Top Chef
Freezer Burn

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Keckler: D+ | Grade It Now!
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OMG, IQF! WTF?

Back in the kitchens, the cheftestants prep and cook. Sara M. checks in on Howie about their stock and asks if he's going to use a mirepoix. He wasn't planning on it, but sort of shrugs, "Unless you wanna throw garlic or whatever you wanna throw in there." Hung is being his usual loud self as he bangs the hell out of some chicken breasts, "Chinese style." Calmly and slowly, Tre tells us how focused he and CJ were on their task. So focused, they didn't even need to speak to each other. Casey holds out a meatball for Dale's inspection. It's miniscule. "Smaller?" Casey asks. SMALLER? "Maybe a touch bigger because they are going to cook down," Dale says diplomatically. Casey explains to us that they picked things they knew would freeze well, like pesto and meatballs. Pesto and meatballs? I don't think I've ever heard of that combo. Matter of fact, I don't know if I've ever heard of pesto and meat being combined. Pasta? Yes. String beans and boiled potato? Yes. Meat? Not so much. Joey plods off to cook the pasta while Hung pours a ton of salt into a saucepan and pulls some out to taste. I'm sure it tastes…salty? Standing over a big, steaming stockpot, Hung double dips as he tastes whatever is in there. He tells us that he has experience in making this kind of frozen pasta and he understands the science behind it. Joey makes the sauce and Hung sous-vides his chicken. Hung takes a consult with Joey: "So I guess we'll call it, grilled herb chicken with roasted tomato-garlic sauce." Joey grunts. Hung is satisfied.

The Brians pour pasta into a pot of water and Tre asks how things are going with Sara N. "Slow as shit, dude," he says, "She's killing me." A plodding tuba oompahs as we watch Sara N. carefully and precisely julienne red bell peppers. Brian tells us, "Sara works a whole different pace than I do -- she's cutting the peppers, in the time that she cut the peppers, I've cooked the pasta, dried the herbs, cut the pancetta. I love Sara, but I'm feeling almost like I could have done this better and faster by myself." But that's because you're already a team unto yourself, dude.

Howie and Sara M. discuss whether or not they should put the fennel into the stock or freeze it raw. Sara M. tells us that Howie is not easy to read, and it's frustrating that she can't tell what her teammate is thinking. Sara M. peppers Howie with questions about the pasta, the seasoning, and if he tasted it. While I don't think it's out of line for Sara M. to be asking Howie all these questions, I can see that her voice -- raised to a level that makes it fish-wifey -- could get annoying and nag-alicious. Howie tells us that he resents someone like Sara M., who "hasn't ever shown anything in ANY challenge," questioning him and how he's doing things. Not that Howie would necessarily know this, but we did find out from Gail's blog that Sara M. was considered to be the third finalist in the "Latin Lunch" challenge. Maybe Sara M. is so concerned about Howie tasting the seasoning because she knows it could be overly salty from the tablespoons of HOWIE SWEAT he keeps adding to things.

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