Top Chef
Top Chef Holiday Special

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Keckler: B- | Grade It Now!
It Came Upon A Sniff And Sneer

Marcel presents his toro tartare, the cubes of which are topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and that's all sitting on a round of toast covered with a slice of prosciutto. On the side is a baby-poop smear of chive puree. Going right back to his favorite coffee cup presentation, Stephen explains that he made a "yam soup." Okay, dude? Yams and sweet potatoes? Not the same thing, so which is it, buddy? Anyway, his "yam" soup is composed of mocha and lavender, which is making me throw up in my throat a little, and a "sage chip" (read: fried sage). On the side of this is a "salad" of "olivo crustini" (read: piece of bread fried in olive oil, and it's "crostini," you nimwit -- "crustini" sounds like something you dig out of your eye in the morning) with "a salata" (salad, freak) of dried cherries, yams, and thyme. Finally, we end with Tiffani, who tells us she ended up with Osetra caviar, which, she tells us, "I couldn't have asked for more or better." She did a duo of scallops: the first is a seared scallop with olive oil, lemon zest, and caviar; the second is a play on blini and caviar. It's not explained, but having made them, I'm thinking she pureed the scallop and made a blini batter, which she then fried and topped with caviar. And there's vodka somewhere because Tiffani says, "Vodka, vodka -- caviar and vodka!" as Padma and Ripert down a shot. "That's...serious," Ripert comments. Hee. On the side, Stephen is looking somewhat annoyed and constipated, but I'm not worried because I think that's his usual expression.

Ripert delivers his verdict. His least favorite was Stephen's soup; the lavender was so strong, it tasted like "a soap bar." Stephen admits to us that he's bummed. Ripert goes on that Tre's rice was undercooked, and adds, "So that made your deesh a leetle beet uf a shallange for me." He's so nice with his criticisms: "A little bit of a challenge," indeed. Ripert also didn't like Josie's, because the fact that she didn't have the truffle "doesn't make [her] a winner tonight." But they were there! Shaved! I'm so very confused. Ripert's favorites are Marcel's, CJ's, and Betty's. He does admit that Betty's dish might have been a bit too sweet, though. Ripert decides that his favorite is "the shrimps that CJ made." YAY!

Padma explains the rules of the next challenge. They each have to make three courses for nine judges, and all the dishes in their respective courses will be going head-to-head. After each course, the judges will boot two cheftestants, leaving two cheftestants at the end of the meal. Because he won the Quickfire, CJ gets a free pass for one of the courses, but it can't apply to the final course. They have $350 to spend at Whole Foods, which means they can probably buy a bag of chips and some olive oil. And now we have the shopping segment, and I guess because not all the cheftesants will get to make their dishes, I have to list them. Ugh.

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