Top Chef

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The Elements

Dale's not so enthusiastic: "She made bacon and she gets a trip to Italy?" Ha -- it's true -- she did make bacon, which is tough to screw up too badly. See, Dale, just how good bacon is? See, Dale, just when it touches your lips? Dale's not having it. "I'm bitter."

After enjoying a smattering of applause from her cohorts, Lisa, with some sort of cutting board or plaque or something, summons Earth (as Jen looks all squinty and mad on Zoi's behalf) and Water. Judging the losers starts with water, where life begins. Richard claims to believe that the salmon was "cooked well and it was moist." "Were you the one who cleaned the fish?" retorts Gail, and then Richard's bullshit fountain really starts working. "In what regard?" asks Richard, as if he doesn't know precisely what's coming. Padma, in a tone often reserved for delivering news of the death of a loved one, reveals that "half the people at our table had scales, including myself, and Ming." Richard has the gall to look surprised, and the judges grind him down by telling him just how many scales there were -- Colicchio? "A LOT." Padma wants to know if Richard was "happy with the texture of the salmon." Of course he was. Colicchio? "MUSHY."

The judges move on to the rest of the plate, as they determine who did what -- Andrew handled the salad and the caviar (there's a great shot of Colicchio giggling when Gail asks if he's made it before -- right before she says it was lacking something, even though she found the technique interesting). As for Mark's parsnip vanilla puree, Colicchio wonders why it was on the plate, rendering Mark speechless. "I'm assuming you put stuff on a plate because there's a reason it's there, so what was the reason for the parsnip on that plate?" Nicely put. When Mark says, "I feel strongly that a flavor like celery or parsnip and vanilla go quite harmoniously with a confit of salmon," it's like Richard reached over, shoved his hand up Mark's ass, and started using him as a puppet (and probably pinched something up there when Mark inferred that Richard did pretty much the same dish he did last week). Didn't do a thing for you, thinks Colicchio.

Antonia's got immunity, which is the only thing different from the last two weeks, since she's been in the losing group in front of judges' table -- that "excellent palate" of hers misled her into thinking the Carpaccio "tasted great." Colicchio disagrees -- "the entire dish was bland, start to finish." After divvying up responsibility -- Zoi did the mushrooms and the salad, Spike (conveying with every inch of his being that he wasn't with this from the beginning) sliced the beef and made the aioli, and Antonia prepped the vegetables. "Every element needed more seasoning," believes Ming, and Zoi defends them as a team, saying they were all concerned about overpowering the meat. And then she makes it all about her and the mushrooms, and how she used rosemary, and how they were delicious during several taste tests, and how she likes to make highly seasoned foods (which I'm believing less and less each time she discusses it). Gail adds the spice of irony (I can't believe I just wrote that) by revealing that all she could taste was rosemary, which she felt was an odd choice for beef Carpaccio. Oops -- when you do use strong flavors, don't use them badly. Looking back, Spike wishes he'd thought to squeeze some lemon juice on the final dish to brighten it up a bit, but hindsight doesn't make anything taste better.

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Top Chef

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