Top Chef, episode 4

Previews for this episode: Is the word “transcendent” when used to describe food not used with any sense of irony pretentious? Yeah, me too.

This week, we start out by hearing from the cheftestants. They’re missing Erik, their kids, their boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. Manuel misses his kids. The lesbian couple, Jennifer & Zoe, make mention of how lucky they are to be there together. Spike is looking sideways at them as competitors. My reality TV spidey sense tells me one of those girls will go home this week. Just a hunch.

Quickfire Challenge: French chef Daniel Boulud is the guest judge this week. He’ll be looking to see who has the best technique, classically speaking. That’s tough, since many haven’t trained classically. Let it be said that you can be a fantastic chef without being classical, though I think the common thought is that you have to know the rules in order to ignore them successfully.

It’s interesting that some of the chefs brought along tools and gadgets. It’s more interesting that they let them, considering the likelihood of someone screaming about unfair advantages. Anyway, their dishes are boring in that classical way where it probably took them 10 minutes to cut a radish and fold it to look like a swan but… so what, it’s a raw, cut up radish.

Elimination Challenge: Richard Roper is throwing a dinner party with some buddies. The chefs are paired off and each team is given a course to prepare based on a movie title which they pick. The movies are: Willy Wonka (complicated crazy flavors and presentation), il Postino (romantic Italian), Good Morning, Vietnam, Talk To Her (saucy spicy Latin ladies), A Christmas Story (the duck… fa ra ra ra ra, get it), Top Secret! (there’s a cow in that movie I guess).

Uh oh, the team with one half of the lesbian couple, Zoe I think, just mentioned that they can’t afford more than four lamb chops. That means they “can’t mess up on the cutting.” Wow, well, I think we know what’s going to happen there… four pieces of lamb to serve 12 people? Mistake number one, ladies. Or two if you count being on this show.

The Christmas Story duck team just found out that there is no duck and no turkey at the store, so they’re settling for quail. If they haven’t told the judges their movie title, now would be a fantastic time to come up with a new movie that features quails. I can’t think of a single one, but better to come up with a new one than get the blank stare from Chef Tom, “…uh, there’s no quails in A Christmas Story… .”

This French guest chef is a little too hung up with presentation. Everyone else loves what doesn’t look so gorgeous on the plates. Especially the il Postino dish. They’re not impressed with the Vietnamese. Here comes The Christmas Story… and everyone loves it. The Aussie has a nice accent, I hope he sticks around a bit. That had nothing to do with food, sorry. Ahem.

The lamb (Talk To Her) isn’t going over. “Too thin” – that’s because you have half a chop. Not Spanish enough, they’re saying. The Top Secret! girls are doing some NY Strip and the eaters think it’s lovely. That steak does look delicious. Perfectly cooked, and they used an interesting-sounding reduction sauce. Sweet and sour, with the reduction on the plate and another sauce on the side to be added at the table. Clever.

Time to judge. Big love for Willy Wonka and Top Secret! Willy Wonka Wins. Woo!
No love for Talk To Her and Good Morning, Vietnam. Good Night, Vietnam. Go hug the kids, Manuel.

Does anyone else think Richard and Jennifer could be brothers?


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