Top Chef
Season 2 Finale, Part I

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The Poke's On You

Elia's up next. She presents her Hawaiian red snapper -- onaga -- steamed in ti leaves with carrots, butter, garlic, olive oil, sweet peas, and red bell pepper. She moves on to explain her take on poke. "I did tuna, raw -- I was thinking of doing it seared but then I didn't take the risk," Elia says. "If you tried to sear this, it would have been overcooked," Colicchio tells her. "Yeah, I thought about it afterwards," Elia says. You ran out of time, that's why you didn't sear it. It had nothing to do with thinking about it afterwards or not taking the risk. Anyway, Elia has imbued her poke with Lebanese and Mexican touches. She's added olives, capers, preserved lemon confit, oven-roasted tomatoes, and tuna juice. I'm sorry but tuna juice sounds like something you'd want to see a Gyno about. Call it tuna essence or something else, just not juice.

Padmadala remembers how Elia impressed Hiroshi Shima when she put olives in her sushi. Eating, eating, eating. Padmadala says, "The brininess of the olives and the sun-dried tomato, actually, complement the ahi very well." Chef Wong nods. "Actually," Gail puts in, wrinkling her nose, "I felt like it was a little overpowering, actually, that I can't taste the fish as much as I'd like to because of the olives." I felt like your and Padmadala's overpowering use of "actually" has made me lose all sense of what you are saying. Actually. Chef Wong listens quietly, wondering how to politely disagree. He says, "I thought the tuna water was great. I've never seen that before." Yes, tuna water! Much better than tuna juice. Alan Wong is a genius. Colicchio opines, "The only issue I have with this dish is we told them to take traditional food and put a spin on it -- this isn't a spin." Chef Wong seems to sort of agree by saying, "Well, the only thing that it has to do with Hawaiian food is that she's calling it poke, which is raw tuna, but then the flavors are all not from here." Moving on to the ti-wrapped snapper, Padmadala says, "The only thing I really would have liked to see in this is a douse of something to just --" "Acid!" Colicchio says impatiently, "It needs acid!" "It needs acid," Padmadala repeats slowly. She's so high. Colicchio suggests chili water. They all get behind the idea of having a bowl of chili water there. What the heck is "chili water"? Oh. Cool.

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