Top Chef

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Chuck: B | Grade It Now!
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Film Food

Next comes Nikki, with a blanched green bean and asparagus quenelle in an endive leaf, shaved fennel and radish salad, and a brick of grilled zucchini (which she apparently didn't think to season). "You will never, ever grill something without seasoning," pronounces Daniel, to which Nikki can only reply, "Thank you."

And that's we get to see before the winners and losers are announced. Generally speaking, Daniel wishes he had seen a bit more time given upfront to identifying a plan prior to execution. Nikki, not surprisingly, gets called out as the first of the worst. In addition to the sin of seasonless grilling, Daniel thought that "to just take a plain piece of endive and just use it as a boat, it's cute, but not well thought out. Are you listening, Manuel? But Lisa's the next choice -- Daniel felt her mishmash of vegetables did not represent a "train of thought on the combination of all these techniques together." Man, that girl is a pro at looking sour. Now it's Manuel's turn -- according to Daniel, his plate was "level one technique," and it takes more than that to succeed in this competition.

In the good news department, Daniel liked Zoi's poached egg, "composed into a dish you could serve." Dale impressed him because "you made a plan, your knife skills are amazing, you really pushed it to what a chef should do." Finally, Richard gets a nod for "an amazing presentation," with Daniel mentioning specifically that "the mushrooms were very interestingly prepared." In the end, Daniel picks Dale as the winner -- with immunity -- for showing "something amazing," which feels especially good for Dale since he's been on the chopping block twice in a row.

This week's Elimination, thankfully, does not involve pre-prepping and transporting massive amounts of finger food. Rather, it's a movie-themed challenge in which the cheftestants will create a six-course dinner (inspired by their favorite films) hosted by telegenic Chicago movie critic Richard Roeper, who inherited the chair opposite Roger Ebert on At the Movies after Siskel passed away, and who now can no longer use the trademark thumb rating with his rotating guest hosts due to contractual disputes between very ill thumb trademark owner Ebert and whoever refused to pay enough for use of said thumb.

Anyway, Roeper's hosting the dinner for his friend Aisha Tyler, an actress/comedienne/author/etc. whose few appearances with Roeper on At the Movies conveys the impressions that she may be a friend with benefits. The cheftestants will be divided, via knife drawing, into teams of two -- except for Dale. Numbers on each knife designate which course each team will cook. As the drawing ensues, things divide precisely along gender lines. In order of courses, the teams are: Andrew and Richard; Spike and Manuel; Jennifer and Nikki; Ryan and Mark; Zoi and Antonia; and Lisa and Stephanie. Andrew and Richard together again -- wow, they couldn't have planned that one any better.

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Top Chef

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