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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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Random, scattered impressions on first viewing:

The Gladporn shots are beginning to get to me.

I thought this challenge was fairly relevant, since don't most "top" chefs these days eventually put out a book for home cooks? Not, you know, like Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria, but the Jamies and the Emerils of the world.

Ten dollars for four people seems cruel and unusual if you're only going to send them to Whole Foods. Does the average family shop there?

I thought Nikki was clever to use a one-pot dish, since you can put it on, and walk away from it for a while. I haven't prepared meals in a family setting since living with my parents, lo those many years ago, but I recall there's a lot to do when you get home, and being able to walk away from food while it cooks itself enables you to put the laundry on and all those other tasks that functional adults have to engage in.

Pasta is clever to stretch your budget. I immediately shouted, "pasta!" when I heard the challenge. It reminded me of Jamie's School Dinners, when heard how much he had to spend per student. Kids love pasta, it's easy to cook, it only takes a few minutes, and most people are comfortable cooking it - who hasn't made boxed mac-and-cheese? Antonia made a faux-Asian style stir-fried pasta, in the style of, to paraphrase Jeffrey Steingarten, mock ethnic dishes that dieticians love. I wouldn't have been surprised to see bottled teriyaki sauce involved. I liked the look of the pasta puttanesca more, but why the carrot soup as well?

Curry is a much more common dish in countries outside of the US, so I wasn't surprised when Mark decided to make one. Serve a kid in the UK, New Zealand, or Japan a curry, and they wouldn't even bat an eye. I'm not sure he knew what a risk it might be in the US. That being said, it looked like his curry sucked. No reason why it had to be meat to add the protein - chickpeas or lentils would have been fine. Cucumbers? WTF? In Mark's defense, I also feel like Chef Tom doesn't like him.

In Chef Tom's defense, I think it might be justified.

As for Richard, a good showing for an area that might have been difficult for him. But I didn't know beets were cutting edge. I grew up with a bottle of pickled beets planted firmly in the middle of the dinner table - but maybe that's an English thing? I'm hoping they're popular in Japan, too, because there's nothing better than a salad with beets and goat cheese when the weather gets hot.

The Uncle Ben's challenge was so inexcusable, I can't even speak about it. Especially now, in the midst of a rice crisis.

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What? No one explained to the kids what puttanesca means?

HaHaHa! :biggrin: That would have been a priceless moment!

I agree that the Uncle Ben's challenge was nauseating. But then again, someone's got to pay for the show and all the prizes. And why are we back to no prizes for the winners?

I just really don't know what I would have cooked with that crappy rice.

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What? No one explained to the kids what puttanesca means?

:laugh:

I was making those jokes all last night. "Mommy, what's a prosstute?"

I also think that the kid from the losing team should have been kicked out of Art's program as well. C'mon! Skin in the game! Skin in the game!

Seriously though, Steph really rattled me last night. This is what I meant after the first ep that her nerves might get the best of her down the line. I'm worried that she's in a vicious cycle now where she's going to get desperate after a couple losses and not be able to break out. But in her defense, this is the first time where her actual cooking landed her in the losing three, as opposed to just being on the losing team. Last week it seems the judges took pains to separate her contributions from Jen. I'm glad she got a second chance; it would have been unconscionable that she was gone with Nikki and Lisa still around.

I'm sorry, but I have to call BS on the $10 challenge thing. There is simply no way that some of the cooks were able to go to Whole Paycheck and cook what they did on just $10. I mean, a whole chicken usually runs around $7.50 just on its own there. And what was with that random shot of someone working with a ribeye steak?! Something that big at WF would be at least $17. And then it wasn't in the final dishes?! Is that footage from another ep or something?

I'll miss Mark. He was in way over his head but was always counted on for some fun, quirky remarks.

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Worst....Top Chef episode.....ever!

You know a show is in trouble when they start bringing in animals, C-list celebrity judges (Oprah's personal chef??? that's the best they could do?), kids, or Ted McGinley.

Whatever happened to guest judges making insightful comments and critiques of the food? Mr. PC's big line was on the rice salad "I like the hot and the cold together" Brilliant! What , this guy been hanging around Oprah and he's never seen a McDLT????

I agree with Mark that Colicchio "just didn't like him" - this isn't the first time that Colicchio has held one contestant to a different standard.

$10? At Whole Paycheck? For 4? I don't think so. Last time I was at our WP a whole chicken was around $8.50.

