Top Chef
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

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Snake Eyes
Stephen ponces around the wine shop next door. He cradles a bottle, label up, in one arm while swirling and tasting from a glass in the other. "Since I had immunity and I really had nothing to risk, I was more than happy to kind of overextend myself, being the pastry chef, and play the role of the sommelier for this meal." Stephen, don't you know that whether it's a bottle of red or a bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite? In the shop, Stephen tells Lee Anne that everyone has a pairing for each of their courses. And that wine budget is going to come from... where?

The cheftestants arrive and marvel over Frisson. Eh. I've read good and bad reviews of this place, mostly bad; I'm not moved to try it at this point. They have two-and-a-half hours to prep. Colicchio comes in to drop a bomb. He reminds them that Ted is "really nervous" about that dinner going well. Of course -- so let's increase Ted's "nervousness" by throwing a wrench in the plans. The cheftestants have to swap the courses they planned, shopped, and prepped with one another. They draw knives to find out what courses they are now assigned. Miguel gets Lee Anne's cheese course; Dave gets Andrea's fish dish; Andrea gets Miguel's scallops; Tiffani gets Harold's meat. Ahem. Harold gets Stephen's dessert; and Lee Anne gets Tiffani's gnocchi, which leaves Stephen with Dave's soup. My husband has decided that, mathematically, there had to be several onerous retakes of this scene. I'll let him explain it to you: "First of all, there is a relatively good chance (about one in three) that someone among the seven would have picked their own course. But more notably, what they pulled off is not only that no one got their own course, but the cheftestants' knife-pulls formed a so-called 'seven-cycle permutation.' It's a perfect circle of course exchange, and the chances of them doing that without multiple takes is only one in seven. So, figure on quite a few takes -- mathematically, expect seven." I don't know about you, but that just blew my mind. I knew it was tricky, but I didn't know it was that tricky.

Colicchio tells the cheftestants they are now responsible for, and will be judged on, the course they pulled. They are allowed to help each other. So much for Miguel's repeated assertions that he will depend on nobody but himself. Outside, Colicchio tells the cameras rather challengingly and shruggingly, "Part of being a top chef is being able to handle the pressure and part of handling pressure is being able to cook anything that's thrown at you. They shouldn't have a problem with this." If they shouldn't have a problem with it, what makes it a compelling wrench in their plans? Colicchio opines to us that if Stephen doesn't help Harold with the dessert course -- which they keep calling "the chocolate course" -- Harold will have quite a bit of trouble with it. I think Stephen's competitive, but I also think he's too in awe of Harold not to help him with the course. Harold is cool, and if Stephen stays on his good side he figures that by default he is also cool. Which... take off that ridiculous jacket and tie, grab an honest beer, and maybe we'll talk.

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Top Chef

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