competition.

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I'm betting on Richard to win it all.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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I'm wanting Richard and Stephanie in the final two. The rest can go jump in a lake as far as I'm concerned. Either they have horrible personalities and are insufferable to watch (hello, Dale) or they are uncreative and have horrible personalities. Antonia and her Polish sausage snub was ridiculous - COME ON it's sausage! There's about a million and one things you can go with it, even the cheap stuff.

Richard and Stephanie are the only contestants I want to win. They are the only ones who seem to have decent personalities, are able to interact with other human beings without being terribly offensive or off-putting, and their food always, always looks great. If either of them get kicked off, I won't watch the show anymore. I just seriously can't stand the other people in the contest.

Oh, also, I really am sick to death of the catering challenges. It's getting annoyingly redundant.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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After watching Richard and Dale work together, I am begining to wonder if Dale other than his ham handed apology and blow up is the jerk he is being edited to be.

I am looking forward to tonight's show.

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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Uncle Bens? UNCLE BENS??? :blink:

Rice is not hard to cook! I think they gave them 15 minutes just so they could use the convenience food.

Editing monkeys made me think Mark was going home. Editing monkeys were right.

Peanut butter and tomatoes??? I tried to imagine that and it wasn't working.

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Well...

Quickfire challenge interesting but for the product placement.

Elimination challenge- also good and thankfully not yet another catering scenario.

As to who went home... Good choice but there were some close runners up.

(these impressions intended to be somewhat spoiler free for those who have not yet watched).

On balance IMHO the most interesting episode so far.

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I think they've taken product placement to the next level with that stupid uncle ben's challenge. Also, how did Antonia win the quickfire with a salad with rice sprinkled on top?

I noticed Nikki finally cooked something decent.

What the hell was Stephanie thinking? I have the feeling she'll be going home soon with food like that. :wink:

Edited by Ndy (log)

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. ‐ Salvador Dali

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Peanut butter and tomatoes??? I tried to imagine that and it wasn't working.

Funny...just this morning I was packing up some peanut butter, and spied a tomato not to far away. I was thinking of making a peanut butter and tomato sandwich, but I guess it's a good thing I didn't!

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It was so obvious in the beginning of the show that Steph was going to be in the bottom. Then when I saw the Quantas commercial near the end, I knew it was going to be Mark!. :laugh::laugh:

Uncle Ben's :wacko: Blech. If I was going to choose a boxed rice, this product would never make it to the checkout line for me. I can't stand the stuff. What was that dish Lisa made?

The winners were exactly who they should have been. They wanted a home style meal. Yep they got the home style meals cooks to win. Not a hard challenge at all for them. I could've competed and won this one. I think Steph's explanation of why she came in at the bottom was a good one. If you don't eat a lot of common familystyle meals you're not going to bring it in the category. Mark struggled for the same reasons. However, his and Lisa's obvious ranking in both challenges probably made it a bit more difficult for the judges.

Then the backstory thing of Antonia's. I guess the answer is for everyone in the future is to have a homey story to tell when doing this type of challenge.

Best line of the night: Richard's going to go home and make some little Blais'. And he's kept his word! :wub:

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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I noticed Nikki finally cooked something decent.

What the hell was Stephanie thinking? I have the feeling she'll be going home soon with food like that. :wink:

Nikki finally makes something decent and gets to stay; at least she earned it this time.

I don't know what was up with Steph. that's two weeks in a row she's blown it. I noticed Gail said about her dish: "it's a sign of a restaurant chef that never cooks at home" ~ I'm glad she's getting another chance.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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