Top Chef, Season 4: Tailgating AND TWO GIVEAWAY WINNERS

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Things seem to have “simmered down” a bit in the Top Chef kitchen this week. If you recall, at the end of last weeks episode several of the Cheftestants had reached their “boiling points” as the aftershock of Zoi’s departure was felt by all. It must be hard to exist in that kind of situation, a veritable “pressure cooker”, where you’re with the same group of people 24/7. Relationships are developed. Attachments are formed. Yet, you’re all competing for the same coveted prize under enormously stressful conditions.

As this week’s episode opened, the same people were still kvetching about what went down in the last challenge. Spike was still bitching about that soup. (For God’s sake, Spike! Let. It. Gooooo!) As for Jen, well…..let’s just say that Jen needs to morph out of her junior high mindset and grow up a little. Okay, so your girlfriend got cut and you feel bad. We all knew that one of you would eventually get sent packing. So, grow up and quit whining already!

I thought that Dale definitely won the citizenship award last night. He obviously regretted his outburst against Lisa and approached her about it. He basically apologized for losing his temper and calmly tried to address the issue of her negativity with her. I thought it was the responsible and mature thing to do. That Dale is one classy guy, (if you overlook last week’s crotch grabbing display)! Of course, Lisa was having none of it and proceeded to bash Dale behind his back. Oh well, you can take the girl out of the gutter…….
Last night’s Quickfire Challenge was all about “simple pleasures”. In the challenge, each Cheftestant was given a six pack of a different kind of beer and told to create a dish that complemented it. That was an easy one! Beer goes with almost every cuisine. The possibilities are nearly endless. Koren Grieveson, Chef de cuisine at Avec Restaurant in Chicago, was the guest judge. Maybe she is camera shy, but she displayed no personality whatsoever. In fact, her comments were barely audible. I had never heard of her before, but she is highlighted as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2008, so I suppose I’m duly impressed. I hope she doesn’t see this. If I ever get to Chicago, I might want to eat at Avec.
Grieveson selected Jen’s seafood beignets as the winning dish. I have to say, I think I would have chosen them too. They really looked great. Richard and Stephanie also got kudos for their submissions. At the bottom of the heap were Spike, Dale and Nikki. Better luck next time, guys.
Okay, now I’m not even going to address that bathtub scene between Spike and Mark. That was a genuine WTF moment! It was just too weird for me and I’m not touching it with a ten foot pole. Of course, that doesn’t stop any of you from giving your take on it.

The Elimination Challenge was one we’ve seen every season. You know, the “We’re just regular Joes and Can Cook for the Common Man” one. In this incarnation, our Cheftestants were cooking tailgate food for Bears fans at Soldier Field. Each chef was given a choice of using a Weber gas grill or a Weber charcoal grill to cook their food. Hmmm. I guess Weber must be a new Top Chef sponsor. Everyone chose the gas except Mark, who went with charcoal. An ominous sign!

Now, here is where I got a little confused. At the football field, some other guy showed up Instead of Koren Grieveson to judge the elimination challenge. He was introduced as Paul Kahan, chef/owner of Avec. Huh? Then who was the other one? I thought she was the chef at Avec. And why the tag team? Couldn’t they spare her for one whole day at the restaurant? In 2007, Kahan was nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding chef. I guess James Beard trumps Food & Wine.

I thought that most of the menu selections looked pretty darn good. There was a lot of variety and the crowd seemed to enjoy almost everything they tasted. In fact, Nikki’s dish was apparently so popular, that she ran out of food before the judges came by to taste it. Now, I like Nikki, but come on! How could she let that happen? The judges are there to “judge” the food. They can’t do that if they don’t eat it. Didn’t she realize that they hadn’t been by yet? If it were you, wouldn’t you have made damn sure that you put some of the good stuff aside for them? I think I’d rather have a few disgruntled fans than a few disgruntled judges! Tony Bourdain would have ripped her a new one for that blunder!

There were some pretty special guests roaming around at that tailgate party. Several all-time Bears greats, including Gale Sayers (Remember Brian’s Song?) and William “The Fridge” Perry were there, and let me tell you, they were loving Dale’s ribs! They did look like some pretty awesome ribs. I loved the exchange between Dale and those football legends. Being born and raised in Chicago, Dale was absolutely over the moon!

