Top Chef
Eastern Promise

Episode Report Card
Keckler: A+ | Grade It Now!

Back in the Kenmore Kitchen, Team Korea gets set up for prep. Marisa tells us, "Playing by the rules is extremely important to me. Otto put me in a terrible position that I didn't want to be in." According to your blog, Marisa, it was the producers who did that. In the kitchen, Marisa backs Ted Ilan into a corner and says, "We look like fucking cheaters." Ted Ilan tells us he doesn't think Otto is a thief, he thinks it was a mistake. Ted Ilan goes on, "I felt like Marisa was trying to point blame, so that it couldn't be linked to her at all." Well, if she truly did want to return the lychees at the store, then I can understand her concern.

Team Vietnam food flurries and we finally see their menu. They're making a coconut-braised pork pho with carrot vermicelli, summer rolls with pickled watermelon, and a cucumber-aloe refresher drink. Carlos tells us that Josie was elected team leader because she was the most familiar with the ingredients and the product, so they all put their faith in her. We see Josie checking in with people's progress.

Team Korea has their own food flurry. Marcel wanders around and doesn't seem to know what he's doing. Marisa works on the panna cotta with Elia. Otto chops cabbage and asks where the kimchi powder is. Marcel tells us, "Kimchi is a huge staple in Korea and it's a product that's fermented for weeks at a time underground, so for us to try and make it in two days is pushing it -- it's a huge undertaking."

Colicchio stops by for his Team Vietnam Sniff 'n' Sneer. Betty explains they are making a ginger-basil syrup and adding it to cucumber juice and aloe juice. Colicchio confirms that she's in charge of the drink, Betty laughs that she's the bar wench. My, but her teeth are WHITE!

Over at Team Korea, Colicchio approaches Marisa and asks how things are going. "Um... " Elia and Marisa say in unison. "One of our team members took something from the store without paying for it," Elia tells him. Colicchio is shocked, SHOCKED to learn of this and demands to know what happened. Marisa explains, "They were loading up the van and after they loaded up the van, they closed it and said to me, 'Hey, I got an entire case of lychees for us. We didn't pay for it -- we didn't have to pay for it.'" Boy, either Marisa's got severe liarrhea or the producers made Otto do a (completely different) pickup on his "I think we got a case of lychees for free" line.

If Otto really did say exactly what Marisa said he said, then I could see how there might be definite reason to believe he meant to get away with the free lychees. I can also see that perhaps Marisa isn't the true villain in all of this. If Otto said to Marisa alone, "Hey, I got an entire case of lychees for us. We didn't pay for it -- we didn't have to pay for it," and no one else heard it, then I take back what I said about the entire team being culpable. Production made it look like Otto said the potential pick-up, "I think we got a case of lychees for free" in front of everyone who was involved in loading the car. However, he wasn't visually on camera when he said that, so who knows? There's a world of difference between him saying it solely to Marisa (and using the exact phrasing she's claiming he's used), and him saying it in front of the rest of his team and using that other line. Marisa's line makes it sound like he meant to get away with the free lychees, the other line makes it more nebulous. The first case also explains why Marisa tells us in an interview, "Otto put me in a terrible position," and not "Otto put the team in a terrible position." Maybe she wasn't just being selfish. If she was the only one Otto told that he "got" them a case of free lychees, then she is the one put in a terrible position and no one else. Still, the producers manipulated when they didn't let Marisa return the lychees then and there. They also manipulated us when they made us think Otto announced to his team that they had free lychees while they were all loading the car. At least that's how I see it. When I first watched this episode, I was totally all, "Marisa's a bitch!" and "The whole team had a responsibility!" but now I'm seeing it totally differently. I still haven't changed my mind about Marisa's calendar, though, because that's still an ew.

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