Top Chef

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The Big Apple

Time's up, and Tom begins the judging. Lauren has made a spinach salad with apples, blue cheese, bacon, oranges, and balsamic vinaigrette. Patrick made an apple slaw salad with mint, cinnamon, oranges, and honey. Radhika made pan-seared pork with apple chutney, golden raisins, and chili powder. Leah made seared scallops with dried apples, rice wine vinegar, and apple juice. Tom makes few comments as he eats the dishes. The cheftestants line up and Tom announces that Leah (nicely-seared scallops) and Radhika (well-balanced and well-seasoned dish) are safe. It's down to Lauren and Patrick, the culinary school buddies. They are both torn because they are friends, but they also each want to stay. Patrick is either embarrassed or overheated because his cheeks are incredibly red. Tom announces that Patrick is the winner, because Tom liked his dish "a little better." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Lauren hugs Patrick and thanks everyone for the opportunity before heading for her ferry home. I love that she's taking a ferry. I think each eliminated cheftestant should have to take a different mode of transportation home. By the end, they'll be sending people via rickshaw and piggyback. Lauren, as you would imagine, is pissed that she didn't even get to enter the kitchen.

Without even a break, Padma announces the first Elimination Challenge. She busts out the knife block and everyone chooses a knife that has a New York neighborhood listed on it. There are two neighborhoods with each location, so the cheftestants are partnered up. Hosea, from Colorado, is particularly confused, since he got Brighton Beach. Someone is obviously not a Neil Simon fan. The challenge is to work individually to create a dish inspired by the ethnicity of their neighborhood. They will compete head-to-head against their partner, with the winner going into the "eligible for winning" pool and the loser going into the "eligible for elimination" pool.

The cheftestants move into their apartment. Unlike lesser shows like The Real World, they thankfully don't spend a lot of time with the cheftestants exclaiming how awesome the apartment is. I mean, it is awesome, but that's boring to watch. Stefan, having never visited New York, is surprised at how beautiful it is. And then he cashes his check from the Tourism and Visitors Bureau. Jamie, Richard, and Patrick declare themselves to be Team Rainbow since they are the gays and lesbians of the show. Champagne is popped, and the cheftestants decide to get to know one another before the heavy competition begins. Patrick gives a nice toast and everyone is happy. Later (earlier?), Fabio is giving a pasta-making demonstration and he and Stefan bond over their accents and their love of soccer. They tease one another. Hosea thinks they're both fierce competitors, but Stefan's ego started to rub people the wrong way. This is exemplified with Stefan getting in an argument with Daniel over the difference between a vinaigrette and an emulsion. Daniel interviews that Stefan and Fabio think they're better than everyone else, and they need to cut that shit out.

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Top Chef

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