Top Chef
Sense And Sensuality

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Scalps and Scallops

In the kitchen, Cliff gets his beef ready. He tells us, "Romance to me is fatty and sensual." Well, stay away from Padmadala then. As Marcel helps Cliff plate, Cliff orders Marcel to "check that steak for [him]." Marcel tells us that Cliff plays it safe, probably hoping that someone will screw up so badly that it won't be noticed how safe Cliff played it. Cliff's Seared Grass-fed Sirloin with Lentil Purée, Garlic Confit, Pearl Onions, and Plum is paired with a 2004 Blackabilly Shiraz from Australia. Padmadala looks at her meat and exclaims, "Oh, that's rare!" like it's a bad thing. Colicchio offers to swap plates. I have to say, from the photos, that's exactly how I like my meat. "I want the not bloody one, yeah," Padmadala whines, passing her plate over. Colicchio wonders what's the point of pureeing lentils. I was sort of wondering that myself. They would get all pasty and thick instead of being nice, firm, slightly slippery little discs. "Oh, that's what it is!" Gail exclaims with extreme animation. Didn't you read your menu, Gail? It's not like this was a big surprise. "Strange," Ripert mutters Frenchly to himself but it's not clear if he's talking about Gail or the lentils. "These greens are worthless," Colicchio announces. What greens? I mean, I see them on the plate but I didn't read about them in the menu pass-through Bravo gave us. They sort of look like sugar snap peas sliced into small pieces. "It's kind of like, um... 'ohtel, 'ohtel," Ripert muses searching for the right "how you say." "Hotel food," Colicchio helps. "Hotel food!" Ripert agrees. Gail is all, "Yeah!" but when is she not?

In the kitchen, Elia meticulously does plate designs with a squeeze bottle of berry coulis. Man, I am so envious of how perfectly and steadily she can do those designs. My squeeze bottles are so dusty because I gave up years ago on perfecting the Jackson Pollocking of my presentation. Son of Sam tells her she needs to speed it up. We see a clock ticking down from one minute left, which is clearly erroneous because Elia takes more than a minute to deal with her mini meltdown. Looking at her chocolate-covered sheet pan, Elia dramatically whines, "I'm screwed." The chocolate that she layered over the back of a sheet pan in a lacy pattern and chilled in the walk-in is not coming up when she tries to cut out the heart shapes. Did she spray the back of the pan first? I would think that was a no-brainer for her. Then again, I also thought that defending Marcel from Cliff would also be a no-brainer for her, so what do I know? Son of Sam tries to help while Elia keeps whining and bitching and moaning. Finally -- after WAY too much coaxing -- she gives in and agrees to forgo the chocolate heart and instead serve pieces of broken chocolate lace. She whines a lot, though, people. She says she quits and she just isn't going to try and doesn't care which plates go to the judges... and just, shut UP, Elia! The desserts are served. Elia continues to bitch to us and to Ted Ilan in the back of the kitchen.

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