Recap: Top Chef All-Stars, Episode 14, Island Fever
We've whittled our way down to the final four on Top Chef: All Stars! This week, the chefs bagged their own conch and cooked on a deserted island. Padma showed up in a bikini, Richard showed off his swimming skills, Mike Isabella went topless, and someone was sent packing!
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
This week's very brief Quickfire challenge was all about consistency and precision. The chefs worked in pairs (the girls versus the guys) and were tasked with making 100 identical dishes in one hour. Or as Richard Blais calls it: "Stuff I do for fun on a Saturday night."
Richard and Mike made pork bolognese with homemade pasta, while Tiff and Antonia made seared beef tenderloin salads. The guys thought they had the win in the bag, but Padma and guest judge Lorena Garcia disagreed. They gave the win to the girls, based on consistency and flavor. They each took home $5,000.
The Elimination Challenge
The chefs headed to the dock, where they were met by the lovely Padma in a bikini. She told them they'd be incorporating conch into a meal in celebration of the Nassau Yacht Club's 80th anniversary, and the theme would be "deserted island." The gang piled into a boat driven by the ghost of Sammy Hagar, and they were off.
Everything they could possibly need to create a wonderful island meal was waiting for them on the beach. That is...except for the conch. The chefs were forced to don snorkel gear and collect their own conch from the ocean floor. The only person who really struggled with the task was Blais. Even thought they were only in 3 feet of water, he said the conch were "too deep for his swimming skills." Wow. Let's hope no one ever leaves him unattended in the shallow end of the swimming pool. Somebody get that man some bright orange arm swimmies—stat!
The chefs spent the next 20 minutes hammering the hell out of their conch shells to extract the meat. Mike Isabella was the only one who thought to boil them so they'd loosen up and come out more easily. Smart move, Isabella. Now please, run along and put a shirt on.
The chefs didn't have electricity or running water, and cooked over an open flame using only pots and pans. It was windy, and they had a hard time maintaining the temperature of the fire, but overall they did a great job with the limited provisions they were given. Tom noted that there wasn't a grain of sand on any of the plates, which was truly an impressive accomplishment.
The best dish of the night went to Mike Isabella. He made a banana leaf-wrapped grouper with braised pineapple and conch vinaigrette. The judges congratulated him, and then he disappeared into the back room to drink a beer by himself and fantasize about Padma's string bikini-covered breasts. Or as he calls it: "Stuff I do for fun on a Saturday night."
Blais made pasta noodles out of sweet potatoes—a creative move which probably saved him from elimination. He was spared, even though he served undercooked lobster to one of the judges. Here on the internet, we call that a MAJOR FAIL.
Antonia moved on as well. Her red snapper with conch tartar, while conventional and somewhat predictable, was bursting with flavor.
The judges ultimately decided to send Tiffany home. She made a conch and coconut chowder, but the soup was cold by time it made it to the dining table. The dish wasn't bad; Tiff just got out-cooked.
What did you think of this week's episode? Are you happy with the final three? And who do you think has the chops to win it all?
If you thought this week was exciting, wait until next week! Here's some breaking news from Tom Colicchio's twitter: