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


Richard brings out his kitchen toys again to add smoke to
his dish. But then technology fails him, and his cool gadget breaks down
mid-smoking. Where is Q when you
need him?

They try an alternative but it burns the plastic wrap, so
they abandon the idea. Then the judges and guests arrive, and in walks Padma. I
would like to apologize in advance just in case the rest of this recap turns
into an incoherent jumble of monosyllabic grunts. All of my higher brain
functions stopped at the sight of Padma in her blue dress. Seriously, seriously.

Padma and Aisha sit side by side, and now I’ve lost control
of all motor functions, too. Mmm, Padma and Aisha, mmm. Huh?

Oh right, Team Oompa Loompa was having a crisis. They light
a chunk of wood on fire to smoke their salmon instead, which seems to work. But
that wooden block is in no way the only thing that’s smoking here tonight.

A world of pure imagination — The Willy Wonka–inspired
first course is served and promptly gobbled up. Apparently it’s not just
finger-licking good, it’s knife-licking good. The guests and judges praise the
dish’s creativity and lightness.

Next, Spike and Manuel’s Good Morning, Vietnam spring
rolls. Alas, the judges’ responses are more like good night. They don’t like
the fish. They don’t like the vermicelli noodles. And don’t get head judge Tom
Colicchio started on the unnecessary, unconnected Swiss chard garnish.

Following them is Nikki and Jennifer’s rustic Il Postino pasta.
Tom calls it good, but not great. But Richard, who is used to sparring with
opposing critics, says it’s wonderful. So at least one big thumbs up for the

‘Tis the season — For all their disparate taste in
films, Ryan and Mark come together nicely to explain their A Christmas Story-inspired
fourth course. The quail in lieu of duck breast and spring roll are a huge hit.
Judge Ted Allen proclaims it his new favorite dish of the night. Aisha is
trying to figure out how to get every last bit of the delicious carrot puree
off her plate. Might I suggest licking it? Hey, it worked for Padma and her

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