Top Chef
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A Very Special Episode of Top Chef

All eight cheftestants come out to applause. Marcel's got on some white plastic sunglasses that make him look like he belongs in an Orbitz gum commercial with the retro Dirty Mouth chick. Padma thanks them and excuses them. Dave and Tiffani tell the Threesies to enjoy themselves and wish them luck. Ilan tells us, "They should really not be too full of themselves right now because they'll all feel the heat." Guru Ilan speaks from experience. He's so full of himself, he doesn't have room for dessert. Stephen tells us he will be "HIGHLY surprised" if the Twosies beat the Onesies.

Those Bravo promos of Padma kicking water are really weird. She's all hunchy and awkward and she sort of looks like she's having a fit. I covet the polka dot dress, though.

Judges Table. Elia and Dave step forward to be judged, and Dave is so expressive about it, Tiffani barks out laughing. Dave smiles and rolls his eyes: "I don't miss this." Dave rambles to the judges about how he did his scallop dish. While they really liked the cool, smoked scallops, they thought the scallops had a grainy texture, and Gail didn't love the tapenade. Elia explains she was just going to do seared scallops, but Marcel suggested she also do carpaccio, and the citrus marmalade went with both. Colicchio really liked the dish and adds, "I wish you didn't listen to Marcel on just the one dish." Damn! Oh, and now that I'm looking closer at the scallop duo, I can see the nearly translucent carpaccio under the endive spears. It's dotted with something black -- poppy seeds? Pepper?

The lobster boys, Stephen and Marcel, step up next. Gail notes that the team captains going head-to-head was something they were really excited about. Padma asks a leading question about the decision to serve gelee and foam in this heat after what he went through in Hawaii. Marcel starts to answer, but Padma gently interrupts to say she thought, flavor-wise, this was one of his better foams. Colicchio dings him on his knife work, which Marcel agrees was rough. "I had to recut the mango, in, like, two minutes," he adds. Ilan raises his hand and owns up to dropping the mango on the floor. "Did you really?" Colicchio says, amazed. Ilan promises it wasn't on purpose. And it wouldn't be, because there's no reason for Ilan to screw up his team's chances. Unless he's just that dickish.

Duck, duck, grey ducks step up. Colicchio can't believe they didn't have enough curiosity about each other's dishes to taste them. Harold says he was just going to be "super rustic" about his dish. Colicchio tells him it felt incomplete. The flavor was great, but it was incomplete. He doesn't elaborate, but it doesn't matter because Harold has his Own Restaurant. Ilan admits that his duck didn't turn out as planned. He ran out of time and couldn't do the deep-frying and then the skin wouldn't crisp. Worse than that, he ran out of saffron! Gail notes that the duck was overcooked and the fat on the skin wasn't completely rendered. We get a close-up of Ilan's dish, and it really doesn't look good. It's all dry and mealy-looking. Padma adds, "There was also a sherry gastrique? And a lot of us missed it." It was that tart stuff you thought would go so well on donuts, remember? Ted Allen said his table loved the gastrique and adds that he knows they're all peeved that the Threesies are already judging them. "But they'll get theirs," Ted promises. "They better!" Tiffani retorts. "Are we done here?" Harold sighs. "Yeah, we're done here," Colicchio says indulgently and leans back in his chair.

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Top Chef

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