Top Chef
Food On The Fly

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Nuke it Up A Notch

"When I looked at my dish compared to the others I totally thought that everything on the plate was really well-balanced." Do I even need to tell you who said that? I'll give you a hint: he made illegal use of fresh basil in this challenge. Stephen has "five little items on the plate." He starts with a tall shot glass of hot coconut water infused with paprika and green tea. Revolting. Even worse, it's to be eaten with a fine dice of chard, SPAM, peanuts, and tarragon, all of which sits in the ubiquitous Chinese soupspoon. Next, Stephen has a cocaine line of powdered "dehydrated sweet pea crumbles," a "vanilla dumpling with a wilted basil leaf," and a chili-mango syrup drizzle. It is the weirdest combination of flavors yet. Plus, all the amounts are ridiculously miniscule. Not only does this plate prove that Lee Anne was so right when she called Stephen's sommeliering ass a "professional bullshitter," but now I'm beginning to wonder if all that wine has completely Betty Forded Stephen's tongue beyond recognition.

This is where the Katie Leebot gets to act like the Enforcer Bot for a brief moment. "When I told you about the challenge this morning, I said you could use dried herbs and spices," she tells Stephen, barely moving a muscle in her face. I know she's young, but is it possible that her lack of facial motion is because she's been basted with Botox? Andrea tells us that everyone knew they could use only dried herbs and spices, "it was said over and over again." "He obviously wasn't paying attention or thought he was above the law," Dave tells us. Well, given his earlier comment, it sounds like Stephen thinks he was above the law. Stephen tells the Katie Leebot that he "really only heard the herbs and spices -- I did not intentionally use an ingredient that wasn't allowed." He sparks a bit belligerent in the last half of his explanation there for someone who screwed up. And also? BULLSHIT! Harold told him he couldn't use the fresh basil leaf and he big fat went and did it anyway! Okay, so he would have had to remove one of his microscopic items, so what? Although, if he's like most chefs who believe you can't have an even number of items on the plate, he actually would have had to remove two things and then be left with coconut water, SPAM crumbles, and pea dust or something. Chefferson weighs in that the wilted basil "wouldn't fly with [him] anywhere," and asks why he would choose tarragon to put in the SPAM and peanut dice. Stephen opens his eyes really wide. He's thinking fast. We don't actually get a response from him as the camera pans over to the other chefs, who seem to be waiting expectantly. "The plating is nice, it's clean," Chefferson goes on. "Pardon me?" Stephen asks. Chefferson repeats his query about the tarragon. "I believe anise and coconut is an interesting combination. The two different aromatic compounds that are happening on the palate on the same time creates somewhat of a sensual experience," Stephen BULLSHITS. Yeah, just explain away your weird choices by saying they are "sensual" and you can probably get away with anything. Frankly, dried herbs that scratch and get caught in your throat on the way down are not what I would deem "sensual."

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Top Chef




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