Top Chef New York: Of Eel and Eric Ripert

Have you ever seen someone skin an eel? It's fascinating. Last night's episode of Top Chef was on par with the standards we expect: a high-stakes test of skills, no cheap sponsor challenges, and a little side of Eric Ripert...

Note: We reveal the winner and loser below.

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Here's what we learned...

1. Well, ok, a question first. For all of our chef readers out there: Those eels were still moving, but was that just because of their complex nervous system? Or were they alive? We were under the impression that they were dead, still-writhing eels. Yikes.

2. Skinning them was so cool! Stefan deserved to win that quickfire hands down, just for knowing how to strip off the eel's skin like he was peeling off pantyhose.

3. Leah, Leah, Leah. We'll grant that maybe she just has a very laid-back, self-deprecating personality. But giving up while filleting the arctic char? She's always turning in a sub-par performance and then apologizing for it. We really thought she deserved to go home this week.

4. We think we would have known to pay attention during lunch. There were the same number of dishes as chefs... No one on Top Chef ever gets to hang out and just enjoy a free lunch... Come on. They must have known they were going to have to cook those dishes. We would have been asking Eric Ripert all kinds of questions. "This miso broth is so interesting. Is that lemon I taste? Butter? Hmm?"

5. Carla has some skills. The sardines in the quickfire were a disaster, fine. But people, she cooked escolar. We've told you about escolar. It's a tricky fish, and she poached it in oil- very impressive.

6. And she should have won. Carla picked up on the fact that the sauce was not, in fact, a bernaise, but something similar that we didn't even catch or know how to spell, but it involved veal stock. We know Stefan is talented, and we're sure his lobster was perfect. But it was an easier dish.

7. Monk fish has to rest? We never knew that. Interesting.

8. Jamie should not have gone home for bad celery. We know, it was bad. (See photos, below. The Le Bernadin version is the prettier one.) But the judges admitted that her fish was well-cooked, and we don't understand how Leah escaped. Again.

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What did you think?

Related:
Episode 1: Ethnic Foods Galore
Episode 2: Hot Dogs and Angry Chefs
Episode 4: Lights, Camera, Kathie Lee Gifford
Episode 5: Make Your Own Sushi at a Bridal Shower?
Episode 6: And a Martha in a Pear Tree
Episode 7: Pop, Pop, Fizz, Fizzle
Episode 8: E-I-E-I-O (and Really Good Chicken)
Episode 9: Restaurant Wars!
Episode 10: Super Bowl Showdown

(Images: Bravo)

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