Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Top Chef" Season 4, Episode 4 - "Film Food"

OK, I was afraid I would miss the beginning of "Top Chef" and have to watch the TiVoed beginning after I'd watched the end, due to the Yankees game encroaching on the 10:00 hour and their general sucking at not putting the Blue Jays away early. So, I made some predictions. Let's see what they were, shall we?

1. Spike acts like a douche bag and wears a stupid hat.
2. Andrew acts (is?) on drugs.
3. Hot!Ryan acts like a douche bag and says things that make me wonder if he graduated from 8th grade.
4. Manuel cooks well, but it goes unacknowledged.
5. Dale acts like an asshole, but makes something good.
6. Richard has hair that is inappropriately styled for his age.
7. Stephanie wins.

Well, let's see what came true.

I LOVE Daniel Boulud. I love his classical technique and haughty French accent. I love his beautiful presentations and his homages to the classics, while still making them new enough to get people excited about his food. Mostly, I love his BMG-style glasses. This Quickfire kind of confused me, though. Show three "techniques?" Could we be any more vague? Plus, most of the chefs use blanching and grilling as a technique, which, I guess, are legitimate techniques, if not somewhat pedestrian ones. But, it's EFFING Daniel Boulud - shouldn't you try to use a fancier technique? Something based in the French-fancy-food realm? Like tournage? Or a nice quenelle? Even if you're going to use simple techniques, make sure they're GOOD (I'm looking at you, under seasoned Nikki). I did, however, really like the vegetable plate idea, since most of the chefs on the show (and chefs in general) focus mainly on the protein (which, don't get me wrong) is clearly important, but the vegetables are often after thoughts, filler. I think it's very appropriate that Daniel Boulud was there to judge this challenge based on good technique and use of something often under appreciated and under utilized by chefs.

The Quickfire results were typical (Richard good, kisses some ass, Hot!Ryan acts like a douche bag by borderline insulting Daniel Boulud, the women have some crappy plates), with the exception of Dale, who blew me away with how gorgeous his plate was. Seriously. That knife work? A-MAZ-ing. As soon as they showed his plate on camera, I knew he had won, no one else would even come close, unless it tasted disgusting (which it clearly didn't). It was a well-deserved win, in my opinion.

My notes say: "Dale + Richard = Man-love forever." I'm not sure what I was referring to, I guess it was Dale's choice to work with Richard and their man-hug after the decision was made. Yeah, that sounds about right.

My other note is: "Is Aisha Tyler still relevant? "Top Chef" producers couldn't do any better?" I don't think anything else needs to be said.

Also, I think we got the first Whole Foods plug during this episode! I was so excited. I thought they had left Whole Foods in the dust and moved on to local farmer's markets, which made me disappointed in "Top Chef." Why cook with local ingredients, when you can get organic tomatoes flown in from Chile? Without Whole Foods, "Top Chef" isn't the sponsor-laden, attention-whoring show it started out to be. I'm glad it's back, baby!

Alright, enough, Iko, onto the actual cooking and food. I liked the challenge, I think it's good they had to work in pairs, as well. there are still a lot of chefs, so it's good to force new people to work together to see how they work in teams of two and interact with each other one on one. I like the movie theme, too, although I think they could have done it with any theme, music, TV, shoes, Ed much as Padma berated Course Two for picking the food, then the movie, "Top Chef" producers, clearly made the challenge, then based the theme around who they could get to film the show one night. Andrew seriously needs to lay off the crack pipe, though. That oompa loompa thing? WTF was that? One of the people on the "Top Chef" message board said he may have been doing that to cover for him initially making fun of Daniel Boulud, which, while I don't think is true, it hilarious! Also, when he said their group's food was going to make them, "culinarily [sic] crap in their pants" I almost lost it. Andrew, don't ever talk about food and crapping in the same sentence, especially when you want people to eat your food and enjoy it. He really can't go home soon enough. It's going to be Awse to watch him get dragged out kicking in screaming (you know, from the inevitable tasing required to remove him from the premises).

