Top Chef
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Keckler: B | Grade It Now!
God Save The Hot Dish

For the Elimination Challenge, Padma says they are going from something "very, very fresh" to something "a bit more stale." With Portale's help, Padma wheels out two tables laden with scrumptious fare like stuffed cabbage, chicken 'n' dumplings (the 'n' is an integral part of the cooking process, believe me), and well-beloved meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The cheftestants will be cooking for the Miami Elks Club Lodge, and their challenge is to take these stellar examples of "classic" American family fare and update them, transforming them into "modern, low-cholesterol meals." (Read: make them edible and not heart attacky.) Going in reverse order from how they fished, the cheftestants pick their plates. As in, Hung will not be running around dropping franks and pissing people off.

None of the cheftestants are thrilled by this challenge. Lia notes that she's not used to creating low-fat, healthy food, and Hung says that a family classic for him would be steamed fish, rice, and vegetables not "fried chicken and creamy and buttery things." He adds, "All those dishes look disgusting to me." I don't know if it's just him or the way he says things, but he totally cracks me up whenever he gets exercised over anything. He can't sit still. Here's a quick rundown: Casey chooses Sloppy Joes (which Bravo Graphics spells as "Sloppy Joe's" because there's some sort of possession going on, apparently) and Tater Tots; CJ grabs nasty-looking tuna casserole; Lia takes franks 'n' beans; Howie channels his inner Peter Brady and snatches pork chops and applesauce; Micah muses over her choices and reminds us "I'm from South Africa," which, she claims, means she's never eaten fried chicken, doesn't know what Chicken à la King is, and grabs meatloaf. "My reaction to American comfort food," Micah tells us: "Bleh!" Interesting. That's also been America's reaction to you. Camille loves tacos and chooses them; Dale selects chicken 'n' some flat-ass dumplings that cannot help but be improved upon; Brian (MALARKEY!) nabs stuffed cabbage, which he will be sure to clog up with something bughouse; Sara M. braves the Chicken à la King, and Hung ends up with fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Padma gives them thirty minutes and seventy-five dollars to shop. Micah tells us that she's thinking meatloaf and mashed potatoes shouldn't be too hard to improve upon. Given that so many cultures, not including American, have renditions on this dish, I would be inclined to agree that any experienced chef should be able to handle this.

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Top Chef




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