Top Chef

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Etched in My Mind

Tiffany and a server bring out the second course. Marcel made roasted monkfish with kalamata olives, peperonata, and parsley. Mike made braised pork belly with octopus and cannellini beans. Ludo says that the monkfish was mushy and Bourdain adds, "It was fucking baby food." One of the diners hates the foam, because he's a normal person. Everyone has good things to say about Mike's pork belly. Colicchio looks exhausted, like eating this food is just taxing him and he can't wait to get the fuck out of there.

Back in the kitchen, Mike and Marcel are talking it out with Angelo as referee. Marcel thinks that Mike was only taking care of his own food and not being careful about the monkfish that Marcel was serving. Angelo says that when they bicker, it affects everybody. Marcel tries to take control and says that they are already moving past it and adds, "No more comments from the fucking peanut gallery." Angelo turns to look at Mike, laughing, like, "Can you fucking believe this asshole Marcel?" Dude, Angelo was trying to keep Mike from punching you in the face. Have a little gratitude. Marcel tries to pretend like he resolved everything and everyone else should just shut up and fall in line. Ugh. I feel so bad for the people on his team.

Tiffany serves the third course featuring Antonia's ricotta gnudi, braised oxtail ragout, arugula, and lemon zest, along with Mike and Angelo's slow-cooked lamb chop, cauliflower puree, turmeric, and honey. Padma thought Antonia's food was too salty, but Bourdain liked it and another diner called it the best dish of the night. There is unanimous praise for the lamb dish, although most people think it might be too little, too late for the meal as a whole. Antonia is trying to keep track of how many dishes are waiting to be served and Marcel interrupts her and starts yelling out other numbers. As she is trying to ask him to shut it, he asks her about dessert and then says defensively, "Are you going to answer my question?" Then he mutters to himself about how things change and everyone needs to adapt. Ugh. He is the worst. THE WORST!

Tiffanhy brings out the smoking or steaming plate for dessert: Marcel's duo of peaches: unripened peach and sweet peach with coconut foam and powder. Wow, that sounds delicious, except by delicious, I mean disgusting. Why would I want to eat an unripened peach? And in what context does foam and powder sound like something you'd want in a dessert? In my dessert, I want words like gooey and chocolate. That sounds terrible. It's so Marcel. Bourdain calls it "a perfect storm of fucking awfulness."

And then I get worried because one of the diners thought the dry ice was cool. Dana Cowin says that the results will likely be lopsided because Bodega was so much better, but then another random diner says that Bodega's service was better, but he liked the food at Etch. The editors did a really good job of planting the possibility that Etch might win with the diners even though Bodega was clearly better according to the judges and Dana Cowin (and humanity). The diners submit their comment cards. Fabio is trying to assure Blais that the food was great and the diners were happy, but Blais is Blais and he's worried that something will go wrong. Meanwhile, Marcel is telling everyone that his team put out great food. Mike screws his face up in his best WTF look and Antonia tells Tiffany that it was a shitshow. Marcel overhears and calls her "Debbie Downer over here" and "Jesus fucking Christ" and "What the fuck's her problem? Fucking psycho." Wow, Antonia didn't even say anything THAT bad. It was like she said, "Our food sucked and we will lose." She was just acknowledging that things didn't go smoothly in the kitchen. Marcel is cuckoo crazy pants. But you knew that. Antonia interviews that Marcel thought they did a great job, and she was like, "You are on drugs.

Stew Room. Dale's team is loose, joking around and teasing Fabio about his flirtatious ways with the diners. Marcel admits that his team was "in the juice." Padma comes in and asks to see Team Etch, and since they've been varying whether they call the winners first or second, no one really knows what to make of it. Team Etch follows Padma in to Judges' Table and Blais asks Fabio for some positivity, because now he's really worried. Fabio goes and sits on Blais's lap and assures him it will be fine. If you haven't been to Fabio's site and read his reactions to the episode, you really should. He has screenshots of him sitting on Blais's lap with pink hearts drawn around them. Hilarious.

Weird interstitial. Dale remembers that he got eliminated during his restaurant wars, and it was rough. So he hates Restaurant Wars. Fabio, on the other hand, loves it. He remembers on his season, when he dressed in his white suit and kicked ass. Aw, good times. I miss Stefan too. I wish he was on this season.

Team Etch files in to face the judges. Padma delivers the news that the diners chose them as the least favorite. In fact, only 17 out of 76 diners liked them more. Ouch. That's less than a quarter. They got housed in this competition. Padma asks Marcel what went wrong, and Marcel says that there were last-minute tweaks on dishes, and pick-ups were "laborious." I'm not sure if that's a shot at Tiffany or not, but they cut to a shot of her, clearly intent on keeping her yap shut. Tom points out that they didn't seem to have a plan to execute some fairly complicated food. Antonia thinks it was a lack of calmness and togetherness, and Angelo suggests that someone should have broken off and organized the kitchen. Tom asks who should have done that, and everyone just looks at his or her feet, like when the teacher asks a question that no one knows the answer to. Tom comments, "The silence is deafening." I think what's going on here is that they all know Marcel fucked up, but they don't want to get into it with him in front of the judges because he might turn it on them, so they're just keeping their mouths shut and hoping the judges figure it out.

Tom turns his attention to the food. He doesn't see how Angelo's crudo was Mediterranean at all. Angelo thinks pink peppercorns come from Southern France, but Ludo, who is French, says that's not the case. According to the Internet, they are usually from Peru or Brazil, so Angelo is talking out of his ass. The judges had some problems with Mike's dish; they didn't think it had enough seasoning or flavor in either the pork belly or the octopus. Mike just apologizes. Bourdain sounds really disappointed when he tells Antonia he knows she can make a great ragout, but this was too salty and sticky. She just nods. They are all just silently taking the criticism, which is weird. I guess they know it sucked, and they're counting on Marcel to implode.

Speaking of Marcel, Bourdain asks the question we all are thinking: "Why foam? Why now?" Marcel has some convoluted explanation about the parsley flavor cutting through the peppers but Tom points out that there are other ways to infuse parsley flavor without using foam, which wasn't really appropriate to the dish, and it didn't work. Ludo adds that the dish was mushy to boot. Mmm, mushy with a weak parsley flavor. Can't believe that didn't win. Padma brings up the stupid dessert, and none of the judges liked it. Bourdain calls it "a thumb in the eye at the end of the meal." Marcel doesn't even try to defend it.

Moving on to Tiffany, Tom tells her that slicing the asparagus and boiling it to make it curl is a neat trick, but it removes all flavor. Ludo adds that they wanted more flavor for the chorizo as well. Tiffany just nods. Padma brings up the front of house issues, and Tom says that at one point there was not one server on the floor at all. Tiffany says, "When you're having arguments on the line, it's a lot, and it's hard to control." Antonia gets a look on her face like, "Oh, shit. She brought it up" and Tom asks, "Arguments on the line?" Tiffany gets a look like, "Oops." Clearly they agreed not to discuss the kitchen shenanigans, and Tiffany let it slip. She even says, "Uh oh." Mike steps up and says t

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