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I liked Mark and was sad to see him go, I think he did come up with interesting dishes. I was always curious regarding his ingredients etc. And I thought the fit over curry was dumb, we are so ethnocentric sometimes, it is a common family meal many places.

Also, huge mistake to try the Top Chef drinking game for the first time last night, between Uncle Ben's and Glad, I had to take many, many drinks!

Also, $10 at Whole foods just would not happen.

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i loved the comment by one of the judges,(can't remember which one)

"this tastes like a puttanesca."

also, did anyone notice the blackboard in the waiting rooom, or whatever they call it, that had some scribble on the bottom? it looked like it had dishonorable mention written on it with some names after it. wonder if it's the chef's having some fun that got edited out for some reason.

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I wonder about the $10 limit. They didn't mention two things that may have stretched thier budgets a lot further - using standard pantry items such as oil, sugar, salt, flour and seasonings - and counting only what they used vs what they bought. Sometimes vegetables like asparagus are packaged in standard amounts, but you are using what you buy for more than one meal, and obviously, this is so with dry goods. If this was part of the rules, the editors should have shown them getting those instructions. If it wasn't then I definitely call bulls**t on the $10 limit.

Edited by LizD518 (log)
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Regarding the $10 limit - it was $10 for a family of four, but I noticed that they were plating way more than four servings. It looked more like 8. Maybe they achieved economy of scale on a few of the ingredients?

I don't think $10 is an absurd limit. My average meal cost is about $7, maybe less since our grocery budget includes cleaning products and cat food, and that is usually enough for 4. I think we eat pretty well. We splurge for some meals and have basic pasta/sauce, etc. for others. Of course, I don't shop at Whole Foods (we don't have any here :sad:).

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It was a very quick flash, but did anyone notice Mark double-dipping again? He was using a large wooden spoon for stirring and sipped at it then put it back in the pot. Not entirely sorry to see him go although I thought Antonia or Nikki would precede him.

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Worst....Top Chef episode.....ever!

You know a show is in trouble when they start bringing in animals, C-list celebrity judges (Oprah's personal chef??? that's the best they could do?), kids, or Ted McGinley.

In all fairness to the show, Art Smith's restaurant (Table 52) is one of the hottest in Chicago right now. Also, Common Threads is a great cause. So, from a local standpoint at least, I liked seeing him on the show.

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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I actually liked Smith as a guest judge, and I went into the show thinking I wouldn't (bleah, Oprah's personal chef, bleah). He was warm, honest, unpretentious -- unlike the guest judge they had for the pastry challenge last week. He was a good choice for both challenges.

Agree with others about the $10 challenge at Whole Paycheck. There's just no way, no way at all. There was a shot of Stephanie at the meat counter with three wrapped packages in her basket. Even with chicken backs in there, I doubt there was less than $10 worth of meat. I'm wondering if they let the cheftestants pay wholesale cost rather than retail?

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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Although I hate myself for saying it, I think Antonia will be the Women Chef in the finals. I have a feeling Stephanie is being groomed for departure just like our Kiwi friend was. When he challenged Tom he might as well be saying I quit.

The presentation of Spike and Andrew as real people (through editing) makes me think that Dale (seeing him blow up in the clip of the upcoming episode) sounds his departure as well. While Dale works well with Rich, he does not always play well with others.

finals; Rich, Antonia (Andrew or Spike) Rich winning

Did you see we have another episode of Top Catering next week. This time a wedding?

Its time for the restaurant challenge already.

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

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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It was a very quick flash, but did anyone notice Mark double-dipping again?  He was using a large wooden spoon for stirring and sipped at it then put it back in the pot.  Not entirely sorry to see him go although I thought Antonia or Nikki would precede him.

Yes I did! It's probably a habit with him; tought to break.

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It was a very quick flash, but did anyone notice Mark double-dipping again?  He was using a large wooden spoon for stirring and sipped at it then put it back in the pot.  Not entirely sorry to see him go although I thought Antonia or Nikki would precede him.

Yes I did! It's probably a habit with him; tought to break.

Someone else -- Dale, I think -- double-dipped as well. Guess I'll have to catch a rerun to check it out.

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It was a very quick flash, but did anyone notice Mark double-dipping again?  He was using a large wooden spoon for stirring and sipped at it then put it back in the pot.  Not entirely sorry to see him go although I thought Antonia or Nikki would precede him.

Yes I did! It's probably a habit with him; tought to break.

Someone else -- Dale, I think -- double-dipped as well. Guess I'll have to catch a rerun to check it out.

