Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: C- | 2 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Salt For Your Wounds?

Ryan will be accompanying his breaded, tomato-laced piccata with gnocchi in a dish hereafter known as Chicken Whatever. He's concerned about time and worried he'll be history on the first try -- and I'm worried for him. In a very bold choice, Nikki's going with homemade pasta for her lasagna -- probably in an attempt to prove that no, really, she can work with dough. Stephanie's using a whole duck, but gets spooked when she sees Mark working on a bunch of different things and worries about her level of complexity. When need you him, Yoda where?

Andrew's lost (literally) as he scours the kitchen for the mayonnaise he's sure is there -- it's a stocked kitchen, right? To no avail -- and when he asks Richard where it is, his mounting suspicions are confirmed: there is no mayonnaise in the kitchen, but there are egg yolks and oil, says Richard, right before pulling out the giant jar of mayonnaise he, clever Richard, just pretended to pay for at Whole Foods. That, as Andrew might say, is fucking awesome. Then, after waiting for just the right amount of time while Andrew struggles to make his own mayonnaise (having just learned what is in mayonnaise from his nemesis), Richard "thinks better" of his actions and gallantly offers Andrew some from his jar. Andrew refuses. Loving you and your high hair, Richard.

Team Souffle bonds over their unenviable predicament, which is so San Francisco. The souffl├ęs rise, but, with two minutes on the clock, Nimma's cauliflower flan does not set, so she decides she'll transform it into a scramble, which sounds dubious but intriguing. Nimma's quite pretty, but her voice affects me like Ambien.

Now Richard's playing with a little red contraption that's drawing Andrew's attention from his in-progress mayonnaise -- it's an electrical smoker, and using a blowtorch, Richard is smoking Ras al Hanout, a North African spice blend, and adding it to his dish, which he covers tightly with saran wrap. Per your wishes, Richard, "What the f@&$ did that guy just do?" Plating time. Stephanie's hands shake like crazy -- in case you weren't sure, she's nervous. Colicchio, Rocco, and Bourdain trail Padma, as she ends the challenge.

The four judges are served each of the eight 'menu items' in pairs. The ducks are first -- Mark's is a deconstructed take with a roll of enoki mushrooms, a dollop of squash puree, tangerine- and soy-glazed duck breast, and a "dirty little" sakitini, each occupying their own real estate. Whatever makes that sakitinidirty, I do not want to know. Stephanie looked to Asia as well with duck breast over maitake mushrooms and bok choy with duck spring rolls, all with an orange soy glaze. That one looks much better. The judges quite like it, but are less taken with Mark's. He admits, when questioned, that he'd like a diner to eat a bit of each ingredient with each bite, thus making deconstruction not only unnecessary but a bad choice. Mark heads for potential elimination.

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Top Chef

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