It’s the Top Chef episode 4 review, where if we can’t spoil your Star Wars movie going experience today, maybe we can spoil something. (Note: please know, no food was spoiled in the making or reviewing of this episode.)

Last time out, Frances was ousted for a “hodge podge on a plate” and the producers start episode four with the cheftestants toasting her, “to another soldier lost,” in one of those probably funny in the moment comments that really falls flat when you hear a guy who is cooking on television comparing himself and his other cheftestants to soldiers who are dying.

Now let’s get to the food!


The group heads to Palm Springs, which leads to this exchange:

“Does anyone know about Palm Springs?”

“It’s gay. Lots of gay, lots of old people.”

Turns out, Jason is gay. Jason is the guy wearing the Hawaiian shirt last week. Duh.

Jason calls Palm Springs the “gay Mecca.” Does every religion/sexuality/culture have its own Mecca. And isn’t it always Madison Square Garden?


The cheftestants go to the desert for an adventure. Kwame doesn’t want to cook scorpions. I would rock scorpions like a hurricane. Sorry.



Hey look who’s with Padma in the desert just hanging out near a bunch of cooking stations, it’s José Andrés! Marjorie worked for Andrés for a while, so another conflict on a show that always has them because there are only like 50 chefs on the planet, I’m convinced of that.


The Quickfire is about clean energy, so they have to use solar cook ovens to make their dishes, which is actually pretty bad-ass, and reasonably priced if you’re into such culinary novelties. They also have stoves, which look like satellite dishes.

Immunity to the winter. It’s super hot, and the cheftestants have to move their stoves and ovens around to capture the sun. How much movement could they need in a location with no clouds and half an hour to cook? But still, bad-ass cookery.


Isaac is cooking cornbread in the solar tube oven, for José Andrés. Because he has a death wish. Oh, and speaking of death wishes…


Giselle put oil or water or some fluid in the solar oven and it shattered all over the place, almost like it was booby-trapped for the drama of it all. Seriously, that’s incredibly dangerous, but right there, behind her, there’s a back-up oven.

COME ON, BRAVO. Why would there be a back-up oven right there unless it was planned that one oven would explode? I’m convinced that was staged.


The chefestants are having varying degrees of success with the solar ovens and stoves and then Phillip, the Los Angeles chef, goes foraging for rocks. He’s using them as plates.

“What’s wrong with you, bro?”

We’re all asking that, Amar. We’re all asking that.

Wesley is tired of being a slob and the music is getting louder so that must mean “hands up, utensils down.”


The judges like Isaac’s cornbread. Carl’s bacon-and-date dish was the favorite of José Andrés’ mother. Yeah, he wins. He has to.









Grayson complained about heat issues. Giselle had glass all over her station from the explosion.


We flash through half the dishes the judges all seem to like before they get to Wesley, who suggests the winner gets to bring home one of the solar ovens. Yeah, okay, now he’s winning.


And then we settle in on Phillip’s rock plates. Rock plates. What’s wrong with you, bro?

“You weren’t worried about serving oysters in this heat?”

That’s code from Padma for “what’s wrong with you, bro?” She then said, “it was like snot on a rock.”



The least favorites: Grayson’s steak was dry, Giselle’s glass-cracking dish and Phillip’s snot rock.


The favorites were Jeremy, Wesley and Isaac. And the winner is Wesley! He wins immunity and a $10,000 donation to World Central Kitchen on his behalf. But wait, José Andrés lets him have a clean-cook stove to bring home. Hooray for everyone!


And now it’s time to get eliminated. The stoves and ovens split into two teams. The judges are playing golf while the cheftestants have to “course” a meal—four courses, served on the golf course, without a kitchen. They’re using carts. This will be a disaster, surely.

José Andrés hopes one team “hits a hole in one.” Oh, golly. It’s time to grip it and rip it with the golf puns, isn’t it?

One team is going fresh and Latin. The other team is doing, well, I don’t know because Giselle and Angelina are fighting about being together again after Angelina called Giselle a bitch last week. Bravo! Drama! Cooking!

