Top Chef
Penn & Teller

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Kim: B | Grade It Now!
Magic and Misdirection
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

All that's left of Mattin is his red scarf. Tear. So Mike I. decides that they're all going to pay homage to Mattin by wearing red scarves that day. Luckily, Mattin left a supply of scarves. Or the producers supplied them. Mike I. passes out the scarves to everyone and interviews that he thinks Mattin should have stayed and Robin should be gone, because she sucks. Thus begins the theme of this week's episode: "Everyone Hates Robin (Who Sucks at Cooking)."

The ladies are getting ready to head to the kitchen for the day. Robin keeps babbling at Laurine and Jen, who just kind of roll their eyes at her nonsense. Jen interviews that everyone thinks Robin should have been the one to go, but before you feel too bad for Robin, SHE interviews that she knows everyone thinks she should have been the one to go. Before they leave, Robin has to ask Mike I. for a red scarf, even though he was freely doling them out to everyone else. He does give her one, though. And then she puts it in her pocket instead of around her neck like everyone else, so I think she secretly likes being the outcast.

Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants walk into the kitchen and Padma chuckles over the fact that they're all wearing red scarves. Padma is standing with chef Michelle Bernstein, whom Kevin explains likes "clean and simple" food. Padma explains that Vegas is all about temptation, which is all about the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. She specifies that the angel is on the left shoulder, although I would think the devil would be there, since the left is sinister and all. Anyway, the challenge is to make a duo that represents the good and bad sides of the chef's brains in one hour, and the winner gets immunity.

Mad scramble. Product placement. Ash decides to do a custard duo. DING DING DING! Custards = bad on this show. They never set right, or they taste weird, or the curdle or something. BAD IDEA. Eli is going to do the most obvious interpretation, which involves making one dish really fatty and artery-clogging and the other really healthy. Eli goes on to interview with a chuckle that he's "the best bleeping cook there," which I think is tongue in cheek given past Eli quotes, but then again, maybe he really does think that. But I think he was mostly kidding. Robin is taking it personally and talks about how she had cancer so she's not supposed to eat sugar (I haven't heard about this anti-cancer sugar diet; I mean, I get that sugar is generally not the healthiest ingredient but I hadn't heard about a post-cancer non-sugar diet). So she's always trying to balance her need to eat healthy with her desire to eat sweets. Like pretty much every other person on the planet except my brother who doesn't like candy, because he's a freaking weirdo. Bryan says that he's won lots of Elimination Challenges but no Quickfires, and he thinks he's been trying to do too much.

Hey, Ash's custard isn't setting! What a surprise! That should work out well for him. Padma calls time and she and Michelle walk over to taste Michael V.'s dish first. He made rillettes of salmon as his angel and a confit of salmon and ice cream (ice cream and salmon?) as the devil, and he explains that his contrast was modern versus traditional. Kevin made halibut with seasonal vegetables ("light and fresh") for his Angel and deviled egg puree with bacon for his Devil. I kind of thought the idea was to do a duo -- the same main ingredient prepared two ways. Guess not. Ron followed my idea of the challenge and made Chilean sea bass with corn hash as his Angel and Chilean sea bass with yucca for his Devil. Not sure why corn hash is more angelic than yucca, but okay. Padma finds a lot of bones with the fish.

Ashley made scallop crudo as her Angel and seared scallop puttanesca as her Devil. I dig that she made puttanesca, since that literally means "belonging to a whore." She doesn't make that connection explicit, though. Eli made a scallop with radish top pesto as his Angel and scallop with brown butter risotto as his Devil, the second being much more fatty and sinfully prepared. What's with all the scallops, though? Is Jamie back? Bryan made frozen coconut, lychee and vanilla (so it's all white) and dark chocolate mousse (all dark). At least he went for something other than fatty vs. healthy.

Jen made (shocker!) scallops two ways: the Angel is scallop crudo with olive oil and the Devil is seared scallop with butter. I'm sure it was well executed, but BORING. Ash says that he ran out of time, so all he has is his Devil: spicy asparagus custard with pink peppercorn shortbread. So he's not going to win. He explains that the other custard would have been coffee-flavored and manages to charm Michelle Bernstein enough that he'll probably be okay. Robin explains that she had lymphoma, which led to being obsessed with raw food and eating healthy. So her Angel is arugula, apple, and fennel salad, and her Devil is cardamom apple ginger crisp. I don't think I realized until just now that there are apples in both dishes; I didn't see the connection between the two. It didn't seem like her mentioning her cancer was gratuitous there, because she was explaining the story behind her dish. Michelle comments that it's "nice and simple," and Kevin already told us she likes simple food, so there you go.

Laurine made a chicken and vegetable consommé for her Angel and chicken saltimbocca for her Devil, going for the healthy/unhealthy dichotomy. Mike I. made cucumber yogurt soup for his Angel (because...?) and his Devil is rack of lamb kabob style served over cous cous. I don't understand the connection between the dishes other than they are both Greek, and I don't get why they were assigned Angel/Devil. FAIL!

Michelle is ready to proclaim her least favorites: Ash the Unfinished, Bryan the Poorly Executed, and Laurine the Boring and Uninspiring. The favorites are Michael V., because he executed it perfectly, Eli, because he made great bites, and Robin, because eating her food was a pleasure and there was good contrast between the dishes. When Robin's name is called as one of the finalists, a bunch of cheftestants look pissed and/or roll their eyes. But wait! Then Michelle announces that Robin is the winner! People clap half-heartedly, and Padma says that Robin has immunity. Eli interviews that saying you had cancer is a good way to win a Quickfire. What a dick. I really don't think that's why she won, and since he didn't, you know, taste her food, how does he know? Maybe if he'd made something other than the fourth scallop dish, he would have won.

Elimination Challenge. Padma introduces Penn and Teller. I kind of hate Penn. He just seems like one of those smarmy, know-it-all guys who thinks he's way smarter than you, and maybe he is, but I have an aversion to that type. But enough of my issues; the cheftestants love these dudes. Because they do magic! But they're funny! And they deconstruct their tricks! So Penn and Teller do the cups and balls trick, where they have three cups and three balls and make the balls appear and disappear under various cups. Penn then does the trick again, this time using clear plastic cups, and show how the entire trick was done. Except then I went back and watched the original trick and I think they changed it. But, whatever. It's all about deconstructing their tricks.

Padma explains that their Elimination Challenge is to deconstruct a classic dish, and Mike V. helpfully interviews that deconstruction is serving up all of the elements of a dish separately and allowing the diner to reconstruct the dish on his or her plate. The cheftestants pull knives to learn what dish they will be deconstructing. Kevin is worried, because he chose chicken mole negro, and that's what he tried to make in the last challenge and failed. Ron is very happy to get paella, because he says he makes it a lot. Is there any dish Ron doesn't make? He's the chowder king, he makes paella all the time. I'm starting to think he's a bullshitter. Padma explains that Michelle and Penn and Teller will be judges, along with fav

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