“Top Chef” Recaps: Episode 4.4 “Film Food”


Eat your veggies — Chef Boulud mentions that two of
the cheftestants, Richard and Ryan, have worked in his kitchen before but that
will not influence his judgment. Then it’s off to spend 30 minutes doing the
culinary equivalent of minding your P’s and Q’s.

Lisa isn’t the only chef quaking in her apron. Nikki and Zoi
are both worried about not having the same classical training or technical
skills of their competitors. Lots of stuff is sliced and diced and shaped using
techniques I can’t spell, let alone use. Bâtonnets, quenelles and tournées, oh

Richard scoffs at everyone else’s slavish attention to their
knife skills and says he is more concerned about being a chef. Lisa, in the
meantime, is intimidated by Dale’s knife skills and scraps her plans to skin a
cucumber when she sees his paper-thin results.

Then after the final plates are sauced and garnished, it’s
time for jazz hands again as the clock ticks to zero. Top Chef by Fosse
— now that’s something I’d pay to see.

Mad skillz, I has them — Now it’s time for Chef
Boulud to judge their technique. Who got served?

Zoi: "The chiffonade is well done. You see, it’s
paper thin."
"I am very impressed."
"This is back to basic."
"Is nice the different tastes and textures."
"You definitely showed the different skill of cutting and all
"Fennel frond is not really a technique, it is just more of a
"When you grill a vegetable, even if it is to show the
technique, [you need] a little bit of seasoning."

The worst: Nikki (endive boat bombed), Lisa (techniques didn’t
mesh), Manuel (level one techniques — ouch). The best: Zoi (perfectly poached
egg), Dale (amazing knife skills), Richard (an amazing presentation). See, Zoi,
no need to fret. Sorry I can’t say the same for you, Nikki and Lisa.

Winning for his technical wizardry is Dale who, more
importantly, also gets immunity. If this was Survivor, Padma would give
him some kind of Immunity Ladle at this point. She would also probably be
wearing a bikini. Damn, now I wish this was Survivor.

Two thumbs up — With Quickfire a thing of the past,
Padma explains the Elimination Challenge. The chefs will create a six-course
dinner in which each course is inspired by their favorite film. They will draw
numbered knives to pair off and cook the coinciding course. The dinner party is
being hosted by renowned Chicago
film critic Richard Roeper (half of Ebert and Roeper) for his
friend, actress Aisha Tyler.

Since there are an uneven number of contestants, Dale gets
to pick which of the six teams he would like to join. He goes with the
Richard/Spike first-course combo.

Everyone has Richard envy. Antonia says the he is her
biggest competition, and Dale says he’s been chomping at the bit to work with
him. Thank heavens we have zany Andrew to bring the crazy. He sees Dale as the
third wheel since "the weak choose the strong."

The first course team of Richard, Andrew and Dale pick Willy
Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
. Second coursers Spike and Manuel first
think Mexican (Manuel’s specialty), but then go Vietnamese (Spike’s strength).
So they go with Good Morning, Vietnam to mesh with their menu. Manuel
says he looks forward to learning about Vietnamese cooking. Hey, it’s about
favorite films, not favorite documentaries.

Third course couple Jennifer and Nikki both have backgrounds
in Italian food, so they think of Il Postino.

Nikki: I think it’s romantic, it’s like country
Yeah, we can hold hands; it’ll be cool.

Oh those sneaky chefbians, always looking to convert the
straight chefs. Like you need another toaster oven, girl. Better be careful
though, someone is keeping a watchful eye on them from across the kitchen.

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