Top Chef Season 4: Wedding Wars AND GIVEAWAY

Well folks, the Top Chef we all know and love is finally back. Those touchy, feely pod people are gone and our beloved petty, bitchy and snarky Cheftestants have taken back their places in the Top Chef kitchen. Last night's show was all about war. The episode was coined "Wedding Wars", and while that may seem to be a contradiction in terms, for these competitors, it was a fitting description (and I'm not just talking about the food)!

As the Cheftestants gathered in the Top Chef kitchen for this week's Quickfire Challenge, they were joined by the lovely Padma and Guest Judge.....No....Wait a minute. It's Tom Colicchio. There is no guest judge. Hmmm. Well, the Cheftestants look utterly thrilled to see HIM there.....not! But their trepidation quickly gives way to anticipation as they discover that the Quickfire this week is the ever popular (and my favorite) relay challenge, which is all about speed and technical skill.

The chefs are divided up into two groups for this one - the Forks (Steph, Antonia, Richard and Andrew) and the Spoons (Dale, Lisa, Nikki and Spike). They are given four tasks to accomplish in succession, with one chef responsible for each task on each team. These were supreming five oranges, turning and cleaning two artichokes, cleaning and filleting a big, ugly monkfish and whipping up a quart of mayonnaise, by hand. The team that successfully completes all four tasks first, wins. The sucky part is that from here on out, there is no more immunity offered to the QF winners. Boo!

Aaaaaaand weeeeeee're off! Team Fork's Antonia starts off against Team Spoon's Lisa supreming those oranges. Peels are flying, but Antonia just can't keep up with Lisa's pace and Team Fork quickly falls behind. Then, just when you're thinking "uh oh" for the Forks, they pick up speed and end up neck and with the Spoons. Stephanie clinches the win for the Forks with her bionic whisking technique. And the cow jumped over the moon.

Time for the Elimination Challenge. This is where Padma announces that the long-awaited and much anticipated Restaurant Wars challenge ain't happening this season. You remember that one, don't you? It's the one where the Cheftestants divide into two teams and "launch" their own restaurants. They are given a specified budget and are responsible for everything from soup to nuts, including design, decor, service, wine and food. Next to the finale, it is the absolute highlight of the season. Everyone looks pretty bummed about this decision, including me! I loved the Restaurant Wars! To make this revolting development even worse, Padma tells the chefs that instead of the Restaurant Wars, they will be competing in something called the Wedding Wars. She then introduces them to one of the most milquetoast (blah) couples I have ever seen and explains that the Cheftestants will be catering this couple's wedding in a mere fourteen hours. This includes flowers, table decorations and (gasp!) wedding cakes!

As the winners of the QFC, Team Fork gets to choose which side they want to cater for, the bride or the groom. They choose Corey, the bride which leaves JP, the groom to Team Spoon. Corey is from the South, so she wants traditional meat and potatoes food. She also wants a delicious, multi-tiered, layered wedding cake that actually looks pretty too.

JP is all into Italian food and Nikki is all over it. The other Spoons are psyched. JP wants Italian. Nikki is Italian. They figure they've got the win in the bag. They're gonna let Nikki roll with it. forgot to tell Nikki, because she refuses to take charge and totally absolves herself from all responsibility except for the dishes she actually prepares herself.

While Nikki is off in her own little tortellini world, the other Spoons, especially Dale, are simmering. While they all looked to Nikki for guidance and direction, Miss "I Own an Italian Restaurant in Staten Island" has left them all to fend for themselves. This may have been a calculated plan on Nikki's part. I think she figured that if she led the team and the team went down, she would be sent packing. She was probably right. However, as the self-professed expert on Italian cooking, her unwillingness to take a leadership role worked against her. This caused untold consternation for Dale. He bitched and moaned his way through the entire challenge and pretty much acted like a spoiled brat. I wanted to smack him!

Team Fork, on the other hand, seemed to understand the concept of "united we stand, divided we fall". With Richard assuming the head chef role, the team worked together as a cohesive unit. They were smart enough to realize they were competing against the other team, not each other. As a result, their food was better, their attitude was better and they won.

At the Judges' Table, celebrity pastry chef, Gale Gand, joined the panel. They uniformly praised the Forks and panned the Spoons. Richard took top honors for his tasty dishes and leaderships skills. Special kudos were also given to Stephanie for making a lovely five-tiered wedding cake in only fourteen hours. In an incredibly classy move, Richard passed his win along to Steph for all her hard work on that cake. In another classy move, Steph decided to "share" her prize with Richard. Awwwww! Are you feeling the love here, people? I only hope that the Spoons were paying attention when they watched the show.
While the judges did like Spike's sea bass and Lisa's chocolate-hazelnut groom's cake, Team Spoon lost because....well, because they didn't perform like a team should. Everyone did their own thing and no one did it particularly well. After pulling an very intense all-nighter, everyone's nerves were raw, but Dale seemed to handle it the worst. He had a total tantrum on the chopping block and accused his team mates of slacking off the whole challenge. He and Spike got into it and Spike called him a bitch. Ouch! I have to assume that this unprofessional and immature behavior was at least partly due to sleep deprivation. Some people just get really cranky without their eight hours.
In the end, the judges felt that Nikki was the weakest link and sent her to pack her knives. I have to agree with their decision. Although I liked Nikki, she just wasn't a strong enough contender. Her food was inconsistent and she really had poor leadership skills. She seems like a nice person. I'm sure she'll do fine.

