Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Flop Sweat

Johnny and Padma start with Spike's pineapple rum raisin soufflé with toasted coconut -- "this looks interesting," says Padma, as she wonders what it is. Johnny gives Spike ball points for attempting a soufflé, but doesn't offer anything regarding taste or texture. Richard did a nice job with the banana scallops with banana guacamole and chocolate ice cream -- Padma pronounces the guacamole "strange and delicious." Says Richard: "Strange is good and delicious is even better." He is terribly annoying, but generally speaking, his talent backs up his talk, which makes me dislike him even more.

Jen went fairly traditional with a chocolate cake accompanied by chocolate dipped frozen banana bites. "That's chocolate," says Johnny, and I'm starting to think they should have called this episode "Obvious" instead of "Improv." Andrew continues the banana chocolate theme with banana and chocolate ravioli -- crusted with lots of golden cinnamon sugar -- and coffee nutella pudding. Looks like he copped a bit of Richard's style after working with him in almost all of the team challenges, but he has not yet surpassed the master. Nikki, perhaps getting it sort of right for once, made a fairly safe but good looking buttermilk cake with a berry sauce -- "blackberry, raspberry and strawberries," she gushes, as if no one had ever thought to combine those three. "This is a very pretty dessert," says Padma, which sounds like a bitchy backhanded compliment.

Stephanie created a chocolate cake (it looks like an ice cream sandwich, with something white and creamy between two layers of fudgy cake goodness) topped with a salted basil ganache -- it looks and sounds yummy. "Very tender," coos Johnny, which is an odd descriptor to use for a dessert. Meat, yes, but calling a dessert "tender" doesn't tell me very much. Dale's "Halo-Halo" looks like a glass of guacamole topped with nuts and greens (according to the caption, it's shaved ice, avocado, mango, kiwi, and nuts), impresses Johnny with its complexity. "A lot of great textures," thinks he. "I taste a lot of the spices." Lisa's recycled the fried wonton trick that helped Stephanie win the block party challenge and paired them with yogurt with fruit puree and strawberries. Her plate looks a bit messy, but neither judge proffers an opinion.

Mark has concocted a delicate looking plate of multiple pavlovas, each draped with artfully composed pieces of fruit. He says the entire thing is infused with wattleseed, which comes from Australia and of which I have never heard. Finally, Antonia "attempted to do a bruleed lemon curd with a light lemon cake." Johnny doesn't react, but from Antonia's delivery and the accompanying slightly ominous music, I'm guessing her attempt fell flat.

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Top Chef

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