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Top Chef New York, Episode 4 – Did Somebody Actually Compare Tom Colicchio to Johnny Cash?


Previously: The insignificant Team Rainbow got way too much attention. The Foo Fighters, surprisingly, are Top Chef fans. The Nanny can make turkey. Richard seems to have spit on Dave Grohl’s food and cried when he was sent home.

Credits. Alex is playing his Top Chef apron like a guitar.

[b]Morning Scenes[/b]
Jeff is exercising as Alex reads Richard’s breakup letter to Jamie and Carla. Seriously, he’s not dead, he just left the competition! Richard gives them inspirational platitudes and makes them all cry. Jamie’s confessional shows that she has her eye on the prize, and despite decking herself out in rainbows (wow, I expected Kermit the Frog to pop up with his banjo) it is a cooking competition after all.

As the chefs depart for the day’s challenges, someone (I think it was Finn) says, “Time to make the donuts.” And if it was Finn, that means they get iconic 1980’s Dunkin Donuts commercials in Scandinavia and for some reason that makes me happy.

[b]Quickfire[/b]
Hey, Rocco DeSpirito is on TV. How’d that happen? He is back in his element in the kitchen rather than on the ballroom floor. And I am doing everything possible not to stare at Padma. I mean, I think she is trying to kill me with sexiness.

Fabio rather amusingly mocks Rocco and calls him “not really Italian,” and adds that he has some knowledge. Whatever his babbles, bottom line is that you could completely see the disdain dripping off of Fabio. Rocco and Padma are there to have a breakfast challenge, apparently sponsored by Calphalon.

Jamie is upset because she does not care for breakfast. Not even as a kid when she used to eat “cans of Chef Boyardee and Campbell’s soup.” Hey, that’s what I ate for breakfast in college!

Anyway, it is not only breakfast, but it is amuse bouche. For a layman, that means an “elegant mouthful” according to Padma. Basically, they have to make a meal sized for Stuart Little. They have 30 minutes to do so. Oh, and Rocco loves bacon. So obviously, all of the chefs will put bacon in their bites to please the person judging the contest, right?

Fabio cuts bread. Carla runs like a loon. Finn is messing around with eggs and talking about being from California and that means Huevos Rancheros. Wait, I thought Stefan was from Finland, thus the nickname. I am confused. Regardless, he is doing some really cool thing with the egg shell where he’s rounding it out and turning it into a little serving dish.

GE gets a closeup. Jeff is walking around with a plate of bacon. He got the memo. He is seeking to impress by doing something with tiny potatoes. NY Daniel has a box of corn flakes. Heck, I can make a shot glass full of cereal! That’s not what he’s doing though; he is combining corn flakes and flowers. Finally.

The Nanny is making stuffed French toast because she secretly works at IHOP. 15 minutes to go. Fabio is yammering on about how they don’t have bacon in Italy or something. It seems he is making a sweet dish with some sweet cappuccino. Leah is trying to make the perfect bite, thus the challenge, and is using bacon, egg and cheese with her own “little spin” on it.

Five minutes to go. Melissa(Who?) breaks her egg and starts to panic. Plating montage begins. Time is called. Fabio likes it. Or so he says.

[b]Judging
Melissa (Who?)[/b] – French Toast with Eggs, Strawberries and Bacon. Rocco thinks that it’s great.

[b]Finn[/b] – Huevos Rancheros with Salsa and Cheese. Padma thinks the egg doohickey is a “beautiful presentation.” Basically, it looks like Sylar did his business on an egg. All kidding aside, it looks really good and really creative.

[b]Radhika[/b] – Bravo chose not to give her dish a graphic. Thanks, Bravo. She describes it as a potato cake, with a mini omelet, bacon and Hollandaise sauce. No discernable reaction from Rocco which worries Radhika.

[b]NY Daniel[/b] – Cornflake Crusted Zucchini Flower Stuffed With Hash. Or, as it looks, bumpy looking turds on a plate. Sounds disgusting and apparently, doesn’t taste that good either.

[b]The Nanny[/b] – Stuffed French Toast with Chili Maple Syrup. Rocco thinks it is well put together with the right amount of sweet.

[b]Jamie[/b] – Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich. Rocco digs right in, and it is a bit big for an amuse bouche, but he likes the “nicely layered flavors.”

[b]Leah[/b] calls out the others for not really doing one bite and displays her Bacon, Quail Egg and Cheese on Grilled Bread. Oh, and she cooked in bacon fat. Mmmmm, bacon fat. Rocco loves it.

[b]Fabio[/b] – Brioche with Brulee Banana and Espresso Cream. Rocco is a bit lukewarm and Padma thinks it tastes like pudding.

[b]Jeff[/b] – Twice Baked Potato with Yogurt Sorbet and Fruit. Seriously, guys. A mouthful! Rocco rightfully calls Jeff out on this and Jeff begrudgingly admits that it really is two dishes.

And that is all the dishes that we get to see, and of course, Bravo doesn’t list the dishes anymore, so the rest of you get no attention in the recap. Sorry, Hosea and Friends!

