Wednesday night’s Lycheegate on Top Chef goes way beyond whether Otto Borsich was the only one to blame on Team Korea for the grand theft lychee from a LA Korean grocery store. (And by the way, he TOTALLY wasn’t!)

First of all, one issue is the correct pronunciation. Some of the cheftestants pronounced it “lie-chee,” while others favored, “lee-chee.” Merriam-Webster offers both pronunciations, so perhaps there’s an end to that debate.

Also hotly debated topic is the definition of “larceny.” As in, “Did Otto commit lychee larceny?” A poster in the swelling Top Chef episode thread at Television Without Pity references text from the California Bar Exam:

This is not an authoritative source, but it reflects my memory of the continuing trespass doctrine:

“Continuing trespass: Wrongful taking of property without intent to permanently deprive (borrowing umbrella w/o permission), and D later decides to keep property, is guilty of larceny when D decides to keep. But not larceny if D thought umbrella was hers when she took it and later decides to keep it.”

It’s a very fine distinction. But if Otto thought the lychees were paid for, he then believed that the lychees were rightfully his at the moment of asportation. Therefore, he did not commit larceny.

I’ll tell you what’s certain, San Francisco pastry chef, Marisa Churchill, just pulled way ahead of Marcel “Teen Wolf” Vigneron in the Top Villain race. Her extreme pointing of fingers and frantic insistence that Otto was totally to blame for the purloined lychees was a clear attempt to keep the judges’ fire and brimstone from raining down on her rock-hard panna cotta. Plus, she twisted her face up into all sorts of nasty expressions that put Tiffani’s original bitchface to shame.

Lee Anne Wong — one of last year’s cheftestants and my personal season one favorite — has her own blog at Bravo. Regarding Marisa’s so-hard-you-could-bounce-a-quarter-off-it panna cotta, Lee Anne comments:

…I caught Marisa putting TABLESPOONS of knox gelatin in her recipe. If she miscalculated, even by a teaspoon, it can make all the difference in the world for the texture of your panna cotta.

Oh, the drama!

Top Chef: Lycheegate 30 October,2006Stephanie Lucianovic

  • cucina testa rossa

    i really must get a tv! can’t believe i am missing all this!


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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