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S16.E05: Restaurant Wars Part 2

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The Restaurant Wars causes drama and mayhem; Tom announces a double elimination piling on even more pressure; chefs Karen Akunowicz and Nina Compton join the restaurant crawl along with Nilou Motamed and guest judge Caroline Styne.

Air date: January 3, 2019

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I’m very excited about this group of judges. I think they will be exacting but entertaining.

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That was a correct decision in both cases by the judges. Pablo has been doomed since week 1 and Nini just seemed to wander around overwhelmed all night. 

I can’t  believe how rough Third Coast’s FOH was. Have we seen worse?

Edited by BryroseA
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Totally agree with the PYKAGs. 

Sara simply didn't look the part for FOH, from hair to attire. Nini, though, was one of those Bossy Incompetents, so Buh-BYE.

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1 hour ago, Nordly Beaumont said:

When you saw the other kitchens you could see exactly who was in control. When you saw Justin's kitchen it could have been anyone. 

I agree; last week, I missed the part where they decided who would do what, and thought Kelsey was executive chef based on how she stepped in to try and impart at least some information to the servers when Nini totally fell down on the job.  It wasn't until I read the thread that night that I learned it was Justin, but if I hadn't read those posts, I still wouldn't have known tonight which one of those two was in charge.  (And not because Kelsey was jockeying for control or anything negative on her, just because there was no clear leader like there was in Michelle's and, especially, Adrienne's kitchen.)

Edited by Bastet
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Well, thanks Bravo.  I tuned in at 9 to watch but only saw a preview of Nini and Pablo in LCK.  Is this the 'new' time?  WTF.  Or is it going back to 9 next week.  I hate when they do this. 

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 I dislike restaurant Wars and think the whole making someone executive chef is just a way for other people to f up and then have someone else take the blame for not having control. They're all supposed to be professionals on somewhat of the same level so they should be able to delegate a task and not have to be to babysit the person that is doing it. 

 only on top chef would somebody be as incompetent as she was and leave the competition blaming somebody else and convinced that it wasn't her own fault.

 I think it's ridiculous that they expect them to design the menu designed the restaurant and train the staff. The least they could do is send in some competent servers as it really doesn't add anyting to see them have to struggle with that aspect it.  at one point it appears that one of the servers was just sitting down drinking some water

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Restaurant Wars rule: If you're FOH, make a cake for dessert! Liquid nitrogen ice cream is just stupid. And so is sending tons of food back to the kitchen. Nini proved the last two episodes that she can make a killer dessert, why go for chocolate blobs on a plate? Ugh.

Edited by dbell1
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I hope they don’t do a three team Restaurant Wars again.  Usually I have picked a favorite cheftestant by the time this episode comes along, and I feel more invested in the outcome. At this point in this season, I have barely learned everyone’s name. It was just too chaotic.

Nini was clearly the right choice to get the axe. She was foolish to make a dessert that was so labor intensive when she knew she would be FOH. It was painful to watch her wander back and forth from the kitchen without any idea what was happening. I can’t really disagree with eliminating Pablo. That beige smear on the plate looked very unappetizing even though the scallop looked delicious. Justin really dodged a bullet, though. He ran a terrible kitchen and the texture of his bisque looked awful.  Kelsey continues to be one of the nastiest cheftestants that I can recall. I was actually surprised when she tried to stick up for Nini, but that didn’t excuse talking to the servers the way she did.

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The one thing I wonder is, since turquoise team was last, of course they would have the longest back up.  I feel like at judges table they were implying they all had big FOH issue, but editing really just showed team turquoise.  I wonder if like they Orange team who went first eventually got backed up too?  It really seems like going last in general is a bad position (judges already ate 12 plates of food) 

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Being the last restaurant the judges dine at means they've inevitably gotten backed up (by their own errors and by the fact people getting a free meal and a possible TV appearance don't want to leave), and the judges do take note of the delays "regular" customers are enduring, but the judges' table generally gets served promptly in spite of the overall chaos.  Plus, it's mostly about the food, and the last team has had the most time to make adjustments to the dishes.  So I think it pretty much all shakes out.

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Nini clearly sucked at FOH, but I call producer sabotage on the ridiculously inexperienced wait staff on all the teams.  Don't tell me they couldn't get better people even in Kentucky.  I've had servers at the Olive Garden with tons more knowledge and experience.  I do think Nini would have sucked anyway, though, and she deserved to go home.

