Synopsis for
"Top Chef" Penn & Teller (2009)

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Turns out Mattin was right, Mike I opens the episode by saying everyone misses him. In his little Frenchie honor, Mike lays out one of Mattin's scarves on his bed and everyone puts one on. Mike thinks Mattin was a better chef than some of the people who are still there. "Robin can't cook for s---."

Jen thinks that Robin has gotten lucky.

Quickfire James Beard award winner Michelle Bernstein greets them with Padma. Kevin says Michelle has actually eaten in his restaurant before and likes clean, simple food. Their challenge is to make a duo of food, representing their personal food angel and devil. The winner gets immunity.

Robin mentions that her demon is being diagnosed with cancer and knowing that sugar is bad for her. Bryan thinks he's been going too complicated and resolves to simplify. Ash's custard doesn't set and he ends up with heated eggs.

Michael made smoked salmon two ways. Kevin made Alaska halibut and deviled pork with fatty bacon. Ron made Chilean sea bass (Padma picks out bones). Ashley made scallops, with the devil side being a salty puttanesca sauce. Eli's devil is a brown butter reduced risotto. Bryan made a white frozen coconut, lychee and vanilla and dark chocolate mousse. Jennifer made scallops two ways (very similar to what Ashley did), with a light simple scallop crudo and one cooked in too much butter. Ash presents his single custard, a spicy asparagus custard. Robin presents hers, mentioning that she was diagnosed with two kinds of lymphoma four years ago. She says she started eating healthy and presents arugula, apple and fennel salad and a cardamon apple ginger crisp. Michelle says it's "lovely, nice and simple." Laurine made chicken and vegetable consomme and chicken saltimbocca. Mike made cucumber soup and a rack of lamb over couscous. Michelle takes a bite and recoils, saying it's a little bit too salty.

Michelle's least favorites were: Ash, Bryan (beautiful concept, but poor execution) and Laurine (nothing new, nothing inspiring whatsoever).

Her favorites were Michael ("that was a bite that transported me and it was executed perfectly"), Eli and Robin. Jen, Eli and Mike look like they want to spit when she says Robin's name.

The winner is... Robin. Cut to a lot of angry faces and Robin saying she knows she deserves to be there.

Eli seethes in his interview. "That's a pretty good way to win a Quickfire, just tell people you had f----- cancer."

For their Elimination Challenge, Penn & Teller come into the kitchen. Kevin's a huge fan.

They begin by doing a cups and balls routine and then showing how they did it. For the challenge they'll be deconstructing a classic dish. Michael V. explains that deconstruction means taking something apart on the plate and allowing the diner to put it together so that by the last bite they've tasted the original dish.

They draw knives with dishes on them. Padma tells them Toby Young will be back. Ashley calls him "the meanest guy in food criticism."

They shop. Bryan has a classic reuben and decides to swap tuna for pastrami. Ron is tickled to have paella, saying he's made it a million times. Jen has meat lasagna and isn't excited about it. She plans to figure it out in the kitchen.

Back at the kitchen they have two hours to prep. Ash has shepherd's pie. Mike I has eggs florentine, but has no idea what it is. He calls it "egg foreign-to-me."

Michael has a Caesar salad and is baking bread. Kevin asks for scraps. Bryan calls his brother a show-off.

Kevin has mole negro and calls the Voltaggio brother the ones to beat.

Jen hasn't started cooking yet with almost an hour gone. She's close to panicking. Eli thinks that maybe Ron doesn't understand what deconstructing a dish is. Meanwhile, Eli's pressure cooker is covered with blue tape because he brought it with him and it got bashed by baggage handlers.

Ashley is making pot roast, which she doesn't like the texture of.

And then Eli's pressure cooker blows all over him and Bryan. Ash wonders what Eli is doing using his own bashed up cooker when there are tons in the kitchen.

Robin walks around talking to herself, slowly grating on Laurine, who is having trouble with her fish and chips. Robin adds to Laurine's frustration by asking her to get her food out of the oven. "Now I'm, like, ready to kill her," Laurine says, but keeps cooking.

Tom drops by. He quickly figures out Ash has no idea what he's doing. Jen doesn't have time to talk to him and hides until the end. He keeps it short.

Ash isn't very excited about deconstructing either.

Time's up.

Back at the house, Eli and Kevin try to help Ron with his paella concept.

Laurine says today pissed her off and is upset that Robin won't "shut the f--- up."

Mike asks around on what eggs florentine is. He knows it has eggs and spinach, but is making the rest up.

They're off to cook at the Marinelli's restaurant at the M resort. They'll be serving in pairs, but judged individually. The judges arrive. Mike thinks his presentation is sloppy, but he knows it'll taste good. He and Michael go first. Michael explains his Cesar salad with chicken wing, Parmesean jelly and homemade brioche. He encapsulated the dressing so if they break it, the dressing will ooze out.

