Top Chef Chicago: Episode 2

Watching Top Chef last night, we were reminded that you can't judge a book by its cover. Or its language. Andrew, the contestant who seemed like a freewheeling time bomb during Episode 1, actually turned out some impressive dishes, including a yuzu gelee "glacier" and a squid ceviche with tapioca. Wonders never cease.

Note: We reveal the winner and loser after the jump...

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Richard — he of the handheld, electric smoker — failed to impress guest judge Wylie Dufresne, who is also known for his molecular gastronomy. Instead, Mark's greenmarket ingredients, prepared simply — sirloin over puréed turnips, topped with a peach butter cream — won the quickfire challenge.

The elimination challenge seemed random. Cooking with ingredients from zoo animals' diets? Lions really eat beets? And we must say, we understand the necessity of group challenges when there are so many chefs in the beginning, but it's hard to see what the contestants are capable of when they are only responsible for one or two appetizer-sized dishes.

Our favorite moment: Stephanie (smartly) realized that her Team Gorilla needed a banana dish and whipped up her mom's banana bread. Obviously it's one of those beloved recipes she has memorized. And in the end, it saved her from being eliminated. Hooray for family recipes!

So, Andrew did, in fact, win with his yuzu glacier and squid ceviche (above). And Valerie was eliminated for serving made-ahead blinis.

How do you feel about team challenges? A necessary evil — or a great way to weed out weak competition?

(Photos: BravoTV)

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