Thursday, March 03, 2011

Top Chef All-Stars Episode Twelve Recap

This week, we start off with the chefs at their digs, discussing their future. Or at least what might happen today. Antonia says she thinks that Padma is coming to the apartment, and sure enough, in a few seconds Padma appears at the apartment. Ooh...clairvoyant-y! (Amazing what one can predict after talking to the producers!)

Padma tells the recheftestants to meet her on the roof.  Every time I see reality show contestants on a roof, I'm hoping 1) someone will get tossed off; 2) Tim Gunn will be there. Unfortunately, neither happen this time. Instead, after admiring the view, Padma tells them they are headed to Ellis Island, where DoucheyMike is being deported back to New Jersey.

Just throw him off the roof already.

The recheftestants board the ferry Miss Thang, and head to the snack bar area where they find a note from Padma. First she shows up at the apartment but won't talk to them until they hit the roof, where her message is cryptic at best, then the chefs have to find out the real challenge via a piece of paper. Poor communication skills on Padma's part? Possibly. But really, all of this is to waste as much time as possible since this is a dreaded SUPERSIZED episode, with an additional 3 minutes of actual show and 12 minutes of commercials!

#@$%*@$!! Don't they know I need my damn beauty rest?

Anyhoo, their Quickfire Challenge is to create a dish using only the junk food at the snack bar - hot dogs, chips, nacho cheese goop etc.

The dish must be completed in the time it takes the ferry to reach Ellis Island. Both starting and ending times will be indicated by the ship's horn; unfortunately, there's no timer so the chefs have no idea exactly how long they have to cook.

Even if the trip lasts five minutes, there's puh-lenty of time to throw DoucheyMike overboard.

Because Blais seems so cranky through the entire episode, I think he's still annoyed at Chicken Oyster-gate. And wouldn't you be?

Once the horn sounds, the chefs jump over the counter and start grabbing Ho-Hos and Doritos and "cooking" with them. Since there are nacho fixings, Tiffany strains her imagination and makes straight-up nachos after which she feels a little stupid/guilty and makes popcorn with bits of dried fruit. Blais channels Angelo and makes a take on a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with hot dogs, beef jerky, and pork rinds. Mike is making a vomity-looking "soup" with smushed up hot dog rolls, cheese, and sour cream. Antonia is making a Frankensandwich by taking bread from one pre-prepared sandwich and pairing it with cheese from another and "toasting" it on the hot dog grill. And Carla is eschewing the junk food completely and creating a salad of fresh oranges with papaya and a carrot and rosemary infusion.

Once the chefs reach the island, Padma boards with their guest judge, Dan Barber of Blue Hill. I swear, he gets more skeletal every time we see him. After tasting the wares, Carla's dish is called the winner, which makes Blais bitter. Bitterer.

Next we see them all on the island, where Padma gives them a spiel about ancestors and immigrants and America the Beautiful and huddled masses and that sort of crap. She then says that Bravo hired a genealogy expert to research the recheftestants' heritage (and check FBI records, that sort of thing, completely routine) so they know exactly from whence they came, as the Elimination Challenge will involve cooking a dish that reflects their ethnic background.

At first glance, I can tell you there are two Italians, two African-Americans who more than likely descended from slaves in the South, and one Irish/English mutt. Damned if I wasn't right. I should have been a genealogist!

Padma then brings out some family members with whom the chefs can pore over their histories and weep: Tiffany's, Antonia's, and Mike's mothers, and Carla's and Blais' spouses.

Blais seems more than happy to see his pregnant wife, Jazmin, and he gets all huggy and kissy. It's really kind of cute. I've been a fan of his since the first episode of season 4, and I like even more after seeing him being so loving and deferential with his wife. Carla and her hubby, Matt, are also delighted to see each other. They are a really handsome and elegant couple and Matt seems like a very nice guy. As for the other three - seeing moms always bring tears, and also maybe some embarrassing tidbits. We find that Mike was a bit of a handful growing up without a father figure, and turned to cooking as a way of staying out of jail. We also find that he and Antonia are cousins, related by a common relative from about a century ago. Suddenly they go from being mortal enemies to BFFs, which gags me a little bit.

