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Top Chef Chicago: Another NYC Chef Gets the Boot

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The ongoing shitshow that is Top Chef Season 4 ensued last night, reaching all-time lows in both product placement and child exploitation. Guest judge Art Smith, Oprah’s personal chef and Common Threads guru, was on hand to judge both the quickfire and elimination challenge. Sorority sweetheart Gail Simmons was also back to put her two cents in on the EC. For the Quickfire, the chefs were asked to create a dish in 15 minutes using Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, which was perhaps the most nauseating example of shill so far this season.

For the EC, the chefs were given a paltry budget of $10 and asked to create a healthy, simple meal for a family of four. (What is this, the Food Network?) After some bitching and chaos, the chefs pulled it together and were assisted by small children in the preparation of their meals. After seeing the little kids in chef’s hats, Antonia lost it and started crying, and Richard wanted to “go home and make some babies.” (TMI?) At the end of the day, Lisa, Steph and Mark were on the chopping block, while Antonia pulled out another win despite being immune. But the real story this week was that the NYC crew was whittled down to a mere 5 cheftestants.

Let’s take a look at the NYC crew's shenanigans from last night:

1. Mark: Frodo’s sloppiness continued this week, in the QF with some nasty-looking miso-glazed turkey (which he didn’t even taste), and in the EC with his veggie curry—both of which put him in the bottom three each time. The oddest scene was a shot of Mark playing the didgeridoo in his bedroom the night before the EC. Did the producers hand that to him or what? His lack of protein in the EC caused his elimination this week, a cut that’s been coming for a few episodes now.

2. Dale: Dale’s streak continued this week as his fried rice impressed Art in the QF. He continued the bold moves at Whole Foods by going out on a limb with chicken bratwurst. Later he revealed to us his dreams of becoming a professional basketball player (could this explain the crotch-grabbing?) were dashed when he stopped growing at 5’5. Bummer. But he skated by yet again this week, ending up in the middle during the EC.

3. Lisa: Lisa was on the bottom of both the QF and the EC this week. Her QF dish was "unoriginal" to Art and in the EC her chicken dish had some poorly seasoned beans. In melodramatic fashion, Tom remarked that the lack of seasoning was “shocking.” Lisa argued hard that her dish was really really healthy, but the judges did not appreciate her incessant whining, particularly Art who remarked that she needed to learn how to take criticism.

4. Andrew: Andrew was calm as ever last night, getting through the QF despite a truly awful looking rice-crusted fish, which was “a little crunchy.” Bonus fun fact we picked up this week: Andrew used to be like over 200 lbs. Yowzas. But now he eats healthy and his Chicken Paillard dish for the EC was among the judges’ faves.

5. Spike: Spike’s evil side took a backseat on last night's ep, which oddly seems to correlate with how well he does in the challenges. Less evil, better food? Seems like it. His Greek-inspired rice and meat stuffed veggies impressed Art, and his EC pasta puttanesca placed him somewhere in between the top and bottom.

6. Nikki: 24 Prince's Nikki baffles us once again by not only staying on the show but actually producing one of the top three dishes. How is this happening? Her veggie fried rice, which consisted of veggies, rice, and a side of soy sauce was a hit with Art Smith. Later she wooed judges with tales of “fending for herself” as a child and developing a one pot roasted chicken and veggies meal, another boring but smart entry that ended up impressing judges.

Highlights: Mark randomly piping away on the didgeridoo (also: Mark actually owning a didgeridoo), Richard talking about “wanting to make babies,” Padma in stoner intonation remarking that Stephanie’s dish was “disgusting,” (whoa there), Mark insisting that "Tom doesn't like him" at Judges' Table, Stephanie’s kid giving Coleeks a doubtful look about her weird peanut butter couscous dish, and Mark’s parting advice to his fellow cheftestants of “Rock on, rocker.”

Outcome: Fuzzy-headed Mark was sent home for a lack of protein in his veggie curry. Watch his exit video for this insight: "It's clear to me that Padma is Yoko Ono resurrected [Ed. Is Ono dead?]. And she split the band up and that's what she wanted..." He also called out Dale and Richard as the probable winners.

—Kelly Dobkin

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