I think Richard did -- right in front of Tom.

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I actually liked Smith as a guest judge, and I went into the show thinking I wouldn't (bleah, Oprah's personal chef, bleah). He was warm, honest, unpretentious -- unlike the guest judge they had for the pastry challenge last week. He was a good choice for both challenges.

Agree with others about the $10 challenge at Whole Paycheck. There's just no way, no way at all. There was a shot of Stephanie at the meat counter with three wrapped packages in her basket. Even with chicken backs in there, I doubt there was less than $10 worth of meat. I'm wondering if they let the cheftestants pay wholesale cost rather than retail?

I found him agreeable as well -- until he said some chicken he was served didn't need the skin. If the skin was flabby or something, okay, but if it was a remark meant to support the false economy of calorie elimination, then he deserves a ruddy good smack on the bottom. I immediately assumed that was his meaning because, for cliff's sake, he was Oprah's chef. Of course, he looks like he's eaten his share of chicken skin.

And in a some what related thought, I cringed when Lisa called her helper "Big Man." The kid, god bless him, was about as wide as he was tall.

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Double dipping seems to be the order of the day. I saw Richard and Dale do it, in front of Colocchio! :blink:

Edited by tmgrobyn (log)
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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The first thing I said was "ugh, precooked rice?", which was followed by "$10 at Whole Paycheck?"

Wow, unreal.

I think they made the best choice for elimination, I love curry but the thought of sweet potato & squash curry with cinnamon rice made me gag.

The 3 top contestants actually made "home" food as opposed to "restaurant" food, it was kind of refreshing. And fun to see kids in the kitchen. I might save that episode on the DVR for my 9 year old to watch, he used to love helping me until he became baseball obsessed.

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I liked Mark and was sad to see him go, I think he did come up with interesting dishes.  I was always curious regarding his ingredients etc.  And I thought the fit over curry was dumb, we are so ethnocentric sometimes, it is a common family meal many places.

Also, huge mistake to try the Top Chef drinking game for the first time last night, between Uncle Ben's and Glad, I had to take many, many drinks!

Also, $10 at Whole foods just would not happen.

Ethnocentric my wide butt. What a blithe way to dismiss a considered assesment of a bad dish. The winner was a stir fry. The loser was"'nt appealing", a "sloppy" "lacking" curry that was judged, in part, by an Indian woman and Oprah's self-professed curry lover.

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Okay, so last week we had a sausage incident, and the first question was "Did you make the sausage?"  (Actually, the first question I think was what kind of sausage was it, but that wasn't nearly as important as the second one turned out to be.)  Nikki, constantly about a foot under the breathable part of the deep end of the swimming pool, got dinged because, among other reasons, she bought the sausage instead of making it from scratch.

Was there any discussion of the provenance of the chorizo used in the polish sausage dish?  Chorizo is a sort of cured sausage, isn't it, as opposed to a sort of forcemeat sausage?  In other words, they probably couldn't have whipped it together in time for the challenge, could they?  So they probably bought it.

A polish sausage, I'm thinking, could have been put together from fresh.  But I have no hard clue as to what goes into a polish sausage, so maybe not.

What am I trying to say?  I don't really know.  It seems to me we have two weeks of store bought sausages here, though, and last week it was a real boner.

Reading Ted Allen's Bravo blog reveals that there was indeed polish sausage included in this dish. This blogger sleuths it out. It's in the Top Chef power rankings for Ep 7.

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To whoever said this was the worst episode ever, I completely disagree. I really liked seeing the chefs' interactions with kids. Even the spaz -- working with a young child seemed to humanize him. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it made me optimistic to see the kids really get into the whole process.

Maybe I'm not cheffy enough.

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I liked Mark and was sad to see him go, I think he did come up with interesting dishes.  I was always curious regarding his ingredients etc.  And I thought the fit over curry was dumb, we are so ethnocentric sometimes, it is a common family meal many places.

Also, huge mistake to try the Top Chef drinking game for the first time last night, between Uncle Ben's and Glad, I had to take many, many drinks!

Also, $10 at Whole foods just would not happen.

Ethnocentric my wide butt. What a blithe way to dismiss a considered assesment of a bad dish. The winner was a stir fry. The loser was"'nt appealing", a "sloppy" "lacking" curry that was judged, in part, by an Indian woman and Oprah's self-professed curry lover.

Perhaps the poster was referring to the raised eyebrow "hmm....really?" look that Tom gave Mark when he found that Mark was making curry. That surprised me.

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