There's plenty of hate in my heart to compensate.

The recheftestants take the ferry back and hit the Whole Foods before heading home. There they continue to peruse their FBI files genealogical records and find a photo of Mike at the age of about five or six wearing hot pink spandex during a dance performance. I guess his mother really wanted a girl.

The next morning, they find a DVD and a key to a Toyota Highlander. They pile into the car and watch the DVD. Unfortunately, it's not porn, food or otherwise, but only Padma, fully clothed, telling them that the winner of this challenge will win the Highlander. Squealing ensues. Except from Blais, who is BITTER.

At the venue, they have three hours to cook. Antonia is taking a risk and making risotto to go with her braised veal. Mike is celebrating his Italian heritage by making his beloved dead nana's gnocchi, a dish that he never cooks because it reminds him of his beloved dead nana. Who is beloved. And dead.

Tiffany has gone all southern and makes short ribs, mustard greens, and something called an oxtail marmalade which sounds really delicious. Carla goes the southern route as well by making braised pork shoulder with both grits and cheddar biscuits. And the Irish/English mutt Blais makes meat (short ribs) and potatoes with fried bone marrow, corn puree, and pickled glasswort (also called sea beans or salicornia; from experience I can tell you that they are salty buggers - and maybe BITTER).

Outside, we see the judges (Padma, Tom, Dan Barber, and Gail) arrive and sit at a long table with the cheftestants' relatives.

Mike serves first; his mother pronounces his gnocchi "better than grandma's." Antonia's risotto is a big hit, so the cousins are safe.

Tom does not like okra, but Tiffany decides that he will like her okra. And he does, along with the rest of the dish.

Blais feels the pressure cooking for his wife. It's his wife, he should have cooked for her before, don't you think? His shortribs were called "all right" by Tom, and my heart sunk before Tom added "all right, not 'alright'." Everyone can tell that Blais is BITTER so they're playing with him.

Before Carla's food comes out, her husband Matt tells us that they met via and married about 8 months later. And her food is great, with lots of compliments for the grits and the passed basket of biscuits.

Later, back at the stew, Padma calls out all five chefs to Judges' Table.

Everything was delicious and roundly praised. The chefs are sent back to wait while the "very difficult decision" is made. Eventually the judges decide that Antonia is the winner, but who should go home? They bring the chefs out, give Antonia her car and congratulate her on making it to the finale which will be held in the Bahamas, and then tell Mike he's safe and going to the finale with his cousin.

After a long and tedious pause, Padma turns to Blais and says, "Richard, please pack your knives..." His face falls. She continues, "and go to the Bahamas!"

Padma is a heartless bitch. Hate her.

Richard goes back to the Stew to change his pants and Tiffany and Carla await their fate.

After another several minutes of commercials, we found out what I freaking knew for at least the last 25 minutes - that nobody was going home, and all five would be going to the finale. (Actually, I've known for longer but I can't tell you why just yet.)

So - next week - Bahamas! Stay tuned!


David Dust said...

Great recap, but you made a little error. The Miss Thang is a ferry that takes the "girls" over to Fire Island in the summertime. FYI.



Nanc Twop said...

rosemary infusion.

That's right - I must've missed a clue somewhere in the show - where the heck did Carla get that rosemary, anyway?

thanks for 'capping it for us :)

theminx said...

Nanc - from what I've read elsewhere - potato chips!

MoHub said...

From what I could glean from the extended Judges' Table, Richard was at greater risk of elimination than either Tiffany or Carla. Dan Barber had some relatively serious issues with Richard's plate.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
theminx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
theminx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Ellen Cummins said...

LOL about anyone thinking that Minx gives a rodent's rump about being popular. And I love sycophants; they are so pliable after becoming housebroken.

MoHub said...


If you don't like, don't read. As you yourself pointed out, there are plenty of other recap sites you can spend your time perusing.

Nanc Twop said...

Oh no, its gone!

Oh well, you make make a new one anytime you want. And this one can't type.


theminx said...

LOL, Nanc - cute!