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Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.4 April 2, 2008

Posted by Amy in Top Chef, TV.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, I tried really hard to start caring about this season’s contestants, with little to no success. Also, Erik was sent home for soggy corn dogs.

10:00 – Was just thinking…what an awkward shoot it must have been for the chefs to film that opening sequence. Were the producers just like, “Do something that expresses your personality as a person & a chef in approximately 3 seconds…go!”? I liked CJ’s shot from Season 3, all he had to do was be tall.

10:01 – We open in the apartments, where the chefs continue to be surprised that one of them was eliminated despite the fact that I keep pointing out that they are, in fact, on a reality show. Also, the producers continue to shove the fact that there is a lesbian couple this season down our throats & America continues to not care.

10:03 – Quickfire time….Padma says that if the chefs don’t recognize guest judge Daniel Boulud, they should just leave the kitchen. Richard interviews that he was in fact familiar with Daniel but he says it in a tone that suggests that nope, he had no idea who the hell Daniel Boulud was. The Quickfire challenge is to create a vegetable dish using at least three culinary techniques that will impress Daniel. The chefs collectively look like they’re thinking, oh yeah, cause THAT’s really going to happen.

10:04 – Turns out Richard & Ryan both worked for Daniel at some point. Touche, then you better be familiar with him, Richard.

10:05 – Food frenzy. All the chefs look like they’re being a lot more careful & technical than they usually are. It seems like a lot of the chefs don’t have technical training.

10:06 – Tasting. I really enjoy how with some of these dishes, it looks like the chefs served about two drops of some kind of sauce & like a leaf. Daniel’s bottom three are Nikki, who apparently used a vegetable as a boat, which Daniel describes as “cute, but not well thought out,” Lisa, who was too simple, & Manuel, who only had level 1 technique. Aw, that’s gotta sting.

10:07 – Daniel’s favorites are Zoi, who had a perfect poached egg, Dale, who had great knife skills & who Daniel really does sound truly impressed with, & Richard, who had a great presentation. Not surprisingly, Dale wins the challenge & gets immunity. Good for him. You know, one of thing I like most about this show is when one of these chefs gets really praised by one of these like hard-core respected chefs. Can you imagine what a high that would be to know you actually impressed someone like that?

10:10 – And here comes the elimination challenge…create a six-course meal where each course is inspired by the chef’s favorite movie. Um, what? Random. Cool, but random.

10:11 – What’s interesting is to think about what yours would be. Mine is Bull Durham, if we’re really going with favorite movie. Hard to create a meal out of that. Or with Office Space or Shawshank Redemption.

10:11 – It turns out this is a pairs challenge. As the Quickfire winner, Dale gets to pick which course/pair he wants to cook with. He goes with Richard & Andrew to do the first course. Andrew, because his personality trait of record is to complain a lot about whatever is currently happening, thinks Dale is going to be a third wheel.

10:15 – Team Third Wheel goes with Willy Wonka, which is a brilliant choice & an easy way out at the same time.

10:16 – The second course team, Manuel & Spike, are in the midst of disagreeing about their movie. Manuel wants to pick some movie no one’s ever heard of, Spike wants Good Morning, Vietnam & to do a Vietnamese dish. Seems really literal, which is really a red flag.

10:17 – Jennifer & Nikki choose an Italian movie, Il Posino, which I’ve never heard of. Antonia & Zoi are really getting along & choose a Spanish film called Talk to Her, which sounds vaguely familiar.

10: 18 – And here comes the promo shot of Ryan & Mark. Ryan doesn’t know where the hell Mark is from, but he does quickly realize they have nothing in common. Here’s how their back & forth goes: Ryan says he loves Dumb & Dumber (& here is where I, as a live-blogger, am obligated to take the following shot: he would) & Mark hilariously responds with To Kill a Mockingbird. This is so awesome. Ryan says Old School. Mark says something called Crazy Bad (or maybe it was something else b/c that’s not even showing up in IMDB). Mark interviews, completely deadpanned, that Ryan has never seen Mad Max or Bad Boy Bubby. And then, inexplicably, Ryan suggests A Christmas Story, which he explains to Mark, grabbing his arms in a desperate, crazy, drawn-out manner, during which Mark just repeated says no, no, nope, I don’t know, haven’t heard of it, no idea what you’re talking about, NO. And then, even more inexplicably, Mark agrees to it. Oh, Mark, Mark. Why would you do that?

