Top Chef

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

Richard's "fresh and clean salad" with a ceviche of meticulously cubed fruits and vegetables looks too bland and sedate to inspire any naughty salad fantasies. Dale thinks his "poached chicken salad" (seriously, each of these salads has a "name") with nori paste, mirin, sake, rice wine vinegar and what appear to be brussels sprout leaves and radishes (??) includes the "fifth flavor element" -- presumably umami. It looks like a bit of a mess on the plate, but Sam likes the moistness of the poached chicken (which can often be too dry).

Delivering his overall opinions of the salad, Sam chooses Richard as his first disappointment, as the ceviche didn't pack ceviche's hallmark acidic punch. Stephanie's pear vinaigrette was underwhelming, and 45 minutes should have been ample time for her to get that chip on the plate. While Sam did like Lisa's use of squid and lobster, he didn't like the fact that the banana overwhelmed what was ultimately more "a hodgepodge" than a well-executed salad. Nice to see some relatively high wattage relegated to the bottom three, but, as Stephanie said earlier, the dreck is almost gone. Almost. In terms of the standouts, Sam selects Spike's well-balanced beef and pineapple mélange, Antonia's effort (cutting into a poached egg and watching the yolk ooze over the plate is, as Sam correctly observes, sexy), and Dale's innovative use of nori puree. But there can only be one victor, and when Sam chooses Spike, you can almost see Spike's hat expand as his head gets even bigger. No more immunity, Padma reminds him, but he will get "a significant advantage" in the upcoming elimination challenge.

After all those wimpy salads, Sam and Padma must be hungry, because they suddenly appear with two trays piled high with delicious-looking, greasy fast food -- burgers, onion rings, fries, egg rolls, sandwiches, and more. Unfortunately, it's not lunch, but a cautionary introduction to the challenge. With the spread of obesity and diabetes terrorizing innocent Americans (poor Sam, a diabetic himself, has a hard time finding low sugar, low carb food that actually tastes like something), it's important to eat consciously and sensibly. The two trays of food represent a typical lunch order from the officers and cadets of the Chicago Police Academy, and the challenge will be to reimagine the nefarious lunchtime eats of Chicago's finest into a healthy boxed lunch that includes at least one ingredient from each of four food groups: whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. "In other words, protect their health, and serve them something tasty." Thanks, Padma -- you and your sexy back are on a roll this week!

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Top Chef

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