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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, December 5

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Review Thu Apr 03 2008

Top Chef, Episode 4: Blood and White Chocolate

Recap by Andie Thomalla.

Top Chef! Chiffonade technique! Movies! Drama! Lights, camera and action descended upon the cheftestants this week in more than the usual literal fashion when Richard Roeper (who I once body-checked on my way into Movies in the Park – sorry dude), Aisha Tyler, and a full table of other unknown judge-guests descended upon the Gallery 37 kitchen for a film-inspired feast this week. And unlike the other chef-centric reality show premiering this week, the Top Cookies managed to make a white chocolate inflected wasabi garnish not only appealing, but downright Oscar-worthy. Gordon Ramsay, eat your heart out.

Editor's Note: No stone is unturned in our recaps. Here be spoilers!

For the Quickfire, Padma stopped by with Daniel Boulud, ominously implying that if a chef didn’t know who he was, might as well call it quits. Well damn, Padma, don’t make me feel ignorant or anything. I knew who Rick Bayless was! (And I see you have Ming Tsai on board for next week! What must I do to please you?!) Boulud, admitting he had a few protégés in the bunch, challenged the chefs to create a pretty and palate-pleasing veggie plate. The last time I tried my hand at such cuttery, I lost part of my left index finger – thankfully the cheftestants faired better, and crabby Dale finally pulled out a win. (A Boulud protégé wins the quickfire? Mais non!)

And then it was swiftly on to the main stage, the reel deal, a six-course teamed event reflecting a different favorite film witch each dish. After some disheartening discussion of foreign films (Manuel: “Like Water for Chocolate.” Spike: “Huh? Dude, I can cook Vietnamese!”), and the worst recap ever of A Christmas Story, the chefs managed to turn out some disturbingly delicious dishes. While Richard’s futuristic robot-smoker crapped out after only three saran-wrapped plates, the Willy Wonka-inspired team, including Dale and Andrew, still managed to pull of top marks. Alongside the other frontrunner, Top Secret-loving Lisa and Stephanie and their strip steak with short-rib potsticker and caramel sauce. Come on, just writing that out makes my tummy growl. But, as the Judges’ Table Academy would have it, the Willy Wonka smoked salmon and tapioca caviar eked it out, with Richard finally taking home a win (without using smoke, plastic wrap or ras-el-hanout… Well played, sir).

The losers bore their criticism with the stoicism of gracious competitors on one hand (Zoi and Antonia, taking the time to add more accurate color to their dish’s description rather than talking up its, well, colors), and “Faith Hill at the Emmys” on the other, when Spike seemed to channel the machismo of the hat yet again in a flurry of dismissive excuses for his team’s limp attempt at a spring roll to rival Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam. And yet, his partner Manuel was ultimately sent off to pack his knives and head home. I personally was rooting for Spike to be shipped back to home base, helicopter and headband included. But the drama is what keeps me, and apparently a fair force of Chicago’s film experts, coming back for seconds.


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delk / April 3, 2008 5:20 AM

umm... that's Lisa and Stephanie, NOT Lisa and Valerie...

andie / April 3, 2008 9:30 AM

My bad. I was writing at 1am. Sorry.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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