10:19 – Stephanie & Lisa are stuck with the sixth course but they don’t want to do dessert. They want to do beef, so Lisa chooses Top Secret!, which is apparently involves something with cows that is not appropriate for cable.

10:20 – Product placement shopping trip time. Team Third Wheel’s Willy Wonka idea involves salmon & faux caviar & tapioca pearls & I don’t get it, do you?

10:21 – Manuel & Spike disagree on the fish & in interview, Manuel explains why his sea bass compliments something else he is making, which red flags it to me as things that are totally not going to go well together.

10:22 – Meanwhile, Mark & Ryan’s ridiculous Christmas Story idea is going awry. There’s no turkey & no duck…just like in the movie! *facepalm* They settle on quail. So random! They also get cranberries, which Mark says is perfect for Christmas time, right? Um, alright. But it isn’t actually Christmas time, he realizes this, right?

10:22 – Back in the apartments, Andrew wants to be an oompa loompa to go with their Willy Wonka theme. Dale & I both agree that that is a ridiculous idea & Andrew is ridiculous for thinking of it. Richard talks him down.

10:23 – The chefs head to the site of the meal, where they are serving Richard Roeper & Aisha Tyler, aka Charlie from Friends. Food frenzy. Richard talks about how he’s a leader & he’s taking over. Since I’m really confused about how it has anything to do with Willy Wonka, I feel for Richard the fearless leader.

10:24 – Team Vietnam is making a summer roll with chili-rubbed sea bass, which actually sounds like the movie now that it’s been described. They worry, as do I, about how early the dish is coming out.

10:24 – Team Ridiculous Christmas Story is loving their Asian-inspired dish-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-A-Christmas-Story.

10:25 – Team Third Wheel is plating & it looks like they are using the same wrapped up/steam up technique Richard used in his head-to-head challenge. It looks pretty complicated & I am still not understanding how it fits in with the whole Willy Wonka thing. And then, in the middle of their complex smoke-covering, their smoking machine thingie dies on them. Uh oh.

10:30 – Back from commercials, Team Third Wheel decides to go plastic-off & lose the smoke effect. Out in the movie-themed dining area, the judges & guests come in. The movie themes are conveniently listed on a display for them.

10:31 – Back in the kitchen, Team Third Wheel’s new smoking plating technique involves lighting a piece of wood on piece & holding it in the vicinity of the dish. I am really not understanding what’s going on right now.

10:32 – Team Third Wheel serves & Richard gives a spiel that completely sells it. Their dish actually includes a fizzy drink we haven’t seen before, which helps the theme. The judges all find the dish surprising in interesting ways & it appears Team Third Wheel has actually pulled off the Willy Wonka theme. Color me impressed.

10:33 – Team Vietnam serves & their explanation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The judges have a lot to complain about. Padma thinks they wanted to do Vietnamese food so they chose the movie to go with it. Touche, Padma.

10:33 – Team Italy comes out to romantic string music & wine. Their tortellini looks nice. Tom C thinks it’s good, not great, but Roeper thinks it’s better than that. The guests all seem to like it better than the judges, but it looks like they did manage to hit the theme right.

10:34 – Back in the kitchen, Team Ridiculous Christmas Story is getting their dish out the door. Mark is a little worried about the spring roll being dry. Absurdly, Ryan actually gives the spiel about the part of the movie they took the idea from. The judges…LOVE IT. OMG, I’m really not getting any of these right this week. Roeper actually likes that they took a specific scene & created a story out of it.

