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S4 - Stephanie Izard: Takes the Cake


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#1

Puds38

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Posted Feb 24, 2008 @ 9:28 PM

From NBC Universal Media Village:

Until recently, Stephanie was the chef/owner of Scylla in Chicago. She is now enjoying traveling, both domestically and abroad, while planning her next exciting venture. Stephanie’s biggest lure in cooking is seafood because the same fish can be cooked so many different ways – grilled, poached, cured, pan roasted – and this brings out different attributes, flavors and textures. Stephanie says in her cooking, contrasting and complementary elements are essential, but balance is non-negotiable. She has always been very driven and a bit of a risk-taker. "Once I set my mind to something, I follow through. It always has to be 110%."

She seems to be quite the talented chef. Her restaurant received raves on Chowhound, I just hope she can do more than just seafood.
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#2

SillyConspiracy

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Posted Mar 12, 2008 @ 10:29 PM

She impressed tonight. Her elimination dish was easily the won that made my eyes the hungriest, and you know what they say about that.

Incidentally, her edit tonight reminds me of why I like Top Chef so much- they have to do at least two loser edits in a show, one for quickfire and one for elimination, and so much focus on her nervousness and bombing in the quickfire had me convinced she was gone.
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#3

timesamillion

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Posted Mar 12, 2008 @ 11:09 PM

Her old restaurant Scylla was just up the street from me. It was great but got squeezed at some point and was forced to go more "downscale" w/ the menu. It just closed shortly before the show started filming so maybe she had a premonition.

Way to go this week !!

here are some better threads about Scylla

http://lthforum.com/...opic.php?t=8899
http://lthforum.com/...pic.php?t=11864
http://www.lthforum....pic.php?p=43381

Edited by timesamillion, Mar 12, 2008 @ 11:14 PM.

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#4

jm chen

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 9:26 AM

Great duck dish, good credentials, and an adorable combination of nervousness and awesome that reminds me of Harold. One to watch.
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#5

powerleft

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 9:59 AM

Here's an article on Stephanie in her hometown paper (my hometown as well). Go Stamford!

And it appears to be Izard not Izzard.
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#6

googlyeyez

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 1:24 PM

Her nervousness was endearing. She is adorable. Made even more adorable by sporting a Yoda backpack, cute! I was glad she won, her duck dish looked delish.
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#7

Somethyme

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 2:41 PM

Oh, I forgot the Yoda backpack! Yeah, she's cute...and her shaking hands got my vote of sympathy. Her duck dish made me drool and I want to eat it.
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#8

erino

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 3:18 PM

Stephanie seems so completely genuine, and so far she's my favorite. And she's cute as a button, too!
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#9

EvilGeniusClub

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Posted Mar 13, 2008 @ 7:28 PM

What was very impressive to my eyes is that she came in with the rep of being a seafood specialist. Last year Malarkey was terriffic with seafood, but struggled outside that comfort zone. She on the other hand took a duck (not the easiest food to prepare well mind you) and turned it into something great. When Bourdain is saying he wanted to keep eating it, you're on to something.
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#10

supri

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Posted Mar 14, 2008 @ 9:54 AM

I don't even like duck that much, and her dish looked SO GOOD. But then... the spring rolls are probably what set my stomach growling.

I am so glad Stephanie won! I'm in total agreement with the genuine, nervous but awesome, cute-as-a-button descriptions.
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#11

tortiegirl

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Posted Mar 15, 2008 @ 5:35 PM

Woo Hoo! Go Stamford girl! (Me, I'm WHS class of '84 but an SF Bay-Area gal since 1993.) Turn of River Hardware! Wow; used to know that place like the back of my hand.

Requisite food-related comment: I'm a veggie and even I thought her plate looked awesome.

Edited by tortiegirl, Mar 15, 2008 @ 5:36 PM.

