Top Chef

Season 4 Episode 2

Zoo Food

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 19, 2008 on Bravo
out of 10
User Rating
23 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Cooking with limited ingredients is the challenge in this episode which features a QuickFire set at a farmers' market, and an Elimination round in a real zoo. Guest Judge: Wylie Dufresne QuickFire Challenge: Create a Dish Using Only Five Ingredients. Elimination Challenge: Cater a Cocktail Party for 200 at the Lincoln Park Zoo using Foods in Five Animals' Diets. Round Two.moreless

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  • Two great challenges!

    Two great challenges bring out both the best and the worst in all of people. As they must do the thing called zoo food. Spike really I must confess, one lazy and obnoxious chef. As I thought that he should had gone first. Really he is not a team player and lets his team down. While the others are doing their stuff, Spike is doing nothing. The guy is nothing but a busybody. Valerie is sent home. Don't know why she got annoyed with Antonia as the latter claimed to have tasted every other food. It will only go from hard to harder in the next few weeks!moreless
  • the quickfire takes place the farmer's market at the zoo and the elimination challenge continues the zoo theme as the teams are divided into groups according to zoo animals

    i liked this was really inventive and as always most of the food looked good enough to eat..i liked the quickfire..those dishes looked so delicious..some of them more than others but it all l,ooked good..i just disagree w/ who won the quickfire..i did love the elimination challenge..i would have had trouble coming with an idea for my animal but i think everyone did pretty well..the ice berg one (penguin) would have to be my perfect..i loved that idea..i wanted to eat that so bad..i liked the penguin table the best..the gorilla did not look that great to me so i totally agreed with the judges decision on this onemoreless
  • The chefs have to take the diets of a handful of animals and invent dishes for a cocktail party.

    I love the series because you see people who claim to be extremely good cooks do extremely stupid things. Valerie made the same mistake that chefs have made since the first season, she made a dish that she admitted must be made to order, will not travel well and then used odd-ball flavors that in no way complemented each other.

    Nikki, Dale and Spike if you won't eat it, why would you put it out and let others eat it especially when your chance of getting kicked off the show is so great if your dish fails. Those mushrooms looked terrible, sounded disgusting and Nikki - cheese is not a garnish it is an ingredient.moreless
  • Two great challenges and some great examples of cooking from the cheftestants.

    The Quickfire Challenge for this episode was very simple: make a dish using only five ingredients, besides some basic spices that they were allowed to not count as one of their ingredients. While one of the chefs included one more ingredient than he should have, the winning chef actually forgot one of his ingredients and still proved that he had the skill to pull off a great dish with minimal supplies. It was nice to see the chefs presented with a challenge that really made them think, and also that demonstrated that less is sometimes better than more.

    The Elimination Challenge was equally creative and also fun. Each group was presented with a list of ingredients from the diet of a certain animal and asked to cater a party with a menu based around the ingredients on the list. The majority of the teams stepped up to the challenge, although the winning team clearly set a standard that was above the rest. The losing dish was, I think, undisputed in this case. Blinis are not a food that can be transported (I've made them before, and not only are they hard to make, but we had to make them for a four hour or so event, so they had to be made on site), and the ingredients listed just didn't sound appetizing, especially since most of them are bland, and since a blini itself is already bland and more accentuated by the topping they have (traditionally caviar or smoked salmon, which have very strong flavors), it is plain to see why this didn't work. One of the guests at the party even said it tasted like dirt. It doesn't get much worse than that.moreless
  • Cute Challenge.

    Well, in this episode the possible final contestants and obvious people who are not going to be final contestants start to show. As far as the females go, there not showing much right now. One of the lesbians is my favorite for right now, but nothing magical has happen yet. I really don't think Nikki is going to make it to the end, but I'm rooting for Stephanie also. As for the men, Richard, Andrew, and the Australian are still my favorites. Spike or Dale could also come forth and do something special but I don't think Eric will make it till the end. Good show....moreless

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • First Run Fan Poll:

      Do you think of Judge Tom as more of a…

      A. Gorilla 21%
      B. Bear 62%
      C. Penguin 17%

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

    • QuickFire Challenge Dishes Shown:

      • Richard - "Chicken Soup" with Chicken, Apples, Apple Cider, Eucalyptus, and Butter
      • Ryan - Lettuce, Radishes, Potatoes, Sirloin Steak, and Dijon Mustard
      • Dale - Mushrooms, Shallots, Radishes, Eggs, and Butter
      • Valerie - Rib Eye Steak, Peaches, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Arugula
      • Spike - Tenderloin Tips, Apples, Bread, Apple Cider, and Rosemary
      • Erik - Lamb Chop, Baby Carrots, Potatoes, Mint, and Garlic
      • Mark - Sirloin Steak, Turnips, Mushrooms, Peaches, and Butter
      • Andrew - Lamb Chops, Peaches, Onions, Mint, Potatoes, and Balsamic Vinegar

    • Elimination Challenge Dishes:

      Team Lion (Ryan, Erik, and Richard)
      • Beet Salad with Yuzu, Ras al Hanout and Goat Cheese Foam
      • Bison Tartare with Tarragon Coulis
      • Chicken Sate (not shown)
      • Prime Rib with Horseradish Foam (not shown)

      Team Vulture (Mark, Manuel, and Zoi)
      • Marinated Anchovy on a Quinoa Croquette
      • Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatball, Ricotta, Pomegranate Syrup, and Pistachio
      • Braised Chicken on a Tostada Chip (not shown)

      Team Gorilla (Valerie, Stephanie, and Antonia)
      • Roasted Pear and Crab Salad with Celery Root
      • Black Olive Blini with Fennel Mascarpone, Rutabaga, and Beets
      • Minced Lamb and Edamame in Lettuce Cups
      • Banana Bread with Salted Caramel Sauce and Meringue

      Team Bear (Dale, Spike, and Nikki)
      • Chimay Cheese and Honeycomb on Cranberry-Pecan Bread
      • Salmon a la Plancha on Lettuce Cups with Pickled Vegetables and Peanuts
      • Mushrooms Stuffed with Blueberries, Walnuts and Pecorino Cheese
      • Venison Loin with Squash (not shown)

      Team Penguin (Lisa, Jen, and Andrew)
      • Yuzu and Mint "Glacier"
      • Squid Ceviche with Soy-Balsamic Tapioca
      • Thai Shrimp and Crab Salad with Watercress
      • Roasted Zucchini (not shown)

    • Andrew is the winner of the Elimination Challenge. Valerie is told to pack her knives and go.

    • Mark is declared the winner of the QuickFire Challenge and is granted immunity for the Elimination Challenge.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Party Guest: I think that the Gorillas have the best station, except for the olive pancake which tasted a little bit like dirt.

    • Spike: (listening to music at the Green River Farmers' Market) My other competitors are running around, but, I'm, like, I'm gonna enjoy the Farmers' Market, like I do. If do good on the QuickFire, cool, if I don't, I don't. And if anything, it's gonna calm me down, and bring me back to my roots.

    • Richard: Molecular gastronomy is not whiz-bang-gadget-gizmo. It's the basis to take traditional items and, because of science, make them better.

    • Zoi: What's the diet of a vulture? Decomposing carcasses? Roadkill? Rats?

    • Gail: (about Team Bear's mushrooms) It looked like something a bear would produce, not eat.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Not long before this episode aired, Guest Judge Wylie Dufresne's restaurant wd~50 was upgraded by the New York Times from two stars to three.

    • Valerie is annoyed with Antonia because she said she'd choose Stephanie over her in spite of the fact that Antonia didn't taste her blinis in their final form. But Antonia points out that she tasted each of the elements separately, and didn't need to taste them together to know that Stephanie was more worthy of her support before the Judges.

    • Also Featured:

      Dr. Shana Lavin – Nutrition Manager, Lincoln Park Zoo
      Elizabeth Bruccoleri – Zoological Manager, Bird Department, Lincoln Park Zoo

    • Andrew annoyed the production crew when he used an entire $100 bottle of yuzu concentrate for his glacier, as well as putting a serious dent in the Top Chef Pantry's spice supply to make his penguin table decoration.

    • Lee Anne says in her blog that she went out and bought quails and rabbits and had Whole Foods hold them behind the counter for Team Vulture because the market doesn't regularly carry those items. Unfortunately, the Team chose not to use those meats, so Lee Anne ended up with a freezer full of game.

    • In Lee Anne's blog, she says that the five animals were chosen because of the wide variety of their diets. She wanted to be sure that the guests would have more to sample than just "leafy greens and eggs."


    • Richard: We're also doing a tiny little version- kind of a 'Honey I Shrunk the Prime Rib.'
      This is a reference to the 1989 Disney film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a story about an experiment gone wrong that strands the inventor's children in the yard while miniaturized.