Here we are in week four of the Top Chef season and already one Angeleno has fallen. The show wasn't the most exciting, but it did have Rocco DiSpirito hawking his book, the Today show episode that was taped (and spoiled) this summer, the Italian Stallion Fabio, and more people spitting out the cheftestants' food. With that, this week's recap:
1) As often happens, the top of the episode highlights the chefs to watch for this week: Ariane, still reeling on her turkey win; Jamie, who's sad to be the last standing member of Team Rainbow; and Alex with the goodbye letter from Team Rainbow member and Tom Colicchio-bear-loving Richard, which makes them all cry. Seriously, full on tears.
2) The Quickfire: Rocco DiSpirito and Pads show up and have the chefs make a breakfast amuse bouche. And by the way, Rocco lurves bacon so (hint, hint), it might behoove you all to use it. All Jamie eats for breakfast is chicken soup, so it's amazing she whipped out a tasty mini blt with quail egg. Stefan says an amuse bouche is "the showcase of a chef" and brings out his fancy egg cutter for his ode-to-LA huevos rancheros. Fabio, with the accent, reminds us again that he's Italian (and by the way, Rocco is not) which means sweet not savory for breakfast and delivers an amuse dessert. He, therefore, and Daniel with his corn flake-encrusted squash blossoms were on the bottom. Stefan's fancy egg, Jamie's blt, and Leah's bacon, egg and cheese bite were the top three. Leah pulls out the win because she's the only one who gets that an amuse is an amuse—one bite. Jamie's pissed.
3) Elimination Challenge: The chefs have to do a 2.5 minute spot in front of cameras while preparing some dish as if it's for millions of TV viewers, but not in the way they are already on TV in front of millions of viewers—live TV. And if there's one thing that scares an Italian chef, it's telling him (Fabio) that he has to do a live spot, cook food, and speak perfect English. Shopping at Whole Foods, Fabio insists on cutting his own tuna, Josea and Eugene follow suit.
4) All sorts of chaos ensues while the chefs prepare their dish in front of cameras with Tom, Pads, Gail and Rocco behind them. Daniel smokes everyone out with his marinated skirt steak. Ariane has time to spare with her watermelon tomato feta salad. Jamie does well with her frisee salad until her duck egg isn't cooked. Alex doesn't get his crème brulee done in time. Jeff from Dilido Beach (don't read it too fast) throws around a lot of words no one else can pronounce. Melissa burns the judges mouths off with habanero shrimp. Stefan was smart to do soup, plus he pulled the old TV-magic switcheroo which impressed the judges. "Fresh out of the boat" Fabio's tuna is tasty and his self deprecating nature works---Rocco says he's a "dream guest" and Gail wants to "hang out with him all day."
5) Bottom three are Melissa, Alex, Jamie, who stomps off to bed and cries herself to sleep. At this point Alex realizes he made the wrong decision by attempting crème brulee, even if he was right to think dessert would wow everyone. Jamie thinks his head isn't in it to win it, so Melissa should prove to the judges that she wants to stay. Jeff, Fabio and Ariane are the winners, which means Tom wakes them up at 2am to go to the Today show where he, Big C, will show of their dishes and let the Ladies of Today pick a winner. The losers are forced to watch the winners on TV with the rest of the group.
6) Classic Top Chef Moment: Kathie Lee Gifford spits out the shrimp in cabbage roll. This was Jeff's dish. Jeff just watched his food get spit out on national TV. As Fabio says: "If you're a professional chef and somebody spit your food out?it's bad, it's really bad."
7) Random Moments #1 and #2: Carla talking about Leah and Josea's "sexual chemistry." Fabio winning the "who should have their own cooking show" poll.
8) Judges Table: The Ladies of Today picked Ariane's watermelon salad as the winner and she gets a set of hand-selected tools from Rocco. The losers have to defend their dishes. Gails says no one should play with habanero, but Melissa says her palate is just different from everyone else's. Jamie's attitude rubbed everyone the wrong way. Alex can't say much other than he picked the wrong dish. He says the whole goal of the show is to stand out, Tom corrects him that the whole point is to win. Alex is told to pack his knives for doing the wrong dish. The first Angeleno has fallen. "I tried to take a risk and I got burned for it."
Next week: The chefs are cooking for Gail's bridal shower. Fabio charms the ladies. "Old people food." Food & Wine editor in chief Dana Cowin sits next to Gail at the party.