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#12

psyche679

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Posted Mar 17, 2008 @ 5:29 PM

Scylla was a really great neighborhood restaurant. I was sad when it closed.
She's a very close friend of a friend of mine and I've met her socially (no, I know nothing about the what happens, and as far as I can tell she hasn't told anyone any details).
She's also very generous--she donated special tastings and service to local non-profits as a raffle prize, and the like. Really sweet and caring.
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#13

Stile4aly

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Posted Mar 17, 2008 @ 6:19 PM

So, with the last name "Izard" the thread title has to be "Cake or Death - Stephanie Izard" at least until we get a good quote out of her, right?
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#14

Somethyme

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Posted Mar 17, 2008 @ 6:45 PM

We've talked about Cake or Death somewhere here...but I fail at remembering. It's either that or Death Star Cantina Stephanie.
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#15

Puds38

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Posted Mar 18, 2008 @ 10:13 PM

Someone in the Name the...thread suggested Duck or Death in honor of her win.
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#16

Rai

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Posted Mar 24, 2008 @ 11:10 PM

Anyone who wears a Yoda backpack is a total nerd girl...and that's the kind of girl I like to support the most! It helps that she knocked the first challenge out of the park like that.

It may be early, but I'm all aboard the Stephanie Love Train!
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#17

GothicShoujo

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Posted Mar 26, 2008 @ 11:08 PM

I agree. That nerdy Yoda backpack thing makes me like her even more!

I'm glad she won the third challenge tonight. I have high hopes for her.

Go Team Stephanie!

Edited by Strega, Mar 26, 2008 @ 11:50 PM.
unnecessary spoiler tags

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#18

Rorikon

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Posted Mar 27, 2008 @ 2:38 AM

Her victory dance was adorable.
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#19

Mr. 888

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Posted Mar 27, 2008 @ 3:40 AM

She is looking strong. Landing two elimination wins so early in the game... wow. Those dishes looked great too. She never struck me as a seafood specialist just from watching these episodes, so she's versatile as well.
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#20

Yoko Zbornak

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Posted Mar 27, 2008 @ 7:31 AM

I think Betty won 2 of the first 3 challenges in season 2, so it doesn't necessarily mean anything. I do really like Stephanie so far, though, and I'd like to see her go far.
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#21

jm chen

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Posted Mar 27, 2008 @ 11:47 AM

I'm a little nervous about her being a front-runner already. Tre was an early front-runner too.

Also really glad she clearly learned from her mistake in the catering challenge and applied it to this one: you keep your crispy stuff and your wet stuff separate until the moment of service, THEN you put them together.

Cinnamon-sugar fried things are good for all ages. Smart choice.
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#22

vallegirl

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Posted Mar 27, 2008 @ 11:01 PM

Looked at overall, though, she's been pretty streaky. Bottom on the first QF, won the first EC, didn't place on the second QF, nearly got the boot on the second EC, didn't place on the third QF, won the third EC by default.

I don't see her making it past the midpoint because once the chaff's been eliminated, basically Ryan, Zoi and Nikki, she'll probably be the first "serious contender" to get the axe. Like Tre last season, who was equally streaky.
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#23

Mr. 888

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Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 2:36 AM

I think Betty won 2 of the first 3 challenges in season 2, so it doesn't necessarily mean anything. I do really like Stephanie so far, though, and I'd like to see her go far.

True. And as vallegirl mentioned, she landed in the bottom twice. I did chalk up the first QF challenge loss up to opening jitters, but being in the bottom during the Zoo Challenge concerns me. I'm still hoping she makes it far, but these challenges and the judges' nitpicky tastes make this all but predictable.
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#24

Somethyme

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Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 6:33 AM

She also had one of those Betty confessionals. Remember when Betty was winning and she said something like, "I really have to stay on top of my game." Stephanie had one of those too; it doesn't bode well. Next we'll be seeing Stephanie do a, "I'm in the bottom...again....aaaAAAH!"

