Recap: Top Chef All-Stars, Episode 13, Fit For A King
This week on Top Chef All-Stars, the final 5 headed to the Caribbean and prepared food for Bahamian royalty. They competed against their old rivals and narrowly avoided setting an entire kitchen on fire along the way.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
The chefs made their way to Fort Charlotte in the beautiful Bahamas, where they were met by some familiar faces: their previous Top Chef competitors! Padma explained that the finalists would be cooking head to head against the people who won their particular seasons, using a secret ingredient that Tom Colicchio picked out for them. To put it another way, it was basically like a mini-episode of Iron Chef, minus Kevin Brauch and a giggly Asian judge.
Tiff ended up beating Kevin with her pork stew, and Mike Isabella beat Mr. "not looking too happy to be here" Michael Voltaggio with his cashew-dusted spiced duck breast. Carla lost to Hosea because her rice was undercooked, and Antonia lost to Stephanie Izard because her veal was too tough. However, a scruffy Richard Blais—who is apparently now homeless and/or without access to running water—beat Stephanie with his seared veal loin. Of course he did.
The winners each took home $10,000, while the losers walked away with nothing but the memory of a tanned Michael Voltaggio sporting his new Justin Bieber-esque haircut. Hey, that has to count for something, right?
Padma called the chefs over, and told them they would be cooking for "Bahamian royalty." Naturally, the chefs all had visions of grandeur and were envisioning lavish kitchens and exquisite table settings. They immediately started coming up with sophisticated, worldly recipes that would impress even the most sophisticated palate.
BUT NOT SO FAST! It was a huge "Debbie Downer" moment for them when they, instead, pulled up to the Bahamian equivalent of an Outback Steakhouse and found out they were serving the King of...JUNKANOO (also known as a guy with a really expensive feathered hat).
After a few minutes of Mike Isabella doing the white man's overbite with good ol' Percy Francis, they headed inside to prepare the food. The kitchen was not very modern, and only came equipped with a flat top, a microwave, and a fryer that almost SET THE ENTIRE RESTAURANT ON FIRE. Antonia noticed it was smoking, and just when she said, "We need to tell someone about this," the entire thing went up in flames. The whole kitchen was moments from blowing up, but no one wanted to leave. Everyone was like, "I'd rather die in a horrific fire than have to prep this veg again!"
Unfortunately, everyone had to be evacuated and the Bahamian fire department ruined all the food with the chemicals they used to put out the fire. Tom Colicchio broke the news to the chefs that they had to re-prep and re-cook all of their food. Understandably, no one was very happy. If only Blais packed his liquid nitrogen, the whole issue could have been curtailed! Oh, wait. What am I saying. He didn't even pack a comb. Nevermind.
And so, several hours later, the judges—and the king of Junkanoo—piled into a cozy booth and sampled the food from the tired chefs:
Overall, the judges were very underwhelmed by the dishes prepared during the elimination challenge. No one really "wowed" them, especially considering they had extra time to tweak their dishes because of the fire.
The judges gave the win to Mike Isabella. Eric Ripert said it was the "most harmonious and well executed" dish of the day. Tom loved the sauce, even though I thought the froth made it look like someone just spit all over it (can the whole froth/foam trend just die already, please?!).
Blais was the runner up this week. He took a moment to feel sorry for himself for coming in 2nd place before heading back stage to celebrate with Mike.
Antonia, Tiff, and Carla all turned in sub-par dishes this week. Antonia's shrimp were overcooked and her grits were watery, and Tiff's pork was too simple and too dry. But in the end, the judges sent Carla Hall home. Her fried pork medallion with sweet potato purée was just too sweet—and more importantly, she served raw pork to Gail. I'll miss watching Carla, but hey. This is Top Chef All-Stars, and you just can't make mistakes like that at this stage of the game.
What did you think of the episode? Was it Carla's time to go?