Top Chef

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Kim: B+ | 1 USERS: B+
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It's time for the first part of the finale, and the cheftestants are all arriving in Puerto Rico. After some establishing shots of scenic Puerto Rico, we learn that it's been six months since the last challenge, and Stephanie has traveled in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. It's like her own personal No Reservations. At the airport in Puerto Rico, Stephanie welcomes Antonia with a hug. It turns out that Antonia opened a restaurant since the last challenge and has been "cooking a hundred hours a week." Did you know she's got a daughter? And her daughter is used to her not being around "six or seven nights a week"? Which would be the whole week, if my calculations are correct. Look I'm not saying she's a bad mom. I'm just pointing out what many have said previously: that working as a chef and trying to have a family are often incompatible. And no one knows that more than the next arrival, Richard, who recently welcomed a baby daughter to his family. Richard doesn't get a mention of how he spent the interim, though. He's happy to see Stephanie and Antonia, and adds that most people have anticipated those three being in the finals, but no one expected Lisa to get there. Nice of Richard to establish that Lisa is the redheaded stepchild in this scenario, but viewers already knew (and mostly agreed with) that. Speaking of Lisa, she poses while riding down an escalator in the airport, like who stands like that in normal life? I know that the first few episodes had aired before this was filmed, so maybe she's feeling self-conscious in front of the cameras now? She also got a bad short haircut and seems to have lost some weight. At least her face looks thinner; it was always pretty tough to tell what was going on under those bulky chef's coats anyway. The others greet her warmly but you know they're dying inside.

As they are driven to their accommodations, Lisa comments that it hasn't really hit her yet that they're in Puerto Rico. But it will soon! Because it's already time for the Quickfire Challenge. Padma welcomes the cheftestants to a cabana on the beach, which includes a table loaded down with various tropical-looking fruits. The guest judge is Wilo Benet, who Richard informs us is a famous Puerto Rican chef. Padma explains that one of the signature dishes of Puerto Rico is a fritura, or fritter, which is usually served on the beach with a cold beer. So it's like hot dogs at a baseball game or cotton candy at an amusement park. Although cotton candy and beer - not such a good combination. Trust me. Anyway, the challenge is to make frituras for Padma and Wilo. Wilo explains that plantains are probably the most traditional Puerto Rican ingredient, and Padma adds that the cheftestants' creations must include plantains. Stephanie interviews that, before coming to Puerto Rico, she obviously realized that using plantains might be required, so she tried out different ways of preparing them, and none of them worked out. Lisa says that plantains are fairly common so she assumes most chefs know how to work with them. Padma delivers the rest of the rules - forty-minute time limit and they can use anything on the table of produce or from the kitchen - and time begins.

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Top Chef

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