Color me surprised that Brian not only came back from his night of no sleep to run FOH well but also make the winning dish.  After his "War and Peace" sized server manual I thought he was putting too much of his energy into something that was just overkill.  He may rub me the wrong way but I have to give him credit for his win.

I agree with the above that the design team for this season's restaurants was inferior to previous seasons.  Those plates on the wall in "Third Coast" reminded me of an early season of the old HGTV series "Design Star" when Cynthia Rowley went off on a contestant for her unattractive wall plate clusters.  Just ugh.

I also thought the judges were pretty lenient in their critiques of the losing teams.  They spent more time focusing on positives than usual in restaurant war judgings, which can often be brutal. The judges were so polite and cheerful even when being critical that it left me a little perplexed.  Maybe they were generally more happy with their overall performance than in the past?  Hard to tell.

I'm just happy that David survived to cook another day.  

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I kinda wanted Justin to go home just because I forgot he was EC. When you saw the other kitchens you could see exactly who was in control. When you saw Justin's kitchen it could have been anyone.

I really like Justin (perhaps for hometown bias reasons!) but still entirely agree with you. While I was watching I actually wondered to myself who their Executive Chef was, because it seemed like it was everyone doing the same thing back there. Kelsey is the one who seemed like she MOST knew what the hell needed to happen, but unfortunately couldn't turn it around for everyone. She seems like a force to be reckoned with.

The decisions on the winner(s) - I actually love that there was an individual winner but the whole team got the same dollar prize - and the ousted chefs seemed right on to me.

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All three restaurants had terrible servers, the difference was that Northeast and Thistle immediately intervened to do on the spot training. Adrienne made them take back the orders and write them properly, Sara pulled aside several servers to go over how to write a ticket again and again. Brian and Sara were also constantly shown interacting with the staff to make sure things were on track.

Nini kind of threw her hands in the air and tried to put out all the fires herself. I'm sure her emotional state wasn't improved by coming back to see that none of her three teammates honestly gave a shit about the fact they just screwed her over on her dessert. Justin and Nini were both at fault for not dropping everything to pull all the staff over and go over table numbers and ticket writing. If someone is sitting so long that they start eating a banana instead, you might as well just call a time out and stop firing and instead go over stuff. I am not impressed with Justin just running around and fuming while things went to shit, really poor leadership.

He's lucky that Pablo somehow put out two terrible and mediocre dishes, otherwise he should have gotten the boot too. Brandon was quite lovely and filled in gaps and helped others out admirably. He dealt with Pablo's delusions about needing help plating in the nicest way, just like 'well, I've got nothing to do and I've already picked things up, so I might as well help?'

Sara just gives me the creeps, and I literally don't know why because she seems like a perfectly nice person?

Edited by rozen
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I wonder if Sara knew some of the guests. There was a clip where a guest told Sara that a guest at a table across the room were missing a water glass. I mean I guess they could have bonded but the exchange seemed like they knew each other which wouldn’t necessarily be surprising.

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Nini was awful at front of house but it did also seem that Justin was not great on expo and definitely not as involved with the servers/FOH as Michelle and Adrienne. 

Padma should help Graham pick out glasses.

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After roughly 178 seasons of TC and Restaurant Wars I have one question. Why on earth would anyone volunteer to be FOH? FOH people tend to get screwed every which way. Other chefs f up the FOH chef's dishes, servers are service challenged (as in just hired off the street), and FOH gets blamed for everything. Next season I want to see everyone just straight up refuse to do FOH.

This year was a special trainwreck and I hope the person whose idea it was to do 3 teams is forced to do FOH for every RW ever for all eternity.

Does anyone else think Tom really seems over all of it this season? Hope all is well with him.

Also, unnecessary aside,  Padma is too beautiful for words.

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1 hour ago, Yeah No said:

 

I also thought the judges were pretty lenient in their critiques of the losing teams.  They spent more time focusing on positives than usual in restaurant war judgings, which can often be brutal. The judges were so polite and cheerful even when being critical that it left me a little perplexed.  Maybe they were generally more happy with their overall performance than in the past?  Hard to tell.

I'm just happy that David survived to cook another day.  

