Top Chef

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Chuck: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Flop Sweat

As for the evolution of the turned-on asparagus, Stephanie explains that both she and Jen "really like cheese" and that "the bucheron, when it's cooked that way, it has a nice orange" that could tie everything together nicely. Colicchio felt the cheese had the lead role, shoving the asparagus and the orange into the wings. He chides them for their line of thinking, from ingredients to ménage a trois to having too much happening on the plate. Of the presentation itself, Johnny thinks "the composition of the plate was a train wreck," which visibly surprises Jen, who explains, with hand gestures, the "kind of phallic" vibe they were after, which understandably amuses Colicchio (who's been a bit of a giggle box this week). "The asparagus were meant to be erect?" wonders Johnny. Yes, and the bread, says Jen, which Ted found "a little difficult to cut." "The bread, for me, was a clunker," seconds Johnny -- too big, "toasted on one side, soggy on the other." Jen admits that perhaps they took the sexuality concept too far, and that a few alterations would have made the dish "more refined." For Johnny, it "lacked finesse." In terms of individual responsibility, Jen did the bread and cooked the cheese, while Stephanie made the vinaigrette and did a lot of the prep.

After being sent to simmer in pre-verdict anxiety, loveable Lisa gets up in arms, again, that she might have been better off cooking a sausage in some "fucking" beer, and that she was bound by things shouted by "these fucking people that were drunk in a comedy club."

Back at judges' table, the debate over decent food/disregard of main ingredient versus yucky food/embrace of concept ensues. After Colicchio delineates the missteps, Johnny opines that "they were using the word improv a little too loosely to their advantage -- you can't change the terms of the challenge because you don't like the ingredient." Cut to Lisa, grousing that if they'd served Polish sausage, they'd have raked over the coals for cooking "bar food." Whatever the case, Colicchio simply enjoyed the fish dish more than the asparagus, and, by allowing the cheese to overwhelm the asparagus, Jen and Stephanie didn't exactly nail the challenge, either -- although it sounds like an attempt to justify the fact that Jen's going to take the fall. "Of the two dishes, this was my least favorite taste-wise," says Johnny.

Before erecting -- oops, ejecting -- the loser, Colicchio slams Antonia and Lisa for being "too far off track" of the challenge with their fish dish, and Jen and Stephanie for the same shortcoming, here realized with cheese. Calling them all "very accomplished," Colicchio says, again, "this technicality is all we have to go on right now," so they have to go with their least favorite dish -- isn't that what they do pretty much every week? Why is this one different? Jen took the lead on the least satisfying dish, so off she goes. "I thought that was a great dish," says Jen through tears, "and I thought we improved with it well" -- certainly they did a better job on that front than Lisa and Antonia. Jen thanks the judges for the opportunity, and walks back to the rest of the group with the news that she's out the door. In particular, Richard (now sporting Dale's green headband) seems genuinely surprised, repeatedly calling her "a great chef" as they have a group hug with Dale -- but everyone seems shocked that she's leaving. I am too -- the endless Zoi talk was terribly annoying (which continues until the very second she's gone), but Jen seems talented, the food at her restaurant tastes good, and there are other people I'd rather see leave. "Rock it out, cook your own flavors, be top chefs," she offers as parting words to her comrades, says some generic upbeat stuff to the camera, and then she's off to diddle Zoi's skittle.

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Top Chef

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