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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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Ditto that. Dark caramel syrup is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, and it's not inconceivable that one could pair a bitter caramel with scallops. Butterscotch, mebbe not. But still...

I'm not saying butterscotch and scallops cannot be made to work together, but I doubt it. However, we cannot compare it to the Vietnamese caramel used in cooking. The caramel (of which I always have a homemade jar to use in recipes) is burnt sugar and water, that's it. Butterscotch is not caramelized, it contains butter, scotch whiskey and brown sugar. Very, very different flavor profile. In the quantities he seemed to apply to the poor scallops I also went 'belch'.

I actually was hoping I-cannot-cook-but-can-bitch Lisa to go home, but oh well. My hope is for a Richard Vs. Stephanie finale.

Well, taking a look at the recipe here, it appears that he does caramelize the sugar, and there is no brown sugar called for. So nomenclature aside, I can't see a reason that this absolutely would not work: he may just not have executed it well. I've made (just the other night, in fact) a similar dish, though without the scotch and with fish sauce instead of miso (big difference, I know, but conceptually...).

Edited to add: if he didn't caramelize the sugar to a dark enough stage it would have been too sweet: could his mistake have been that?

Good point, I had not looked his recipe up, but even the concept seems cloying to use with sweet scallops and the ones on the show seemed drenched with it.

Did you use butter in your recipe too, or was it just sugar+fish sauce? If so, then you made a very classic Vietnamese caramel sauce. They also would include some lime juice, coconut juice,...

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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FWIW, even Dale admits the dish wasn't good. He would still make it again, but just execute it better.

He does come across as a cocky jerk, but listening to him speak, he's probably a pretty good guy (though still cocky, but he admits to that, or at least to being arrogant).

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IMHO IIRC the budget was a little over the top - $1500 for cira 35 diners.

almost $43/person... That seems awfully generous even if offering alternative entree choices.

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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I guess it's more the idea of carmel, I admit I did't see the recipe though. But with fish sauce and/or miso, it could work...but I am a sucker for miso anyway.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Butterscotch does not traditionally contain whiskey.

Well, his recipe wasn't really butterscotch in the sense we think of it anyway (which I agree sounds not-terribly-edible), but it calls for butter and Scotch, so I guess maybe it is more of a play on words. I have my doubts about whether miso will have the powerful affect on the caramel that fish sauce does, but Dale has consistently shown himself to be a better, and more imaginative, chef than I am, so I think I will withhold judgement! I guess my overall point is that I don't want to judge the dish based on its name alone: the recipe looks like it may be salvageable with a little TLC.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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IMHO IIRC the budget was a little over the top - $1500 for cira 35 diners.

almost $43/person... That seems awfully generous even if offering alternative entree choices.

the $1500 wasn't just for food was it? didn't they decorate and outfit the restaurant also?

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IMHO IIRC the budget was a little over the top - $1500 for cira 35 diners.

almost $43/person... That seems awfully generous even if offering alternative entree choices.

the $1500 wasn't just for food was it? didn't they decorate and outfit the restaurant also?

$1500 for the food and $5000 for the decor (they had to get all the decor, plates, linens, and I think even tables and chairs from Pier 1).

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IMHO IIRC the budget was a little over the top - $1500 for cira 35 diners.

almost $43/person... That seems awfully generous even if offering alternative entree choices.

This is why I had big issues with the Asian menu Dale and Co. went with. They missed a huge opportunity (or lacked the creativity?) to push out a killer menu.

Can someone do me a favor and provide a deeper critique of "Laksa-gate"?

I feel like I'm missing something there. That's a soup I've eaten maybe three times at most so clear understanding of what to expect is not there.

What nuances did I miss? Heat seems like a prominent taste note, but I suspect there should be something else... Citrus? A rich broth flavor? :huh:

My armchair TC Quarterback calls...

1 - When asked by Chef B what she was making, saying "Laksa" was a really bad move. Had J said "Asian soup" then, when things went south, there would have been room to move and recover. I blame Dale's lack of menu and kitchen control for that.

2 - Dale's lack of menu "focus" and the overall cooking execution led to a bland menu. Look at the other team, dish to dish they picked a single ingredient to highlight on each plate and then chose the recipe. Didn't happen here. I didn't have a real "Damn, I want to eat that" moment aside from S's dumpling. The rest of the meal seemed to pull punches an awful lot.

3 - The only real observation I have of Antonia's team. All three seem to cook to the same tune: simple plan, detailed execution. If - excuse me... When they go head to head, I wonder what each of them will do to make themselves stand out.

Edited by C_Ruark (log)
"There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic." - Bourdain; interviewed on dcist.com
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Well, taking a look at the recipe here, it appears that he does caramelize the sugar, and there is no brown sugar called for. So nomenclature aside, I can't see a reason that this absolutely would not work: he may just not have executed it well. I've made (just the other night, in fact) a similar dish, though without the scotch and with fish sauce instead of miso (big difference, I know, but conceptually...).

Edited to add: if he didn't caramelize the sugar to a dark enough stage it would have been too sweet: could his mistake have been that?

That's what I was thinking - nothing inherently wrong with the butterscotch (or caramelized) miso scallop concept, but maybe it was in the execution. Bourdain also said something about the dish being too gloppy, so maybe the sugar was either not cooked through, as you said, or there was too much of it, and not enough miso to balance it?

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In Top Chef Season 3 Alumni news...

Town & Country, 525 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL; no phone yet. "Top Chef" made Dale Levitski more of a star than did his turn at the now-closed Trio Atelier. Now he plans a dual-dining-room concept (one formal, one very casual) with Jason Chan (former Butter owner), featuring European comfort food. This will open "September-ish," according to Levitski.

