Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: D | 3 USERS: A-
Zoo Food

Mark comes off as frazzled and needling as he runs around assembling his menu -- when he tells a meat vendor "I'm on a time budget, mate," the guy responds with an awesome, "Well, sorry." Hurrying is so not cool, especially at the farmer's market, which any self-respecting world traveler should know. Is that whole folksy exterior just a cover for a total Type A? Mark makes a beeline for another stall, where he starts picking through trays and gets reprimanded -- and things just get worse as he runs from place to place, stands in line, gets all huffy and snaps at people to hurry up.

Suddenly, the bloom is off the market's rose -- food there isn't all it's cracked up to be. The produce may be lovely, but you're getting frozen meat of unknown quality, and not, as Dale observes, "the best piece of meat that you can get." Which, when cooking with only a few ingredients, is definitely important. Jeez -- everything seemed so bucolic, but with Mark's attitude and Dale's diss, you'd think this market was like a crummy outdoor 7-11. In his rush, Mark leaves behind a bag of salad, in the hands of a man he's just told to pick up the pace. And so the karmic circle turns. He realizes it's gone when it's too late to go back -- bummer.

Back in the kitchen, Padma introduces wd-50 owner, celebrity molecular gastronomist, and guest judge Wylie Dufresne, who'd fit right in over here if he lost the sideburns. He's also really well-known in the food community, and some of the guys (hello, Richard) clearly admire him a great deal. Technically speaking, the only things that don't count are salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil and canola oil. There may only be five other ingredients, total, in each cheftestant's dish.

Thirty minutes on the clock. Richard's doing braised chicken legs fragranced with the eucalyptus -- he sounds like Christopher Walken when he explains his brand of molecular gastronomy: "not whiz-bang gadget gizmo; it's a basis to take traditional items and because of science, make them better." Since he lost his lettuce, Mark decides to use butter instead -- which is a smart choice since everything's better with butter. Giving sad weight to Dale's earlier assessment of the meat situation, Spike's crushed to find that what he expected to be filet tips more closely resembles "dog food." GE Monogram breaks in for a short message from our sponsor, as Spike curses a blue streak about his crap beef. As the cooking time winds down, Valerie confesses to being a bit more "mellow" than everyone else and looks a little out of her league as she tries to muscle her way into the frenzy to finish her dish. Yeah, that's what it is. Mellow.

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Top Chef




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