Top Chef
First Impressions

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Tastes Like Chicken

Camille showcases her spicy maple-crusted abalone fritter (droolicious) and pan-seared kangaroo with a delicate fresh vegetable and herb sauce and herb salad. Sara M. explains her black chicken and geoduck ceviche with cucumber and red pepper ribbons. Hung stamps forward and announces his dish of sous vide black chicken and raw geoduck with fennel. He sliced the geoduck thin and then took the innards of the giant freaking clam and made a sauce to "bind both dishes" with ginger and scallion. For her trio -- again with the TRIOS! -- Micah seared some kangaroo, placed it on top of a sweet potato pudding, and served it in a ramekin. The next little dish is poached egg with chive oil, topped with monkfish "chopped liver," and the final is ostrich carpaccio with the monkfish chopped liver and dukka. Interesting, Micah used three different proteins when they only needed two. I wonder if she figured her daring would catapult her to the top for a possible win. Either that or she wanted to make damn sure the judges didn't think she was slacking just because she has Immunity. Dale, who, as he reminds them, "had the privilege of being last," took monkfish liver and braised it and used it in an apple hash. He goes on to say, "And a sherry vinegar gastrique and olive oil-poached shallot and leek salad on top." Okay, but what he doesn't say -- and it's very odd they didn't include this -- is that the shallot-leek salad is on top of his mustard-seared alligator tail. They completely left that part of his explanation out. Bizarre.

The cheftestants are sent out and the judges stuff their faces once again. Colicchio really likes Tre's dish, Bourdain is impressed with Hung, and Gail questions Dale's "super-tough" alligator. Regarding Brian's crazy eel and rattlesnake mess, Bourdain says, "I would love this dish if I was drunk." I'm not sure that's a compliment or a criticism. "I feel I should be eating this at a bar," Bourdain goes on.

Now it's time for the actual Judges' Table. They all agree that the level of the cheftestants is pretty high and it was fairly promising start for all of them. Talking about presentation, Colicchio says he really liked how Sara M. plated her black chicken with the claw. "REALLY?!" Padma busts out. Calm down, honey. Bourdain also liked that aspect of the dish and comments, "It tells me 'I am not a supermarket chicken.'" Yeah, so does the black skin, Tony. Bourdain tells Padma that a presentation like that has a certain amount of confidence in it, and at any rate, "You're lucky we didn't get the beak." Their favorite dishes came from Hung and Tre. Padma goes to retrieve the lucky two.

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Top Chef




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