Was Team Korea over budget at the grocery store and did they all know it? Yes. Did Otto know before he left the store that the clerk forget to charge the team for the case of lychees sitting on the bottom of the shopping cart? Who knows. Did he know by the time the shopping cart was being unloaded into the car at the curb right in front of the store? Definitely. It is all on the tape.
Speaking of the tape, how could he even think of let's say misrepresenting the conversation he had with Marisa when they were before the judges. Didn't he realize the camera crew was there filming and it was all on tape? It boggles the mind.
In the end, he did technically bow out (perhaps before he could be told to pack his knives) and show acceptance of responsibility, but Noah, Blog Appetit's 15 year old future pastry chef, and I wonder what happened off screen with the producers. Was he offered this face saving option?
It did seem that poor Marisa would go for her rubbery panna cotta if not for Otto's lychee issue. That didn't seem fair to me since I think she was the most upset by having to be the whistleblower and I believe the lychees were originally part of her dish, so she may have had to change recipes mid-program. I also think if a pastry chef wants to be Top Chef, she has to focus on excelling in non-pastry areas, so her just taking on the dessert was not politically astute.
Other observations -- It does seem like the producers have cast to replicate some personalities from Season One. Marcel, of course, reminds one of Stephen even down to wearing ties in his post-cooking interviews. Michael has the good-time, junk food appeal of a Miguel, but apparently without the cooking chops (it was his pork that brought down the judges' opinions of Team Vietnam's efforts), and Josie and Emily have the look and assertiveness of Le Ann and Tiffani. At first I thought Ilan might be the new Harold, but now I don't think so, as presented on screen he seems to lack Harold's seeming lack of manipulation and cut throatness. Betty seems a bit like Cynthia in terms of being to the point, older and blond, but her skills and personality are on a whole other level.
Some differences -- Having a pastry chef this time makes the mix different. Also, last time some of the chefs didn't seem to have as strong a kitchen production experience as this crew does, although it seems like some have less all-around experience than others. (Mia's sushi hand rolls, Michael continually saying how he doesn't know how to do this or that). Oh, and the biggest difference --new host Padma Lakshmi doesn't make me cringe every time she speaks.
Want to see a two-and-a-half minute preview of the quick fire challenge in episode three? Click here.
Want to read more about what Lee Ann is calling "Lycheegate" as well as her take on episode two and a comment that she shows up on episode six? Is there a hint at that end that Marisa doesn't go the distance? Check out her blog here.
Some recipe notes: Josie's Vietnamese dish was not what I or many others would consider pho, which is primarily a noodle soup dish. If you'd like to try my "faux pho," please click here. If you would like to try making fresh Vietnamese spring rolls (called summer rolls on the show), check out my version with vegetarian, shrimp, mango and cucumber variations.
Photo credit: Bravo TV