10:35 – Team Talk to Her serves their lamb & talks about their passionate female inspiration & the vibrant colors. The judges & guests find the dish not vibrant enough or “transcendent” as Aisha Tyler puts it. Team Top Secret serves & Lisa gives her hilarious comedy routine explanation for the movie. Their New York strip with Asian flavors get high marks.

10:37 – Judging. The judges like the surprising, whimsical Willy Wonka dish & they especially like the “subtlety & refinement” it had as a first time. You know, sometimes I think it’s awesome to talk like a food critic. Try it sometime. Comment on someone’s lunch & say it’s unrefined & loud & reminds you of the tragedy of the human condition.

10:38 – Unsurprisingly, the judges don’t like the fish Team Vietnam chose. Tom C says again that Team Italy’s dish was good, not great. The judges also like Team Ridiculous Christmas Story & Team Top Secret but didn’t like Team Talk to Her. In an interview, Manuel expresses much concern. I would too, if I were him.

10:45 – Here comes Padma. The judges want to see Team Third Wheel & Team Top Secret. They question Team Third Wheel on using white chocolate in a first course & faux caviar as a fun touch. Team Third Wheel congratulate each other on coming up with such absurdly brilliant ideas. Team Top Secret’s dish was really harmonious, but Daniel announces that Team Third Wheel wins & as the fearless leader, Richard gets the win. Richard interviews that Willy Wonka would be proud. Aw.

10:47 – The chefs in the back chat about how Team Third Wheel’s flavors don’t make any sense. Zoi says that if that is what the judges want, then see you later. Awesomely, Richard & co. choose this moment to come back in & announce their win. Zoi gets a priceless look of disbelief on her face. The judges want to see Team Talk to Her & Team Vietnam. Touche, Zoi.

10:48 – Team Talk to Her expresses surprise at being at the bottom, which is something teams have done a lot this season. It’s interesting. Maybe this season’s chefs really do have collectively weaker palates. The judges thought Team Talk to Her oversold their vibrant colors & flavors. Zoi is really, really defensive & she looks like she’s about to cry. I would feel bad for her except that her way of acting defensive is a little obnoxious. She also is letting Antonia get away with not doing as much explanation, which is just going to hurt her. When Antonia does talk, it’s established that the judges probably would have liked their dish better if they hadn’t oversold it so much. Well that sucks.

10:49 – Team Vietnam attempts to defend their dish. Tom C thought they couldn’t see the value of their budget in their dish. He says that they could find their dish in some random Vietnamese restaurant for like $8. Oooh, burn. Manuel then says something so ridiculous, I can’t believe he actually said it out loud. He says because Spike does Vietnamese food, he went along with it to learn more about it & about Spike, instead of, you know, showing what he can do as a chef &, I don’t know, trying to win the competition. Shut up, Manuel.

10:51 – In an interview, the producers clearly asked Jennifer for a soundbite of what she thinks of Zoi being in the bottom. Shockingly, Jennifer does not say on national TV that she thinks Zoi should be eliminated.

10:52 – In the backroom, Zoi again says something about not being about to compete with white chocolate & faux caviar & if that’s what will win, then it’s not her. Well, that’s pretty clear.

10:57 – Tom C’s self-esteem destruction speech. Team Talk to Her’s dish wasn’t actually that bad, so they’re safe. Spike led the way to a bad dish, but Manuel followed blindly & has no point of view & I’d ask why the hell he is even in this competition. And now he’s not. Bye, Manuel! We hardly knew or cared about you!

10:59 – Next on Top Chef, the chefs are cooking a high-end dinner for a bunch of people & apparently Richard’s magic finally worn off. Also Dale loses it & Jennifer is angry that she is on a reality show in which people throw each other under the bus in order to win.



1. curious - April 15, 2008

Great live-blog as usual. Ya know the thing I’m most curious about is how the judges (or producers) focus on how bad something is, and then decide in another direction. Maybe that’s supposed to be “not giving away the punchline” but the problem with doing that on a food show is that this is television and we have to rely on what the judges tell us about how the food tastes.

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