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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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So I finally got back into town last night and was able to catch a rerun tonight.

Overall, a decent start with challenges that didn't get a "oh come on, what in the HELL" response out of me.

I was glad that the guy from New Zealand didn't get the axe tonight, because he looks a LOT like a younger version of Chris Bailey from The Saints, and maybe he'll break out into some "Know Your Product" before the season is through.

I guess if I had to pick ONE thing that made me roll my eyes was when the contestants were carting their pizzas up to the townhouse door, and of course when the door opens it is none other than friggin' Elizabeth Falkner....I just couldn't believe it, I mean....what? That was WHO? OH, that was ROCCO! Never mind guys, honest mistake.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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It's tough for them I imagine. They probably could make a wonderful tasting version of these dishes that were generic. But they feel like they have to show creativity and that screws them on occasion.

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shrimp is not halal but also not haram (forbidden). it's in between. i think that people are reading too much into the whole Muslim thing - i mean, there are non-observant, semi-observant muslims out there, same as in any other religion.

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I think that Richard has established himself as one of the leaders in the competition. Of course it is only week one so a lot will develop over the course of coming weeks and Richard may fall. But he did display some creativity and skill with his crab cake dish-less that silly bit on "smoked mayonnaise."

When he mentioned in his on-camera interview that he was going to use a "smoked mayonnaise" I wondered how the hell he was going to pull that off. Then I saw the answer when Andrew asked Richard what that gadget was he was using. It looked like some sort of plastic toy gun we used to buy with Green Stamps. He pulled back some plastic wrap that was covering a bowl and gave the food a shot of smoke. I'm not really sure how the thing works, but I suspect you load it with wood chips and the heating element inside the "gun" creates smoke, which you then "shoot" over the food.

I thought it looked pretty silly when he brought his bowl of crab cakes to the judges table and it was wrapped with plastic film. Very tacky presentation. I would think that the Top Chef kitchen includes stylized bowls that come with matching lids. Pulling off a ceramic lid at the table to release a wisp of scented smoke would have looked more professional.

When Richard pulled back the plastic film he gave the crab a shot out of his little smoking gun. Did you catch Collichio's comment? "The smoke gives the crab a meatier flavor." Was it Collichio or Rocco that said that? Hmm, smoke gives crab a meatier flavor? Could be, but that plastic red gun was a pretty sophmoric way to pull it off in my opinion.

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I think that Richard has established himself as one of the leaders in the competition.  Of course it is only week one so a lot will develop over the course of coming weeks and Richard may fall.  But he did display some creativity and skill with his crab cake dish-less that silly bit on "smoked mayonnaise."

When he mentioned in his on-camera interview that he was going to use a "smoked mayonnaise" I wondered how the hell he was going to pull that off.  Then I saw the answer when Andrew asked Richard what that gadget was he was using.  It looked like some sort of plastic toy gun we used to buy with Green Stamps.  He pulled back some plastic wrap that was covering a bowl and gave the food a shot of smoke.  I'm not really sure how the thing works, but I suspect you load it with wood chips and the heating element inside the "gun" creates smoke, which you then "shoot" over the food. 

I thought it looked pretty silly when he brought his bowl of crab cakes to the judges table and it was wrapped with plastic film.  Very tacky presentation.  I would think that the Top Chef kitchen includes stylized bowls that come with matching lids.  Pulling off a ceramic lid at the table to release a wisp of scented smoke would have looked more professional.

When Richard pulled back the plastic film he gave the crab a shot out of his little smoking gun.  Did you catch Collichio's comment?  "The smoke gives the crab a meatier flavor."  Was it Collichio or Rocco that said that?  Hmm, smoke gives crab a meatier flavor?  Could be, but that plastic red gun was a pretty sophmoric way to pull it off in my opinion.

I thought it was pretty stupid as well. He was also acting like he was the first one to think of it and it was something super-novel. Many other chefs have been doing that sort of thing for awhile, Grant Achatz at Alinea is an easy example.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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I thought it was pretty stupid as well.  He was also acting like he was the first one to think of it and it was something super-novel.  Many other chefs have been doing that sort of thing for awhile, Grant Achatz at Alinea is an easy example.

I guess I get the be the voice of dissent :smile: ... I disagree. I definitely did not catch any attitude from him about it being super-novel: after all, he was using a gadget produced for this express purpose and sold to chefs throughout the world. We've even seen it in Iron Chef America, so I doubt he thought he was being really unique. He was just cranking it up a notch over the other competitors. Yes, it would have been great if he could have served it under glass domes like you generally see done, but if they weren't available, I think plastic wrap is an OK compromise, allowing you to see the smoke in the bowl before releasing it---I wouldn't like it in a restaurant, but I think under the circumstances it was OK. Also, I think that a little smoke gives everything a "meatier" flavor, so I didn't object to that comment, either.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Well, gotta say one of the good things about Bravo is that they play the episodes over and over again, so you can always go back and take another look (fun to do after reading other peoples' perspectives, I think :wink: ).