Long time Top Chef watcher and recent rewatcher of the early seasons. I agree about judge’s table- I was gearing up for a more aggressive discussion between the judges, Nini, Justin and Kelsey.  But maybe this is part of TC editing to be more constructive and positive or the chefs have learned not to lose their cool at judge’s table.  See Miami and Las Vegas for heated interactions!

I don’t think that Nini was thrown under the bus at all. She seemed to be lost from the beginning of service and didn’t adjust.  

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25 minutes ago, zibnchy said:

After roughly 178 seasons of TC and Restaurant Wars I have one question. Why on earth would anyone volunteer to be FOH? FOH people tend to get screwed every which way. Other chefs f up the FOH chef's dishes, servers are service challenged (as in just hired off the street), and FOH gets blamed for everything. Next season I want to see everyone just straight up refuse to do FOH.

 

Chefs are notorious for their arrogance and big egos.  I imagine more than one has thought about the challenge in advance and been convinced they would be the one to nail it and show all those other motherf*ckers how it's done.

Edited by Brookside
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3 minutes ago, Bastet said:

The bangin' hot one?  I got a good chuckle out of Sara asking the servers if they knew which one at the judges' table was Padma and, upon getting a negative shrug, saying "the bangin' hot one" and then - without really having time to register that she was on camera and thus would potentially be aired singling Padma out among a table full of women - correcting to (paraphrased) "well, they're all hot, so just follow me."

That cracked me up and it also made me wonder how they found the servers/what they told them. I don’t expect everyone to know who Padma is or even be familiar with TC but if I got a gig on a reality show as a server I would at least google it before I got there.

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I'm glad Pablo was eliminated because he is too stubborn.  I think he thinks he's a much better chef than he is, else he was not willing to keep it real because they were on camera and he was trying to save face by lying.   He constantly deflected help.  He constantly (over the last 2 episodes that I can recall) would taste his dish and pick out a small redeeming quality and ignore the rest.   When he had Brandon check the meat he said "just check for acidity" as if hard ass meat but acidity was ok....and then Brandon said it needed more heat.  Pablo knew some were hard but said he tasted all the batches and they were good enough to send out, even though some were better than others.   That's just not owning up to reality.

Even his exit interview he said he was too ambitious.  Brother you made short ribs, which has been made 87 times on THIS show not to mention other speed cooking shows like Iron Chef and they often come out perfect and glazzzzzzed, just the way Ol Tommy likes them.   Just stop.

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No one caught that Nini said she did front of the house when she was in...….college.   Yikes.  Doubt it was the same type of experience level needed.   She had zero capacity to right the ship which is unfortunate.   She assumed that by letting the servers fail it was somehow a reflection on them....they were an especially "difficult" group.   Yeah right.  You can't blame the actors if they all got actors Nini!!!   Justin did escape though...man that bisque looked nasty.   Even the beauty photo looked rough....looked like refried bean soup that was getting dry around the lip of the soup bowl.   Icky.

Either they edited it out or that team didn't go to war in front of the judges.  Nini should have tried to deflect way more blame on Justin.  But maybe all of that hot tub bonding made it too difficult to undercut each other at the end.   They seemed forthcoming with details but also tried to spread out the blame.  Noble I guess?   

I'm sure Nini will win LCK and come back and get the redemption edit.  Seems like a long way to go but she's pretty talented just cooking.

Overall I thought there would be more personal drama but there wasn't.   Having 3 restaurants didn't pan out to be all that suspenseful.  I know the editing seemed ok but after eating 3 restaurants worth of small plates I'm not surprised the stuffed full judges were tired and palate fatigued by the time they got to the losing restaurant versus happy and enthusiastic at the winning restaurant....which they visited first.   Coincidence?

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All right, editors, you got me—based on the first episode, I was sure Brian was as doomed as Nini, especially given his waitstaff manifesto. Although winning elimination challenges seems to be the kiss of death this season, so I'm not putting any money down on his longevity after this.

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Brian and Adrienne made a great part of their team and I liked how Adrienne kept yelling at that one chef to stick to his own recipe and then directing Brian.  Brian was very prepared even though he was nervous.  I like both of them a lot and hope they go far.

This seemed to be the messiest Restaurant Wars I've seen or maybe my brain is just fusing all the seasons together but I can't recall a single time where they literally had paint drying on the walls with fans drying it off.  They usually shop for their own decor, yes, but this seemed liked overkill to make them put together the dining room, train and absolutely useless wait staff who seemed to have no experience and then execute a meal plan in the span of a day.  I don't know how any of these people do it.  Even if they come off as inexperienced on some episodes they have to be extremely talented to pull off these challenges.  I can't even imagine.