Speaking of drama and cooking, Kwame and Jeremy are doing the same fish dish, but on different teams. Jeremy, thoughts?


Phillip, who is unbearable at this point in the season, is making a dish his wife created. She’s “a fantastic pastry chef” and she made this dish in a 50-seat pop up restaurant they were “tasked” with running in the VIP section at Coachella. Of course. (There’s a rock tie-in here, but I don’t want to go there.)


They stay at the La Quinta suites and we get this exchange between Jeremy and Chad, the guy with the giant beard who says bro a lot.


“This makes it all worth it, bro.”
“I’ve been waiting for this moment.”

Oh you were signing it in your head too, don’t lie to me.

Jason is upset at the loudness of the bros. He uses the word “macho” which is the best word in the English language and you cannot convince me otherwise. Say it. Say it 10 times. Macho.


Macho. Macho. MACHO.

I’m right. (Macho.)


Golf is decidedly un-macho, but that’s where the teams head in the morning, to cook at PGA West in Palm Springs. It looks nice.

The groups get their own carts to cook on the path next to four greens. The judges are golfing. Damn, looks like celebrity chef John Besh can hit it a bit.


Course 1:

Karen and Jeremy are on the blue team and they’re making ceviche.

Kwame and Chad are on the orange team and they’re making ceviche. One has peanuts and swordfish. One has halibut and caviar with passion fruit, just for the halibut. (Never gets old.)


Seriously, Padma cannot putt. Come on, Padma that was a kick-in and it went almost three feet past.

Blue team’s ceviche was outstanding, and Jeremy was smart to double-bowl his dish with ice under the food.


Orange team’s ceviche was a little too warm. Of course, they went second so that’s probably a little unfair.

The next foursome includes Tom Collicchio and Richard Blais, and they like the blue team’s dish too, as Blais says the avocado mouse is better than the start of his round, to which Tom suggests, “this might be the only green you hit all day.” Boom. Golf puns. Up top!


They liked the orange team less as well, which means they are in trouble.


Course 2:

Grayson and Angelina are orange and go up against Jason and Marjorie for the blue team. Cut to cooking and golf and cooking and golf and chorizo hash and golf and vinegar and acid and lime instead and then more golf and “did you put salt?”


The dish fell a little flat for the first foursome. They complained about the corn, but the team decided not to change it up. And then Grayson EATS OFF THE SPOON SHE’S COOKING WITH and nobody makes a big deal about it at all.


See, the freaking double-standard is back. Some episodes (on every cooking show) it’s the biggest thing in the world, a fireable offense, and in other episodes it’s just b-roll when talking about corn.

This angers me greatly, and it should anger food fans around the world. She should be sent home for this, and it should freak all of us out that top chefs—literally Top Chefs—do this constantly and it’s just part of the industry until it becomes a dramatic plot point (if needed) on shows like Top Chef or Chopped. If there was a job out there for food television producers where someone watches all the footage and finds the gross food habits of chefs to edit it out so viewers at home aren’t horrified by their unsanitary practices, I’m your guy. And I’m never eating in a restaurant ever again.


The blue team, who I am now rooting for, has a better dish. They win. The second foursome also thinks the orange dish could use more fresh corn, and everything was overcooked. The blue was perfect.

If this is a match play contest, the blue are dormie two.


Course 3:

Wesley and Carl are making roasted pork loin with yogurt, grapes and chiles. Giselle and Amar are making steak and salsa verde with bacon asparagus potato salad. Out of golf snack carts. This show is amazing.

Carl used to flip golf carts in high school. Why do people always admit to criminal acts on television shows? Is that giving him “bad boy of the culinary world” bonus points we civilians are unaware of?


The first foursome of judges don’t really like either, as the grapes were too warm and the steak and potatoes felt like two different dishes. The second foursome likes the orange’s steak better, while the blue team changed up their grapes by keeping them raw, which worked a lot better for those judges. Always. Take. The. Feedback. (See: corn, above.)


