Top Chef

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Chuck: B+ | Grade It Now!
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It tastes good, says Ted, but if your lead ingredient is sausage, then why put a big piece of fish on top of it? Better yet, says the bald Second City Ted Allen sound-alike (sounding less alike than he did onstage), "when your primary ingredient is Polish sausage, to use chorizo is interesting, but it's not Polish sausage." Yeah, and they didn't give us any tequila, says another Second City-er. "I don't think they sort of carried out the whole drunkenness in this dish at all," suggesting a wine braise or the like. Or how about a delicious sausage cooked in, and served with, beer. The bald guy points out that the other teams took their inspiration seriously, while for Lisa and Antonia, "the suggestion was a burden." "I love Polish sausage," says a Second City dude, looking, of course, at Ted, and continuing, "Don't take this the wrong way." Because sausage looks like cock, and gay guys love cock -- any cock. Ted responds with a quick, "No problem, man, I'm not Polish." Ba-dum.

The appearance of Mark and Nikki, plating the final dish, comes as a slight surprise since they've been mostly invisible for the entirety of the cookdown. Explaining their "sexy" interpretation of purple depressed bacon, Mark says to the diners, "The bacon is very depressed that it has to share the plate with brussels sprouts." Cute. Their final presentation is roasted pork loin with sweet potatoes, concord grape sauce, jus and brussels sprouts -- uh, and bacon, hello. Solid, if not envelope-pushing, flavor combos -- Colicchio seems to agree. "It's a nice plate of food," says he, perhaps impressed with the execution but unmoved by the safety of their choices. Ted likes the glaze on the bacon -- "it gives it this mega-crispiness and the sweetness and salty pork." Ashram Amanda calls it "comfort food" and agrees that it would help cheer her up if she was depressed -- something tells me she knows of what she speaks, and another woman thinks it'd be swell if they made the sauce from their tears.

As service ends, Richard thinks it's going to be a tough round of judging because "all the food was good," as Jen calls packing up her knives "a bad omen." I'm going to have a bruise from being hit so hard by that asshole foreshadowing.

Dale, Spike, Andrew and Richard get summoned first, bringing a different kind of sausage platter to the judges' table. Quelle surprise -- they're the best of the night! About the conceptualization of their dish, Spike (who shook Andrew's hand when he leaned in for a hug, which is shockingly un-bro-like) tells Padma, "We took the challenge literally, we didn't sit and write prep notes the night before," which makes sense since Spike knew what he wanted to do all along. "Really well-balanced," says Johnny, before singling out "a lot of sugary sweet notes" that they tempered, luckily, with "just enough salt." In fact, Colicchio thinks the soup is "the best-seasoned dish we've had all season," so good for them. Ted wonders if they worried that soup would be too simple, and you can feel Spike's joy at being asked the question -- his mother (also a chef -- I'm surprised he hasn't mentioned that about 80 times before) told him "one of the best tests of a chef is to make a really good, simple soup." Ted points out that, as "love" was one of their inspiration words, soup was an inspired choice, with which I will begrudgingly agree. It "makes you think of mom," to which Spike replies, "That's just in me, all the time. And Andrew. My mom loves you too," which cracks up Colicchio, because it's pretty funny.

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Top Chef

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