Rocco tells the chefs that few of them actually seem to understand what an amuse bouche is which is rather unforgivable. It’s ok that we don’t know, but they’re in the damn business. Rocco didn’t care for NY Daniel’s turds – it seems all he could taste was the corn flakes. Might as well have made the shot of cereal, NY Dan. Fabio also gets to the bottom for making the “great mini-dessert.” Rocco likes his breakfast savory. Fabio bitters that he should have listened to the judge’s tastes and made “toast, bacon and bullsh*t eggs on it” to make the top three. Man, this guy’s opinion of himself is about as bad as mine. And mine’s pretty high.

Rocco liked Finn’s egg creation. He also liked Leah’s arrangement and Jamie’s well assembled sandwich. He is torn between Leah and Jamie but picks Leah for actually doing the challenge correctly in my view. Leah was glad she didn’t embarrass herself. Jamie has now narrowly lost two consecutive Quickfires.

[b]Elimination Challenge[/b]
Padma talks for a long time about nothing. Basically, chefs need a high profile and one way to do that is to go on TV. So they must prepare a two-and-a-half minute presentation for live TV. This is a really good challenge. Because this is hard and real top chefs go on these shows and present their dishes to Matt Lauer and David Letterman. It is not easy to do at all. I once interned on a Marc Summers hosted home show that had several food presentations. It was fun to eat the good food after shooting!

Crazy Carla agrees that you must be “spot on.” And that your timing must be “boom boom boom or they will cut you.” Carla must be thinking about prison cooking shows. Leah is “scared as hell” and is not interested in doing TV. Good thing she has immunity! Rocco tells the chefs that this is a tough task because it has to be something folks can make at home and follow along with. Padma tells them that presentation and personality on camera will be a factor in judging. Fabio is worried about describing anything for 2 ½ minutes in English.

Commercials. There’s a Top Chef Home Game? Paging Santa Claus.

Sirens in NYC. Thanks for the stereotype Bravo. Whole Foods. They have $100 and 30 minutes to shop.

Fabio wants tuna because it is easy for the masses to understand. He convinces the fishmonger to let him cut his own tuna. And now I have used the word “fishmonger” in both Top Chef and Survivor articles. Eugene and Hosea approach the same fishmonger and they manage to cut their own as well. Is this guy new or something? Why can’t he properly cut fish? You would expect that skill in your fishmonger, wouldn’t you? FISHMONGER! Such a fun word to say. Try it at home. See?

More shopping. Alex and his Spike-lite hat are making dessert. No joke. Alex thinks that by making crème brulee while no one else makes dessert will give him a “free pass” with the judging. It seems that Alex has never, ever seen an episode of this show. He might as well spit on Rocco’s food like Richard did to Dave Grohl. It is the kiss of death on Top Chef to make dessert when you don’t have to. He is already a dead man walking.

[b]GE Kitchen – One hour for prep[/b]
Melissa(Who?) gets to say something. And of course, it is completely useless and unmemorable. We actually get to hear more from her and her bangs later in the episode at long last. Jeff’s dish has “fancy words” but is rather simple to make. Alex says he needs 25 minutes to actually cook his brulee. Fabio says that there is no way that Alex can cook, rest and cool down a crème brulee in an hour.

Chopping, slicing, pouring and mixing. Jamie says she has done live TV before and is making a duck egg. Leah is dismembering a chicken. A dead one, or else that would be gross. She is happy to have immunity because she has never done anything like this before. Carla is making tortilla soup and The Nanny has a giant watermelon. She is making something “simple, yet still wonderful.” NY Daniel has a pineapple and tells us that he loves to act and is very charismatic. He “lights up” in front of the camera. Have we seen this yet? I think he’s had a camera on him for four episodes and has ranged from boring to obnoxious.

Commercials. ‘Milk’ gets a 60-second ad on gay-friendly Bravo. This movie looks really, really good. Sean Penn should clear off his mantle for his second Oscar.

[b]The Nanny[/b] – Beefsteak Tomato Salad with Watermelon and Feta Cheese. We come back to the demos getting set up. The Nanny is first. She stumbles at first a bit before saying she has “pride in New Jersey tomatoes.” She says in her confessional that she was just making the dish, talking and cooking and hoping she wouldn’t lose a finger. Back at the demo she tells the audience that “you can make this at home and… wow.”

[b]Jamie[/b] – Bittergreen Salad with Duck Egg, Bacon and Caviar. Tom starts to do my favorite part of this whole challenge. He, Rocco, Padma, and Gail essentially role play as insipid, annoying, mind-numbing morning show hosts and it is HYSTERICAL. Tom tells Jamie that her egg is “quacking in there.” Gail asks how she knows the egg is ready. HA! She struggles cooking the egg in time and confesses to us that she was faced with the choice of cooking it properly and risk going over the time or plating it on time and having it not be cooked properly. She plated it. Rocco immediately says “raw egg white.” Uh oh.

[b]Alex[/b] – Rose Infused Crème Brulee. His hand is shaking as he says it is simple to make. Gail trips him up on how much sugar to use. He McCoys that he’s a chef, not a public servant. Timekeeper Gail tells him he failed to present in time. He’s in trouble.

[b]Jeff[/b] – Malfouf Roll with Shrimp and Muhammura Sauce. Those are a couple of words I have never seen before. Jeff is actually pretty good at this challenge, he’s funny and personable. He admits to having done live TV before. He finishes with “…and voila, whaddya know, you got a beautiful plate.” Fabio criticizes him for using “weird ingredients,” and that his mom watching TV only wants to see tuna, carrots and asparagus. Way to talk down to Americans, dude. Of course, he’s right. But still.


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