Top Chef
First Impressions

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Tastes Like Chicken

Moving on to Dale, I have to turn the TV volume back up to normal. Dale knows he's there because he didn't know much about the products he had. His strategy was to taste and test-cook the proteins. He discovered he didn't like the texture that resulted from searing and cooking the alligator all the way through. Colicchio steps in to say that the medium rareness of the alligator was a big problem for the judges, and they all found it to be too chewy. Bourdain says Dale tried to play it safe to keep from ending up as the worst. Dale opens his mouth but just nods. Poor Howie is next. He knows why he's there. "What HAPPENED?" Padma demands. Okay, she's also having volume problems. Colicchio doesn't understand why Howie didn't have enough time to plate the frog legs. Howie admits he was trying to recrisp the frog legs because he was trying to get everything absolutely perfect. Bourdain has a question: "What is your major malfunction?" Howie stands there and repeats the question. Bourdain points out that Howie already knows that the first rule of restaurant business is to show up on time and the second rule is to have your stuff in the window on time, at the same time as everyone else. "I want my food now, I want it hot, and I want when I want it," Bourdain adds. Howie agrees, "That's fair enough. In your book, though --" Oh, this is going to be AWESOME! "...there's a little part that says about Ecuadorian line cooks, I believe?" Howie goes on. "Oh, that's unfair, man!" Bourdain laughs, banging the table, totally cornered. "It says, you can yell at this person, at this person, and they'll give it to you when it's wrong. But these particular people, they give it to you when it's right." "You son of a bitch!" Bourdain responds, in total respect. "Oh, you're in trouble!" Gail says, trying to get in on it. "You want it fast and you want it right," Colicchio sums up. Isn't that, like, Burger King's slogan or something? Howie agrees that, of course he wants it fast and right, and it kills him that a matter of seconds is what's between him moving on or going home tonight.

Finally, we get to Clay, who doesn't know why he's there, actually. He stands behind his dish. Colicchio says that with forty minutes to go, Clay had already cooked his wild boar, "Did you think it was cooked correctly at that point or when you served it?" Clay wanted to sear the boar and then par-cook it and he wasn't going for well done. He thinks he should have made the chops thicker. Bourdain steps in, "You're serving a wedding party of a hundred-fifty and you par-cook your chops. Wild boar is a beautiful thing -- why you par-cooking your chops?" Clay looks like a deer caught in headlights. He admits he was playing it safe but he still stands behind his dish. Colicchio thinks he's standing behind his dish but he's also backtracking and adds that the cornbread dressing was inedible as well. For Gail, it wasn't the dressing, it was the chop that was so bad. Bourdain finalizes the discussion with, "This was not a conceptual problem, this was a problem of fundamentals. It's overcooked, too thin, not good." Padma sends the cheftestants back out.

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Top Chef

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