Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: C- | 1 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Salt For Your Wounds?

Next up are the crabs. Andrew delivers a panko and lump crab cake with cilantro-basil pudding and orange sauce -- and no visible mayonnaise. He says something fairly nonsensical about mayonnaise, Rocco asks him if he made mayonnaise, and Andrew says, "I made mayonnaise." MAYONNAISE. Richard "tried to keep things simple," which of course means blue crab, brussels sprouts, and apple cole slaw with electric-smoker-smoked Ras al Hanout, which you release by pulling the saran wrap off the top of your bowl. "Shock and awe," as Richard calls it. Simple. Richard wins, but Colicchio calls both dishes "strong," disliking only the excessive panko in Andrew's crab cakes. They both seem pleased with the results. Mayonnaise.

The lasgana ladies follow. Jennifer went with a northern Italian take, using assorted autumn vegetables, a pork, veal and mushroom meat sauce and a mint verde. Sounds like something's raw, but it looks good. So does Nikki's classic lasagna with a sheep's milk gouda -- all bubbly and melted and cozy. Her handmande pasta impresses the judges, and Colicchio again pronounces both dishes strong, handing the win to Nikki because Jennifer's rutabaga was raw. I think they have a lotion for that.

Shrimp scampi. Nimma's hope as she approaches the judges? "Please be nice." I hope she trips. Antonia's gorgeous parpardelle with shrimp, lobster, tomatoes and squash blossoms -- the judges affirm that it tastes as good as it looks -- goes up against Nimma's scampi with a cauliflower scramble. Padma asks Nimma about a marinade -- or, more specifically, about salt, because there's a lot of it, and by "it" I mean overcompensation. Bourdain's underwhelemed, and Rocco goes so far as to say he "would have to send it back" if it appeared at a restaurant. Antonia: 1, Nimma: 0.

Spike's eggs Benedict involves a poached egg with bacon, mushrooms, and lemongrass sabayon on a crouton, accompanied by some figs with what looks like some blue cheese and perhaps a bit of citrus. Lisa's incorporated a lobster tail into hers, so she will win, and she's also used toasted "halla" [sic], spinach, mache, hollandaise, and bacon. Oh, and an egg. Either of those would do wonders for a hangover, which Bourdain nails as he advises using just such criteria for judging. Lisa wins for putting everything together in one easy-to-eat pile of richness, and for an egg that is, according to Padma, "poached slightly better."

Dale flips it with a sweatband and New York strip steak with candied peppercorn, parsley puree, bok choy and a bunch of other stuff that, when combined, looks like a miniature, oddly-designed village. Manuel makes a run for the border, sporting the colors of the Mexican flag with sirloin with mushroom ceviche and scallion cilantro sauce. Rocco likes Dale's dish for "taking chances," while Colicchio downgrades Manuel's otherwise fine dish for being "too greasy," and Bourdain thinks he went "overboard with the sauce."

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Top Chef

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