Top Chef
The Raw And The Cooked

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Surfin' So Sorry

Moving on to Cliff, the judges sample a radish, French beans, and bronze fennel salad with a tomato butter purée. Tomato butter? LOVE. Elia did some raw tuna with onions, spinach, sesame, lime, ginger, and garlic. She explains, "It's more of an Asian seasoning, but I put some olive oil and mustard into it." Lunetta proclaims it, "Delicious." Frank made a scallop carpaccio with a lemon vinaigrette and piled a salad of cucumber and radish in the middle with smoked salmon. Chef Lunetta thinks, "Presentation-wise, it's very pretty." And taste-wise? Son of Sam explains his "crudo" of zucchini and summer squash with a "quick pickle" of peaches, plums, and Kyoho grapes. Michael -- whose name, I noticed for the first time is now "Mike" in the Bravo graphics -- stones his way through his dish. He's entertaining, so let's listen in, "Here I have a, like, watermelon napoleon with, uh, avocado, cilantro, salmon jerky." The NOTpoleon falls over as Lunetta cuts into it. That doesn't bode well for this competition even though I've had the same thing happen to me at countless restaurants. I mean, they're visually appealing and then you cut into them and you make a big delicious mess. I specifically recall that happening to me with a beet and goat cheese napoleon at Chive in San Diego. The slices of beet slipped right away from the chevre layers, so I ended up using my fingers. Not pretty, still tasty.

Moving on to Marcel, we learn about his watermelon and tomato trio. Oh, the trios. He's got a watermelon "steak," which looks like an expertly cut piece of watermelon in the shape of a filet mignon, tomato carpaccio (doesn't that just mean raw and sliced thinly?), and nasturtiums and opal basil. Where's the trio? Shouldn't it be tomato and watermelon three ways? I count -- at most -- two. Oh, I see, he's got something liquid in a glass, which he just calls "a nice little refresher," so I really don't know what the hell it is. Ted Ilan sucks on a bottle of water and sneers in Marcel's direction. He tells us, "I think the watermelon steak, realistically, is kind of a silly idea. It's more like a dessert." Shut up, Ted Ilan. I still don't know why, but I don't like you. ["I like you enough for two people, Ilan! Don't worry!" -- Joe R] The judges seem to like the dish.

Padmadala gathers everyone around, and Lunetta says he was very impressed by everyone. HOWEVER, he has some critiques. He dings Betty for her messy cut of her halibut ceviche and vegetables. Betty squawks at us, "I'm CHOSEN in the BOTTOM again!" If she doesn't go soon, I'm going to have no paint left on any of my walls. Lunetta criticizes Mia for not using an heirloom tomato in her fresh corn salad. I'm confused, she supposedly did use an heirloom tomato. Is it because she didn't use the other one? What? Lunetta also didn't like how Michael's watermelon NOTpoleon fell over when he cut into it, "The thought was good, but the execution needed a little bit more depth." The top three are Elia, Frank, and Marcel. Marcel is the winner. HA on Ted Ilan! Marcel is thrilled, "My performance could not have been any more soigné." Oh. OH. Marcel? Why did you have to go and trite yourself out like that? So many chefs I've despised have overused "soigné" when talking about themselves and their kitchens. Ew. Just... no. Yuck. Stop. Ted Ilan tells us, "I think Marcel thinks more about how he's going to make his food rather than tasting it, but the chef judge seemed to like the dish and the fact that he called it a steak when it was really just a hunk of watermelon." Whatever, Ted Ilan, Marcel has immunity.

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