Top Chef
Manhattan Project

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Keckler: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Sara's Told To Cheese Off
Colicchio stops by for his Sniff 'n' Sneer, checking in on Dale first. Dale explains his dish: "One of my favorite things is, I make a potato and onion puree and mount that with a little bit of crème fraîche, and I'm going to make it into two sauces, one truffle and one rosemary, and two different chicken preparations, basically do a duet on the plate." Colicchio moves on to Brian, who says, "I'm kinda doing like a peasant's pie today." Colicchio's smile drops comically. Yeah, and wasn't it supposed to be shepherd's pie? Shepherds and peasants aren't exactly interchangeable, dude. One does revolting things with sheep and the other just revolts. Colicchio asks why this is the winning dish. "I'm just going with something that is good flavor with good flavor and good flavor. If I mess that up, I deserve to go home," Brian explains. I don't even understand him any more. Over at Casey's station, Colicchio learns that she's doing a "classic French coq au vin." Except with chicken. So the "classic" part? Not so much. She should have told Colicchio and the other judges that she was doing "poulet au vin" or, at the very least, that it was her own take on coq au vin -- just something that acknowledged that she knows it's not actually "classic" to use a chicken instead of an old cock. And you know, according to Clarissa Dickson Wright, there's a lot of good in an old cock. With that "classic" coq au vin, Casey will be serving pommes puree, ramps, and fresh asparagus.

Outside the kitchen, Colicchio reports that he spoke to Hung, "When I asked if he's ever done the Pommes Dauphinoise, he said, yeah, eight years ago, he'd kind of played around with it -- maybe not the best choice if he doesn't know exactly how to do it." It's also maybe not the best choice to snark on Hung when you don't appear to know the difference between Pommes Dauphine and Pommes Dauphinoise, Colicchio. They're two different dishes, dude. Pommes Dauphine is exactly what Hung is doing -- pureed potatoes mixed with choux paste (cream puff dough) and fried into balls. Pommes Dauphinoise is when you scallop the potatoes and bake them with cheese in a gratin dish. Colicchio goes on that he thinks Sara is making couscous again to prove she can actually do it, and that Brian told him he's always getting dumped on at Judges Table for trying to do too much, so he's scaling himself back this time. Why do I have a hard time believing that? Colicchio also thinks that Dale is stretching it with his difficult dish and that he might have trouble plating it. Finally, with Casey, Colicchio notes that coq au vin is usually made with an older rooster, not chicken. I find it suspicious that Colicchio has managed to pretty much predict what the complaints against every dish will be. Sure, he's supposedly standing there in the kitchen where the cheftestants are cooking, but we don't see any of them behind him. There's no reason to believe this wasn't shot after the final verdict.

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