I was upset we had no sniff and sneer last night, who didn't want to see Colicchio come in right when that hand held smoker stopped working and stand over the table, smirking? Then make a remark akin to, "smells like burned Saran wrap - very appetizing." Then he could kind of do his chortle/snort and saunter out of the kitchen, rolling his eyes at Padma as he sits down.

Course 1 - "Willy Wonka" - Smoked salmon with the white chocolate wasabi cream and faux caviar - I though it sounded disgusting, but I'd try it. It's hard to say anything about the dish without tasting it, it's unlike anything I've ever eaten. It definitely fit the movie, different and whimsical.
Course 2 - "Good Morning Vietnam" - Summer roll - this was basically a throw away. It's obvious they wanted to do Vietnamese food, and just picked the movie as an afterthought. It had no bearing on the food at all and didn't really sound like it was that good, based on what the judges and guests were saying.
Course 3 - "Il Postino" - tortellini - I like "rustic" food and I thought the flavors sounded really good. Plus, what's not to like about homemade pasta?
Course 4 - "A Christmas Story" - quail and cranberry - See, now I was a little bit confused about why they didn't explain the use of quail instead of duck. I felt like that was the whole point to choosing that movie. That said, I think their dish would have been my favorite. It sounded so, so good.
Course 5 - "Talk to Her" - lamb with vivid colors - Yeah, I'm with the judges, I wasn't seeing vivid colors or a real connection to the movie. My favorite part was Aiyha Tyler saying the food wasn't "transcendent?" Kind of like your acting, Aisha? I mean, come on, bitch is funny, but that doesn't mean she can act.
Course 6 - (I don't remember the name of the movie, like "Airplane" but with some inappropriate things done with cows) - NY strip and short rib - This probably would have been my second favorite. Savory caramel sauce? Yes, please! I want to make one this weekend and pour it all over everything I eat. Also, short ribs are delicious.

Judge's Table:
Daniel Boulud looked so fancy with his leather blazer. Also, Ted Allen made me fall in love with him all over again by using the word "hydrocolloid" at Judge's Table. I think they made the right decision, again, without tasting the food, Richard's team definitely took the spirit of the challenge and ran with it. He deserved the win, since he was the LEADER OF THE TEAM. That said, clearly the summer roll was the weakest dish and, clearly, Spike and Manuel didn't really follow the challenge, but there is no effing way it's fair that Manuel got sent home for "following the leader." They always send the leader home if the food sucks. Remember Tre? Season 3? That was the worst thing they ever could have done, but the judges stuck to their principles and sent him home. What? Did you change your principles since last season, judges? This time around, it seriously irked me to no end. Spike should have been sent home. he was the LEADER, decided on the food and the movie, directed Manuel on how to cook and present the dish, thereby responsible if it sucked ass. There is no reasonable explanation for Manuel being sent home.

Final Thoughts:
I liked how all chefs were bashing Richard's food after he won, without ever tasting it. If any of them had tried it and not liked it, fine, but don't talk smack because you're jealous he won and because he made something you would never think to make. This is a competition. Bring your A game. If you cook your best and get sent home, at least you know you tried your hardest, right?

And, most of my predictions came true, although some weren't really predictions, as they were clearly going to happen no matter what - like chefs acting like douche bags and Richard's age-inappropriate hair. Close on the Manuel, he cooked OK and got sent home. And Stephanie did come close to winning.

Next week - Ming Tsai!!! Another catering challenge! Not scaling a fish and almost choking Ming and Tom with the residual scales! Dale being bitchy! Lot and lots of crying! Lesbians yelling and breaking sh**.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Nikki next week.

(We'll just keep saying it until it's true.)

Ha! I was totally thinking that the big log thingy they were trying to smoke with would burn the plastic wrap and cause a funky smell!

I totally want to drench all my food in that caramel sauce. I think Stephanie would have won except for the fact that she has already won twice. That, and some nepotism action for Richard.