Top Chef

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Chuck: A- | Grade It Now!
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Beat This Meat

Lisa, loving the ricer, tells the camera that she's making peanut butter mashed potatoes to go with her steak, which sounds absolutely disgusting -- she wants to show the judges something they haven't seen before, but at some point you have to wonder why, perhaps, peanut butter mashed potatoes have not been seen before. Antonia, julienning vegetables and enjoying the challenge of being dropped into someone's kitchen, given free reign, and told to prepare dinner service, approves of the final challenge. Richard comments on the spontaneity of the whole thing, and explains that he's slicing a fatty piece of hamachi into bacon-like strips, which he'll top with small pieces of sweetbreads, deconstructing a typically Italian dish. Lisa's back is burning, as Antonia has left the wood burning oven door open so that the air can fuel the fire, so it doesn't die. "What if I die?" asks Lisa. "Well then I guess you're not going to Puerto Rico, Lisa", she retorts. You got served, Greasylocks. Lisa admits that her nerves are more intense now -- she doesn't want to be sent packing so close to finals, not after she quit her job and left her life behind to compete.

Spike finally gets around to opening the bag of scallops, and discovers what everyone knew upon sight -- they're a mess. Torn and totally saturated with water, they'll be a bitch to sear, which is what Spike wants to do. Being a chef, he reasons, is about making lemonade out of lemons, as he unfurls paper towels and begins layering them with the scallops, hoping that they will drain and dry enough that he can make them presentable.

Colicchio arrives for his mid-prep eval, and starts with Antonia. She'll begin the evening with "a warm mushroom salad with artichokes and poached egg with bacon vinaigrette", followed by a bone-in rib eye. Spike's choice of tomahawk chops and scallops didn't really alter her plans, she explains, since, although she would have loved to work with scallops, they were frozen, and that's bad. Colicchio grins his agreement, and heads for Stephanie, who seems so engrossed in her work that she has trouble paying attention to and answering his questions. She does manage to articulate that she likes the challenge because it tests individual creativity. Richard confesses that he's nervous before elaborating on his dishes -- hamachi to start, followed by a beef tenderloin, for which the maturing Richard has a growing affection, garnished with potatoes, turnips, and red wine. Colicchio thinks the dishes sound "straightforward" for molecular gastronomist Richard, but Richard reminds Colicchio that he likes to "under promise over deliver" and alludes to some exciting twists. Colicchio's assessment of Richard's menu -- "playing it safe", according to Richard -- ruffles his feathers, apparently because he is playing it safe ("not smoking anything in a plastic bag") since they are cooking at a steakhouse.

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Top Chef

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