Top Chef
Top Chef Holiday Special

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It Came Upon A Sniff And Sneer
The judges nosh, while the cheftestants surge back to the kitchen to get started on their second courses. Colicchio, sitting at the head of the table, is totally Scrooge-faced while all the other judges toast with smiles and wish each other fake holiday greetings. Van Aken thinks Sandee's soup is "wha-tery!" He's all Martha Stewart with his aspirating. They all like the monkfish, but Portale makes fun of Betty's duck baklava by observing, "I think the thought is, if you wrap it in phyllo, it's baklava." Totally. Portale also takes exception to Stephen's gnocchi, saying it's poorly executed and way too heavy to be an appetizer. No one likes the gnocchi, and Ted Allen makes a big show of dropping a single gnocchi on a plate. It falls like a stone and makes a bang substantial enough to convince me that the Foley guys earned their paychecks.

The cheftestants cook feverishly while the judges move on to other dishes. Van Aken totally misses the point of CJ's take on a classic presentation of holiday prime rib by opining that CJ just added the beef because he felt he needed to add an extra ingredient. They like Tre's scallops, but Gail doesn't "understand" Tiffani's bacon-wrapped apples with Brussels sprouts and grapes. She says, "It doesn't feel like a substantial dish -- it sort of looks like a garnish." Wow, talk about being caught between a rock and a bitch! I'm no fan of Tiffani's, but I do not see how Gail can say her dish is "like a garnish." Plus, I hate it when people say they "don't understand" food. Food is food! Tiffani explained what it is, it's there, it's bacon, apples, B. sprouts, grapes, and chicken dribblings -- what's not to understand? Frankly, it sounds like deconstructed stuffing, and I'd gullet it. Most of the other judges seem to disagree with Gail, including (surprise, surprise!) Colicchio, whose only complaint is that Tiffani should have cooked it more. Colicchio's favorite dish is Josie's duck, so she's making it to the second round.

...Which isn't going to be a good thing, because we learn that while she was serving Colicchio's favorite dish of the first courses, she totally dried out her second-course turkey. Josie's hopes that someone else overcooked their second course are answered when Betty whisper-screeches to us that she overcooked her lamb. For me, overcooking lamb is the worst thing you can do to any meat. It's my meat of choice. My meat d'etre. The biggest, juiciest reason why I will never be a vegetarian.

Padma sums up for us that the bottoms are CJ, Betty, Stephen, and Sandee. CJ has immunity, so...commercial break!

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