Top Chef
Manhattan Project

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Sara's Told To Cheese Off
Hung is up first, and he brags to us that he's not intimidated by the dish at all. "It's a duplicate of something that's been provided for you -- how simple is that?" Hung asks. Hung slices, seasons, and cooks. I note that it looks like he slightly squared off his peeled potato before dragging it down the mandoline. A chef stops by to look at Hung's progress. Hung continues to brag to us, "This bass dish is very hard if you don't understand the concept of the potato being wrapped. If it's too thick, it won't brown as fast. If it's too thin, it burns too fast, so there is a technique involved." Hung chops leeks incredibly fast and looks up to smile at the camera. I wonder if the cameraman hoped Hung would take off a fingertip in that exact moment. Hung finishes and presents his dish to Maccioni and Padma. Maccioni says, "Bravo!" to Padma. PRODUCT PLACEMENT! "That's close to the original," says Maccioni. "Very close to the original," Padma agrees. Oh, like you know, you baked potato! Hung rejoins his fellow cheftestants and giggles like a drunk hyena, "I fucking killed it, dude!" Brian is the only one to laugh along with him. Which he does. Loudly. Clearly, MALARKEY! is on the prowl. Hung goes on about someone shaking his hand who also told him, "Awesome job, man! Awesome job." I assume he's talking about the Executive Sous Chef because I don't think "awesome" is really in Maccioni's Old World vocab. Dale says they were all just discussing different ways of doing the dish and asks Hung if he did stovetop or oven. Hung wipes his brow and says he can't tell them anything. Sara frowns. Hung tells us he doesn't want to reveal what techniques he's using. That's fair. I mean, I'm on board with the "not selling each other out at Judges Table" pact, but when it comes to the actual tasks, I don't see why they have to be all show-and-tell about it. Hung keeps telling the other cheftestants that it's such an easy dish that can't be messed up. Man, is Sara going to feel dumb or what? Dale isn't surprised that Hung is holding back on his techniques, because that's just the type of chef he is. The rest of them aren't like that.

Instead of showing them individually, we get a montage of Dale, Brian, and Casey cooking. Casey tells us that it's difficult to be a woman in the restaurant industry. She works very hard and expects to be treated with respect. Dale has trouble figuring out how to use the mandoline until one of the chefs shows him. Dale presents his dish to Padma and Maccioni. After tasting it, Maccioni comments, "I don't know why he missed completely -- there's no seasonings." Padma adds, "It doesn't have seasoning," and then points out as if it's a new discovery, "And the leeks aren't seasoned." I know I make fun of Padma, like, a lot, but I like her so much more than the Lee Bot from Season One. See, she may be impersonating a Baked Alaska half the time, but at least she has facets. (Seriously, if you think about it, "high" Padma is totally different from "perma-baked" Padma.)

The Brians bring out their dish next. Prodding the fish chunk with her fork, Padma notes that Brian's potatoes aren't wrapped around the entire piece of fish. However, Maccioni thinks it tastes good. Casey is next with her dish, and Maccioni decides, "That's better than any. It's cooked well, the taste is good."

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