Top Chef
Season 2 Finale, Part I

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The Poke's On You

Chef Wong thanks them from the "bottom of [his] heart" for a wonderful birthday party. Aw, he's so sweet. Colicchio and Gail also give them props. Then they start questioning them. Marcel explains his dish and Chef Wong asks if he put onions in his tomato foam. He didn't -- he just had tomatoes and chili oil. "A little bit of onions would have made it, like, completely,"Chef Wong begins. "Taken it to that next level? Yeah," Marcel agrees. "Yeah," Padmadala adds belatedly. Does she even have any idea what they are talking about right now? Turning to the pineapple poi, Colicchio admits that the only way to make that dish was to use the chemical additives. "You know, some of those ideas are just overused, but it was good to see them in context, so, thanks -- I thought it was really well done," Colicchio finishes. Chef Wong also thought it was adventurous and a success. Marcel bows his thanks. When they get to Elia, she says, "I am so glad that we had the opportunity to try real Hawaiian food, not a fusion." Hey, I wouldn't speak so slighting of fusion when you've got Roy Yamaguchi next week. Then again, you don't have him, so never mind. Elia says she really likes her tuna juice. Which is now assuming pornographic undertones. Elia goes on to pat herself on the back for both her dishes. Colicchio thinks the poke moved too far away from Hawaiian flavors. Elia notes, "I didn't want it to taste Hawaiian, I didn't want you to say, 'This is Hawaiian." I wanted you to say, 'This is Elia's dish.'" This is Elia's tuna juice. Sorry. "But I also told you all that we still want you to bring in the Hawaiian flavors," Padmadala reminds her. "And I think I did," Elia insists. Except for the fact that you just said that you DIDN'T want it to have Hawaiian flavors, Elia. Get your stories straight! "Okay," Colicchio backs off. Next, we turn to Ted Ilan where the Spanish influence of his dishes is mentioned. Gail gives him props for using both meat -- he was the only one to do so -- and the taro leaf. Colicchio also enjoyed the taro dish. "The only thing I would say about the taro is that I felt a little scratchiness at the back of the throat --" Padmadala says. "I tasted it quite a few times," Ted Ilan interrupts, "And I cooked it for over two hours." Colicchio says that he didn't pick up the scratchiness and he's had worse reactions to poorly executed eggplant. "Everyone reacts differently," Chef Wong smoothes over. Chef Wong admired Ted Ilan's risk with the taro, but would have preferred that he not have used saffron in his haupia fritter, "Mainly because I don't think you find a lot of saffron in Hawaii, simply." "I've had lots of coconut and saffron dishes," Ted Ilan begins, "And I wanted to do something that I knew would be successful." Yeah, but not in HAWAII, which is the material point. Ass. Finally, we get to Sam, who gets big props for his haupia and the pickled sea beans in his poke. Chef Wong suggests he use more yuzu in his poke. Sam is surprised because he was afraid that he used too much. Colicchio comments, "I would have preferred to see the opakapaka cut a little more precisely. It was a little ragged -- some of the pieces." That is the epitome of nitpicking. The cheftestants are excused for the moment.

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