Top Chef

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Best of the Best
e more humble this time around. I don't like him yet, but I also don't hate him.

Angelo comes back, tells everyone he won, and then sends back Fabio, Stephen, and Elia to find out which one of them will be leaving. They troop in and dutifully take their spots. They start with Stephen, who admits that he wasn't really around the first time his dish was created. Bourdain thinks the dumplings were monochromatic and the texture was off, and he asserts that Stephen has probably never had a soup dumpling. Colicchio adds that, in Stephen's second dish, the proportions were way off.

Elia talks about her dish, and what she thought was good about it: the flavors, the puree, and the jus. She doesn't mention the piece of fish, which was the main ingredient. Gail tells her that the fish was raw. Elia admits that she didn't put her knife into every piece of fish to make sure it was cooked through, and Tom tells her that on some pieces, it was actually the top that was raw. Wow. How did she miss that? She gives the excuse that the ti leaves were thicker than what she's used to, so it took longer in the steamer, but Gail tells her that she didn't have to steam it. From what I've read, Elia thought that they had to basically remake the dish with very small changes, while others reimagined the whole dish. Bourdain adds that Elia is obviously a talented chef, but she never got off the ground: she was so wrapped up in recreating the dish that she didn't let herself imagine how it could be improved.

Moving on to Fabio, he claims that when he originally made the dish, the judges told him that it was too light of a stew. Gail says that this dish he made for them tonight was overdressed and overdone. Bourdain chimes in and says that he doesn't know what Fabio was thinking, because his dish was wet and brown and horrible looking. Fabio sees his chance and says that he will take constructive criticism, but he won't be made fun of, and he thinks that's what Bourdain did during the meal. They argue over the paper, which is kind of missing the point, I think. As I said earlier, if the dish was great, Fabio would never be eliminated solely over presentation. Tom gets to the heart of it when he says that they weren't able to pick out individual flavors and nuances; it was muddy, which was the problem the first time around as well. Also, when did Fabio start wearing a thumb ring? I have concerns.

As they are excused, Elia takes a moment to plead with the judges, "Don't eliminate me. I have a lot more to do." Ooooooh. Sad. When they get back to the Stew Room, Fabio goes off and says that he might be a bad chef, but he won't be made fun of, because everyone has a bad day. Okay, then.

The judges deliberate. They can't figure out why Elia made the same exact dish as last time, and Gail thinks that she just shut down. In the Stew Room, Elia thinks she should have tasted several of the dishes, but it sounds like the concept was just off, even if she had executed well, which she didn't. They move on to discuss Fabio's food. Bourdain thinks he avoided making the decision between a gumbo and a pasta dish, and as a result, it wasn't a good version of either one. Tom also thought the dish had no nuance. It does look like a pile of noodles and junk on a plate. Back in the Stew Room, Fabio is going on and on about how he's successful so he doesn't care if they criticize. Yeah, he doesn't care so much that he won't shut up about it. The judges move on to discuss Stephen. Tom reminds them that the portions were off. Gail doesn't think Stephen understood the original dish, so he couldn't make changes, and Bourdain compares it unfavorably to his last colonoscopy. As in, he'd rather have a tube stuck up his bum than eat Stephen's food. Ouch.

The bottom three are called back out to face the music. Tom reminds them that this challenge was a chance at redemption, but they didn't make improvements. Fabio's sauce was clunky and too thick. Elia couldn't deal with the thicker ti leaves. Stephen's dish was out of balance. Tom assures them that they are all talented chefs, but one has to go home. And that one will be Elia, despite her earlier plea. In her exit interview, Elia says that she's really upset, because she was sure that she was going to make it really far. She thinks it's almost not worth it that she came. Her fellow cheftestants applaud her, but she's really sad and upset. Damn. Once they get rid of Stephen next week (I'm assuming), I don't know who will go next. This is really anyone's game. Love it.

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Top Chef

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