Top Chef

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

Team Bear's Chimay cheese and honeycomb on cranberry pecan bread inspires Padma to show emotion...almost The combination works well and, for Gail, even "the bread is the right size." Salmon a la plancha on lettuce cups with pickled vegetables and peanuts offers Padma the opportunity to show just how much she can fit in her mouth (although she looks maybe a bit pissed that someone with a camera is that close to her face while she's eating). Then Gail has to go and ask about the mushrooms. "I'm happy to let you get the flavor, but they are not as hot as we would like," says Nikki. She feels like she'd be "in jeopardy" if she didn't serve them, but Spike argues that they "just have to adapt" in a catering situation, and "if we aren't proud of an item, we shouldn't have served it." They're both right and they're both wrong, I think -- this is a can't win situation, since the judges know what's supposed to be there, and, obviously, get all asky if it isn't. And now that Gail and Padma got mushrooms, Colicchio and Wyile want to try them as well -- having something delivered to your plate with Nikki's "not as hot as we'd like them to be" caveat can't be too appetizing, which Wylie sort of snarkily acknowledges. And what specifically stuffs these oft-discussed mushrooms? Blueberries, walnuts, pecorino cheese, and a bit of chervil. I don't think temperature is the only issue here.

That leaves Team Penguin -- the glacier (actually more of a "mint yuzu gelee," explains Andrew) appears intact, and Wylie bites. Colicchio also seems mildly impressed in an amused way, and nods to style over substance, saying, "Okay, let's have food though." In this case, food is a charred squid ceviche with soy-balsamic tapioca and roasted macadamia nuts. Sounds kind of good and gross at the same time -- and I always thought that ceviche was made with raw seafood, but then again rules are made to be broken. I could also be wrong, but that's highly unlikely. Wylie digs it, which makes Andrew very happy. Lisa's Thai shrimp and crab salad with watercress makes a positive impression, and we never get to see the zucchini with anchovies that marks Jennifer's contribution to the menu.

Dr. Shana Lavin, nutrition manager for the Lincoln Park Zoo and clearly just the kind of person who would LOVE this kind of party, endorses Team Penguin because they "incorporated fish very purposefully in every meal." I guess I missed the fish in the glacier -- yuzu, mint, and catfish? Some dude in a candy-cane striped tie liked Gorilla the best, "except for the olive pancake, which tasted a little like dirt." Thanks, Professor Smug. And, ouch. He's so trying to get laid, and it looks like his insult worked to impress the grinning woman standing next to him. Elizabeth Bruccoleri, zoological manager in the bird department and owner of a last name that's fun to repeat, saves her kudos for the cheftestants that focused on what their given animal would eat, spoken over an ominous shot of the Gorilla Girls.

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Top Chef

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