Top Chef

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Chuck: C | Grade It Now!
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Block Party

Still a bit shaken, Blue Team lets themselves start celebrating the second an even more shaken Red Team leaves the back room for the judges' tables. Calling them "the weaker team in this challenge," Padma wonders if they know why they lost. Ryan doesn't know, but Spike "thought we kicked their ass, to be honest. "You didn't," fires back Padma. First problem? The soggy corn dog. "A universal disappointment," says Bayless. Wow, that must have been a really, really bad corn dog. There's another déjà vu moment as the judges discuss the merits of pre-frying and transporting corn dogs -- this show is slowly morphing into an educational show for people who attend lots of pot luck events -- thanks, Glad! If, asks Ted, everyone from here to Calcutta knows not to tote corn dogs hither and yon, why doest thou so? Zoi explains that they very much wanted to cater to their audience, "to middle America, block party, kids," which apparently cannot be done without a corn dog.

"That's fine," responds Tom, "but does that mean you should dumb down what you're doing?" A particularly stinging accusation for Erik, defender of the people, and I'm not so sure it was a dumbing down as much as it was a dumb choice, but whatever. Point made. Speaking of Middle America, Ted would like to speak of the Waldorf salad, which Ryan believes stood up to the heat and the length of the day -- he kept all the ingredients separate and "put it out in spurts." I'll be starting junior high in the fall, thank you very much. Unfortunately, says Bayless, while Waldorf salads signify "crunch and crisp," Ryan's excess of chicken made everything -- uh oh -- soggy.

Spike takes this opportunity to assail the judges as "four people on the panel that have very good palates, intense palates, and you can taste food better than others." Jennifer backs him up, asserting their commitment to "cooking for the neighborhood." They're treading a very a fine line here, which Ted immediately seizes upon by schooling everyone that "whether you are making a jelly doughnut or sous vide duck breast, I think we can still tell whether it was done as well as it could be or not." And even though Zoi claims they didn't dumb anything down, this new line of defense says otherwise. Spike's not giving up, though, now trying to climb out of the hole by bringing up the collaborative nature of the team, that everyone tasted everybody else's dishes and provided input. If they all tasted Zoi's pasta salad, says Tom, then "you guys collectively have really poor palates." Bland, oily and flavorless, it sounds like too many of the pasta salads I've endured in the past -- but it can be awesome, and Zoi should be just a little ashamed of standing up for the common people and then showing such disdain for an American staple.

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Top Chef

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