Top Chef

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Etched in My Mind
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

The morning after Jamie and Tiffani were eliminated (yay and boo respectively), Carla wakes up and is happy that she won the Elimination Challenge, but sad to see her friends leave. But she's also really proud to be one of the three remaining female chefs. This season did seem to be trending heavily female (in that it was about half and half until last week), and I was wondering when they were going to get around to mentioning it. Blais interviews that he's looking forward to an individual challenge, because in the group challenges, he's ended up on the bottom, and he doesn't want to be eliminated cooking anything but his own food. I think that's fair. I understand the need for group challenges, but I would be pissed if I got steamrolled or bullied into cooking something I didn't believe in, and then got eliminated. So since they showed Richard saying that, we'll definitely see an individual challenge this week, right? I might believe that if they hadn't made clear in the preview that it was Restaurant Wars.

There's a funny bit where Antonia says that neither Carla nor Tiffany would move into her room, because they don't want to become victims of the Black Hammer. It seems that Antonia is a bit of a bad luck charm, in that people who team up with her end up eliminated. This started in Antonia's original season and has continued in All-Stars. Will her streak continue this week?

The cheftestants report to Le Bernardin, Eric Ripert's famous restaurant. Anthony Bourdain greets them instead of Padma, and explains that, in his newest book, he profiled a dude named Justo Thomas, who works in the kitchen of Ripert's restaurant. He comes in every morning at seven, and by noon, he has butchered somewhere between 700 and 1000 pounds of fish. Holy crap. That's a lot of fish. That's half a ton of fish! One dude! In five hours! Also, he must reek when he leaves work. Wouldn't you hate to ride on the subway next to him? Bourdain explains that when Justo goes on vacation, it takes three people to do his job. That's job security, man. I hope he earns what three people would normally earn, too. If not, he could screen this episode to make his point.

The cheftestants head downstairs to meet the legendary fish butcher of Manhattan. Justo explains that his three tenets are saving fish, quality, and equal portions. Well, that's not a parallel construction. If I were grading Justo's essay, I would take points off. But then again, it doesn't seem that English is Justo's first language, so I might give him partial credit and just write a note in the margin. Anyway, Justo is a man of action, not words, so he shows off his skills. You can see when he discards the skin, head, and tail of the first fish, it's picked clean. And neat! Like you could stuff it with something and it would still look like a fish, not just like a mess of scales. The cheftestants are understandably impressed when Justo butchers two fish in eight minutes, and ends up with beautiful and equal portions, with none of the flesh wasted.

Bourdain introduces the Quickfire Challenge: they must butcher one cod and one fluke into portions good enough to serve at Le Bernardin, and they will have ten minutes, two more than Justo needed. Oh, how generous. Tiffany interviews that she's an executive chef at a seafood restaurant, so she knows how to cut fish, but she's usually not being timed or judged for quality. Marcel, because he's an asshole, is wearing a bandanna tied around his head Samurai-style. I'm not even going to go on about it, because he just wants the attention. He also tells a dumb story about how he had an allergic reaction the first time he butchered a fish, but he powered through. I'm willing to bet real money that the whole thing never happened, or maybe he got one hive, or whatever. Again, attention. Let's not give in to it.

Mike notices that Carla's struggling with the task. Fabio cuts his thumbnail, but decides to power through, and "take it like a man." Or like a Carla. I'm just saying. Also, he's bleeding all over the fish. I hope he gets points off.

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Top Chef

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