 

Also, how can they eat SO much food in one night????  I can but I'm also very chunky.

Edited by IDreamofJoaquin
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Question.  Did Eddie ‘sacrifice’ his crudo somewhat to make sure the chicken dish for Brian was perfect? Or just an error?

I guess I’m wondering if Eddie can’t let go of that budget fiasco and is putting everyone else first.  It seems so. Especially with that shopping scene.  If this is the case, then his stock has gone up for me.  Wish he’d show more of his personality but I kind of get it if his sole purpose was to be true to himself and the team player aspect is more important than being the focus of attention.  

Edited by Ellee
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11 hours ago, Bastet said:

Everyone’s faces when Sara listed every single ingredient of every dish were fantastic.

I DIED. Padma's in particular had me rolling - that was a well-edited sequence. And when she was like " ... Have you been saying ALL that to EVERYONE?" I cracked up.

Nini was a favorite of mine but she deserved to go. A lot of my early favorites are going - Natalie was one too. I'm glad Eric is still around.

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Late to the party... where to start....

Granted I have not been to a "fine dining" restaurant in a while... why , please tell me why, are the servers writing PAPER ticket orders in the 21st century ?

I mean wherever casting call TopChef gets the waitstaff crew from, I just hope one of the interview questions is "have you waited in a restaurant before"..Granted FOH has the responsibility of training them, but the servers have to bring some skill and common sense to the job now...

If McD can use an electronic menu board, including the ATM-looking thing at the door, not to mention all of the restaurants that now can take orders via an app, why, why are we seeing green bar 3x5 tickets , like we are at some road-side diner ??? It takes all of 15 minutes to set up a electronic system and it will be a good plug for some company....

Edited by sATL
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9 hours ago, zibnchy said:

This year was a special trainwreck and I hope the person whose idea it was to do 3 teams is forced to do FOH for every RW ever for all eternity.

I didn't like the 3 restaurant concept...two is the right number for this challenge. We didn't get to see and hear enough reactions and it got confusing which team was which(yes, I know they have different colored aprons but I am usually doing something else while watching...like knitting a scarf!) It all seemed a bit rushed and confused...of course, with Nini as FOH, it was confusing enough as it was! Hopefully they have learned from this and go back to the old method plus I liked it when the chefs designed their own space...then it was their own space!

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1 hour ago, sATL said:

Late to the party... where to start....

Granted I have not been to a "fine dining" restaurant in a while... why , please tell me why, are the servers writing PAPER ticket orders in the 21st century ?

I mean wherever casting call TopChef gets the waitstaff crew from, I just hope one of the interview questions is "have you waited in a restaurant before"..Granted FOH has the responsibility of training them, but the servers have to bring some skill and common sense to the job now...

If McD can use an electronic menu board, including the ATM-looking thing at the door, not to mention all of the restaurants that now can take orders via an app, why, why are we seeing green bar 3x5 tickets , like we are at some road-side diner ??? It takes all of 15 minutes to set up a electronic system and it will be a good plug for some company....

Maybe next season one of those restaurant software companies can be a sponsor and they can get rid of the paper tickets. But the training will be a nightmare! If these "servers" couldn't keep track of table numbers, they'll be hopeless on the computer.

9 hours ago, HappyDancex2 said:

No one caught that Nini said she did front of the house when she was in...….college.   Yikes.  Doubt it was the same type of experience level needed.   She had zero capacity to right the ship which is unfortunate.   She assumed that by letting the servers fail it was somehow a reflection on them....they were an especially "difficult" group.   Yeah right.  You can't blame the actors if they all got actors Nini!!!   Justin did escape though...man that bisque looked nasty.   Even the beauty photo looked rough....looked like refried bean soup that was getting dry around the lip of the soup bowl.   Icky.

Either they edited it out or that team didn't go to war in front of the judges.  Nini should have tried to deflect way more blame on Justin.  But maybe all of that hot tub bonding made it too difficult to undercut each other at the end.   They seemed forthcoming with details but also tried to spread out the blame.  Noble I guess?   

I'm sure Nini will win LCK and come back and get the redemption edit.  Seems like a long way to go but she's pretty talented just cooking.

