Top Chef
Into The Fire

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

Padma asks Ted Ilan, Elia, Mia, and Betty to follow her to the Judges' Table. They are congratulated for being the four best dishes. After giving them additional props (and Colicchio making sure that Betty knows that he didn't like her "little salad underneath," which was the only negative thing said to any of the top cheftestants. Dick.), Harold names Ted Ilan the winner. Ted Ilan is stoked, Mia looks really disappointed. Okay, so I got this wrong in my recaplet -- it was two in the morning when I wrote it, so give me a break and stop emailing me -- but it is Colicchio who points out that Harold won the first Elimination Challenge last season. The implication being: look where he is now. The cheftestants are excused.

Back in the kitchen, Ted Ilan is applauded for his win. Mia tells Carlos, Suyai, Otto, and Marcel to go to the Judges' Table. Once there, Padma tells them they are the worst of all of the cheftestants and asks why they each think they are there. Otto admits his rice was undercooked, but Harold tells him there wasn't enough depth to his dish. Suyai admits she "totally panicked," and didn't set her own pace. Gail says, "We agreed with your peers in that it was one of out least favorite, but there were definitely parts of the dish that we enjoyed." At this, Colicchio turns an amused and incredulous face to Gail. Dick. Gail goes on, "There was a lot of good potato in there." Colicchio snickers loudly. DICK! "Yeah, we'll leave it at that," Colicchio decides. Wow -- openly laughing at a cheftestant. That's classy. Suyai promises not to make the same mistake again. Marcel doesn't know why he is there. Harold agrees, he doesn't think he belongs there, either. Colicchio asks Carlos, since he was on the team that voted Marcel one of the worst, why Marcel is there. Carlos thinks Marcel's dish was too overwhelming with the garlic. "Maybe some people consider me to be a fierce part of the competition and if I'm eliminated maybe it might pave their way, possibly," Marcel says. Yeah, that's it. Colicchio wonders what happened with Carlos being done so early. Apparently, he finished "a good forty-five, fifty minutes" before time was up. Carlos says he doesn't think his dish was his crowning achievement but he also doesn't think it was "crap on a plate." Colicchio blinks at him. They're excused.

The Judges deliberate. I hate this part. It doesn't ever tell us anything solid. However, this time we hear Colicchio relate tales of his Sniff 'n' Sneer (he likes to call it his "walk-through," isn't that precious?) and how Suyai confessed to him that she knows she blew it. Gail shrugs that Suyai gave herself up. After criticizing Otto for owning up to his bad rice -- even though, they all acknowledge, that they SPECIFICALLY asked him what he thinks went wrong -- Harold thinks that it's important to stand behind your food and sell it no matter what. Okay, but there are times when you have to step a bit down from that and face facts that you were determined to be one of the worst, so clearly you must've done something wrong. Otherwise you're just being delusional. I could see the judges dinging people for that as well. Imagine someone like Betty standing there in the bottom of the barrel, insisting her dish was perfect and Colicchio sneering, "Come on, you're here for a reason, so it couldn't have been that perfect." I mean, didn't that happen last season at times? I think it's pretty disingenuous for them to decide that the cheftestants have to "stand behind" or "sell" their dishes, because there is a limit.

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