Recap: Top Chef All-Stars, Episode 11, Paula Deen
And then there were six! This week on Top Chef, the finalists deep fried some southern food for Paula Deen and catered a fundraiser to benefit the Gulf Coast. Some familiar faces showed up to help, Paula Deen let the sexual innuendos fly, a bromance was re-ignited, a winning recipe was stolen, and it's all ahead in this week's recap!
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
Everyone was delighted to see Paula Deen in all her silver-haired, orange-skinned glory, standing in the Top Chef kitchen ready to eat some southern food! The Quickfire challenge was, of course, to deep fry something that would impress Paula. (What, were you expecting a vegetable challenge, y'all?)
Tiffany confidently fried up some chicken wings, and Dale whipped up some oysters and beef. Carla, on the other hand, struggled throughout the entire challenge. She breaded her fish and let it sit out too long before she fried it, which resulted in a dish more bland and disappointing than Julia Robert's last four movies.
In between making his trademark "constipated face", Blais actually found the time to deep fry mayonnaise. Let me repeat that, with capital letters for emphasis: THE MAN DEEP FRIED MAYONNAISE. I guess he had no other choice, since Paula Deen was all "been there, done that" with the whole fried butter thing. On the other hand, we're talking about a woman who pioneered eating burgers on Krispy Kreme doughnuts. How do you really top that?
In a related story, did you know that every time Richard Blais uses liquid nitrogen, God kills a kitten? Sad but true. Another one was sent to premature kitty heaven tonight, because Blais—of course—dipped the fried bits of food in liquid nitrogen before serving them. His "let me freeze this" schtick is now officially older and more played out than my VHS copy of Teen Witch.
After tasting, Paula decided that the worst dishes were prepared by Dale and Carla. Dale's oysters and beef had no flavor, while Carla's breading made her fish taste like heavy "spit balls." And really, who wouldn't want to eat a heaping bowl of that?
Mike Isabella's Quickfire dish was fraught with controversy. He made chicken oysters (the little piece of meat where the thigh attaches to the body) and served them on oyster shells. Great idea—but it wasn't his! Earlier that day, Blais showed him a recipe book filled with ideas he was waiting to use on the show—and one of the recipes was for the chicken oysters that Isabella made for the challenge.
Paula loved Antonia's fried shrimp salad. She would have been the winner, but unfortunately, she was disqualified because she only made one plate for the judges. Paula was forced to give the win to her second favorite dish, Mike Isabella's chicken oysters, by default. Mike won the Quickfire and walked away with $5,000.
Blais then spent the next 12 hours sulking about the fact that Mike used his recipe to win $5,000, but come on. It's his own fault. What Isabella did was not cool at all, but this is a competition. Why on Earth would you show your book of recipes to one of your competitors? That's like an NFL coach passing out copies of his playbook to the other team the night before the Super Bowl. Stupid move, Blais. You should have just frozen that recipe book in some of your stupid nitrogen and called it a day.
John Besh joined Paula and Padma in the kitchen to announce the details of the upcoming elimination challenge. John told the chefs they'd be cooking seafood for 300 people to benefit the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Because the task was so overwhelming, they brought back eliminated contestants Tiffany, Fabio, Tre, Marcel, Spike, and Angelo to act as their sous chefs.
The teams had 15 minutes to brainstorm before heading out to go shopping. It was uneventful, except for the part where Fabio told Richard Blais he "reminded him of his ex-wife." Wow. Those two need to get a room, because you can cut their sexual tension with a Ginsu knife. The good news is, you could then use that knife to cut a beer can in half and then perfectly slice a tomato.
For the most part, the elimination challenge was a hot mess. You know that old saying? Too many chefs in the kitchen? Well it definitely applied here. Tiffany and Marcel were constantly butting heads, and Carla was frustrated by city boy Tre's lack of knowledge about southern food. The task was a hard one, and the stress made many of the chefs unravel throughout the course of the evening.
Carla made grouper and collard greens, and the judges hated everything about it. "I'm kind of a bitch about my collard greens," Paula said, "and I don't like these at all." Carla did make one fundamental mistake: She didn't dip them in beer batter, fry them 'til they were golden brown, and serve them wrapped up burrito style inside a pepperoni pizza. Maybe next time.
The top dishes of the evening went to Antonia, Mike Isabella, and of course, Golden Child Richard Blais. Antonia's crab cakes were light and flavorful and Mike Isabella's grit-encrusted shrimp was clean and well executed. In the end, though, Richard Blais was the winner of the challenge. He took a risk by serving snapper with pulled pork, and it paid off because the judges loved it.
The worst dishes of the night went to Tiffany, Carla, and Dale. Tiffany served honey-glazed shrimp, but the glaze overpowered everything on the plate and it was just way too sweet. Poor Paula Deen was disappointed. She said she was excited when she saw Tiff's shrimp because she couldn't wait to start "suckin' that head", but the dish left her mouth wanting "something else." Now who else but Paula Deen could get away with letting a line like that fly on Top Chef?
Carla made grouper and collard greens, but covered them in enough mustard and hot sauce to choke a horse. Paula said none of it made sense, and the ingredients didn't compliment each other.
In the end, after a tough deliberation, the judges sent Dale home. He made an amberjack stew, complete with a watery broth and undercooked potatoes. He served it with a crouton that had way too much mustard on it. Guest judge John Besh called it "flavor warfare" and said you couldn't even taste the amberjack. Dale cried his eyes out, said he was going home a better chef, packed his knives, and hit the road.
And that brought another episode to an end! Were you as shocked by Dale's elimination as I was? As much as I love Carla, I thought it was her time to go. She screwed up the Quickfire dish, and tried to re-create it in the elimination challenge but failed miserably there too!