Ref: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainmen...0,3109215.story

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Spike is such a tool. Nice try on busting Tramanto like that.

Sorry to see Lisa is still there, though. She's just not on the level of the other three finalists. I'll be thrilled if any of them besides her wins, but since I want to cuddle with Stephanie while wearing sweatpants, I'll keep her in my prayers.

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GO STEPHANIE!!!!!!!

I was excited for Richard and Antonia too!

Bye bye Spike!!! Although I truly wish it had been Lisa who got the axe

Man those grey pants Padma was wearing in the Quickfire made her look lumpy!

Usually it's pretty obvious who's going home but this one had me in suspense till the end.

I can imagine sweet potatoes and peanut butter working but not russet potatoes. The judges seemed to like it though.

Seeing Ilan pissed me off all over again.

Thank God Antonia didn't send Gayle on another egg rant.

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Man those grey pants Padma was wearing in the Quickfire made her look lumpy!

Usually it's pretty obvious who's going home but this one had me in suspense till the end.

I thought I was the only one who was looking at those and asking myself, with all the money she has she's chosen to wear those??!!? aaack. I guess it's not America's Top Model or Project Runway though.

And then that horrible outfit of Gail's. Can we please get a stylist for these gals?

Spike won the quickfire, that should have kept him in the finals. Lisa, what a tool. Aack. I cannot stand the sight of her. Her saying she's going to bring it in the finals. Yes, Lisa, you're a legend in your own mind. Not even close to Richard or Stephanie.

I am now looking forward to seeing her getting the ax just as she steps off the plane!

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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Not liking seeing Lisa still in this. But sending Spike home wasn't all that of a shock. The second he picked those frozen scallops, I knew he was done. Too bad for him, though, since he did a nice job in the Quick Fire challenge. He really looked like he knew what he was doing at the butcher shop.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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The problem Spike has is that he only can cook basic stuff. His steak dish looked good, but horribly unimaginative, and obviously not very well executed. I LOVED this episode by the way, both the quickfire and the elimination round.

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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Of the Terrible Trio, Dale will surely have a bright career. He's generally an excellent cook. His post-loss interviews have demonstrated commendable insight into where things went wrong for him.

Lisa, who's appearance and hostile, defiant-looking posture alone seem to have made her this season's designated villain surely does not deserve the hatred and vitriol seen on blogs and websites.  Nor is it likely--barring the most freakish and flukey sudden realignment of the planets and spate of untimely deaths--that she shall win Top Chef.  She's a decent cook--but a lucky one.

Blaming others ain't gonna take her far.

Spike, on the other hand, can look forward to a long career.

In politics. He's perfect for it.

From Anthony Bourdain's blog.

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Well, all in all a good episode. On to Puerto Rico.

I sure was hoping that Dale would be where Lisa is at the moment. But, at least Spike is gone, despite his very skillful meat fabrication (well done!), and Lisa's days are numbered.

I loved Tom at the pass this episode. The comments were hilarious. Riding Richard on his dish, laughing at Spike's scallops and the priceless response to peanut butter potatoes. When I heard that I was equally amazed. I will try it, but I do not have high hopes. Maybe Tahini potatoes, but Jif Russet Terror? I just don't know. :wink:

What if I die? Then you won't be going to Puerto Rico. :laugh:

Edit to add: Spike was WAY out of line calling out Tramato (sp?) I thought the guy was going to come over the table at Spike and would have cheered. Tom was painfully embarassed you could tell.

Edited by Doodad (log)
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Spike should have gone. Steak with a puree and brussel sprouts? I don't think that's quite Top Chefish. But how about Lisa's sour puss face when facing elimination?! She had to have practiced that in front of a mirror.

Seeing Ilan almost ruined the episode for me. Plus, he has the worst sense of style I've ever seen, but at least he was only wearing one hideous watch. And he did seem to have his dress t-shirt on...

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I have been reading all the blogs on the TC site and the scallops are an interesting situation.

Tom and Chef Tramonto both state they use no frozen seafood at his branded restaurants. I believe that. He stated it may have been accidentally delivered by the purveyor and not caught.

So, why was it in the cooler section of the walk in and not the freezer? It would be tough to return to the vendor thawed. Was it product placement gone bad and Spike did not think?

Can you imagine the producer yelling into their mics "No no you idiot, look behind the (****) family of frozen seafood products!!" :raz:

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Awesome episode, the best of the season so far IMHO. I thought the judges chose correctly, Spike's choices were poor, at best. Frozen scallops? Come on, I don't care if they're in Tomas Keller's walk-in, you don't use them when you're at this level of TC. I was a bit disappointed by Richard's main course, and you could tell he was worried too about it. That said, I think he was too strong to get booted. But that doesn't guarantee anything in the finals, of course... And I'm not thrilled that Lisa's still in the running, I think Dale should be there as opposed to her.

And WOW those chops looked delicious. I watched the show this morning and I was drooling for steak at 9am!

Cheers! :cool:

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Frozen Scallops versus Peanut Butter Potatoes. I figured that would be the face-off. The Battle of the Bad Moves. (Plus we were treated again to another running gunfight: Gail versus Ill Chosen Frumpy Dress) When Tramanto actually seemed to like the potatoes, I knew that was it for Spike. I was glad to see him go, but would have been gladder to know I wouldn't have to look at that slack face and lidded eyes underneath that dirty bandana ever again. Oh well. I can't imagine Lisa will make it another week. She just gets by ever time on being the second worst.

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