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Top Chef Local Debriefing: Let's Go to the Movies!

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Last night's Top Chef may have been the most random albeit most entertaining one yet—Daniel Boulud, Richard Roeper, a basket of greens, and movie-inspired dishes were all on the menu during this bizarre fourth ep. As usual, the spazzy antics of the young chefs did not disappoint: bitching, flailing, and clawing their way through this "cinema-themed" episode. First a quick summary, then the local angle:

As previously mentioned, Top Chef regular Daniel Boulud, (looking oh-so-Euro in his shiny, dead sexy leather jacket), was front and center at the start of the quickfire. We learned/were reminded that Ryan and Richard had both worked in one of his restaurants. Apparently Boulud's style just wasn't "Ryan's thing." Shocker. The QF challenge was to create a veggie plate using 3 classical techniques to impress D-Biggs. After whining about the lack of technical skills of many cheftestants, Dale pulled off his first win. Then, in a total segue of theme, the elimination challenge was to create a six course meal for Richard Roeper, Aisha Tyler and a cast of randoms; each course was done by a different pair of chefs and inspired by a different film. In the end, Richard, Andrew, and Dale's Willy Wonka dish won, Daniel required subtitles 20% of the time, another non-personality too polite for reality television got the boot, and Padma's outfit was a feat in itself.

1) Zoi: Initially nervous about the technique-heavy quickfire challenge because she lacks formal training, Zoi's chiffonade and perfectly-poached egg impressed Master Boulud, earning her a spot in the top three. Unfortunately, our gal landed in the bottom pair in the elimination challenge, where she teamed up with LA's Antonia to pay homage to Talk To Her with a rack of lamb and "vibrant Spanish colors." Unfortunately for the Female California Alliance, brown lamb and white cauliflower sauce did not vibrant colors make, and for the second time in as many weeks, Zoi's head was on the chopping board. She escaped again, but like a good San Franciscan, did express some strong anti-sentiment regarding molecular gastronomy. Seeds, planted. Forecast: We've got a bad feeling she's the next local to go.

1a) Foreboding Zoi quote of the episode, on the (eventual winning) chocolate-wasabi dish: "That doesn't taste good, I promise, and if this is what they want, then see you later!"

2) Jen: Jen went unnoticed in the quickfire, and largely flew under the radar in the elimination challenge. She and Nikki took the Italian route, making rustic tortellini from scratch with Il Postino as their inspiration. The real judges were largely ambivalent about it, but the "random judges" enjoyed it. Middle of the pack. Forecast: Conspiracy theorists have a woman winning this season, and at the risk of jinxing her, we've seen nothing to suggest JB won't make it far.

3) Ryan: The producers have got to be thanking their stars they found Ryan, because the guy is a gold mine for entertainment and memorable quotes. In the elimination challenge, he "got stuck" with Mark, made fun of the man's accent, suggested Dumb and Dumber as a possible culinary inspiration, and had the (pretty good) idea to create a dish around the Chinese food scene in A Christmas Story. The editing set up the comedic scenes to have Ryan/Mark flopping this week, but surprise surprise, their quail spring rolls and carrot puree were smash hits. Forecast: For better or worse, he's way too good of a character to ax so soon. Bravo has made him a main character, which usually merits staying until the second half of the season.

3a) Classic Ryan quote of the episode: "New England, New Zealand ... where the hell is Mark from?"

4) Chefbian Angling: Once again, the show started off with the questionable editing trying to make a storyline/controversy out of the relationship, even pulling a quote from Spike about how it's not an issue but he's ready to see one leave. Let it be known that Bravo doesn't have to try to concoct dramatic storylines about Zoi-ffer every single week when there's nothing to suggest that it's an issue for anyone (at least at this point).

5) Knife-Packer: Poor, over-polite Manuel, who left the room with a gentlemanly speech after he let Spike screw up the challenge.

6) Fun Preview for Next Week: Dale swears. Jen kicks a chair. Our money's on Jen.