Thursday, April 3, 2008

Better than Popcorn

While I trust that the chefs on Top Chef Season 4 are talented, they certainly didn’t impress me with their imagination last night.

The task: create a six-course dinner, in which each course is inspired by “your favorite movie.” I think “your favorite movie” should right now be defined as “the movie of your choice,” because if the rules were strict, someone like Jeff would have to design a meal based on I [heart] Huckabees.

But hey, maybe they should have been strict. What would have happened has the contestants been asked to write down their favorite movies during the interview process, then been told the assignment? That certainly would have pushed their limits more than, “hmm, I like Vietnamese food – let’s make spring rolls that we can say were inspired by Good Morning Vietnam!” They might as well have picked The Godfather and served ziti. It would have been more appropriate.

The only imaginative dish of the night came from the team that chose Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—they had the first course of the meal and created a salmon dish with wasabi, white chocolate and “caviar” made from tapioca. It was colorful, inventive, and apparently delicious…all a perfect capture of the movie.

I’ll play the game. Below is a short list with some of my favorites, and the meal I would create (or buy) to commemorate it.

Big Night: Duh. How did no one even mention this one? A perfectly cooked omelet on a plain white plate served beside a tear of baguette. Says more about the movie than the famous timpano, and is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. Yes, Tom Colicchio would be all, “This is an embarrassment; you spent three hours on this?” But he can kind of be a dick, so who cares what he says? I’m going to play the game pretending this wouldn’t be presented in front of Judges' Table, okay?

Before Sunrise: Something that would make you linger. Something delicious and sweet…but casual. Something familiar. A picnic! Yes, a picnic basket with good cheeses, a bottle of wine, and a bar of dark chocolate.

Before Sunset: Well, definitely something French. And it would have to be a snack, since the entire movie takes place in the span of 85 minutes or so. A pain au chocolat with black tea.

Being John Malkovich: Oh boy. Something inside something else. I guess a turducken? Malkovich. Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich.

Reality Bites: Something cheap, and with coffee. If you make something purposefully greasy and a little gross would that be bad? If we’re really aiming to capture the movie, then diner food—floppy toast, greasy scrambled eggs, bacon, a side of weak coffee, and a cigarette.

25th Hour: Greasy takeout New York Chinese food, served with a shot of vodka.

Clueless: Colors! Too easy, but too fun not to mention. Vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

Magnolia: Frogs legs. Lots of them. No side dishes. Plopped randomly all over a big plate. Done.