Oh, and one more thing. Has anyone else noticed that Gail has been looking a little like, shall we say, a fashion disaster lately? What's up with that? I think she needs to spend a little time hanging out with Project Runway's Nina Garcia. Maybe they could have lunch or something.

Now on to the giveaway. This week's giveaway winner is.......Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita! Congratulations Maryann! Thanks for participating! If you'll email me with your choice of prize along with your mailing address, I'll send a package out to you pronto!

Remember, if you haven't won anything yet, there is still time. We're only halfway through the competition and I still have plenty to give away. All you have to do to be eligible is leave a comment on this post by 10:00 p.m. next Wednesday. I'll pick a winner using the random number generator.

So let's dish up some Top Chef!
Ciao for now.


Psychomom said…
I was a little worried for team fork in the beginning but in the end the spoons got forked, the forks were spooning, and Nikki forgot she was on a show competing to be "Top Chef".

I agree she needed to go for her lack of leadership and although Dale was acting the fool and beating up lockers he was working. Spike was just playing the game and in the previews it looks like he might start some sabotage. Oh the Drama, crank it up!
Nic said…
I'll have to watch out for it, they might show it here sometime.
Anonymous said…
Thank God they had the good sense to keep Andrew away from the wedding guests.

I am becoming more and more convinced that my clinical evaluation of his behavior (Tourette Syndrome) is, as usual, right on the mark. I am a PhD, by the way.

Sadly, the shut-ins my wife cares for in her nursing practice are no longer interested in the oven mitts or muffin tins you are giving away.
Anonymous said…
Love this show, love it.
Sharon said…
I've never been into reality TV, but just got sucked into this show last week. It's not hard to catch up when Bravo plays so many episodes in a row! Some of it is quite cheesy, but its a guilty pleasure for sure.
chinamomxtwo said…
Dale was a jerk ...... I think it's time for him to pack his knives!
Thanks for the chance to win!
Neen said…
I'm so glad that I stumbled upon your blog! We don't own a TV (too young, too mobile, too broke) so I only get to watch top chef once in a blue moon when we visit the in-laws. Reading your post is even more entertaining than the show itself! I hope you do this regularly! :)
RecipeGirl said…
I fell asleep 10 minutes before the end, and our bulb went out today on our big LCD TV (the one with the tivo.) So I'm SOL in seeing the end. But I agree with the decision. I really found it to be another show that wasn't all that engaging (hence the falling asleep part!)

Yeah, Gail needs Tim Gunn.
Is it just me or does Chef Sexy (Tom Colicchio) seem meaner this season?
Nanc Twop said…
I totally agree about the 'No Restaurant Wars'!?... bummer! But look on the bright side, maybe it means we're finally through with catering!

And Gail's attire? She was merely trying to compete with Padma's quasi-military jacket. ;-) Nanc
Unknown said…
wait for meeee i am watching episode 6!...^_^

gosh i know dale is a jerk...but dunno why i think he's kinda hot...maybe i'll change my mind after the next episodes LOL
grace said…
antonia had the best line of the night regarding dale's childishness: "he punched the locker and then had to have his diaper changed." i'm liking her more and more. :)
I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I have the rest of the season. I felt like we got to actually see why some of the contestants are still here, so that was refreshing. I always loved the relay, but nobody can compete with Hung breaking down that chicken in the prior season, lol. Wedding Wars though simply can't hold a candle to restaurant wars.
Anonymous said…
YAY!!! I am SO siked! I love that hat! Thank you so much!! YAY!!
Anonymous said…

You can catch all the episodes on YouTube.
Anonymous said…
dale is a wanker.

stephanie for the win.
Manggy said…
I wish I could have seen the show! (Maybe in the near future.) I whisk like a little bitch. The hand mixer is my friend :)

The 14-hour cake looks very impressive. Great that they have someone with pastry training-- much better than watching amateurs try to put together a cake for the first time. (Hmm, I've never tried making a tiered cake either..)
Emily said…
Has Gail been dressing bad lately? I hadn't noticed, but I'm going to watch her like a hawk next time.
Speaking of Gail, how about that Gale Gand? Eh?

This was a fun episode. I like that it was an extra 15 minutes longer. Score!

I agree that Nikki should have gone home. Dale was acting like a whiny little b*tch in this episode. Don't like him anymore.

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