After a week’s break, Top Chef back! And so are nine of the cheftestants, down one Marcel this week.

The remaining cheftestants reflect sadly on the necessity of defeat. I doubt they’re very sad about Marcel leaving. The worry seems to come more from fears for self-preservation.

Entering the kitchen, the cheftestants see Padma and Isaac Mizrahi. Because that makes sense. Angelo, however, is extremely pleased about the guest. Fabio, less so. He seems to mostly be here because a) it’s fashion week and b) he has a show on Bravo.

For the Quickfire Challenge, they have to mix food and style. It’s all about presentation and stuff, because they’re not going to taste the dishes. They’re only going to look at them. This should make things a little different. The prize for beauty is immunity.

Carla was a model, so she’s good with the pretty stuff. Fabio likes to focus on flavor, as we have seen on early dishes. Richard points out that it’s tough to not think about eating it. Antonia’s not cooking at all, just making a model of The Giving Tree. Angelo wanted to be a food stylist. Of course he did. Mike thinks the kitchen has gotten weird. He’s not wrong.

Now for the food and the judgment:

  • Carla has Borscht and Sandwich with Lattice of Cucumber.
  • Tre has Smoked Salmon, Beets, Curry Noodles, Food Coloring.
  • Fabio has Tuna with a Sidewalk of Caramel, Mushroom Umbrellas and Lemon Juice.
  • Dale has Beet Puree, Cantaloupe, Maple, Syrup Meringue, Avocado and Mango.
  • Mike has Carrot Puree, Roasted Eggplant and Egg Yolk.
  • Richard has Black Chocolate Ice Cream, Menthol Crystals, Herbal Salad, Mint Ice Cream Dots.
  • Antonia has Yuca Potato, Lentils, Nuts and Seeds.
  • Tiffany has Almond Gazpacho, Grapes, Dirt Made from Rye Bread.
  • Angelo has Pineapple Skin, Curry Salted Egg and Dill.

At the bottom, Isaac puts Dale (bad colors), Tre (too simplistic) and Angelo (painting words is bad). He loved Fabio’s plate (he thought it was beautiful), Carla’s (a classic look) and Richard’s (“just incredibly beautiful”). Not shockingly, Richard wins! I’d actually consider eating that too. However scary “black chocolate ice cream” sounds.

The Elimination Challenge is going to be set in a New York restaurant so exclusive you have to inherit a table. I guess that explains why I’ve never been there. The cheftestants draw knives labeled with Italian “mob” names. Oh no, not mobsters. Turns out that they’re restaurant types: Frankie No and Junior (Frankie Pellegrino Sr. and Jr.) and Dino the Chef.

The restaurant (Rao) owned by these guys has been around for a century. And the cheftestants have to make an Italian for them and their families. They’ll have to make the three (only three?) traditional courses: antipasti, primi and secundi.

The Dino chefs get to make the antipasti, Junior chefs get primi dishes and Frankie No chefs do the secundi plates. They’ll be judged individually, which ought to make an awful lot of cheftestants happy.

For preparation, the chefs have lengthy discussions with the old Italian guys. Mike, Fabio and Antonia reminisce about being Italian. Tre claims to be Italian too.

In the kitchen, the cheftestants have two hours to prep. Antonia will be shamed if she fails. Dale has never cooked Italian food. Tiffany isn’t so impressed with Italian heritage. Mike doesn’t like being the favorite in the challenge.

Weirdly, the antipasti group is the three remaining women. They go first and share the love in the kitchen. It does seem a lot calmer in there without the boys. Even when Tiffany’s polenta catches fire. That can’t be good.

Out in the uber-Italian restaurant, the judges arrive, bringing Lorraine Bracco with them. I guess because she ate there one time before (as preparation for Goodfellas).

  • Carla has Minestrone Soup with Basil Oil, Tomatoes and Homemade Focaccia.
  • Antonia has Mussels with Fennel, White Wine, Garlic and Parsley Ciabatta.
  • Tiffany has Polenta Terrine with Italian Sausage, Roasted Peppers and Kale.

Time for the primi people. Tre, Mike and Dale cook like crazy while the judges go to town on the antipasti. Based on their reactions, it looks like the ladies will be safe tonight.

  • Mike has Spicy Calamari, Fresh Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce.
  • Dale has Fresh Pasta, Pancetta, Brussel Sprouts, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Pecorino Romano.
  • Tre has Grilled Vegetable Risotto, Marinated Tomatoes and Fresh Basil.

While the primi dishes get trashed in the dining room, the secundi chefs (Fabio, Richard and Angelo) run around the kitchen at marvel at Fabio’s inability to not be in a hurry.

  • Fabio has Pollo alla Cacciatorria, Polenta al Pecorino.
  • Angelo has Sauteed Pork Chop, Cherry Peppers, Green Olives, Tomatoes and Pancetta.
  • Richard has Fresh Pancetta Cutlet, Broccolini, Pickled Cherry Tomatoes.

In the Storage Closet of Doom, Mike spends quality time telling Tiffany that she didn’t really make an antipasti. Padma calls out Antonia, Carla, Fabio and Tiffany, and Mike spends time talking about how those who left made terrible dishes.

Alas for Mike, he’s wrong. They have the top dishes. The judges praise Tiffany’s use of sausage and polenta, Antonia’s leaving-alone of the ingredients, Carla’s parmesan in the soup and Fabio’s well-cooked chicken.

And the winner is… Antonia! Serving family-style totally won the night. Antonia’s father doesn’t have to disown her.

Now all of the primi dishes have to go out. But first they need to totally insult Antonia with not being even remotely happy for her win. Jerks.

Out at the judges’ table, Mike owns up to bad pasta, Dale gets told off for both pasta and sauce and Tre gets informed that his risotto was an utter failure.

And the loser is… Tre? Really? Wow, I could have sworn it would be Dale or Mike. Oh well, I guess bad risotto is bad risotto.

What do you think? Did the right cheftestant go home? Or should Mike or Dale have gone instead? Leave us a comment below!

(Image courtesy of Bravo)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.