Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top Chef 4... It Begins.

by Xani and Erin

Well, TC4 has started and its shaping up to be a great season! Last night's episode introduced all 16 chefs, and let them show off their culinary skill and style. The quickfire was a Chicago-themed challenge where the chefs put their own spin on Chicago style deep-dish pizza (judged by Padma and guest judge Rocco DiSpirito). The "winners" (did it bother anybody else that there was no clear winner? Just 8 chefs who were good and 8 who sucked? Maybe just us...) then drew knives to determine the order of the elimination challenge. Each winner challenged one of the remaining chefs in a head-to-head preparation of a classic dish like Eggs Benedict, lasagna, Duck a l'orange or souffle. The chef who cooked the superior version of the classic was in the running to win the challenge, the chef who cooked the weaker dish was up for elimination. In the end, judges Padma, Rocco, Tom Collichio and (our favorite!) Tony Bourdain sent Nimma home, and named Stephanie as the challenge winner!

Xani's Take:

I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. As you all know, we're making this season a little more interesting with our Top Chef Fantasy game (Our catchphrase: "It's time for a SNACK DOWN!" It's not too late to sign up-- you can still create your own team here. And once you have a team, make sure you join the BCD group by following this link). My team for this week (you can change every week) was Nikki, Andrew, and Manuel.

Things were looking bleak when ALL THREE of my picks ended up in the bottom half during the quickfire-- crap! But Andrew's near-constant string of curse words had me racking up the points. Of course, then he "forgot" an ingredient needed for his crab cakes during the elimination round (minus one point, but seriously, the Top Chef kitchen doesn't have mayonnaise? I was surprised, too.) which sparked a passive-aggressive mayonnaise battle between Andrew and Richard (aka Haircut). Manuel was something of a non-starter with his steak au poivre, which the judges liked but didn't love. I had high hopes when Nikki ended up in the top four! Would she win the whole challenge and earn me four points?! Alas, it was not to be. In the end I earned a measly 10 points, all from Andrew! Eleven for cursing and minus one for forgetting the <BLEEP>ing mayo!

Dish I wished I were eating: Stephanie's duck a l'orange-- I think the judges got it right with this pick. That duck spring roll looked killer!

Favorite chef at the moment: Andrew. He's kindof a pain in the ass but he's funny, entertaining and might just know how to cook.

Erin's Take:

First, I have to comment that Richard (aka Haircut) used leg meat in his crab cakes, while Andrew did it the RIGHT way and used lump. He still lost, but it's the principle, right? All my Marylanders with me here?? Anyway, my team this week was Spike, Ryan, and Mark (aka The Hobbit).

While they all three "won" the quickfire with their deep-dish pizzas (by the way, I can't believe Mark used MARMITE (the Kiwi version of Vegemite) in his pizza!), two of my three were in the bottom four for their crappy versions of classics (Ryan for his Chicken Piccata and The Hobbit for his Duck a l'orange) and I was on the edge of my seat. Luckily, Nimma got the ax for her overly salty Shrimp Scampi and my team was spared. In the end I got 12 points for the three quickfire wins and a couple people cursing. The points for cursing is silly here - don't they know that chefs are potty-mouths??

Dish I wished I were eating: Like Xani, I'd have to say Stephanie's duck looked amazing (especially the egg roll), but so did Nikki's lasagna.

Favorite chef at the moment: Although I didn't really like him in the beginning (especially his overly manicured facial hair), I kinda like Erik. He's a badass like Howie of last season, without being as annoying (yet). I also really felt for him when he got picked to make souffle - that's gotta suck. I also am a fan of The Hobbit, but he looked pretty scared at the elimination last night...maybe I shouldn't get attached.

So, how did everyone do??
X & E

8 comments:

  1. Erin - I'm SO glad you mentioned the leg vs. lump thing. I was practically yelling at the TV. Who does that???

    I ended up with 20 points, in 34th place...so not a terrible showing, really. But we'll see how I do next week.

    I'll tell you what, though - I'm sticking with Andrew. If nothing else, he's going to rack up the points for swearing, and you just know the producers want him around...

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  2. Andrew's a paraniod idiot. His behavior is totally uncalled for and asinine. Besides this is a guy WHO DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT MAYONNAISE IS MADE OF OR HOW TO MAKE ONE!

    I'm sorry you can't call yourself a chef and not have a clue on making one of the foundation sauces that you two, your Dad, I, freakin' anyone with the slightest desire to cook well has made.

    We at TPG Chicago HQ area all rooting for Stephanie since we used to frequent her restaurant (which was both awesome and affordable) and met her on numerous occasions.

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  3. I like Richard (aka Haircut). He was a competitor on Iron Chef a couple seasons back. Batali beat him, but I think he's a chef to watch.

    Here's my recap.

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  4. I am rooting for the Filipino Cat for NY, I know I am so biased. I am usually have a pretty good radar for stuff like that if he is not I will give up my Pinoy Card.

    Love the blog!! you guys rule!

    This is Brian L, by the way stupid computer.

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  5. EP and I were confused about whether Andrew was being sarcastic when he said he didn't know eggs+oil=mayo. Obviously he SHOULD know! I read on the Bravo blog that Rocco WAS being sarcastic when he said rice was a good idea-- you couldn't tell from the way they showed it on TV.

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  6. I was embarrassed for chefs everywhere after the show. Who enters TC4 which is going to be filmed IN CHICAGO and not realize that at some point over 16 weeks that they are going to have to cook a pizza? You practically have to be retarded to not figure that out.

    Then to not know the basics of piccata or mayonnaise?? Even a souffle for chefs should be a snap. All 8 of the "chefs" who picked the dishes and two of the quick fire winners were afraid of making the dish either through their action or verbalizing it. Absolutely embarrassing for chefs everywhere. And don't give me nerves as an excuse.

    It was like watching accountants not being able to reconcile their checkbooks. Ugh. It better pick up a bit.

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  7. Didn't one of them also use snow crab meat? Snow crab has always seemed one or two steps above "krab with a K" to me. I turned green. Sure it's crab. But it's not BLUE crab :) I hope it was the crab cake that lost.

    If you look at the next-to-most recent City Paper (which I wrote about previously), apparently Gertrude's crab cakes don't use lump either. All the smaller bits wind up in their crab cakes, at least the ones that the City Paper first tasted.

    As for Andrew: nah, to me he seems like a punk. He was PO'd that Richard took an extra pan (which he shouldn't have done, true). So why the heck didn't Andyboy take his pan early on? I think he was just looking for someone else to blame for his missing the ball.

    One last note: I didn't have a least favorite that I wanted to see gone, but I was disappointed it was Nimma. Not that she didn't deserve to go - with what she made, and how bad it was, yes she definitely deserved to be kicked off. But it would've been interesting to see if they came up with a halal challenge, and with Nimma being TC's first Muslim chef, that just would've been fun and interesting to see. That sounds like a good idea for a future challenge: make a halal or a kosher or some other culturally-appropriate meal that can be eaten by a group of people that can only eat certain foods. They did it previously with low cal food and with vegetarian food, I think.

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  8. I think they edited the repeat version (to make more room for ads?). There was NO epic mayonnaise battle in the version I (re-)watched last night. OUTRAGE.

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