Top Chef

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Chuck: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Mai Buddha Sucks

"Being methodical in your movements" is, according to Spike, the key to being a successful short-order cook. In this case, I think it's cooking eggs well, but whatever. There are shots of Stephanie, Dale, Richard (wearing his super sexy black headband again, and wrecking my concentration, that sly devil), and Spike rushing in to take their turns before we settle on Stephanie. She appears horrified that the poached egg pot is a huge, hot, swirling mess of leftover egg whites, and she can't see anything she's doing (more concerning to me is the fact that as she leans over two flaming burners to peer into the pot, she looks like she's about to catch herself on fire). Helene nods knowingly. Then she flips -- and ruins -- a pan of eggs as Helene grimaces and looks unimpressed.

Richard gets frazzled over all the "audibles" (a term I've never heard, although I've never worked in a kitchen, as I'm sure most of you have already guessed) and the "diner lingo." Lisa melts a Styrofoam box that's been set out for a to-go order. Spike doesn't appear to be taking his own advice. Dale gets assaulted by an order-barking, four-waiter tag team, but feels confident that he's managed adequately. For as much as I'm sure that challenge sucked (if it wasn't completely staged, which is a distinct possibility), TPTB breezed through it pretty quickly -- I guess watching someone fuck up eggs over and over again isn't compelling television (which makes it a perfect fit for this season).

After Helene compliments all six for doing a great job under difficult circumstances, Colicchio, draped in a scarf that makes him look like Jude Law on steroids, reminds her that she can only hire one of the fresh-faced cooks. The decision came down to two people, she explains: Antonia, calm, controlled, and accepting of direction, and smooth-operating Dale. She chooses Antonia, making her a four-time Quickfire champion, and Colicchio assures her that, as the winner, she will enjoy an advantage in the upcoming elimination. An elimination that Colicchio won't be around to enjoy, as he's taking off for a charity event right after handing Antonia a piece of paper with an address, where they will find Padma and more about what's to come.

Chicagoan Stephanie doesn't know the address, so they use their phone to find it (what will they think of next?). The arrive at a large brick building that contains an airy, blank canvas of a space with wood floors, white walls, exposed beams and high ceilings. An old warehouse, perhaps. It's perfect for something, but what could that be? Padma, nicely lit and bedecked in black, stands in front of several stacks of chairs. "You worked someone else's line this morning," says Padma, "and tomorrow night, you'll be working your own." That's right, it's restaurant wars, exhumed! Amidst smiles and gesticulations and general merriment, since this is the reason they're all here (well, today it is), Lisa explains that her initial goal was to make it "through," not just "to," restaurant wars.

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Top Chef

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