Friday, January 14, 2011

Top Chef All-Stars – Things Get Fishy

Top Chef All-Stars - We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Marcel is talking smack about Dale. Dale says (to us) that Marcel is lucky that he (Dale) took anger management training. He does seem a bit calmer in between all the beeped out talk about Marcel. Tre agrees that Marcel is a pain, although that wasn’t the word he used.

The chefs have to wake up at 4:30 am and they get to the Top Chef kitchen and find a note telling them that they’re going to Montauk and they realize they’re going fishing.

Tiffani is excited. Actually, most of them are excited. Padma (in white short shorts and Tom (NOT in short shorts) greet them and say there’s no Quickfire this week, just a double elimination. They have 5 hours to catch as many fish as they can and then cook them for 200 people on the beach.

This is the one challenge where it’s a good thing that they’re working in teams, because what if one person gets incredibly boat sick, catches no fish because he or she is hurling off the side of the boat and feels sick the rest of the day?!! Oh sorry, I guess we’re not talking about me.

They’re working in 4 teams of 3 people each. Dale is relieved that Marcel is not on his team. Two teams each go out on two boats. Angelo hates the water and is terrified of sharks and is not looking forward to the whole thing. (I’m SO with him. Those little boats rock around a lot. Plus I didn’t know you had to be able to fish to be called a chef.)

Fabio says his dad was on Italy’s National Team. There's a National FISHING Team? Who knew?

Richard is relieved that his teammate Fabio knows so much about fishing. They start to bond a lot. Dale is also an experienced fisherman. Not Carla. Dale gets one after 5 minutes. Antonia catches a huge one for her team of Jamie and Tiffani. There seem to be professionals on board who are reeling the fish in and taking them off the hook.

Fabio still hasn’t caught anything after an hour or two and he says they’ll need to be there until midnight to catch as many fish as they need.

Finally Fabio and Mike catch some fish. There are a few “jokes” about rods. Dale on the other boat catches a huge striped bass. Antonia says it looked like a dragon.

Marcel and Richard decide that they should make only one dish with lots of components. Fabio likes that idea, because if they’re on the bottom it will be hard for the judges to decide who should go home.

Antonia says she now understands what’s so great about fishing. Dale says he had the best day ever and he hopes his dad will be proud. Frankly, I’M feeling in need of a little Dramamine.

They shop at a farmer’s market. Angelo says the market will dictate the dishes they make.

Richard and Fabio are having a bromance, says Antonia. They’re the odd couple. “It’s like the professor and the…strange, Italian immigrant,” she says.

Carla says bluefish is considered a trashy fish, but she has two of them, so she has to go with them.

Jamie says she’s excited about the challenge because it’s about using what’s available and that’s how she likes to cook. Tiffani says Jamie is the weak member of their team. Antonia and Tiffani both try to keep their distance from her.

They go back to the apartment. Wait a sec, so they’re not cooking the fish that day?!! The fish is going to be a day old? That’s doesn’t make ANY sense.

The next day they arrive at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City. Angelo says it’s beautiful and the view OF Manhattan is even more beautiful than the view FROM Manhattan.

They show Jamie complaining, yapping and whining the whole time. Tre says it’s like having a baby in the background. Are they setting us up for her going home…finally?

Carla gives us an anatomy lesson of a blue fish and says you have to remove the dark and bitter blood line. Marcel and Richard make Fabio the prep chef and he’ll be the one charming the diners, while the other two cook. Richard gets a bit manic, even with his boyfriend Fabio. He’s constantly nagging Fabio to get stuff done. Mike says “Fabio’s taking a little beating from his brotha Blais.”

They’re all working and Tom shows up. He spooks various chefs with his remarks. He questions Fabio’s team about making only one dish. Tom and Mike share a moment when they both agree how great it is to go from fishing right to the market to get everything fresh. (Too bad, the fish were caught yesterday…)

Dale gets almost sentimental when he tells Tom he’ll remember the moment he caught his huge fish forever. Tom says Cool. He questions Dale not making his own tortillas. Oy. They can’t do everything. Tom gives Tiffani the stinkeye about how she’s cooking her bluefish, but she has to carry on.

After listening to Richard’s incessant nagging, Fabio says (to us), “You won’t get faster done, if you keep asking.” Richard is worried that they’re succotash is overworked. Does anyone even LIKE succotash?

The chefs are all super-friendly as they feed the hordes of people who come by.

