Top Chef

Episode Report Card
Chuck: D | 1 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Zoo Food

The challenge starts with $500 and half an hour at Whole Foods -- as Spike talks about "molesting the produce section," he picks up a giant phallic squash, and then it looks like Lisa slips and falls on a green orb someone (Manuel?) knocked over. Spike totally laughs at her as she limps away, which is what you should do when you see someone fall down. At last, a little bit of action. Richard ogles a big old hunk of red meat as Team Lion's menu appears -- bison tartare, beet salad with goat cheese foam, chicken sate (satay) and prime rib with horseradish foam -- as Richard calls it, "Honey, I shrunk the prime rib." Already, Team Gorilla has their work cut out for them. Nikki argues in favor of saving money for table decorations, which is so what a woman would do, while Dale and Spike exchange looks that say, "Can you believe this crazy lady is talking about flowers at a time like this?" Dale ain't no bleeping interior designer, y'all.

Elimination prep and cook begins. Team Bear's menu is venison loin with squash, seared salmon, stuffed mushrooms, and cheese and honeycomb on bread, with Nikki handling the final two dishes. On Team Penguin, Lisa and Andrew seem to be riffing well off of each other -- I could see all three of them working smoothly together, maybe because I can see that right now. They'll be presenting a Thai shrimp and crab salad, roasted zucchini, squid ceviche, and a yuzu and mint "glacier." As Lisa describes everything, it sounds really good -- I love the idea of the zucchini with anchovies. Andrew's doing the glacier using a thickening agent he brought, and it'll be a sort of "flavored glacier jelly mold concept," designed to cleanse the palate before guests move to the next table. It's a smart idea, especially if it works, although the term "jelly mold" is an immediate turn-off. Damn if he's not growing on me, just a little.

Not to be outdone, Richard whips out his toys as well, one of which looks awesome -- like a machine out of a 1950s space movie. Erik's not really up on Richard's "foams and crazy juices" but he's going along, hoping to impress the guest judge. Stephanie's at work on the banana bread -- it's from her mother's recipe and, in the diet meeting, she DID speak up to insist on including something banana in the menu. That's an appropriately gimmicky response to the challenge -- I'm not sure they will get credit for including banana, but I bet they'd get dinged if they didn't. Valerie's blinis look like little chocolate chip pancakes ["Which...how horrifying to think you're getting chocolate chips and instead you get olives. I might not ever recover from that." -- Joe R], and as she discuss her anxiety about cooking blinis in advance, and then transporting and serving them later, you can start to see where this is headed.

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Top Chef

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