Top Chef
Manhattan Project

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Sara's Told To Cheese Off
Back in the kitchen, the cheftestants toast each other with wine. Casey thinks Hung is her biggest competition right now. She also thought she had an edge over him in this particular competition because he's done sous-vide before. Dale tells us, "I threw my balls on the table for the biggest chefs in the country and said, 'Fuck it, I'm gonna try and do what I wanna to do.'" What's with all the sudden balls talk in this episode? It's like they didn't want to do it before because it was a very sensitive issue for CJ. Padma arrives to thank the cheftestants for "a very interesting meal" and says she'll see them at Judges Table. After Padma leaves, Casey repeats, "Interesting?"

Judges Table. It looks like the judges are in the exact same room as "Snacks On A Plane," which means that either the cheftestants and judges went all the way back to Newark for tonight's judging, or that last week the cheftestants actually did make it to New York before CJ was sent home. Colicchio thinks all the cheftestants did a pretty good job, and the judges discuss all the dishes in turn. Hung's dish was technically impressive and good, but the Pommes Dauphine weren't. It's notable that Colicchio mentions that Dale forgot his honey sauce, something he didn't bring up while eating it. While Brian's dish was bold and delicious, Padma thinks the pheasant sausage upstaged the chicken. They agree that Casey shouldn't have called her dish "coq au vin," but they liked it overall.

The cheftestants are brought out to stand before the judges and Hung is asked why his dish should win. He waxes braggy about all of it: simple, flavorful, elegant, and the techniques were "on point." Chef Soltner doesn't think his Pommes Dauphine technique was all that. Hung frowns, so Colicchio explains that Pommes Dauphine are supposed to puff up and be very light. Hung scrambles for an explanation that he fried the dough too early, "And maybe it went down because I had to plate by myself." Whatever. He doesn't name names, he just says he asked for help but everyone was busy, so he did it himself. Again, Hung, you had an EXTRA THIRTY MINUTES! Plus, you're there for yourself and yourself will win, so you don't need anyone but yourself. I guess the only time he's not there for himself is when himself gets it wrong.

Moving on to Casey, Colicchio wonders why she didn't just call her coq au vin "braised chicken." Casey explains, "Well, my grandmother is French. She taught us the importance of food. Going out and getting an old rooster to make coq au vin for us? Is not necessarily something she did, and she used chicken." Okay, I think Casey was wronged in this episode -- possibly twice, because Maccioni specifically said that her potato-wrapped bass was "better than any" -- and I think she should have won, but her tone here is still very "Um, my grandmother? Thought we were too good to eat old rooster, so she spoiled us with chicken." Chef Soltner says that he liked the dish overall and liked that she went with something traditional, but two hours is not enough time to do coq au vin. Casey defends her bold move and says that she hopes that what she made was close enough in flavor to overcome the technical issue.

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