Course 4:

Course four is dessert, which pits Isaac (orange) against Phillip (rocks as plates). Isaac talks about how much dessert bothers him, yet he picked dessert, which means he’s probably a candidate for packing his knives and going.

The wind is crazy, and the burners won’t stay lit. Phillip takes his stove and moves it to the driver’s seat of his cart, using his knife bag as a barricade. This is like one of those adventure shows where they have to cook the innards of a lion on an open flame they make out of willow bark and sleep inside the lion’s skin just to survive the night. But, you know, on a Palm Springs golf course making sabayon and pudding for famous chefs.


The wind is sending their plates all over the places, because like most Top Chef challenges, the beauty is in the ridiculousness. The judges love Isaac’s grapefruit flavor, but wanted more.


Phillip is just weird. He’s hiding behind a bar while explaining his dish because of the wind. Hey Phillip if you used rocks for plates again they wouldn’t blow away. Just saying.

“This is the weirdest experience I’ve ever had, it’s like talking to a ghost.”

Well, Padma, the ghost can cook, and the chefs mostly like his dish, despite José Andrés questioning the use of coconut and strawberry together.


The second foursome likes Isaac’s dish, but think the texture of Phillip’s pudding is, as Tom says, “really kind of awful.”


It’s time for judges’ tee box, er, table. The blue team had two of the best dishes and one of the worst. Considering there were only eight dishes and four heads-up competitions, that means the teams were about even.


Tom thinks it was the best food he’s had on a golf course and everyone laughs because they are insanely nervous and don’t want to leave. And the blue team wins, despite Phillip’s dessert everyone disliked.


The winning dish of the day was Karen and Jeremy’s ceviche. The bowl of ice under the bowl of food won them the challenge, but they have to pick one winner for some reason, which means Jeremy is the winner for preparing the fish and making the ice double cooler. Jeremy gets a week’s stay in Palm Springs at some point after the show ends. Not a bad prize for golf course fish. Jeremy, thoughts?


Now the orange team is up for elimination, and it was a close fight, but one dish was clearly inferior. Grayson and Angelina have the worst dish, and one of them will be going home.


Grayson really liked their dish, which is the death knell for shows like this. If you say you agree with the judges, they are usually more lenient. If you disagree, and defend your dish, they will devour you. I would do well on this show…if I could cook half as well as any of the cheftestants.

They devour Grayson, ripping her for making greasy chorizo and corn with fatty avocado. Angelina stayed quiet, but they still ripped her for over-marinated shrimp that was rubbery and didn’t work with the slop Grayson presented. (Slop is my term, I’m sure it was delicious.)

Blais asks Angelina who should leave and she punts, saying they are a team and both of them put the dish together. That’s noble, but when you are fighting for your culinary life, you drive that damn golf cart over the lady who screwed up the corn! Right guys?


Tom asks if they both should go home.

Neither of them want to leave. Shocker. Tom says one ingredient set them apart, and that’s what the decision comes down to. It’s obviously the corn. See you in four seasons, Grayson.

Back from break, Tom says, “golf reminds me of cooking,” which is something a chef would say but probably not something a golfer would say.

“There are no mulligans. Every stroke you take is counted and everything that goes on a plate is counted.”

Grayson just put her tee shot in the drink. Pack your knives, and your corn, and go.


At the goodbye, Tom stops Grayson to tell her it was the corn, and the exchange is not pleasant.

“We both got the corn, we both decided to put the corn in.”

“But you cooked it.”

“Thank you, SIR.”

Returning cheftestants always have an attitude like they think they should be handed the trophy when they come back for a second try. Grayson said she’s been in kitchens longer than Angelina and she’s “been on this Earth” longer, so they should know she’s a better chef.

Maybe she should know how to cook some damn corn! She leaves the set saying, “f*@k that s&!t,” which is how I plan to leave every restaurant I go to now, because why not go on your own terms?


Next time on Top Chef, Chrissy Teigen talking about sweet, sticky dates. Bravo! And a big fat gay wedding! With Art Smith! Will Oprah be invited or get mentioned 50 times? Tune in to find out!

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.