Top Chef
Eastern Promise

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Lycheegate

Both teams shop at ethnic stores. Team Vietnam grabs watermelon and other things. Josie brags, "We got everything -- those lists were so precise."

Over in Koreatown, Team Loser doesn't have as much luck. We see that they will be doing braised pork with kimchi and sticky rice as well as a jasmine tea panna cotta with tapioca. Dudes? Traditional kimchi takes a really long time to make. Like, weeks, sometimes. This is already not a good idea. Also, Bravo slapped the menu graphic right over a shot of lychee cases. Nice and subtle. Marisa tells us that "everything was a bit chaotic" in the Korean grocery store. They scream at each other across store aisles, scramble around looking for stuff, and grapple at other stuff. Marisa screams something unintelligible around something she has stuffed in her mouth. Is she sampling? Because in some stores, sampling is stealing. A grocery worker helps Otto by loading a case of lychees on the bottom of the shopping cart. They get rung up and realize they are over budget and have to take something back. Something is taken out of the bags, and Elia decides they are fine.

Outside, they load up the car and Otto says, "I think we got a case of lychees for free." I want to point out that this is captioned and we hear it, but Otto seems to be off-camera when he delivers this line. Marisa tells us -- just so there's no doubt here -- "As Otto was closing the door, he said something like, 'We got a whole case of lychees for free.' And I was thinking to myself, 'Did I hear this properly? If that is what he said, then this isn't fair.'" This right here is where this scandal is bullshit. Otto tells everyone there about the free lychees. Any one of them could have turned right around and taken the lychees back. None of them do, so, in my opinion, they are all culpable in this. Otto is no more to blame than the rest of his team, he just happens to be the one who said it aloud. What we don't know is if he came to the realization at the checkout counter that the lychees weren't rung up and still left with them. If so, then he's in the wrong. However, he might have only realized the lychees weren't rung up when he unloaded them from the bottom of the carts and it dawned on him that they could have been overlooked.

Now, according to Marisa's blog, she and Elia discussed the situation AT THE STORE with the producers, but the fucking producers wanted them to have the conversation on camera -- um, the cameras were still there, right Producers? -- and made them leave with the purloined lychees in order to have more drama unfold elsewhere. That's manipulation. That's bullshit. That really pisses me off. That and the fact that last year's reunion special was filmed after the finale make me not believe anything I see on this show. And I used to think this show -- along with Project Runway -- didn't have to sink to manufactured drama. I've lost my innocence.

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