Here it'll be on today at 1 and tonight at 8............

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I thought it was pretty stupid as well.  He was also acting like he was the first one to think of it and it was something super-novel.  Many other chefs have been doing that sort of thing for awhile, Grant Achatz at Alinea is an easy example.

I guess I get the be the voice of dissent :smile: ... I disagree. I definitely did not catch any attitude from him about it being super-novel: after all, he was using a gadget produced for this express purpose and sold to chefs throughout the world. We've even seen it in Iron Chef America, so I doubt he thought he was being really unique. He was just cranking it up a notch over the other competitors. Yes, it would have been great if he could have served it under glass domes like you generally see done, but if they weren't available, I think plastic wrap is an OK compromise, allowing you to see the smoke in the bowl before releasing it---I wouldn't like it in a restaurant, but I think under the circumstances it was OK. Also, I think that a little smoke gives everything a "meatier" flavor, so I didn't object to that comment, either.

I see your perspective and I agree that a little smoke can give food a "meatier" flavor. But I should explain my earlier point further. I think that a whiff of smoke in certain dishes can bring out the sense that the protein will taste "meatier." I see smoke as a sort of sense trigger. In other words, when a plate of smoked baby back ribs is placed before me, that scent of hickory triggers the sense that I am in store for some good old barbecued meat. I find that same sense is triggered when I am tasting some delicious smoked salmon. So I do think smoke used with seafood can certainly work in the right context.

I just think in Richard's dish he used the smoke as a gimmick. My taste for crab cakes is simple-I want the sweet, buttery taste of the crab to be the star and I don't want the flavor of the meat to be hidden behind a "smoke screen." That's just my personal taste in general when we are discussing crab cakes. Had I been at the judges table and tasted Richard's dish, I might have given him a thumbs up.

Thanks for pointing out another side of this issue. One of the things I love about the Top Chef topic is that we all see the same show but come away with very different opinions.

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I just think in Richard's dish he used the smoke as a gimmick. My taste for crab cakes is simple-I want the sweet, buttery taste of the crab to be the star and I don't want the flavor of the meat to be hidden behind a "smoke screen."  That's just my personal taste in general when we are discussing crab cakes.  Had I been at the judges table and tasted Richard's dish, I might have given him a thumbs up.

I think it is definitely possible that it was more gimmick than useful flavoring technique, but I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt in this case (though this may be my personal love of smoke as a flavoring agent coming out). I am also a big fan of dissecting each show on these threads, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the season! No harm in a little disagreement here and there... :smile:

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I really wish I had one of those smokers. Remember when it was used in Next Iron Chef? I have to wonder what the effects of a cut of meat sealed in a bag on smoke would be? I bet fish would be awesome.

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I really wish I had one of those smokers.  Remember when it was used in Next Iron Chef?  I have to wonder what the effects of a cut of meat sealed in a bag on smoke would be?  I bet fish would be awesome.

I almost think it is more intriguing to use it to add smoke flavor to things that can't be smoked normally, or to push the smoke dial to 11 on something like a BBQ sandwich, which could be served under a smoke-filled glass bubble, infusing the smokiness directly into the bread, and hitting the customer with smoke before even taking the first bite. That is one heck of a run-on sentence. :blink: I love smoke. :smile: But I'm not sure how useful the little gadget would be as a replacement for a regular smoker for something like meat.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Looks to me like Blais is the best of the bunch. This, of course, means they will create some type of drama to find a way to kick him off the show. Since it appears he has little competition (except maybe Stephanie) they must get rid of him so it doesn't look like he "smokes" (pardon the expression) the others. So, I don't look for him to stick around very long. BRAVO must have drama and having someone with so much experience does not drama make.

The best of the bunch are generally doomed unless they are a "villain" which is not the case with Blais.

--- KensethFan

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Ok, just indulge me one more minute on the smoke debate. I am currently watching a perfect example of how I think smoke can excite the senses if it is used properly by a chef.

What I am watching is Kylie Kwong's show "Simply Magic: Cooking From the Heart." Chef Kwong opened the show by heating some Szechuan peppercorns in a hot wok until they were smoking. She didn't add the smoke to any dish. No, five minutes before the restaurant was to open, she wanted that spicy, exotic Szechuan smoke to permeate the dining room so that was the first sense her diners felt.

As the show is progressing, she is cooking Crispy Skin Duck with Fresh Blood Plum Sauce and Lime. The duck was marinated with a mixture including Szechuan Peppercorns.

While I thought Richard could have gone without the smoke element in his crab dish, it might have been successful from a taste standpoint. I still think it looked hokey when he fumbled with that gizmo and ripped the plastic off the bowl.

