Top Chef

Season 4 Episode 5

The Elements

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Apr 09, 2008 on Bravo



  • Trivia

    • First-Run Fan Poll:

      Which contestant deserves a spanking for being difficult?

      A. Antonia 17%
      B. Dale 56%
      C. Lisa 27%

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

    • Elimination Challenge Dishes

      Team Water - Richard, Mark, and Andrew
      Poached Salmon with Faux Caviar, Parsnip Puree & Watercress Salad

      Team Fire - Stephanie, Dale, and Lisa
      Grilled Shrimp with Pickled Chili Salad, Deviled Aïoli & Miso Smoked Bacon

      Team Air - Nikki, Ryan, and Jen
      Duck Breast with Citrus Salad and Pomegranate Prosecco Apéritif

      Team Earth - Antonia, Spike, and Zoi
      Beef Carpaccio with Mushroom Salad and Sunchoke Aioli

    • Team Air were criticized for not rendering the fat of their duck properly. Duck fat is heavy and dense, like that of pork. To render it properly, one should score the skin of the duck while cooking, since that helps the fat to run off through the cuts in the skin.

    • In the heated argument between Antonia and Spike, Spike says Antonia said that she would not do a soup, no matter what the others thought, and Antonia denied it vehemently. For the record, Antonia told the others that if they insisted on making the squash soup, she would do her best to make it work, but Zoi sided with her on the carpaccio. But in a private interview for the camera, Antonia said she'd never do it, since a soup would not get them the win, in her opinion.

    • Taste Test Ingredients
      Imitation Breakfast Syrup vs. Real Maple Syrup
      Generic Sliced Bacon vs. Double Applewood Smoked Berkshire Slab Bacon
      Farmed Salmon vs. Wild Atlantic Salmon
      Imitation Crab Pieces vs. Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
      Hershey Bar vs. Valrhona Chocolate
      Generic Supermarket Unsalted Butter vs. Plugra
      Deli Cheddar vs. English Cheddar
      Generic Soy Sauce vs. Small Batch Artisan Soy Sauce
      Boxed Sake vs. Junmai Daiginjo Sake
      Lumpfish Roe vs. American Sturgeon Caviar
      Generic Commercial Pork Chop vs. Organic Kurobuta Pork Chop
      Generic Commercial Chicken Breast vs. Organic, Free Range Chicken Breast
      Cheap Parmesan Cheese vs. Parmigiano Reggiano
      Supermarket Pate vs. Country Pate with Black Truffles
      Generic Olive Oil vs. Small Batch Artisan Olive Oil

    • Antonia won the QuickFire Challenge and safety from elimination.

    • Lisa was declared the winner of the Elimination Challenge; Zoi was told to pack her knives and go.

  • Quotes

    • Guest #1: If I was a judge on the Top Chef, then I would be telling one of the Earth members they were going home tonight.
      Guest #2: (laughingly gasps) Ouch!

    • Tom Colicchio: Some things aren't good sous vide. (everyone at the table agrees) Salmon is one.

    • Nikki: (to Ryan, who swore after making a mistake) And just remember, when you curse, that draws attention to you.

  • Notes

    • Ted Allen, who did not Judge in this episode, pointed out in his blog that the salmon of Team Water looked like it had a strange grid-like imprint on the surface of the fish, probably from the texture of the plastic bag used for the sous vide being pressed into it during cooking.

    • According to Antonia, only a few of the plates of carpaccio were unseasoned, because Spike was plating them haphazardly, and while he and Antonia argued about it, the servers took the first plates out, most likely straight to the judges.

    • Since the wait staff had to walk about 1,000 feet just to get to the dining room, there were a number accidents with the shot glasses of Team Air's pomerini tipping over and spilling on the plates or falling and breaking as they walked.

    • According to Lee Anne, one of the things that wasn't mentioned about Team Fire's winning dish was that it was something that worked just as well cold as hot, making service hassles less of a worry for them.

    • Ming Tsai was particularly appropriate for this Challenge because he is a member of the Macy's Culinary Council, which staged the Meals on Wheels gala.

    • Ming Tsai and Executive Producer Shauna Minoprio were both dubious about the taste test being too easy, but Lee Anne had Shauna do it, and her results convinced her that it was harder than she thought, and Ming agreed.

    • It took three hours to get through all the taste testing. Lee Anne developed a list of 25 ingredients for comparison, but she and the producers narrowed it down to the final fifteen in order to get the test accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

    • The Judges weren't the only ones who were impressed by Lisa's cooking bacon with maple syrup and miso. According to his blog, Harold Dieterle, the winner of season one, was so intrigued with the new combination that he's strongly considering utilizing it in a dish at his restaurant Perilla.

    • Also Featured: Nancy Silverton – Founder, La Brea Bakery & Co-owner, Pizeria Mozza

    • According to Tom's blog at the Bravo website, the salmon wasn't the only part of Team Water's dish that had scales in it. He mentions that they didn't work "clean" as a possible explanation for the distribution of scales throughout.

  • Allusions