Top Chef

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Chuck: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Flop Sweat

Though planning to make his own curry, Dale's using a pre-made base from Whole Foods -- toasting it heavily and adding a bunch of his own ingredients to "bump up the flavor" and "make sure the curry sauce tastes as good as it's going to taste." How Zen.

Spike's straining the soup by wrapping string around a bulging bag fashioned from cheesecloth as Andrew says, "You know how to work a sack, dude." Get a room already, and please take the cameras with you. Mark reveals that the lack of machinery impedes him as well, as he substitutes the side of a pan for spice grinder while Nikki calmly preps brussels sprouts. Jen and Stephanie are hard at work on their ménage, which will also include pre-grilled bread, about which Stephanie is concerned (the bread is Jen's idea). She's worried it will be too big. Jen shows Stephanie her idea for plating, which involves propping the asparagus against the bread -- wait, let her explain: "Our idea was to really encapture the whole idea of orange turned on by asparagus. We definitely went with the sexual connotation of it and utilizes that plating to make the asparagus look a certain way." Just call it Encapturing Erectness. Oh, and "encapture?" What the fuck is that?

Antonia is concerned about the looks of the magenta drunk Polish sausage -- sorry, the sea bass, chorizo and purple potato -- she thinks it doesn't look "elegant and refined," although I think it looks pretty tasty. She should be more concerned about their concept.

Colicchio arrives for his assessment tour -- except this time he's not there to chat about the dishes, but to reveal the next twist: the Second City comics are going to Chez Chef, and so are the cheftestants. "You have 20 minutes to pack this up, and then you'll have an hour left to cook when you get back to the house." Out comes the Glad product suite as everyone reacts to the news -- "completely shocked" Lisa also saw this coming and thinks everyone should either deal or perish, Spike feels confident that his "team will prevail," while Stephanie sets the stage for the final hour of cooking. "The kitchen that we have," she explains, "is like six burners, maybe, it's not very big, there's not really that much space." While I'm loving all the wrenches thrown into the works, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Richard dislikes being forced to pack and move, but says "as long as there's fire and water, we're going to knock it out of the park."

It's still light out as the cheftestants lug their army of coolers into the house, past the "real" dining table and into the kitchen. Looks like they've got plenty of wine on hand, which is good, since comedy comes from a deep sadness. They get to start in shifts, in order of service, it seems, so Andrew and Spike get a precious few minutes by themselves in the kitchen, which does look both small and chaotic once everyone gets in and starts milling around. Andrew makes a "too many cooks in the kitchen" reference, so I don't have to. Nikki, back with the rat-hive, reiterates that there's no room for error, which is good since I'd forgotten, while Spike spends the final half hour "layering flavors" -- a pinch of salt, a drop of broth -- because "that's what I love about cooking." Blah blah blah.

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Top Chef

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