Top Chef

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Chuck: B- | Grade It Now!
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It's A Sabotage!

Padma hopes that the Quickfire will yield "this millennium's Caesar or Cobb or Waldorf salad," which shouldn't be a problem with 45 WHOPPING MINUTES ON THE CLOCK! OK, that is, I admit, a fairly good chunk of time to make a solid salad. Or, as Padma groan-inducingly puts it, "to bring salad sexy back." Ingredients from both the well-stocked table behind her and from the Top Chef pantry may be used. Sam looks uncomfortable. But damn cute.

Though Quickfires are not his forte, Spike wants to win, which he'll do by using sliced cucumbers and radishes, and what looks like a nice hunk of beef, to create a salad that screams "Let's have sex after we eat this salad!" Let's! For Richard, the sexiness of salad comes from the looseness of the word itself -- I too have always thought of salad as a wanton harlot. His interpretation is a fruit and vegetable ceviche with ginger and lime juice. Lisa, agreeing that 45 minutes is a long time for a salad, nevertheless sees simple salads, and inferior individuals, all around her -- not only are there some undeserving, mediocre chefs in her midst, she says, "their personalities suck ass." Cut to Dale.

Stephanie's using artichokes, mushrooms and pears to create a salad brimming with fall tastes, and she's feeling the pressure. There are three more people to go before the final four, and she doesn't want to be one of them. Antonia, fondly recalling high-calorie steakhouse offerings, professes her love for the fatty salad as she slices bacon, which she'll use in a spinach salad with a poached egg. She's also starting to realize that Lisa, with her bitchface and her high quality ingredients, represents strong female competition, although she didn't register her as a threat in the beginning. As the clock ticks down, there's much running about, and Stephanie seems to be having some plating issues -- sure enough, she forgets to put her artichoke chip on the plate, which leaves half of the plate empty and glaring white, but she hopes that her tastes will compensate for her screw-up.

Sam and Padma begin with Andrew, who's created a "Thai fruit salad" with mangoes, strawberries, raspberries and a sriracha dressing (and what looks like a bit of cilantro and chives sprinkled on top). Sam likes the flavor imparted by the dressing. Spike, with his "sensual beef salad" of pineapple, radish, cucumber, skirt steak and mint, gets points from Sam for its contrast, while Lisa's "sexy banana salad" with grilled squid and lobster tail, bananas and yuzu vinaigrette strikes Sam as not spicy enough and Padma as too heavy on the banana. Stephanie's "fall duet" of pear vinaigrette, poached pear and marinated artichokes (she cops to the chip debacle) elicits nary a comment. Antonia's "poached egg and wild mushroom salad" with bacon vinaigrette and squash blossoms (and mache, hello), looks mighty tasty and impresses Sam with its "great flavor."

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Top Chef

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