Ryan, aka Mr. Cheese, was totally working the crowd. He could have given Rachael Ray a run for her money with that mouth of his! Unfortunately, no one cared for his food. Instead of cooking for his audience, he made tailgate food “Ryan Scott Style”. His words, not mine. He made a Bread Salad with Marinated Chicken Thighs, a Poached Pear with Creme Fraiche and a Brandy Hot Cocoa. This, at a football game with no tables, chairs or decent utensils to eat with. His dish was unwieldy and impractical for the situation. It was a very indulgent choice.
Mark seemed to having a helluva time “getting his grill on”, so to speak. He prepared a chicken yakitori skewer with a seafood chowder. The judges weren’t really crazy about either, but what they really reamed him on was his messy, unsanitary station. Can’t say that I blame them. Can you imagine eating food that came out of that mess? And he stirred his chowder with the same spoon he tasted from! Ken from Season 2 was summarily dismissed for less than that!
Andrew was…..well…..Andrew. Nuff said. Nice touch with the football helmet, though.


The top three this week were Stephanie (Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pear, Potato and Bacon Salad and Rosemary Vinaigrette) , Antonia (Jerk Chicken Sandwich with Pickled Onions and Grilled Pineapple and Banana) and Dale (Tandori Pork Ribs & Potato Salad with Golden Raisins, Dried Mango & Turmeric). Dale took the win, as well as one of those fancy schmancy gas grills.

The bottom three of the bunch were Nikki (Sausage and Peppers, Grilled Shrimp with Hot Sauce and Spiced Cider), Mark (Yakitori Chicken Skewer with Seafood Corn Chowder) and Ryan (Bread Salad with Marinated Chicken Thighs, a Poached Pear with Creme Fraiche and a Brandy Hot Cocoa. No surprises here! The judges decided that the sins of running out of blah food and cooking blah food under unsanitary conditions were not as great as the sin of cooking hoity toity, blah, “California tailgate” food at a Chicago Bears tailgate party. In the end, Ryan was asked to pack his knives and go.
So, how do you feel about this season so far? Who do you love? Who do you hate? Who do you love to hate? Leave a comment on this post between now and next Wednesday, April 23 at 10:00 p.m. EDT and you could be the next lucky winner!

Let’s Dish!
And now, for this week’s Giveaway winners. No, it’s not a typo. Due to an unexpected Top Chef related windfall, I am giving away two prizes this week! See, you never know what’s going to happen here in SGCCland.
The first winner and recipient of an “I’m Not Your Bitch, Bitch” cap is………David Dust! David is a new reader of this blog and he write his own Top Chef recaps on his site, here. Congratulations, David!


Our second winner and recipient of an official Top Chef Cookbook is……..Ginny of Just Get Floury! Congratulations, Ginny!

If both winners will email me at stickygooeycreamychewy AT gmail DOT com with their mailing addresses, I will happily send out their prizes.

Thanks, everyone, for playing. I still have lots more stuff to give away, so keep coming back! Next week, I will be sending someone another Top Chef oven mitt.
Ciao for now!

14 responses to Top Chef, Season 4: Tailgating AND TWO GIVEAWAY WINNERS

  1. On April 17, 2008 at 11:31am, Deborah said...

    I still hope Lisa gets cut soon – I don’t like how she has handled everything. I was surprised to see Ryan go – although I have never really liked him. I thought it was going to be one of the other two.

    My favorites are Stephanie and Richard, which are obviously going to be in it for awhile, since they are at the top of almost every challenge.

  2. On April 17, 2008 at 1:15pm, David Dust said...

    First of all, I’d like to thank The Academy, and Jesus, and my Moms…

    I am SO HAPPY to be a winner!!!!! Thank you very, very much!

    Did you mention a recap?…



  3. On April 17, 2008 at 3:02pm, Grace said...

    there goes what little eye candy we had this season. i miss sam. :)

  4. On April 17, 2008 at 3:21pm, Megan said...

    I like Stephanie and Richard too. I agree about the bath scene like what was that all about???

  5. On April 17, 2008 at 3:30pm, Nanc Twop said...

    bathtub scene w/Spike and Mark
    Guessing it was a ploy for airtime, and it worked. But it did make me wonder about the floorplan of that townhouse – did Bravo ever show us around? I thought they had a hot tub but I must be mistaken.

