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Top Chef -- episode three (spoilers)

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Top Chef -- episode three (spoilers)

Ruth Lafler | Mar 23, 2006 03:39 PM

Wow! Candice really nailed it when she described Stephen. Could he *be* any more pompous, arrogant and condescending?

And Tiffani just gets bitchier by the week! I don't have any problem with women who are assertive or even abrasive, but she's just a stone bitch. Not only that, but after the judges chastised her several times for her attitude she still didn't catch a clue.

In fact, she and Stephen between them couldn't catch a clue with a net. I wonder if either of them is self-aware enough to watch themselves and realize just how obnoxious they were.

Anyway, a quick recap:

The quickfire (30-minute) challenge was to prepare octopus. Despite the fact that many of the contestants didn't have much experience with the main ingredient, the dishes looked pretty good, and guest judge Laurent Manrique of Aqua agreed that overall the quality of the dishes was high. Probably the most interesting thing that happened during that challenge was that Cynthia told Manrique she cooked the octopus with a cork to help tenderize it -- he looked at her respectfully for being familiar with this old trick, and she pointed out that she's been cooking for a long time. It was a nice moment between them. The winner got immunity for the week's elimination challenge. Unfortunately, it was Tiffani, who despite her despicable personality really can cook.

The elimination challange was a team challenge (I hate team challenges: they're unfair, because a weak contestant can ride the coattails of stonger ones, and a contestant has to be eliminated from the losing team, no matter how responsible any of them was for the team's perceived failures). The challenge was to prepare a lunch using monkfish as the main ingredient, with the catch being that it was to be served to a group of 8-12-year-olds at the local Boys and Girls Club, who would vote to choose the winning team.

Both Tiffani and Stephen (on different teams) were totally insufferable on the subject of "lowering their standards" to please children. Stephen got into a heated (and despite all his pretentions, rather immature) argument with teammate Candice after he called her idea of using cookie cutters to cut food into shapes "childish" -- she gave him the "well, duh" look you're probably wearing right now: it's for children, it's good to be childish! Tiffani went on and on about her disdain for the palates of children (although the Bay Area is full of children with very discerning palates) and her contempt for any effort to make the food more visually appealing.

Both teams went with a breaded fish nugget concept:

Red Team (Stephen, Candice, Miguel, Cynthia and Lisa) did a corn-battered monkfish nugget they called a monkeydog, because it resembled a corn dog. With it they served criss-cross potato chips (loved the looks on the kids' faces when Stephen told them they were called "gaufrettes" in French, which was followed by a patronizing interview snippet about how he was providing education for these children *gag*) and mixed fruit skewers with a vanilla-honey yogurt dipping sauce, dyed red and blue with food coloring. Although there wasn't any discussion of it during prep, when they served it there was also a mango ketchup for the "monkeydogs." The drama (aside from the Stephen-Candice confrontation), came from Cynthia leaving the competition to be with her dying father -- the other chefs seemed to genuinely like her and respect her life experience, if not her chef skills; the producers brought back Andrea to replace her, which allowed Stephen more opportunities to be make contemptuous (and contemptible) remarks.

Blue Team (LeeAnn, Tiffani, Brian, Harold and Dave) did baked monkfish nuggets coated with cereal, served with maple-glazed carrots, strawberry (balsamic?)applesauce and homemade tatertots (I was fascinated to see them make the tatertots by piping a long cylinder of potato puree and then cutting it into pieces -- I never really thought about how one would make tatertots). There was also some mention during serving of special condiments that went with this, but I didn't catch what they were.

The kids seemed to like both meals, but eventually chose Red Team as the winner. Blue Team's downfall seemed to be the carrots, which even the kids thought were overcooked.

In the judging room, the judges really reamed Tiffani for her attitude, and hinted that if she hadn't had immunity they would have eliminated her. I would have paid good money to see that! Both Collichio and Manrique lectured her on the fact that the point of a restuarant is to please the customers and to make their experience enjoyable, but she remained smugly astride her high horse. In the end, after some finger pointing, Brian was held responsible for the carrot fiasco and eliminated.

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