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Finally—the final five! On this week's extended episode, the chefs learned about their roots and prepared meals that represented their heritages. The food was all fabulous—but not as fabulous as Mike Isabella in pink spandex. Oh yes. It's all ahead in this week's recap!
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
This week's totally ridiculous Quickfire took place on a ferry boat to Ellis Island. The final five had to assemble a dish using only ingredients found on the ferry's snack bar. Tiff made nachos in the microwave and Antonia made a sandwich on the grill. Blais cooked some hot dogs in MRE (meal ready to eat) bags, which he conveniently happened to have stashed away in his knife kit. Say it with me: "Of course he did."
Meanwhile, Mike Isabella made the nastiest ferry food known to man: BREAD SOUP. He shredded hot dog buns, covered them with water and sour cream, and mashed it all together until it turned into a disgusting clumpy mess. Even Mike agreed it was disgusting, and said he wouldn't serve the dish to his cat. Good, because I"m thinking that would have bordered on animal abuse.
The judge for the challenge was Dan Barber, a chef who has a previous relationship with Richard Blais. Yay for impartiality! Blais thought he had the win in the bag, but Dan and Padma ultimately decided that Carla had the best dish of the day. She made an orange and papaya salad with carrot and rosemary juice, and it was definitely innovative considering the limited resources at her disposal on that ferry.
Once they landed on Ellis Island, Padma had a surprise for the chefs: their families! Carla was joined by her husband (true story: they met on Match.com when he was searching for women over 5'10") and Richard was joined by his lovely wife. Tiff, Antonia, and Mike Isabella's adorable mothers were also there.
Top Chef actually hired a genealogist to trace each family's ancestry. It was a cute idea in theory, but it didn't translate well to the screen. We had to endure 30 minutes of each chef staring at photos of their grandparents and deceased relatives, and it painfully dragged on for what felt like an eternity. We did learn that Mike Isabella and Antonia might be very, very distant cousins. That, and Mike Isabella really knows how to rock pink spandex.
For the elimination challenge, the chefs were asked to create dishes that represented their heritages. Carla made grits using liquid nitrogen, Tiff made shortribs and oxtail marmalade, and Antonia/Isabella paid homage to their Italian ancestry with veal, risotto, and gnocchi. Blais made liquid nitrogen-braised shortribs with pickled glasswort. For posterity's sake, this is the face Blais made when he said the word "GLASSWORT":
The chefs served Tom, Padma, Gail, and their families, and every dish looked absolutely delicious. The next 20 minutes were like one big episode of the Brady Bunch; everything was perfect! There wasn't one negative comment during the entire tasting portion of the show. Everyone loved everything, and sadly, I found the utopian-ness of it all to be mind-numbingly boring. Where's Bourdain when you need him?
The judges called all the chefs back, and swiftly declared that Antonia was the winner of the challenge. Her braised veal stood out above the rest—and the dish earned her a spot in the finals and a brand new 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Not too shabby!
Padma announced that the finals would be held in the Bahamas, and sent Antonia and Mike Isabella to safety. She then did her best to breathe some excitement into this otherwise tired show by saying: "Richard... please pack your knives... YOU'RE GOING TO THE BAHAMAS!" Oh Padma. You jokester you. Richard picked up his bowels, which he had just finished emptying onto the floor, and joined Antonia and Mike Isabella back in the waiting room.
And so, it was down to Carla and Tiffany. But in the end, the judges said the decision was "too hard" and NO ONE WAS ELIMINATED! It was a Top Chef cop out! I hate when they do that!
What did you think of the episode? Did you think someone should have been sent packing?
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