Top Chef

Season 4 Episode 1

Anything You Can Cook I Can Cook Better

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 12, 2008 on Bravo



  • Trivia

    • This episode was "supersized" by 15 minutes in it's initial airing. Reruns eliminated details from the audition videos, parts of the contestant introductions, Padma's discussion of the Top Chef kitchen, the entire Whole Foods shopping sequence, and some of the cooking in the Elimination Challenge

    • Season four adds a new component. Each contestant was allowed to bring up to $200 of personal ingredients with them from home. They also were allowed to bring unique equipment/appliances with them, but any restrictions to that were not revealed.

    • First Run Fan Poll:

      Do Zoi and Jen have an advantage in the show because they're a couple?

      A. Yes 22%
      B. No 78%

      (all percentages are as of the end of the episode.)

    • QuickFire Challenge Dishes Shown:
      * Richard - "Peach Taleggio Pizza" with Sweet Tea Sauce
      * Stephanie - Pizza with Melon-tomato Sauce, Prosciutto, Olives & Arugula
      * Zoi - Pizza with Broccoli, Pesto & Lamb Sausage
      * Pizza with Sausage, Pickled Kohlrabi, Scallions & Sriracha Sauce
      * Ryan - Pizza with Escarole, Ricotta Salata & Butternut Squash
      * Nikki - "White Pie" with Comte, Ricotta, Pecorino Cheeses & Mushrooms
      * Andrew - Pizza with Smoked Marinara, Prosciutto, Onions & Cheese
      * Jennifer - "Harvest Pizza" with Grapes, Bacon, Fontina & Rosemary
      * Erik - Pizza with Mushrooms, Onions, Peppers & Sausage
      * Spike - "Pizza a la Grec" with Onions, Feta Cheese, Olives & Sausage
      * Nimma - "Hunter-style Pizza" with Mushrooms, Onions & Stracchino Cheese
      * Mark - Pizza with Chicken, Zucchini & Marmite Molasses

    • Elimination Challenge Dishes:

      Duck a l'Orange
      * Mark - Enoki Mushrooms, Squash, Tangerine & Soy Glazed Duck Breast with a Sakitini
      * Stephanie - Duck Breast, Mushrooms, Bok Choy & Duck Spring Rolls with Orange-soy Glaze

      Crab Cakes
      * Andrew - Panko & Lump Crab Cake with Cilantro-basil Pudding, Orange Sauce
      * Richard - Blue Crab, Brussels Sprouts & Apple Coleslaw with Smoked Ras al Hanout

      * Jennifer - Lasagna with Autumn Vegetables, Meat Sauce & Mint Verde
      * Nikki - "Classic Lasagna" with Sheep's Milk Gouda

      Shrimp Scampi
      * Antonia - Parpardelle with Shrimp, Lobster, Tomatoes & Squash Blossoms
      * Nimma - Shrimp Scampi with Cauliflower Scramble

      Eggs Benedict
      * Spike - Poached Egg with Bacon, Mushrooms & Lemongrass Sabayon on a Crouton
      * Lisa - Poached Egg on Toasted Halla Bread with Lobster, Spinach, Hollandaise Sauce & Bacon

      Steak au Poivre
      * Dale - New York Strip Steak with Candied Peppercorn, Parsley Puree & Bok Choy
      * Manuel - Sirloin with Mushroom Ceviche & Scallion Cilantro Sauce

      Chicken Piccata
      * Ryan - Chicken Cutlets with Lemon-potato Gnocchi & Warm Herb Salad
      * Valerie - Chicken Breast with Orange Demi-glace, Potato & Haricots Verts Salad

      * Erik - Pepper Jack Cheese Souffle with Avocado Creme Fraiche, Black Bean Puree & Salsa
      * Zoi - Rice Pudding Soufflé with Candied Figs & Fennel with Espresso

    • Richard, Dale, Erik, Spike, Mark, Antonia, Ryan and Jennifer are named the top eight of the QuckFire. Lisa, Nimma, Valerie, Manuel, Andrew, Stephanie, Nikki and Zoi are the bottom eight. There is no immunity in this round.

    • In the QuickFire Challenge, Nimma was faulted for not salting her ingredients sufficiently, but in the Elimination Challenge the Judges said that she salted her shrimp to the point of inedibility.

    • Stephanie was named the winner of this week's Elimination Challenge. Nimma was the first chef to be sent home.

  • Quotes

    • Anthony Bourdain: (of Ryan) I really find it worrying that I have absolutely no idea what was coming out of his mouth.
      Rocco DiSpirito: Let's just say it wasn't only his gnocchi that were dense.

    • Spike: When Jen and Zoi announced that they were a couple, instantly I was like, ah, this– this is bull*$&@. But, I-I thought about it for a while, and I was, like, no big deal – they can go home together.

    • Erik: (referring to his cheese souffle) I made glorified nachos. I'm not proud of it.

  • Notes

    • Sixteen of the top up-and-coming chefs around the country have been asked to show off their culinary skills as they vie for the top prize, the title of Top Chef. Season Four, located in Chicago, returns with the judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Ted Allen and Padma Lakshmi. This season's title includes a feature in Food & Wine magazine, the opportunity for the winner to showcase his or her skills at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, a gourmet dream vacation in the French Alps, and $100,000 to help turn the winner's culinary dreams into reality. A creation of Magical Elves Productions.

    • During season three, there was a bit of a controversy at the Bravo website's blogs when Anthony Bourdain accused Rocco DiSpirito of being a sell out because he seemed to be more interested in being a reality TV show star than living up to his great potential as a chef. But Rocco never rose to the bait, and Anthony later said that he only said this because he respected Rocco's abilities so much.

    • In his blog at the Bravo website, Harold Dieterle points out that the odds against the competitors who had to make a souffle was worse than just their mutual lack of experience with the dish. He points out that a souffle is not something that you can hold off serving, it has to be served as soon as it's done to stay at the proper texture. Going last gave them too long to wait, and would have spoiled their dishes regardless of the recipe used.

    • Padma says in her video blog at Bravo's website that she and Rocco tasted all the pizzas twice- hot and cold- to determine their favorites.

    • According to Lee Anne's blog at the Bravo website, all the contestants are provided with a detailed list of the ingredients available at the Top Chef Pantry, so Andrew's failure to realize that mayo wasn't available was his own carelessness.

    • The credits configuration changes in season four. The part of previous seasons' end credits that ran over the preview for the next episode is now the opening titles. The part of the credits that scrolled over a black screen is now paged over the upcoming preview.

    • GE Monogram has again provided the appliances for the set, Whole Foods generic brands received prominent product placement in Padma's pantry mention, and, new this season, each contestant has a locker in the kitchen to hold ingredients and gadgets.

  • Allusions

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