Top Chef: All Stars

2006, TV Show

Top Chef Episode: "Improv"

Season 4, Episode 7
Episode Synopsis: It's a dessert storm when the chefs must create sweets. Then, food gets funny when comedy troupers from Chicago's Second City teach the cooks the fine art of improvisation. Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini is the guest judge.
Original Air Date: Apr 23, 2008

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Season 4, Episode 7
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Aired: 4/23/2008
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Improv Season 4, Episode 7

Improvisation was the theme of this episode and creating a delicious dessert for the Quickfire Challenge was a heavenly first course. If the table of pastries didn't have you salivating, perhaps renowned pastry chef and guest judge Johnny Iuzzini, considered one of New York's sexiest chefs, did. (But I couldn't help wondering what happened to the buffet of beautiful sweet treats.) As host Padma Lakshmi said, preparing desserts has regularly been the Achilles' heel for the chefs. This has more to do with using exact measurements rather than improvising with flavors. I've baked a Sacher Torte many times but would never try it without consulting the recipe. Chef Johnny didn't like the composition of Mark's mini-meringue Pavlovas or Hat Guy Spike's pineapple rum raisin soufflé, though he was complimented for the attempt. On the bottom of both challenges, Antonia served a lackluster brûléed lemon curd with lemon cake. I've not tasted the shaved ice and milk mixture called Halo-Halo that Dale served and adding avocado, mango, kiwi and nuts sounded tasty. Both he and Richard were on top of both challenges but Richard's Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Chocolate Ice Cream was considered the most original and the recipe will be included in the next edition of "Top Chef The Cookbook". As the chefs watched the improvisational comedy troupe at Chicago's Second City, it became clear that the Elimination Challenge would be a combination of random colors, emotions, and ingredients offered up by members of the audience. But the challenge eventually mimicked the quick thinking of the comics when some of the chefs had to go to Plan B after they discovered that there were no electrical appliances to assist them. Andrew good-naturedly accepted the absence of a food processor and used a ricer to purée the squash for the soup he made with Spike. After blaming Antonia a few episodes ago for pushing a carpaccio dish on him, Spike got a second chance to serve a squash soup. (Andrew: "Soup's down. Thumbs up!") By adding a dollop of vanilla crème fraiche it enabled him to incorporate the required "inspirational" words of yellow, love and vanilla, and they became one of the two top teams. Padma said she liked the soup so much she could have licked the bowl. I'd love to see that! Richard once again thought outside the box when inventing a dish for the tricky combo of green, perplexed and tofu. Grilling the tofu was classic but marinating it with beef fat was inspired (though unappealing to me). Dale's contribution of adding green curry delighted most palates and his eggplant slurry, initially perplexing, ultimately intrigued me. But this dish delighted the judges most and won them both $2500 worth of Calphalon cookware. Antonia and Lisa used their required color magenta when they served purple potatoes. Incorporating the word "drunk" didn't mean they should do a shot of tequila when serving their dish and not offering it to the guests. And they should not have placed sea bass front and center instead of the required Polish sausage. Substituting chorizo and using it in the tequila sauce didn't enhance their improvisational style, getting called on a technicality by Tom Colicchio and Chef Johnny for serving a fish dish. The telltale clip of the evening happened early on when Jennifer was preparing for the challenge and said packing her knives was a bad omen. This ultimately played out as she and Stephanie attempted to concoct a ménage à trios for the words orange, turned-on and asparagus. No one was turned on by the orgy of items on the plate particularly the protruding log of goat cheese (with oil seeping out), asparagus that was meant to be erect, the unnecessary olives and tough grilled bread. Though the judges said the dish lacked finesse, Jennifer accepted the criticism and packed her knives for a second time. Second Bites " What ingredients went into Richard's banana guacamole? " When Tom announced a second twist or "improv" by packing everything up to finish prepping and serving their foods at the Top Chef house, Lisa slammed the others during her confessional for not having prepared for this. Do you think she was prepared for this twist? " What's the deal with Mark's comment about Richard's pink shirt matching his skin tone? He also wears pink Crocs, not that there's anything wrong with that " Andrew's opening comment: the room is a little uglier now that Ryan's gone. Wah. " Ted Allen is quick-witted and always injects humor. When comedian Alex Fendrich said he loves Polish sausage, Ted points out that the comment is directed to the gay guy and follows up with a the response: "I'm not Polish!" For more tasty treats about Top Chef, check out our Online Video Guide. show less
Improvisation was the theme of this episode and creating a delicious dessert for the Quickfire Challenge was a heavenly first course If the table of pastries didnt have you salivating perhaps renowned pastry chef and guest judge Johnny Iuzzini considered one of New Yorks sexiest chefs did But I couldnt help wondering what happened to the buffet of beautiful sweet treatsAs host Padma Lakshmi said preparing desserts has regularly been the Achilles heel for the chefs This has more to do with using exact measurements rather than improvising with flavors Ive baked a Sacher Torte many times but would never try it without consulting the recipeChef Johnny didnt like the composition of Marks mini-meringue Pavlovas or Hat Guy Spikes pineapple rum raisin souffl though he was complimented for the attempt On the bottom of both challenges Antonia served a lackluster br251led lemon curd with lemon cakeIve not tasted the shaved ice and milk mixture called Hal read more

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Premiered: March 08, 2006, on Bravo
Rating: TV-14
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Premise: A reality competition in which aspiring chefs compete for culinary stardom. Each episode features two challenges---a short test of basic cooking skills and an elimination challenge, in which one failing contestant is sent packing.

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