Top Chef

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Chuck: B- | Grade It Now!
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The Elements

As the judges catalog their first impressions, Gail calls the shrimp "clearly my favorite." She "loved the heat" and "thought it was the perfect first course," while Ming praises the acid from the pickling mixed with the salt from the bacon. Everyone loves the bacon. "Bacon added to anything is not a bad situation," claims Gail, and boy is she right. Regarding the salmon, Ming says the scales "ruined it for me," while Gail feels the choice of cooking method left the salmon textureless. Although Tom "didn't quite get" the duck dish, Gail likes the salad, which she calls "crunchy and flavorful and bright." Which leaves the Carpaccio, for Colicchio "the most disappointing dish of all." Gail criticizes the utter lack of seasoning, which Colicchio reveals "bothers me more than anything else."

For luck, Lisa suggests burning the little card that designated their area and says "FIRE," and as it smolders she expresses confidence in their performance -- great flavor, great technique. Richard, however, thinks Team Water will have their asses handed to them; while he liked the concept, he "wasn't happy with the execution," or himself. As they walk out of the kitchen, I see he's wearing pink crocs. There are so many things wrong with his choice of footwear that I can't even begin to describe them.

It's winners first again -- Padma calls Team Fire to the judges' table. When it's hugs time, Dale dives for Stephanie, and it looks for second like they won't show Dale hugging Lisa, because maybe he didn't, but then they show it. When Gail asks to parse who did what, Stephanie describes the shrimp (Gail: "Spicy, in a good way."), Lisa explains the bacon (pressed and glazed), and Dale doesn't get to say much about his salad. Praising each of them for deftly managing a different component, Colicchio says "it was nice to see that each one of those components really added to the dish."

One more thing, calls Padma. Ming's favorite chef will also win a five-day trip to Italy for two. Looks like Top Chef might have had to "buy" their way into the Meals on Wheels event. Calling it a tough decision, which in this case seems valid, calls Stephanie's shrimp "perfectly cooked," and liked the heat element from the sambal, compliments the acidity of Dale's salad, and tells Lisa that "the bacon with the miso created a new technique that I have never seen." We have a winner! Lisa's never been to Italy, so good for her for winning, and, despite the drama (and the fact that she was Team Fire's most contentious member), she managed to impress Ming, even if he is still wearing pants, although it would be pretty funny, and also possible, actually, for everyone behind the judges' table to be nude from the waist down.

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Top Chef

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