Top Chef

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Chuck: B- | Grade It Now!
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The Elements

This week's cooking takes place in the old Marshall Field's building, and it's mammoth. "You could probably fit Yankee Stadium in that kitchen," opines Mark, as his non-conformist teammates create a workstation far from the madding crowd. Antonia describes Team Earth's dish as "based on ingredients that come from the earth," like beef. Nothing like beef picked fresh from the tree, right? She's working her immune little heart out, cleaning mushrooms and peeling sunchokes, 'cause ain't no one gonna call her a slacker. Spike's slicing the filet and will make the aioli, while Zoi will handle the mushrooms. He's still not happy about their dish, but he's going to do his bestest. Oh, I totally forgot to mention Spike's gay hat in this segment -- it looks like a thatched placemat folded into something resembling a baseball cap. And, as the lovely Sarah Silverman once said, I don't mean gay as in homosexual, I mean gay as in retarded.

Richard's preparing the salmon for its warm bath, as he explains that Mark will be responsible for a parsnip-vanilla puree, and helping Andrew with a salad of watercress and radishes. Andrew's also going to be making "some of his famous tapioca faux caviar" -- really? Really, Water? Really? Are we sure they aren't just serving leftovers from last week's challenge? As Richard stuffs the luscious pink fish into vacuum bags, it looks like new stuff, but I'm not entirely convinced. Richard calls sous vide his specialty, and then proclaims himself "executive chef." Gee, I hope he's learned to trust his palate!

Team Fire's finally got their dish mapped out -- Stephanie's handling grilled shrimp, Dale's making a chili salad, and Lisa's smoking bacon by laying it out in overlapping layers on a large baking tray, with the fatty side of each strip facing in the same direction, "so that when they kind of shrink up they'll kind of fuse together." She'll then cut them into perfect strips and add a miso glaze "that's gonna completely change the flavor of the bacon." Well, isn't somebody suddenly full of ideas? Funny what happens to Lisa once she gets her way with the Asian (and, despite her pants-removal fantasies, I don't mean Ming).

Ryan describes their "version of air" -- "duck breast, herb salad, and we have a shot of prosecco with some pomegranates in it." I don't quite get "air" from that, but whatevs. While Nikki and Jen focus on the duck, Ryan deals with herbs and dressings, as we see him slicing fennel with a mandolin and tapping the seeds out of pomegranates.

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Top Chef

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