Yes, there is obviously a place for smoke in the kitchen-or in the dining room-or both, as the above example points out. The chef just has to apply the smoke in the appropriate manner.

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All of these people seem to know how to cook. So why am I always shaking my head at some of them? Who goes on this show not knowing how to cook a souffle? Homemade mayo?

The frustrations they experience seem silly to me, because I expect all of them to know better. Maybe the pressure is too much for some of them?

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When I saw the list of "Classic dishes", I was smiling. I'm pretty sure I could pull off anyone of them fairly well. I've been somewhat embedded in the so called classics the last couple of years. I usually research each one thouroughly prior to my first attempt. Except Chicken Piccata, I've been making Piccata in veal and chicken form since the 80's. My recipe is solid, I've openly shared it with anyone who asks and I've gotten many compliments. I use bread crumbs. So when they got to the Chicken Piccata, the first thing I said is "That's not chicken piccata!", ...

From the Oxford Dictionary- milanaise, à la Dish garnished with spaghetti, tomato sauce, and ham or tongue. Also food dipped in egg and a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheese, then fried.

Collichio then says that it's supposed to be prepared with egg and flour.

Chicken dipped in flour and egg is what I know as Chicken Francese.

Chicken Francese Recipe

Back when I first started making the dish (Piccata) I used flour mixed with grated parmesagn, but at some point migrated to seasoned bread crumbs with parmesagn. Both are barely noticable and help the chicken to brown.

Chicken Piccata Recipe from Bon Appetite 1998...

I too thought that Tom was incorrect when he said that the chicken should have just been floured and egged, the words "Francese" popped in my mind but thought nothing of it not thought to check into it. Good call man.

I agree with everyone, that jacked up, cuss mouth Andrew dude that didn't know how mayo was made HAS to go (he didn't even know what the ingredients were!). I am glad that the whiny one that was sent home is gone though, much relief.

I think this season will be a pretty good one. Plenty of ammo to fill my blog, lol.

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I really wish I had one of those smokers.  Remember when it was used in Next Iron Chef?  I have to wonder what the effects of a cut of meat sealed in a bag on smoke would be?  I bet fish would be awesome.

I thought the mini smoker was awesome, I must get one! (Actually, if I remember correctly, back in "the day" I think I remember a buddy having something like that to assist in the inhalation of certain herbs, but I may be mistaken. Didn't they call it an electric bong? (scratches chin).

Any who, I thought his use of smoke as a flavor enhancer was genius. Being as our noses and tongues are connected when eating, the smell of smoke would set you up for something yummy. The plastic wrap thing, yeah, a bit tacky, but very functional and the judges didn't seem to mind.

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I agree with everyone, that jacked up, cuss mouth Andrew dude that didn't know how mayo was made HAS to go (he didn't even know what the ingredients were!).

I thought that Andrew was just being sarcastic because Richard was using his "bought" mayo and then telling Andrew that the kitchen didn't have it, but there were eggs and oil if he wanted to make it. I least I hope he was. :wink:

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How right you are. As we all know, there is no comparison between store-bought mayonnaise and the real deal. How complicated can it be to make mayonnaise?

Of course the kitchen had eggs, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper and fresh herbs. And if you were tired and didn't want to employ the classic technique of whisking your mayonnaise by hand, no doubt any number of blenders and food processors were donated to the Top Chef kitchens that would have aided to the cause. The chef was lazy.

Let's hope we won't see that sort of foible in the coming weeks.

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I am not a fan of deconstruction. Of course I'm a forty four year old housewife from the Midwest who stews a lot, so that might be it.

I missed Tom in the kitchen and hope, hope, hope this is not a precursor of changes to come.

I give the minismoker eight points. Two for interesting and six for, "Holy crap on toast, look what that guy brought? Oh my God, I'm out of my league" intimidation factor. Which he seems to elicit from Andrew. Snort.

Oh and a souffle is not my favorite thing to make, too many kids running around, but I know how to do it. It was a rage dish when I was a teen. Most of those were, come to think of it.

Edited by nliedel (log)

Blog.liedel.org

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The guy didn't say he didn't know how to make mayo. The other chef with the jar was being sarcastic in telling him the ingredients. It's a snarkfest.

Do any of you really believe that a professional chef doesn't know how to make mayo?

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The guy didn't say he didn't know how to make mayo. The other chef with the jar was being sarcastic in telling him the ingredients. It's a snarkfest.

Do any of you really believe that a professional chef doesn't know how to make mayo?

I, as Im sure many, of us specifically heard spike (or whatever his name is) say that he doesnt know how to make mayo and doesnt even know whats in it. If he was being snarky, he was sure being subtle.

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Anyone surprised/disappointed in Memo (Manuel)? As a long time sous chef at Babbo, I was expecting a better showing from him. Still hoping it was first week jitters and he'll step up in future challenges.

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