Top Chef
Into The Fire

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Keckler: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Food, Fire, and Frog Legs

Moving on to Cliff, we check out his Braised Frog Leg with an Eggplant Chip and Cornflake Chicken Liver. He has that ubiquitous chive "X" on top as a garnish. Michael smiles that he didn't like the chicken liver at all.

Emily explains she has a cornflake, cilantro, and mint-crusted frog leg. She used the peanut butter to "glue" the cornflakes on, and she also made a grilled eggplant and cilantro leaf salad with lemon juice and put it on a shiso leaf, which is coated with the chicken liver pâté. A lot going on there.

We now come to Otto's cornflake-coated frog leg with chicken liver, brown rice, vegetable sauté, and peanut sauce. He topped the dish with a scallion purée. Otto tells us he grew up with frog legs, because his father loved them. Ted Ilan tells us he was surprised that Otto's dish was so under-seasoned, and that the elements didn't seem to blend together.

Finally, we come to my favorite for this challenge, Mia. She tells the judges she prepared a "Sunday dinner, Southern-style." She soaked the frog legs in buttermilk, garlic, and cayenne pepper before frying them. She also has garlic-mashed eggplant and a wilted arugula salad. "It's like a classic fried chicken with frog legs," Padma observes. Cornflakes? Peanut butter? Mia notes she sees finger-licking. Michael tells us he really liked Mia's dish.

The Orange Group and the judges deliberate. The Orange Group really likes Betty's dish. "Oh, really?" Colicchio says, all surprised. The Orange Group liked that she made a cake and did something other than the frog leg as drumstick thing. They also really liked Mia's dish. Their least favorites were Otto and, for Ted Ilan, Marcel. Elia, on the other hand, announces that Marcel was one of her favorites -- she liked his presentation. Carlos agrees with Ted Ilan that Marcel's garlic was overpowering. Cliff's is another dish people didn't like. A hand vote is taken, but we don't know what the results are.

Judges' Table. Padma turns to Harold (did she call him "Hal"?) and asks what he thought of the challenge. Overall, he thinks they all did a pretty good job, but he also thinks it was a fairly difficult first challenge. Gail, speaking with an oddly put-on accent that sounds suspiciously like Padma's, says that the cheftestants had to prove themselves to each other. They discuss the top two for the Orange Group and agree that Ted Ilan and Elia are the right choices. Colicchio thinks if Frank's pasta had been more "refined," he might have been a stronger contender. Turning to the Black Group and Betty, all Colicchio can say is, "I thought the cake was fine." He goes on that the slaw on the bottom was a throwaway. Dude, what-the-fuck-ever! If it's such a "throwaway," why do so many crab cake dishes come with some sort of slaw, fennel being my personal favorite? Also, what's up with your craftbar fried oysters with celery root remoulade? Isn't that, in effect, a slaw? Talking out of your bald ass, you are. Harold, on the other hand, thought the slaw vinaigrette was seasoned really well and went nicely with the cake. Colicchio really liked Mia's dish, as did Gail, who thinks it might not have been the most refined, but it was the most satisfying.

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