Top Chef
Penn & Teller

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Magic and Misdirection
orite of nobody, Toby Young. I hope he's spent his time off thinking up extra prefabricated lines to insult the food.

The cheftestants go shopping. Bryan has Reuben sandwich, and he's decided to make it using tuna instead of pastrami. Interesting. Jen got meat lasagna, and she is not that excited, because she doesn't quite know what to do. She's just planning on buying all of the components and figuring it out when she gets into the kitchen. I would think that would be pretty easy: a noodle, some meat, some cheese, a schmear of sauce. Mike I. has eggs Florentine; the problem is that he doesn't know what that dish is. Isn't it just eggs Benedict but with spinach instead of ham? Has he never worked a brunch? I mean, at least he has to figure it's eggs, spinach, and a sauce of some sort. Mike I. makes the "joke" that it's not eggs Florentine, it's eggs "foreign-to-me." Ha?

Mike V. is breaking down chickens with a cleaver, and seems really happy about it. His dish is Caesar salad, and he's breaking fresh bread. Look at little Volt go! His brother calls him a show-off. Kevin thinks his competition is the Volts, because they deconstruct dishes all the time, and he's looking at this as a second chance to show the judges that he knows how to make this dish.

Jen still has no clue what she's going to do, and she explains that her training is more classical, which doesn't involve a lot of deconstruction. She's struggling. Ron tries to explain what he's going to do but I don't even understand what he's talking about. He adds that he makes paella all the time, so he's totally going to win. Eli interviews that he doesn't think Ron knows what deconstruction means. Eli, on the other hand, totally knows what he's doing, and he's using a pressure cooker that he had to tape up because it got broken during transit. That seems like a horrible idea. Pressure cookers are volatile.

Ashley got pot roast, and since she grew up poor, she didn't eat a lot of beef. I get that, but if she ever did have beef it was probably pot roast or ground beef, since those are typically the cheapest cuts. Then Eli's pressure cooker totally explodes, but no one gets hurt. Ash wonders why Eli didn't just use one of the various pressure cookers available in the kitchen. Robin has chowder, and she hates chowder, so she's making a flan. While she cooks, she walks around the kitchen and talks to herself. Poor Laurine has to work next to Robin, and gets progressively more annoyed as time marches on. And then Robin decides to start making random funny noises for no apparent reason. Laurine might punch her.

Laurine is trying to make fish and chips, and her potatoes aren't crisping up, so she's standing by the oven and watching them closely. And then Robin's all, "Can you pull my pancetta out?" and Laurine has just about had it with her, but she passive-aggressively does it anyway. She should have told her to get it herself.

Colicchio comes in to talk to each chef about their dishes. Ash has shepherd's pie, and admits that he's not quite sure what he's doing yet. Colicchio tries to talk to Jen, but she doesn't want to talk to him, because she's too busy. Colicchio heads over to Ron who says that he needs some luck and then tries to get Colicchio to tell him what to do, basically. Oof. This is not looking good. Colicchio finally talks to Jen, who tries to get rid of him quickly, and admits that this is out of her usual cooking wheelhouse. After Colicchio leaves, Ash interviews that he's also worked mostly in traditional restaurants too, so he's not psyched about the deconstruction either.

That night, back in the house, the various cheftestants discuss the challenge. Ron admits that he doesn't really know what he's doing. Eli first apparently has to explain to Ron what paella is, which is kind of scary, since Ron claimed he was an expert. And then Kevin says that he's worried that Ron's dish is just going to be paella with no deconstruction. Ron seems confused. Kevin and Eli give him some tips about what he should do; they basically tell him how to cook and serve his dish.

Meanwhile, some of the other cheftestants are having a beer and discussing how frustrating it is to be near the top and then on the bottom the next challenge. Laurine is frustrated from losing to Robin in the Quickfire and then having to be next to her in the kitchen. Laurine was in a bad mood already and listening to Robin beep and boop around the kitchen isn't helping.

Weird interstitial. Mike I. tries to find out what eggs Florentine is from his fellow cheftestants. Some claim not to know, but he finally finds out the main elements from Ron and Laurine. Later, he tries to figure out the origin. Well, based on the Florentine part, I'm going to guess it's Italian? He makes his "foreign-to-me" joke and the women encourage him by laughing. I hope they're drunk, or desperate for entertainment.

The next morning, various cheftestants (Jen, Ash, Ashley, Laurine) commiserate on how screwed they are. Jen reminds us that, even though she's been in the top three a few times, it's all about the dish created for this challenge, and she's not that confident.

The cheftestants arrive in the kitchen, where they have one hour to prep before service. The judges also arrive, with Toby Young taking Gail's spot. Mike V. and Mike I. are serving together (because that's not confusing). Mike I. doesn't like his presentation, and he's also worried about Toby being mean.

Mike V made Caesar salad: chicken wing, parmesan jelly and brioche while Mike I made eggs Florentine: braised kale roll, egg emulsion, and crispy phyllo. While introducing it, Mike I. feels the need to explain what eggs Florentine is to the diners, which is kind of obnoxious given how we know he just learned it himself. Toby didn't like the eggs, and thought it was more of a reinvention than a deconstruction. Michelle thought the Caesar salad was fantastic, and well-executed. Penn makes a joke about exploding that only serves to further annoy me.

Laurine and Bryan are serving next. Bryan is confident in his dish, but Laurine is worried about her chips. I'm not sure if she understands that chips are not potato chips, but in fact, French fries. Because she totally made potato chips. Anyway, they were soggy so she stuck them in the oven to recrisp them, and they burned. She ended up with fourteen usable chips and had to divvy them up amongst seven plates. So Bryan serves a Reuben sandwich: tuna, warm mayo, Thousand Island flavors, rye, and gruyere cheese while Laurine serves fish and chips: halibut, zucchini relish, tomato confit, and parsley chips. They eat the fish and chips first, and Tom finds the fish overcooked. Toby and Padma both think there needed to be more to the chips, and Teller demonstrates how overly chewy the chips were. Seriously? He's still not talking? Everyone loved the Reuben except Penn, who is no food expert and I don't even think he gets a vote, does he?

While plating, Ash realized that his potato and parsnip puree was gummy. I'm going to guess it stood around for a while and then he overmixed it, which will turn any mashed vegetable into glue. So he decides to skip the puree, which seems like a pretty big component of shepherd's pie. Ash also points out that it's an English dish, so he worries that British Toby will be more harsh than usual. Ash serves shepherd's pie: lamb chops, leeks, glazed carrots, pea puree, and Madeira jus while Jen made meat lasagna: steak, mascarpone b├ęchamel, tomato sauce, and parmesan crisp. The judges agree that the lasagna is awesome, especially putting the parmesan crisp on top to serve as the crusted baked cheese on top. Tom complains about Ash's lamb, which is cooked inconsistently. Toby explains his idea of shepherd's pie, and how dumb it was to skip the potatoes.

Eli thinks Ron is struggling, still, as we see Ron wandering around the kitchen aimlessly. Ron explains that his rice isn't crisping up, but he's going to deal with it. Ron serves seafood paella: lemon and herb oil, chayote, and peas while Eli serves sweet and sour pork: por

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