Top Chef

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Etched in My Mind

Time's up and Justo inspects the results. The people who failed miserably know it, and offer up explanations, but Justo doesn't really care. He's just like, "You cut it the wrong way (Tiffany)" or "there's a little bit of waste on the bone (Tre)" or "you didn't even prepare any portions (Antonia)." Damn, he's cold.

The people on the bottom are Fabio, Carla, Tiffany, and Antonia. We didn't see Justo judging Fabio, but I'm guessing that the blood on the fish wasn't helping. Tiffany is embarrassed, since she cooks fish for a living. The people on the top are Dale, Mike, Blais, and Marcel. So rather than pick one of them as the winner based on their butchering, they now move on to the second part of the challenge: they have forty-five minutes to make a meal out of the parts of the fish you normally don't use, like the heads, tails, and fins. The other cheftestants repair to the dining room to wait.

The top four start cooking and Mike is looking for a chinoise, which is like a conical sieve. Marcel says that they're in the back. Mike doesn't even go into the back, and just spots one sitting next to Marcel and moves to take it. Marcel's like, "Um, that's mine!" Mike also tries to take another piece of his equipment, and Marcel tells him to buzz off. I hate to say it, but I'm on Marcel's side here. If Marcel is really going to use that stuff, and there are others available in the back (or even if not), Mike needs to fuck off. Mike interviews that it was an example of Marcel being a dick. I don't doubt that Marcel is a dick, but I don't think that was an example of it. I guess they're just trying to set up the tension for later, but that whole thing made Mike look bad, not Marcel.

Dale interviews that his family has always done nose-to-tail cooking, and his parents would take home the pigs' heads that the butcher threw out and roast them. It reminds me of the scene in the Little House books where they butcher the pig and use every part of it. Pa even ties off the bladder and Mary and Laura kick it around like a ball. And they eat the tail, too, and it's delicious. I was really into the food descriptions in those books, especially Farmer Boy. Damn, those Wilders feasted.

Blais interviews that his first job was at this hole-in-the-wall joint called McDonald's, where he was the fish chef, a very prestigious position. And he sent his first batch of Filet O Fish out without a top bun, so he was being avant garde even back then. That's awesome. And then Marcel is talking but we're still ignoring his stupid remarks unless it clarifies a plot point, so we're done and time's up.

Blais made schnitzel of cod belly, ragout of braised collar, and fried skin. Justo, that man of many words, says, "It's good." Mike made pan-roasted belly, confit cheeks, charred collar, and tomato sauce. Bourdain tells him that he did nice work. Dale made fluke back fin sashimi with cucumber and fluke liver sauce, as well as bacon dashi with salt roasted cod collar. Justo says that the flavor is good, and Bourdain adds, "Nice touch, the liver." And finally, Marcel made a cod mousseline in yuzu chili oil fluke broth. Marcel explains to us that his sauce was amazing, but Bourdain mostly ate the mousseline and not the broth. I would think Marcel is bullshitting as usual, but they do show Justo saying that the sauce is good, and Bourdain did kind of bolt down the mousseline in one bite.

The top four head to the dining room to await the results. Mike admits in an interview that he hopes Marcel doesn't get immunity. Bourdain and Justo come out and thank everyone. Bourdain says that Richard had a lot of textures and flavors. Mike's food was light and vibrant. Marcel's food was tasty but had a monochromatic texture. Dale highlighted all the fish had to offer and Bourdain loved that he used the liver. So the winner is Dale, and he gets immunity.

The cheftestants report to the kitchen to find out about this week's Elimination Challenge. Whatever could it be? Padma is there with the execrable Ludo Lefebvre. I hated that dude on Masters. He's the guest judge, and he's been opening pop-up restaurants. In case you don't know, a pop-up restaurant is one that opens up in an existing space for a short time period -- anywhere from one night to two months. It's like the kiosks selling Christmas ornaments at the mall. They blow into town, hopefully do gangbusters business, and then blow out again.

Padma drops the bomb that this week is Restaurant Wars, the one challenge that everyone on this season had done once before. And man, Dale and Tre were both eliminated during Restaurant Wars in their original seasons. That would make a person nervous. Then again, Dale has immunity.

Another perk is that Dale is one of the team captains and he gets to choose the other captain. Wisely, he chooses Marcel. First, that means he won't end up with Marcel on his team. And second, that means that he won't end up with Marcel on his team. And third, he doesn't have to work with Marcel. And fourth, the other team is stuck working with Marcel. And finally, Dale is free of Marcel obligations this week. So it's a win-win-win-win-win.

Marcel has first pick. Blais interviews that he was kind of trying to hide to avoid being picked. Marcel picks Angelo instead. Why? Why would you pick weirdo Angelo? Then again, why am I trying to figure out how Marcel thinks? Dale immediately chooses Blais, because he's no dummy. Marcel picks Mike, and I'm not sure why Mike is ranked so highly by his peers, but whatever. So then, I'm sure Dale will pick Carla, right? Because she's a hard worker, and a positive force, but most importantly, she has won a few challenges. Nope. He picks Tre, who has won nothing and didn't even make it to the finals on his season. I do not get it. Marcel picks Antonia and Dale picks Fabio, assuming that Fabio will be great at front of house, which he will. So then Marcel picks Tiffany (?) and Carla gets sent to Dale by default. It makes no sense to me that Carla got chosen last. None at all.

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Top Chef

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