There are only 10 cheftestants left on this season of Top Chef All-Stars! And, considering who’s been eliminated, it could be anyone to go home next.
Carla promotes Girl Power since there are no girls left. Antonia reflects on the fact that everyone around her gets eliminated. Safe bet that neither of them gets eliminated if the producers have any say in that matter. No producer in his or her right mind would send home a woman right now.
The cheftestants march bravely into… Not the Top Chef kitchen? It’s a fancy restaurant (Le Bernardin) instead. With potted plants and glasses and everything! What could this mean? They find Anthony Bourdain, who extols the virtues of the restaurant and its butcher. Uh oh… Are they going to butcher?
Justo Thomas is the crazy cool fish butcher. If I knew anything about cleaning fish (which I don’t), this would probably be awesome for me. We’re just going to pretend to agree that he’s amazing though. Fancy restaurant patrons are apparently very picky about their fish. At those prices, I don’t blame them.
The cheftestants need to butcher and clean one cod and one fluke, more or less just like Justo Thomas. Except that they get 10 minutes instead of 8.
Lots of slimy fish guts are soon on view. Marcel points out that he’s allergic to fish (or he was, temporarily). That must suck for a chef.
Justo inspects the fish, mostly with positive comments. Carla’s not done, so he’s not impressed with her. Otherwise, he seems pretty pleased. Fabio, Carla, Tiffany and Antonia end up on the bottom. On the top are Dale, Richard, Mike and Marcel.
Only one of the top chefs gets immunity. And they get it by using the leftover bits of icky fish parts to make something that actually tastes good. The others get to rest, which seems like some sort of reward to me. But these are competitive types.
Crazy kitchen antics ensue. Marcel and Mike trade insults. Dale is happy, because he grew up with waste bit cooking.
The Quickfire Results:
- Richard has a Schnitzel of the Cod Belly, Ragout of Braised Collar and Fried Skin.
- Mike has Pan-Roasted Belly, Confit Cheeks, Charred Collar and Tomato Sauce,
- Dale has Fluke Back Fin Sashimi with Cucumber and Fluke Liver Sauce and Bacon Dashi with Salt-Roasted Cod Collar,
- Marcel has a Cod Mousseline, Yuzu Chili Oil Fluke Broth.
Waiting for the judges, the various chefs consider it a tight race. They like Richard’s flavors and textures, the lightness of Mike’s dish, the creativity and taste of Marcel’s dish and Dale’s variety. And the winner is… Dale!
He’s doing pretty good in this competition so far. He gets immunity for the upcoming…
They’re back in the Top Chef kitchen where Chef Ludo Lefebre is waiting to be the guest judge. I love how you can swear in foreign languages.
The challenge tonight is… Restaurant Wars! Everyone is very excited about this. Even though roughly half of them went home after a Restaurant War before. This time, they will all need to create a restaurant in 24 hours, “pop-up style.”
Dale is one team captain and has to choose the opposing team captain. He picks Marcel so that he (Dale) won’t have to work with him. Marcel is honored and happy about this. Marcel picks Angelo, Mike, Antonia and Tiffany. Dale picks Richard, Tre, Fabio and Carla. They pick Carla last? Weird, masochistic jerks.
This time, the diners are picking the winner, not the judges. This should be interesting. There is a lot of planning involved with this. And of course the ranks are restless more or less immediately. Marcel isn’t much of a leader in this situation. Shocker there.
Dale’s team is doing a restaurant called “Bodega,” with a bodega theme. The idea seems to be to have convenience store/bodega stuff. Only fancy.
Marcel’s team argues about the name. And theme. And whatever else they can think of. It’s a Mediterranean theme anyway.
They will be cooking at The Foundry, with 5 hours to prep. It’s a pretty cool outdoor cooking. Of course, Tom has to come bug them in the middle. Marcel blows him off, not without justification. Tom wonders about whether non-bodega food fits in the bodega theme. Tom also announces the little news that only one person will win, and the prize is $10,000. No pressure there.
Everyone on Marcel’s team is yelling and screaming and insulting. Dale’s team is silent. Time to serve the food… Carla and Antonia wish each other good luck. They’re nice.
The general public? There are ringers from food magazines. Of course.
Things start to get difficult when the diners begin to send the food back. And then the complaints roll in repeatedly. The judges, who supposedly don’t count, show up too. They comment a lot, as they are judges. They like the service at Bodega, thanks to Fabio. They have to wait for Tiffany and see her as disorganized, so Fabio’s probably going to win this. Basically, she’s in trouble.
- Dale has a Bag of Potato Chips with Fried Herbs and Sea Salt.
- Richard has Raw Tuna Belly and Fried Chicken Skin with Chilies and Lime.
- Dale has Bacon, Egg and Cheese with Homemade Foccacia.
- Richard has Chicken-Fried Codfish and Brussels Kraut.
- Tre has Pork Shoulder, Grits with Cheddar Cheese with Corona and Lime Sauce.
- Fabio has Amaretto Cake with candied Lemon Peel and Cappuccino Mousse.
- Carla has Blueberry Pie with Dry Milk Ice Cream.
At Whatever They Called the Mediterranean-Themed Restaurant (edited to note that it was called Etch):
- Tiffany has Frisee and Shaved Asparagus Salad with Egg and Chorizo.
- Angelo has Crudo of Fluke, Grapes, Pink Peppercorns and Lemon Zest.
- Marcel has Roasted Monkfish with Kalamata Olives, Pepperonata and Parsley.
- Mike Braised Pork Belly and Octopus with Cannellini Beans.
- Antonia has Ricotta Gnudi, Braised Oxtail Ragout, Arugula and Lemon Zest.
- Mike and Angelo have Slow-Cooked Lamb Chop , Cauliflower Puree, Turmeric and Honey.
- Marcel has Duo of Peaches: Unripened Peach and Sweet Peach with Coconut Foam and Powder.
The teams now await their fate in the Storage Closet of Doom.
Team Etch goes out to the judges’ table first. But uh-oh… twist! They’re actually the losers. Only 17 out of 76 diners picked Etch as the favorite.
The judges critique the lack of organization. Angelo’s crudo was too complicated and not Mediterranean enough. Mike’s pork belly had not quite enough flavor. Antonia’s sauce was too salty and sticky. The judges question the foam and point out a lack of flavor and texture. Nobody liked Marcel’s dessert. Tiffany’s flavors were not strong enough.
They also critique Tiffany’s front-of-house work, which she throws back to the kitchen. So they have to explain kitchen arguments, which makes Marcel look awful. He and Mike go at it yet again. Everyone gets in on it…
Now it’s time for the winning Team Bodega. Hopefully, Richard hasn’t had a heart attack yet.
The judges loved the potato chips, which brings lots of praise for Richard (from everyone). They loved Fabio’s front-of-house and dessert. Dale’s egg dish makes Tony happy. They loved Tre’s flavor. Carla’s dessert worked perfectly with the others. But the winner is… Richard! Way to win on potato chips!
So which of the Etch cheftestants are doomed to go home? The loser is… Marcel. He is shocked by this. No one else is.
What do you think? Did Marcel deserve to go home? Did Tiffany dodge a bullet? How happy do you think the other cheftestants are now? Leave your comments below!
(Image courtesy of Bravo)