Not to compare Stephanie to Betty, personality wise. Nobody is as icky as Betty, but the editing is eerily similar.
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#25

vallegirl

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Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 9:09 AM

That's why I keep comparing her to Tre. Because even if she is getting a "Betty" edit, I can't ever compare someone so seemingly nice and normal and decent to that insane shrew.
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#26

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Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 8:55 PM

But remember, Betty won for service, not food--and for a grilled cheese sandwich. If that TGIF challenge had been judged solely on taste and not marketability--I believe Sam would have won.

Also, other finalists ---Brian, Dale, Marcel have been in the bottom in early episodes--others have ridden in the middle until the losers are weeded out.

I really like Stephanie, so I'm drawing all the positive data from her showing thus far, and ignoring the negatives. I hope she goes very far.

I mean, I wouldn't limit the chaff to Zoi, Ryan and Nikke--so far Jennifer , Manuel and Spike haven't really done anything remarkable.
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#27

vallegirl

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Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 9:34 PM

Jennifer has never been singled out as bad, and the one time Spike was was in a QF which he says he doesn't take particularly seriously to begin with. But both have been chosen in a top group, and fairly consistent in ECs. Both Jennifer's and Spike's pizzas were singled out as good, and Jennifer also got praised for producing a really good lasagna, even though Nikki won that cook off, and Spike's taco, despite being distinctly against the challenge directive, was chosen as one of the best. He was also praised for producing a good eggs benedict, even though Lisa won that cook off. Spike, especially, has gotten a lot of airtime and is one of the few firmly established personalities on this show, and even when his team loses, he's never seen as the cause.

Stephanie's problem is that she's not an innovative enough chef to overcome her inconsistencies. Of the two seasons I've watched (didn't watch the first) the finalists who didn't show consistency throughout the season were Marcel, Dale and Brian, and all three of them took a lot more risks than I see Stephanie taking.

I've said it before, but she really is very much a chef like Tre. Talented but not particularly innovative, so her flaws will seem more noticeable because she doesn't have the degree of difficulty mitigating them.

I actually like her, but I just don't see her making it too far past the midpoint because she does seem the mildest of the frontrunners and the one most prone to letting her nerves get the better of her. She's no Betty, but she's no Casey, either.

Edited by vallegirl, Mar 28, 2008 @ 9:40 PM.

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#28

slvn

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Posted Mar 31, 2008 @ 8:48 AM

The comparison with Tre is interesting, vallegirl, but couldn't Stephanie be more innovative than she has had a chance to show us so far? I haven't eaten enough cutting-age cuisine to say what is truly "innovative," but, based on the reviews linked upthread and on its online menu (http://www.scyllarestaurant.com/), her former restaurant sounds at least inventive. And she has shown that she's willing to do desert-ish stuff, including the miniature banana breads as well as what Padma called the "brilliant" (as in "innovative"?) wontons with mixed fruit, so maybe she'll pick up some "degree of difficulty" points that way.

I might just be thinking wishfully, because I like her, but my guess is that she's been playing it a little safe while working out her nervousness and that she'll dazzle in later rounds.
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#29

vallegirl

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Posted Mar 31, 2008 @ 9:32 AM

My point wasn't that she couldn't be innovative, but that her streaky performance isn't so much because she's trying to be innovative and failing, which could be said about Marcel, Dale or Brian, but that her failures are due to her nerves.

Who she is outside of the competition is irrelevant if who she is within it is someone whose performance is wildly erratic. She's either best or worst, but she's not consistent. And so far she hasn't had the mitigating circumstance of her reach exceeding her grasp. When she has failed it has been on straightforward dishes.

Could she whip something incredible out in the future, yes, but that's not what she's shown to date.

Edited by vallegirl, Mar 31, 2008 @ 9:34 AM.

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#30

slvn

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Posted Mar 31, 2008 @ 9:57 AM

OK--I see your point, vallegirl. You're probably right about Brian, Dale and Marcel--although, if I remember right, Brian and Dale were in the bottom of the first elimination challenge because Brian fried everything and Dale had no idea how to cook alligator, and because they were trying to be innovative.

Edited by slvn, Mar 31, 2008 @ 9:57 AM.

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