Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: D | Grade It Now!
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Zoo Food

While Colicchio calls the blinis "not very good, poorly executed," Wylie once again dredges up the wisdom that blinis should not be made in advance. "We all know this," he says. Well, we certainly do now if we didn't before. Stephanie "bailed herself out" of the crab salad mess with the banana bread, so she'll escape elimination. Gail wonders if Nikki or Dale should pay for the mushrooms, agreeing that they both bear responsibility. Wylie, quickly becoming a reiterator of the obvious, says, "you can't possibly go any further if you don't taste your food before you serve it." Gail scores her judges table zinger by saying the mushrooms "looked like something a bear would produce, not eat." Like...a turd? And everyone generally agrees that it's not a great idea to serve a dish you don't stand behind, although I think they'd have gotten crap for it no matter what they chose to do.

Hot off the presses: Tom Colicchio is a bear. According to 61% of texting viewers, that is. I can't imagine that anyone with two eyes and a heart would think otherwise, but 24% feel he is a gorilla, and 15% liken him to a penguin.

In the end, the judges decide that Nikki is responsible for the mushrooms. And apparently you can go any further if you don't taste your food before you serve it, because Valerie gets the ax. What a surprise.

I must say, this episode was a real stinker. It's always less engaging in the beginning when there are so many cheftestants, several of whom have barely had any screen time (Manuel, Lisa, etc.), but the animal challenge was one of the worst I've seen, ever. Animal diets were not brought up a single time during the final judging -- Team Gorilla was disadvantaged in terms of ingredients, and they made some odd interpretive stretches, but neither of those things was even mentioned as criteria for evaluation. They might as well have gone balls out and made fajitas and chili, for all the judges seemed to care. Generally speaking, I find the large-scale catering challenges to be among the most boring, since the sheer amount of food is half the battle and it's much harder to appreciate technique and the finer points of the dishes. I understand that it tests important skills (if you're a caterer), but it's kind of like the challenges where they have to cook for kids -- yes, adapting to finicky palates is a talent, but it just comes off as a gimmick for TV. I'll go (but disagree) with the notion that a good chef should be able to cook anything, but I don't think it makes for particularly compelling viewing.

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Top Chef

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