Mike presents his eggs florentine with braised kale standing in for spinach, an egg emulsion and crispy phyllo.

Toby doesn't care for Mike's and Tom says he left out the egg whites. Padma and Penn really like Michael's.

Preparing to go second with Bryan, Laurine worries that he fish and chips are a little soggy so she puts the chips in the oven and they burn. Serving the big Penn, Bryan worries his food is too dainty.

Bryan made a reuben with tuna, warm mayo, thousand island flavors, rye and gruyere cheese. It's presented with tiny cubes of the ingredients.

Laurine explains her fish and chips with halibut, zucchini relish, tomato confit and parsley chips (two per plate).

Michelle doesn't love the fish. Tom thinks it's dry. Toby thinks Laurine left out the chips. Tom and Michelle love Bryan's, but Penn doesn't think it tastes like a reuben (but he did eat the whole thing).

Ash's mashed potatoes come out a little gummy so he decides to leave them out. He helps Jen finish plating. He's nervous because shepherd's pie is an English dish and Toby Young is very, very British. Jen's worried about going home. Ash made pan seared lamb with leeks, glazed carrots, pea puree and madeira jus.

Jen presents her meat lasagna with steak, mascarpone bechamel, tomato sauce and Parmesan crisp.

Teller approves silently. Michelle and Padma really like it. "It's very smart," Michelle says. Tom thinks Ash's meat isn't cooked well and Toby misses the potato.

Eli is serving with Ron and is worried for him. Ron presents his seafood paella with lemon and herb oil, chayote and peas. It looks suspiciously like regular paella. For sweet and sour pork Eli made pork rillettes, broccoli puree and sweet and sour sauce. It looks like two pasty meatballs in two puddles of sauce on a plate with garnish.

Michelle says Ron's rice was overcooked and has no crisp. Toby thinks Eli's pork balls look disgusting, but are good. He compares them to bull's testicles, but Padma, who's actually eaten bull's balls, says they're too big to be that.

Kevin thinks his food looks like 13 shades of brown.

For Ashley's pot roast she made seared strip loin, potato puree, crispy shallots and carrot foam. Kevin's mole negro has turned into chicken croquette, Mexican coffee fig jam and pumpkin seed romesco.

They love the mole. "I don't want to have the other mole that I've had after I've had this plate," Penn says. "I think he worked his butt off on this plate," agrees Michelle.

Michelle says Ashley "kicked ass" on the pot roast and Toby says the meat was perfectly cooked.

Robin presents alone with clam chowder. Instead of making a soup she made fennel flan with potato crusted clams and crushed bacon.

Padma says it reminds her of cream of celery soup, not clam chowder. Toby hates the texture.

Back in the stew room. Jen is still upset at her effort.

Padma comes for Ashley, Michael, Kevin and Jennifer. Jen's stunned.

Padma congratulates them. Tom says Michael's use of chemicals in his dish was well done. "Dishes like that make me excited about food," he says. Michelle tells Ashley she loved hers. Tom compliments Kevin for all the pieces of his dish that went together perfectly. Toby tells Jen he was impressed with her simplicity. Tom tells Jen he's impressed she pulled it together after how harried she was yesterday. "You're not going home for this," he says.

Michelle announces the winner, the chef who "truly embraced the definition of deconstruction"... Kevin. He wins a set of Calphalon cookware.

Padma asks for the losers.

Back in the stew room, Ash says he's going to make salads and crisps from now on, since Robin did and she won.

They want to see Laurine, Ron and Ash.

On the chopping block. Toby tells Ash he was expecting a mound of mashed potatoes. Michelle says it didn't taste like shepherd's pie at all. Tom mentions the uneven meat cooking. Ash makes a pitch to stay.

Laurine knows her fish was overcooked. Tom thinks it seemed outside of her comfort zone. She tells them about her burnt chips.

Padma asks Ron if he's done much deconstruction. He says never. Tom tells Ron his rice and seafood were overcooked. Padma knocks him for not taking paella apart enough. Michelle says just tasting good would have been enough.

They go back to stew.

The judges reiterate that Ron's wasn't good. Tom thinks Ash's was a poor plate of food. Toby says Ash's was the dish he'd least like to eat again. Tom thinks Laurine seemed uncomfortable with the challenge. Padma thinks it's pretty clear who needs to go.

Verdict time. Tom tells Ron he didn't depart enough from the original, that Laurine wasn't able to personalize it and overall Ash's was off.

The knife-packer is... Ron.

He shakes all their hands. "It's a good experience, I have no regrets. A boy from Haiti, have no hope, come to America, become Top Chef, if that's not the American dream, I don't think there's another American me that's only the beginning, there's a lot more big stuff."


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