Top Chef
Nasty Delights

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Keckler: B- | Grade It Now!
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Gone Fishhookin'
Food flurry. Tiffani thinks that expecting them to properly prepare octopus in sixty minutes is like expecting someone to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in thirty. Stephen tells us, "Once again I incorporated spirits into my cooking. As usual, a sommelier utilizing the wine." As usual, a recapper utilizing a FISHHOOK. The Katie Leebot marches in and says, "Okay guys, five minutes, get moving." Cynthia mutters that she just can't do it as she fiddles with her presentation. Time's up.

Katie Leebot comes back in with Chef Laurent. Starting with Tiffani, the tasting begins. Tiffani explains, "What I wanted to do here was two very simple preparations on a decidedly Mediterranean ingredient." She has a "quick tomato succo [sauce/juice] with octopus frit [fried crispity thing], finished with a little bit of basil, some mint, and some chive," and a purple tangle of wine-braised angel hair pasta with cold octopus that she "braised off slightly" before grilling it. Chef Laurent tastes and says calmly, "It's good. Thank you." Stephen explains his (once again) pretentiously minimalist plate: "I utilized the tentacles of the octopus today. I have two different cooking methods." His dish is described as "Octopus Tentacle Duet," which is currently being performed at the San Francisco Ballet. It's a square white plate, and there are tiny pieces of octopus lined up in three rows. The fourth row is a smear of something. Stephen's presentation doesn't look like food, it looks like when paleontologists lay out dinosaur bones on the ground before attempting to reconstruct the whole. The slices of tentacle look like vertebrae. Stephen instructs Chef Laurent which direction he should be eating -- toward the smear. I hate smears.

Stephen tells us, "When I looked at my dish compared to the others, I totally thought I won the Quickfire Challenge for the octopus." Man, he's like a broken record of Sweatin' to the Egos. "Everything on the plate was just really well-balanced and it looked beautiful," Stephen goes on. Lisa braised octopus with a little orange juice and then added thyme and chive. Chef Laurent tastes, says "good," and thanks her. Cynthia presents her dish: octopus with a tarragon-whisky sauce. "Is it tender?" she asks as he takes a bite. Chef Laurent explains that octopus has a tendency to be rubbery. Since it's a voice-over, it's hard to tell if he's speaking generally or about Cynthia's dish specifically. However, Cynthia says, "It still needs to be a little more tender but you know, I put a cork in the water." Yeah, you did! Chef Laurent is impressed and says that few people know about that trick. "Well, I've been around for a long time, so, you know," Cynthia laughs. "What is the cork in the water?" the Katie Leebot drones mechanically and also rather inanely. "It helps tenderize the octopus," Cynthia explains. "Leetle trick, actually, from Seeceely," Chef Laurent says.

Dave made a marinated and grilled Chinese five-spice octopus with a little cinnamon and ginger. Harold explains that he started his poached and grilled octopus with lentils by poaching the octopus in a lot of acid and then grilling it "hard" to give it some additional texture and caramelization. Chef Laurent asks if Harold specifically chose the particular type of lentils. Harold says he's worked with that kind of lentil before. What's the big? They look like yellow lentils, but even if they were green Le Puy or black Beluga, I still don't get why Chef Laurent would ask so specifically about them unless they tasted crappy. Lee Anne has produced a citrus-poached octopus over a Mediterranean saffron cake and tomatoes. Chef Laurent asks what she did with the rest of the octopus, a question they don't show him asking anyone else. Lee Anne smiles that she's going to deep-fry the rest. Next is Brian, who says, "I kinda winged it." Chef Laurent notes that there's a lot of ingredients. It appears to be a creamy stew with the octopus as a garnish. Ew, cream and seafood just never works for me. Actually, I never think anything in the dairy family -- aside from butter -- should be paired with sea creatures of any kind. Candice has made a sweet and spicy octopus curry with a molded couscous cake sitting on top. Stephen and Tiffani look like they're exchanging snide remarks about Candice's dish. Birds of a feather are assholes together. Finally, Miguel has braised his octopus in red wine, and that's all they really tell us about his dish. Chef Laurent asks Miguel why he chose red wine over white. "I feel it cuts out the fishy flavor octopus tends to have and it gives it a really nice bite," Miguel responds.

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