Padma, Gail, Tom and guest judge, Chef Kerry Heffernan, arrive. Tom says he knows more about fish than anyone he knows.

Dishes are here.

Gail nicely asks Dale if he’ll serving the fish they’ve been hearing about? He smiles widely. Gail says the beans in Richard’s and Fabio’s and Marcel’s dish are a bit overcooked. Padma and Kerry agree that the dish didn’t need the jamon foam, which seems to be Marcel’s trademark.

They all love Dale’s fish taco and Carla’s lettuce wrap. Kerry likes Tre’s sautéed dish.

Jamie sears her fish and the skin sticks to the pan.

Tiffany, Mike and Angelo’s pickled blue fish is a hit. Gail disses their striped bass dish (a bit), but Tom seems to cut her off (a bit) and says the fish is cooked well.

Tom says Jamie’s fish is underseasoned. Kerry does like her cucumber water on its own, but says the dish didn’t need that element.

Kerry says Antonia was brave to use porgy in her po’ boy. Tiffani’s blue fish dish was crude, Kerry says.

The judges sit down after dinner and dish about the food. They agree that the chefs had a great time. Tom says, “When you kill it, you have respect for it.” I guess that’s the hard cold truth.

We see Jamie telling her teammates that she heard people saying their food was the favorite. We see Richard talking to Fabio, saying when Jamie cooked her food for the judges it was train wreck.

Back at judges’ table, they want to see Tiffany, Tre, Angelo, Dale, Mike and Carla. They begin to breathe when Padma says they were on the winning teams. THEN she says that the winner will get a trip to Amsterdam. Well, then, how come my Dale, who won last week, WON NOTHING?!! That kind of stinks.

They liked Mike’s team’s escabeche. Gail says the diners went crazy for Dale’s taco. (Of course, they did.) Kelly says, “This is the kind of food you want to eat in this environment.”

Carla says she wanted to do something representative of New York. Tom says her take on smoked fish and bagel was brilliant. And the winner is…Carla. She wins a trip to Amsterdam. She is super-thrilled. She comes out to the stew room rejoicing.

Marcel says, “Sorry, if I’m not super ecstatic right now, but that means we’re on the bottom.” What a buzz kill!

He makes Carla feel really bad that she celebrated so much. The other chefs assure her that was okay and that she’s there to win. She looks so sad. Carla, you did so well! You deserve to hoot about it.

Let’s get down to it. Gail asks why Richie’s team decided to do only one dish together. He says in previous challenges they were told they didn’t operate that well as a team and so this time they wanted to fix that. Brown-noser. Tom says, “You really hung your hat on one thing.” Fabio grimaces. Tom laughs when Fabio says it was team dish and Richard asked him 30 times in 10 minutes about finishing the corn purée. Tom says (smirking), “Was there a trust issue there?” Fabio shakes his head no, strongly. The judges thought it was too heavy, too muddled.

They tell Antonia that if she had been on another team with better dishes, SHE would have going to Amsterdam. They move on to Jamie, who says she wanted to do something really light. The judges say it was just watery. Tom says everything tasted bland. Gail says it was washed out. “There was juiciness, but there wasn’t flavor. “

Kerry tells Tiffani there MAY have been too much of the bloodline in her bluefish dish. Tom says he’s being too kind. Whenever the bloodline is left on, the dish is fishy and strong.

For no reason, they start asking Antonia about the other two dishes on her team, as if it were HER problem that they were bad. Padma intimates that she should have said something. She actually starts crying again, just like last week.

Padma says, “Do you feel at all as if you could have helped your teammates?” Witch! Leave Antonia alone. Their dishes stank, hers didn’t. End of story.

They send them back out. The judges confer. Tiffani’s dish showed no refinement or finesse, says Kerry. Tom says Jamie’s was too refined. They go back in. And it’s…probably it will be Tiffani and Jamie…and IT IS! This week I don’t feel as strongly about Jamie leaving, although she probably deserved to.

Tiffani says to us that she was very different from who she was on Season one and she just wanted to enjoy herself this season. Jamie says SHE liked her dish and if they didn’t, then FINE! She says she’s bummed that there were two challenges she didn’t cook on and that they didn’t like this dish. But she wouldn’t change anything.

Read what Jamie has to say here about being misrepresented on the show? Does that change anything for you?

Various Housewives of NY always used to say that if you SAID it, you have to own it…no matter HOW it’s edited. That’s probably the best advice they’ve ever given.

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