Top Chef

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Etched in My Mind

Fabio runs back to the kitchen to pick up the second course, and reports that the judges cleaned their plates in the first course. Blais is still super anxious about the food, and Fabio assures him that the judges loved it. Those two should make a buddy cop movie. Blais is the by-the-book uptight partner, and Fabio is the renegade cop who makes his own rules. But there has to be a scene where they pull a wagon full of food, like last week at the market, because that was adorable. Anyway, the second course features a dish by Blais: chicken-fried codfish and Brussels kraut. The other dish is by Tre: pork shoulder, grits with cheddar cheese, Corona, and lime sauce. Padma and Tom both love the pork, although one random diner thinks it's a little dry. There is nothing but praise for Blais's fish. Bourdain says that he wishes Bodega would pop up in his neighborhood. When Fabio takes the plates, he notices that there is still some pork on the plate and asks if there was something wrong. Padma says she's just trying to pace herself. Attentive! Meanwhile, Tiffany is getting more praise for her restaurant's food. Those editors really faked me out!

Finally, Fabio takes out the dessert course. The first dish is by Fabio: amaretto cake with candied lemon peel and cappuccino mousse. The second dish is by Carla: blueberry pie with dry milk ice cream. I don't know what that means. It looks like an ice cream cone filled with blueberries and laid on its side. It's just an interesting way of plating pie. Bourdain takes a bite of the cake and says, "I really just fucking love Fabio's dessert," and says he's been waiting for Fabio to make a dish like that all season. Ludo liked the pie, but it wasn't amazing or anything. Other diners thought it was fantastic. So there you go. Nothing was terrible, and some things were outstanding. And now it's time to head over to the other restaurant.

Things seem to be going smoothly over at Etch. Tiffany is kibitzing with the diners and she doesn't greet the judges. They seem to get seated quickly, but just by some random server. Luckily, Tiffany spots them pretty quickly (they are seated right next to where she's standing) and goes over. She doesn't seem to greet them very effusively and after Padma asks for two of each dish, Tiffany just kind of wanders over to another table, like you'd think she would put some hustle into getting their order into the kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen, things aren't going well. Marcel sniffles and snuffles and sweats and then asks Mike if they can talk more about what's going on. Mike agrees without any complaint. Out front, Tiffany is talking to the diners and kind of cackles loudly and obnoxiously. Padma comments that Tiffany seems to think that being a good host is all about schmoozing, and not service. Bourdain notes how unorganized the servers seem, as they don't seem to know which table the various dishes go to. Tom tries to say something but is drowned out by Tiffany's hyena laugh, and Padma says that she shouldn't hear the host's laughter over anything else. Tiffany swings by to check in and Padma tells her that they're hungry and want their food. Seriously, how long should it take? Tiffany relays this message to the kitchen. What are they doing back there? They don't have that many dishes to worry about; shouldn't the food come up pretty quickly? Once they knew the judges were seated, just start firing the food, right?

Tiffany brings out the first course, which is her own frisee and shaved asparagus salad with egg and chorizo, and then Angelo's crudo of fluke, grapes, pink peppercorns, and lemon zest. The judges all agree that it was underseasoned and needed more flavor. One of the diners liked the texture. No one mentions if the egg was fucked up or not. Tom thought Angelo's crudo had too many elements that competed with the fish.

At another table, a diner tells Tiffany that he ate a good dish that was ruined by a cold plate, which caused all of the food to be cold. Tiffany takes his comment back to the kitchen so that they don't do the same thing for the judges. Angelo grabs some plates off the passthrough and says that they're cold and they need to be hot. Marcel springs into action and says they should put the plates right on the grill. Um, that's probably not a great idea. Mike looks worried and suggests that Marcel put the plates in a hotel pan first, and then on the grill. Marcel apparently was going to do that anyway, but that's not what he said, but of course he gets all offended and tells Mike to just shut up and cook. And Mike, of course, takes offense and tells Marcel to watch his mouth. Angelo steps in and tries to get Mike to calm down, either because he thinks Mike was at fault, or because he knows that Mike will listen to reason and Marcel won't. I get the vibe that everyone knew that there was no working with Marcel, so they just tried to keep each other from blowing up, since they knew there was no point to trying to keep Marcel sane. Angelo interviews that he would have fired Mike on the spot, and he's trying to support Marcel as the captain. That's diplomatic, but I wonder if it's the truth.

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