Top Chef
First Impressions

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Tastes Like Chicken

Padma sends them off to the Fresh Market with thirty dollars and thirty minutes to shop for additional ingredients. They can also use anything in the Lee Anne-stocked Top Chef pantry and will have two hours to prep and cook. Colicchio announces that their guest judge is Anthony Bourdain, the man who really will put absolutely anything in his mouth if you tell him some small tribe in a forgotten village in a hard-to-reach, fourth-world country finds it slightly edible. I'm willing to bet Bourdain has had everything on that table at least once, so he knows what everything should taste like. CJ notes that Bourdain "isn't afraid to eat a brain out of a live monkey."

The cheftestants shop. Clay noodles around the produce shelves, searching for okra to serve with his scorpion fish and wild boar. Micah points it out and tells him to take it easy. Joey From New York observes this exchange and says to us, "Clay's a grown boy. If Clay didn't know what he was doing, he wouldn't be here right now. I hope she don't tell me what to do, because I'll tell her to go fuck herself." Ah, a cheftestant as classy as our dear Vice President. Joey From New York then nods at the camera as if to say, "Really and truly."

Back in the kitchens, the cheftestants divide into two groups. Group two is sent off to chill for a bit before they have to cook and present. Group one gets busy with the Food Flurry for two hours. The slow and plunky loser music plays as Howie prepares his sea urchin and frog legs. He tells us that it's a new experience for him to be at the mercy of time. They give us a shot of Howie aimlessly swinging his arms and whistling. Howie goes on that he's taking his time to make sure his mis-en-place is set up perfectly so he can put out the best food possible. Sandee, who is doing Cajun-style spider crab and frog legs, uses her injector to saturate the frog legs with some sort of juice. She doesn't say what it is, but I'm assuming it's a marinade. Joey From New York is feeling confident about his plan to poach buffalo rib eye and grilled scorpion fish. CJ is so tall, he's having his head blocked by the apron over the stove as he drops his spider crab into a huge stockpot.

Colicchio arrives for his Sniff 'n' Sneer and checks in with Clay. He wonders if Clay's wild boar and scorpion fish is going to be crrrrazy enough for Bourdain, but Clay points at something and says Bourdain will like his fried fish tail. Clay explains to us that he is known for his Cajun-Creole style and he's going to be adding his own Southern spin to it. Colicchio checks in with a few more cheftestants, suggests to Lia that she take the time to French her wild boar bones and make them beautiful, and learns that Howie is making a sea urchin risotto (and serving it in the hollowed out sea urchin) with fried frog leg lollipops. This is the second year Top Chef has had the opening episode include frog legs in the Elimination Challenge. More Food Flurrying as time runs down. Howie starts to give us a blow-by-blow of his final minutes and the upshot is, when Padma calls time -- quite aggressively for her, actually -- we see that Howie didn't have time to plate his frog legs with the risotto. He actually has the fry basket in his hands and is walking over to his station but there's nothing he can do about it and he's upset. He starts to pace angrily and swear. Howie picks up his plates and walks out, saying, "Guess I'm the one that's going home." He admits he has no one to blame but himself.

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Top Chef

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