Overall I thought there would be more personal drama but there wasn't.   Having 3 restaurants didn't pan out to be all that suspenseful.  I know the editing seemed ok but after eating 3 restaurants worth of small plates I'm not surprised the stuffed full judges were tired and palate fatigued by the time they got to the losing restaurant versus happy and enthusiastic at the winning restaurant....which they visited first.   Coincidence?

In the "previously" part, I heard her say she was calm, so she should be FOH. Sure, she was calm. But that doesn't help when fires need to be put out. She wasn't a problem solver. She might have been thinking on her feet but she wasn't acting effectively. I've liked her so far but she deserved to go. As for Pablo, I was waiting for him to be eliminated since the beginning so I'm glad they made that choice too.

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3 minutes ago, WendyM said:

Maybe next season one of those restaurant software companies can be a sponsor and they can get rid of the paper tickets. But the training will be a nightmare! If these "servers" couldn't keep track of table numbers, they'll be hopeless on the computer.

Yeah training would be much more of a nightmare because the chefs also wouldn’t be trained on the system. A lot of places use paper tickets during openings even if they will eventually transition to an electronic system as back up because they can be persnickety. 

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22 minutes ago, WendyM said:

Maybe next season one of those restaurant software companies can be a sponsor and they can get rid of the paper tickets. But the training will be a nightmare! If these "servers" couldn't keep track of table numbers, they'll be hopeless on the computer.

I think it will be easier using the computer ,as they are probably using apps/touchscreen/etc in thier every day lives. To ask a 20-something to take out a pen&paper and scribble in a bunch of boxes , for the BOH to read and make orders is hard. Too old school.

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Assign waitress "Sally" tables Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie in the system during the FOH training - which includes learning which button to press. Since the menu  is limited (pick one of two appetizers, entrees, and dessert), all she has to do is touch the screen. Plus the sytem comes with a manual which might eliminate some chapters of the "book" the one chef wrote with instructions. BOH gets the order and does their mission. Runners go with correct food to the correct place.

Edited by sATL
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Just now, sATL said:

To ask a 20-something to take out a pen&paper and scribble , fo

None of those people looked to be in their 20s. The issue didn’t appear to have anything whatsoever with writing the information down but getting the right table numbers which would still be an issue with an electronic ticket system that still gets turned into paper tickets in the kitchen.

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17 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

None of those people looked to be in their 20s. The issue didn’t appear to have anything whatsoever with writing the information down but getting the right table numbers which would still be an issue with an electronic ticket system that still gets turned into paper tickets in the kitchen.

BOH doesn't use a board (ie big flatscreen) to show what to prepare for whom in restaurants now ?

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4 minutes ago, sATL said:

BOH doesn't use a board (ie big flatscreen) to show what to prepare for whom in restaurants now ?

That usually regulated to fast food and chain restaurants in the kitchen. None of the problems we saw would have been fixed with an electronic system.

Edited by biakbiak
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10 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

That usually regulated to fast food.

hmmm - I take a peek next time I am in a upscale restaurant. A kitchen display POS system does exist, though. I felt sorry for the one expediter chef (orange apron) who was constantly bent over looking at tickets and make sure the plate were correct. Having them at eye level would help.

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6 minutes ago, sATL said:

Having them at eye level would help.

In most restaurants they are at eye level but this wasn’t a restaurant and wasn’t set up for individual tickets which isn’t typically necessary at large event spaces.

Yes, BOH display systems exist but they are expensive and have a lot of issues (maintenance, training, customizing to the needs of a restaurant, space, etc.) that paper tickets don’t have 

Edited by biakbiak
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I thought Padma looked like a bangin' weird insect from Star Trek when she first appeared.

I had only seen chicken ballotine on Pepin's show, where it was the whole chicken deboned and stuffed.  Brian's looked like a stuffed breast.

Forget asking the SAG cardholders if they'd ever served at a restaurant.  Ask them if they've ever been to one.

I felt bad for Nini getting the boot for FOH.  I remember thinking the same years ago when another chef who had been doing well was booted the same way (I forget her name, of Indian extraction I think).  It's Top Chef, not Top Server.

My DVR cut off early, where are they next week?

Edited by Totale
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6 minutes ago, Totale said:

remember thinking the same years ago when another chef who had been doing well was booted the same way (I forget her name, of Indian extraction

Radhika Desai season 5 in NY.

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