Friday, April 4, 2008

Top Chef 4: Movie Snacks

by Erin and Xani

Another episode under the belt and another chef is out the door. This week's episode had guest judge Daniel Boulud, who has guest judged in previous seasons. In the Quickfire challenge, the chefs are tasked with making a vegetable plate that will "impress Daniel" using at least three different classic culinary techniques. A good thing to test for Top Chefs, but didn't they do the same challenge in the first season??

Daniel's favorites were Richard (of course, Richard worked in one of Boulud's restaurants!), Dale, and Zoi. Dale won the quickfire with his vegan sashimi plate, which Padma and Daniel actually paused to admire its beauty before

For their Elimination Challenge, the chefs picked knives and were split up into 6 pairs, which was each assigned a course for a dinner party. Dale got to hop into his choice of pair, and he chose Richard and Andrew's first course team, forming quite a powerhouse! Andrew's commentary on this: "The weak pick the strong" - dramatic!

For their challenge, they had to cater a dinner party thrown by film critic Richard Roper, with special guest Aisha Tyler. Each pair had to base their dish on their favorite movie, but that whole "favorite" part seemed to be pushed aside and the pairs instead looked for movies that were either appropriate for what they wanted to cook or had scenes with food in them.

Richard, Andrew, and Dale chose to do a dish inspired by "Willy Wonka," and made a smoked salmon with a wasabi-white chocolate sauce, and soy tapioca pearls. Also entertaining were Ryan and Mark, since Ryan has only seen three movies in the past year and Mark is rattling off all the Kiwi blockbusters that no one (in America) has ever heard of. They ended up basing their dish on a scene from "A Christmas Story" that included quail and a delicious-looking egg roll. Miguel and Spike chose to do Vietnamese summer rolls, conveniently being inspired by "Good Morning, Vietnam!". Stephanie and Lisa chose "Top Secret" to inspire their beef dish with shortrib potstickers and savory caramel.

In the end, the "Willy Wonka" team and the "Top Secret" team were at the top, and Richard came out the winner - big shocker there! In the bottom were Antonia and Zoi for their not-colorful-enough Spanish dish inspired by "Talk to Her," and Spike and Miguel's Vietnamese summer roll. In the end, Miguel got the boot for blindly following Spike on the path to summer rolls.

Erin's Take:

This week, yet again, I failed to earn barely any points! I chose Dale, Andrew, and Mark, and I won three points with Dale's quickfire win, and two points from some cursing from good ol' Andrew.

I know, I know - I should have stuck with Richard! I am getting to know the chefs better and I was glad that they had a chance to do a dinner and not a catering event. I thought the film inspiration challenge was a good idea in theory but the chefs sort of cut corners and picked movies based on food and not the other way around.

Dish I wished I were eating: Stephanie's dish with the beef and those shortrib potstickers, reduction of braising liquid and savory caramel - yum! The potstickers reminded me of when we had potstickers when we went to 2941 for my birthday.

Favorite chef at the moment: I still like Mark, so cute with that accent. Richard is definitely a force to be reckoned with, as is cute little Stephanie.

Movie I would have chosen: The first movie that came to mind was Tampopo, the famous "Japanese noodle western". Or maybe Napoleon Dynamite and then I would have made something with tots?? Or The Godfather, where I'd make something with a whole fish, reminiscent of the scene where Luca sleeps with the fishes.

Xani's Take:

Awww yeah! This week I finally stepped up and earned some points! My team:

I was also watching with my good friend Jason, and we decided to make a little side wager-- whoever scored the most points on the episode had to take the other to dinner; if Jason lost, he had to take me for french food (and he apparently "hates" french food), and if I lost I had to take him for Italian food. Well, guess who's going to be enjoying some french food pretty soon (with a side of victory)?! I ended up with 10 points (Richard won the elimination challenge and got bleeped twice, and Andrew got bleeped twice as well), compared to Jason's paltry four!

Dish I wished I were eating: The quail and eggroll from A Christmas Story. How can I resist a miniature bird and a miniature spring roll??

Favorite chef at the moment: Gotta stick with Richard for now. He seems to have the skills and vision to make it far in this competition. His hair is still extremely distracting, but I think it says a lot that his dish won even though his gimmicky "molecular gastronomy" element (the smoke that was supposed to billow out from beneath the plastic-wrapped plates) was derailed by technical difficulties.

Movie I would have chosen: No way I can beat EPs idea for the whole fish a la The Godfather! Genius! I was also thinking Tampopo (the egg yolk scene!? Has anyone reading this even seen that movie, other than BCD Dad??) or maybe Sweeney Todd (meat pies--but I think that movie was released after the episode was filmed!).

Alright folks, bring on the comments!

X & EP


  1. Does it kind of seem fishy that Richard and Andrew KEEP ending up together? The producers must've loved that last night, though it didn't really produce the fireworks I would've expected.

    The more I watch, the more I like Stephanie. But I'll tell you who I don't like: Ryan. I thought he was so cute before the season started...and then he just lost me with his whole "I was in the kitchen when I was 11" thing. And he didn't exactly bring me back with his COMPLETE lack of pop culture/movie awareness. He seems so...not fun.

  2. FINALLY a show that I was expecting out of TC. Think about what you want to prepare for a day, shop for the ingredients and then make something outstanding. Even the worst dishes weren't bad, just pedestrian. Nothing WRONG with that, just less good. It's amazing what these folks can do when they don't have transport/wait/and cook for 100. Nice show.

    That said, I was a little upset that they sent home Miguel and not Spike. Their reasoning actually led to the conclusion that Spike should be sent home (he was clearly the leader on this meal) but then they flipped it and sent home Miguel. Miguel wasn't going to win and maybe he was wishy-washy on this dish, but if Spike isn't wearing a hat every show, tilted to one side like some sort of 1940's hipster-doofus (no offense Kramer), the producers would have sent him home.

    Can't Zoe just be sent home for being retarded??

    I thought I had Richard in my lineup but didn't!! Arrrghh.

  3. I've seen Tampopo! I think I even have it on VHS somewhere....

    I like Richard - he'll be in the final four. And Kit...Ryan isn't just "not fun," he's...just plain stupid. No amount of cute can correct that for me.

  4. Sigh, once again I was in hotel that didn't have Bravo. Thanks for the detailed recap. I know I say this after every episode but having tasted Stephanie's food when she had her restaurant, she is really a great talent.

  5. As an enormous film fan I appreciated the concept of the elimination challenge but the execution was flawed. They should have made them write down their favorite movies beforehand because so many of the films they picked were just retro-fitted to the dishes they wanted to make.

    Couldn't agree more about Spike and his doofus hats. Richard's hair may be ridiculous but at least he seems to be a decent chef. Spike ends up on the chopping block every week it seems. If I was Colicio I'd send him home *just* for the hat.

    In the end, though, it seems Manuel may have been in over his head. His Quickfire dish was pretty much dismissed by DB and the whole Chilean Bass Spring Roll with the side of, um, something never seemed like a great idea.

    Feels like the lovey-huggey camaraderie of the first few eps is wearing off and we're starting to get some divisiveness. Yay!


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