'Top Chef All-Stars' Recap: Conch Out
'Top Chef All-Stars' Recap: Conch Out
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
It's the second week of the finals now. Which means we only have two or three more weeks of the finals to go! You know, when you think about it, it's not so final with so many weeks. But I guess it makes the Top Chef people happy.

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Anyway, only four of the cheftestants remain standing, and it's kind of a surprising four: Richard, Antonia, Mike and Tiffany. With the exception of Tiffany, who remains mostly by her singular talent of never, ever being the worst, each of the finalists has at least one win under their chef coat. The way things are going, the final winner could be anyone.

We're still down in the Bahamas, where the cheftestants mourn the loss of the beloved Carla. Antonia is, not surprisingly, still freaked out about her near miss. Mike, on the other hand, is pretty convinced he's awesome. Richard is stoic. Tiffany kind of misses Carla.

Enough of that! Back to the cooking in Paradise!

In the kitchen of the Atlantis, Lorena Garcia is waiting with Padma and big stacks of plates. It's the Quickfire Challenge! In a challenge focusing on "consistency and precision," the cheftestants have to divide into pairs to make 100 identical dishes in one hour. Padma and Lorena will pick random plates to taste, so no specialties for the judges this time.

Mike is afraid of Antonia and her "black hammer" curse, so the boys pair up. Mike insists this is because they're better than the others. Mike decides to make pasta again, despite how that worked out for him before. Meanwhile, Antonia and Tiffany happily go together for charred meat and stuff. Richard joins Mike in denigrating the female chefs.

  • Richard and Mike have Pork Bolognese with Fresh Macaroni and Pecorino Cheese.
  • Antonia and Tiffany have Beef Tenderloin Salad with Cilantro, Mint Basil and Chimichurri Sauce.

Both teams manage consistency, which makes the judges happy. Everyone seems to like the food too. But only one can win, and the winning team, getting $5000 for their efforts, is that of Antonia and Tiffany. Mike and Richard are less than impressed.

On to the Elimination Challenge now! The cheftestants need to provide dinner for the 80th anniversary of the Nassau Yacht Club. Maybe a good opportunity to bring out those royal dinners from the last episode? Not that it could be that easy. Instead, they're going to a desert island full of conch. Looks like lots and lots of conch for dinner!

Padma, looking like a Sports Illustrated photo, meets the cheftestants with a boat and Captain Andy. Captain Andy is decidedly less glamorous. They all pile into the boat, heading to the island and the beginning of the challenge.

They leap overboard to run onto the beach and open boxes of seafood, produce and... snorkeling gear. For this challenge, the typically land-bound cheftestants have to snorkel for their conch. Awesome. For us. Not them, of course. It kind of sucks for them.

The swimming seems fairly difficult. And is that how easy it is to find conch in the Bahamas? They look seeded or something. Then, it's time to contend with sand, a lack of liquid nitrogen and conch shells. Plus, they have to put on their black chef jackets midway through. That's just mean, Top Chef.

The boat arrives with fancy yacht people while the cheftestants continue to scramble along the beach. Then they go have wine. The colonial overtones of the wealthy white people being served by local-looking folk are interesting too... If I were a chef tonight, I'd probably poison dinner.

Oh, and then a storm is about to roll in.

  • Richard has Sweet Potato Linguine with Conch and Spicy Lobster.
  • Antonia has Red Snapper with Conch Tartare and Lobster Nage.
  • Tiffany has Conch and Coconut Chowder with Sweet Potatoes and Conch Ceviche.
  • Mike has Banana Leaf Wrapped Grouper, Braised Pineapple and Conch Vinaigrette.

We now retire to the Luxury Parlor of Doom for reflection and waiting for the judges. All too soon, it's time for the Judges' Table. The judges are very pleased at the lack of sand overall. I'm impressed by that too.

They like Antonia's flavors and cooking-style but are concerned about the conch size, doneness of some of the pieces and plainness of the concept. Antonia is pleased with the "plain" comments though, feeling like it fits her philosophy.

The judges rave about Richard's pasta (or not-pasta, as the case may be) and conch. His lobster was maybe undercooked, but they're not too concerned about that.

They loves the combination of Tiffany's ingredients but are concerned about the temperature of Tiffany's chowder (it was too cold).

Gail goes nuts over Mike's pineapple spices but dislike his use of butter. Butter is bad?

The judges nitpick their way to a decision. After the typical pause and dramatic music, the judges announce that the winner is... Mike! Great, just what his ego needs. Now for the loser... And Tiffany will be packing her knives to go home!

Ah, poor Tiffany. But I guess that's what happens when you sneak into the finals mostly on the basis of not losing. She had a good run this time!

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Do you think the right chef went home? Who do you expect to win now? Can Mike Isabella's ego or Richard Blaise's insecurity get any bigger? Leave us a comment with your opinion!

(Image courtesy of Bravo)



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