    Koren & Paul work closely, so its reasonable that each took one event. And if he’s a Bears fan, and she’s not(?) then it would make sense that she chose the QF,

    Who do you love?
    Still on the Stephanie train, but Antonia is gaining some steam. Not into tech food so I’m meh about Richard so far. And I did like Mark but the sanitation issue?…

    Who do you hate?
    Dale’s profanity is annoying (not much worse than the others, I know) but I’d really hate to see ‘Mr. Crotch Grab’ win Top Chef. Can you imagine the news services replaying that video bit over and over? Tho that as a pic on the cover of Food&Wine would be a first…

    Who do you love to hate?
    Tom C., with his waffling on seasoning issues, and Gail S. for her sniping about rosemary in anything… I’m beginning to wonder if its the only herb she can identify without a guidebook.

    Speaking of love/hate…
    Gotta give Jen a pass on the Z talk for this ep.
    Zoi was axed after dinner, and since they film shows back to back, that means Jen was interviewed the next morning – less than 12 hours after Zoi got booted. But next week? Lets hope Jenn chats about her food, because I agree those beignets looked great.

    FYI, my latest Top Chef post is the list of locations for the ‘Open Call’ going on right now for Top Chef 5: New Orleans.
    (blog still flagged, click once to enter)

  6. On April 17, 2008 at 6:39pm, RecipeGirl said...

    This is the first week that I’ve actually been able to read your Top Chef post!! Usually I pop on here on Thursdays and then have to immediately leave because I have TC Tivo’d and don’t want to see the results!! Anyway, I watched it last night and no surprises were ruined.

    I’m a little bored with it at this point. And Ryan was cute, so I’m bummed that he’s out. I hope it gets more interesting. I wish my chef nephew would go on the show. They’d be bleeping him like crazy and he’d be loads of fun!

  7. On April 17, 2008 at 6:48pm, ann marie said...

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….im still in florida but im soooooo busy i havent seen tv or been on the internet…..i did however see mermaids and a drum circle…..i missed top chef last week….caught last nights ep and tried to catch up on the blogs….im still liking stephanie….we need a girl to win….richard and dale are her only real competition and they are not as consistent…i still say none of them have the chops of sam, harold, tiffani, lee anne, etc…..mark and his messy hair and messier style are starting to gross me out….i hate spikes hats….they dont look clean enough to be in the kitchen either….im really sorry i missed the ming episode…i wish top chef was on demand so i could see it when i find some time….i wish i could find time for a lot of things like lunch with the sticky chewy girl….maybe next trip…im down here a few times a year… crabs this trip either….next trip my daughter should be on break from culinary school and we will be looking for some good restaurant suggestions in the area.

  8. On April 17, 2008 at 8:09pm, Anonymous said...

    While I certainly enjoy the cooking aspect of the show…I’m dying to know where Padma gets those wonderful dresses.

  9. On April 17, 2008 at 8:09pm, Patsyk said...

    Just finished watching it and was happy to see Dale win for his ribs. That’s tailgating food!

    How could Nicki not save some food for the judges????

    What was up with that crazy bath tub scene… creepy!

    I did like Ryan, but he just didn’t follow what was asked of him for this challenge. Oh well…

    So far, I like Stephanie and Antonia… I can’t stand Andrew or Spike… PLEASE SEND THEM HOME!

  10. On April 18, 2008 at 8:20am, Maryann said...

    I love that cap 😉

  11. On April 18, 2008 at 9:44am, The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

    Are you sure you don’t want to discuss that bathtub scene? You see, my schedule doesn’t allow me to watch new episodes. I just try to catch as many reruns as I can and read the good recap blogs. You have my curiosity sooooo stoked! Maybe I’ll catch the rerun.

  12. On April 18, 2008 at 3:08pm, ann marie said...

    2 guys with their shorts still on took a bubble bath together.

    neither of them was the cute guy.

  13. On April 19, 2008 at 12:27pm, Mike of Mike's Table said...

    I enjoyed the episode but I’m still not really rooting hard for anybody. I was glad to see Dale win and I liked his food while I just couldn’t understand wtf was going on in Ryan’s head with his crazy dish. I’m very sick of Spike and his seemingly infinite collection of stupid hats, lol.

  14. On April 22, 2008 at 5:51am, Ginny said...

    I still haven’t had a chance to watch the episode from last week- I know delinquent but my boyfriend and I are now taking tango lessons on Wednesday. He tries to be all romantic but does not take into account my tv viewing schedule :) But…I am so excited that I won the cookbook…I’ve been very intrigued by it! Thank you! and I promise I’ll catch up and join in the rehashing again!

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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