Top Chef

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Film Food

It's ladies first as Antonia and Zoi are called upon to defend their lamb. Antonia, expressing surprise at her current situation, "thought that our lamb was cooked perfectly, I thought that our romseco was really nice, and that our gremolata was nice." "Nice" may be their biggest problem, actually, as Colicchio explains that the issues were largely ones of packaging and presentation -- the sales pitch about "passionate women and vibrant colors" wasn't effectively translated to the plate, even though, he concedes, "the lamb was cooked perfectly." When he asks bout the thinness of the chops, Zoi and Antonia launch into another sales pitch for their choice of film and food (while the colors may not have materialized, the two chops represented the two of them, as well as the two women in the film, it was a simple story -- all good points to emphasize). "We didn't express that as well as we should have," concedes Zoi, and Padma agrees, wishing "you had told us THIS." It would indeed be a bummer to get sent home for attaching the wrong marketing pitch to an otherwise solid effort.

"GOOD MORNING VIETNAM," yell-talks Padma. Spike gets off to a bad start when he explains that his choice of movie was dictated by "Vietnamese food, that's what I'm cooking presently right now" -- reasoning I can't imagine is going to impress anyone as smart or creative. He maintains that he and his employee -- er, Manuel -- collaborated on the ingredients in the roll, which "pretty much what classically goes into a summer, or fresh, roll." Not so fast, Professor Evangelos -- Ted points out that chard is not a typical summer roll ingredient, and wants to know more. Manuel explains that the chard was used as a pickle-like ingredient, as Tom maintains that the problem with the chard was its lack of connection to the dish -- he disliked the "little pile of Swiss chard off to the side that really had no relation, at all, to the summer roll."

Colicchio then inquires whether or not Spike and Manuel spent their entire budget -- they did, claims Spike, but I hope he's lying and that they both pocketed twenty bucks. "It seemed like all the other contestants had a different budget than you did," says Colicchio, explaining that he didn't see any value on the plate and chalking the summer roll up to "something you can find in a local neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant that you would pay eight bucks for an appetizer." Oh, snap. Manuel argues that they were trying to showcase the evolution of Vietnamese food as a global cuisine, but Colicchio brings him up short by wondering why, if that was the case, they served something "fairly typical." How about a fusion of Spike's Vietnamese expertise with Manuel's Mexican roots -- "weave it together; take what you know and use those flavors to make something different."

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