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A nod to Marathon first responders on ‘Top Chef’

Padma Lakshmi and Boston emergency responders were featured on the second epidsode of the current season of “Top Chef."
Padma Lakshmi and Boston emergency responders were featured on the second epidsode of the current season of “Top Chef."David Moir/Bravo

This week’s episode of “Top Chef” took on the Boston Marathon bombings, as contestants cooked for first responders, and managed to do so without being mawkish. (But not without Irish jigs playing in an Italian restaurant that used to be a firehouse.) Even after getting the reality TV treatment, a story about heroic people joining together to save citizens, and later attending their wedding, is a tearjerker.

Contestants were placed in teams and, for the most part, worked amicably to produce some really good dishes. Gregory’s leek vinaigrette tied everything together and won it for the blue team. Precision and detail matter. “Trust me. We notice it all,” Tom Colicchio said.

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But Mei’s fish was cooked perfectly, Katie made salad again but this time everyone approved, and Katsuji proved to be the comeback kid all episode. In an early Quickfire challenge, his dish involving quail egg and uni won the approval of both Todd English and Padma Lakshmi, who praised his restraint (with a bit of surprise). Using Longfellow’s “one, if by land, and two, if by sea” line as the inspiration for a surf-and-turf challenge was a bit of a stretch, but the ensuing “Hunger Games”-style madness made for some wacky fun as contestants dashed to grab the best stuff. Adam continues to be awesome, laughing it off when he gets stuck with dried crab snacks.

Local contestant Stacy overcooks her pork chop in one challenge but does a perfect job with her chicken in another. She lives to cook another day, after being teamed with the bickering Aaron and Keriann. Their rivalry is already insufferable in Week 2, so let’s hope one of them gets sent home soon. Like, say, Aaron. He is such a heavy-handed villain, it isn’t even fun to watch.

But the producers aren’t ready to end the drama yet, so Joy goes home for undercooked veal. She was an actual grownup, and it was her downfall.

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Other things of note:

Police commissioner Bill Evans mocks the gourmet doughnut trend. Trend over. Also: hilarious.

People love to pile on Todd English, but here he was kind, interested, professional, and downright avuncular.

I had an overcooked pork chop recently at Stacy’s Brookline restaurant, the Regal Beagle. Coincidence?

Next week: Fenway!

More coverage:

‘Top Chef: Boston’ opener offers surprises

Plenty of local chefs, landmarks on ‘Top Chef: Boston’

Boston chefs and ‘cheftestants’ kick of ‘Top Chef’

Please, ‘Top Chef,’ don’t resort to Boston cliches