Fashionista Stephen knows how to rock a Chef coat.Here comes the drama. This week on Top Chef All-Stars, the contestants are annoyed that chef Jen got sent packing instead of Jamie, who bailed on last week's challenge because of a cut that required two stitches. Because apparently, better chefs have died right there on the challenge floor, rather than, you know, go get a Band-Aid.
They had bigger things to worry about. Like a quickfire challenge that had them prepping lamb in all of 15 minutes, all with top chef David Chang, owner of Má Pêche in New York, observing. Ouch. No easy job. They were working in groups of four, which should make things easier, right? Not. Richard, Tre, Stephen and Spike's crispy lamb -- served with artichoke in three ways -- took the Quickfire challenge rather, uh, quickly. And two teams did lamb carpaccio. Snooze.
Then it was time for the main event: the elimination challenge. And let's make this one a double.
The challenge here was to create a signature dish worthy of one of New York's finest restaurants: David Chang's aforementioned Má Pêche, Wylie Dufresne's wd~50, David Burke's Townhouse or Michael White's Marea.
But first, some research. The contestants were treated to a taste of the restaurants they'd be creating for. Lot's of irritation and insanity ensued as the chefs worked each other's last nerves, but Stephen was pretty much asking to be sent home with the airs he was putting on, all fashionista-like. At one point, he announced, "Marea is fine dining, suit and tie, something that I'm all about." Then he followed that statement up with, "Fashion has become like a major obsession of mine. Could be worse. It could be cocaine or heroin, so." Oh Stephen. Just. Shut. Up. Besides, shouldn't the focus here be more on the food. Because I know if I was eating at these four fab places, I wouldn't be worrying about what I was wearing. Unless I could score a bib.
Anyway, back to the point. So the Blue Team is sent to Marea, as mentioned, which does old school Italian.Tre's swordfish, Richard's crudo and Spike's seared branzino all good good reviews, but chef Michael White and the judges didn't love Stephen's salmon with black mission figs.
Team Green -- Angelo, Fabio, Tiffany and Mike, who did a tandoori lamb for Quickfire -- are sent to Má Pêche, which is David Chang's take on French-Vietnamese fusion. David and the gang liked Angelo's marinated fish and Mike's salmon and egglant, but Tiff's flounder crudo was bland. And Fabio's over-the-top combo of roasted lamb, hoisin bbq sauce, corn-tomato salsa, and lemongrass ricotta had them reeling just a bit.
Team Red, Jamie, Antonia, Casey and Dale L. (and one of the two carpaccio teams), goes to All-American Townhouse. Antonia's peas-and-carrots stole the show here, as chef David Burke said he might just put it on the menu. Casey's "scallibut" also rocked it, but Jamie's soup was a snore. But the worst of the bunch -- by far -- was blond Dale's roasted veal loin with peanuts, popcorn, French toast, corn, and thyme caramel. Eeeeeeew. Which is essentially how the judges felt, too.
And the other carpaccio team, team white, which is Carla, Marcel, Tiffani and Dale, go to wd~50. Here, Asian Dale cleverly figures out that gastrome Wylie Dufresne likes eggs, so he uses a lot of them in a delicious little sunny-side-up egg dumpling and scores the win -- plus a trip to New Zealand. Home of the aforementioned lamb. Which Marcel used for his tepid dish. The other two didn't fare much better. Tiffani's heirloom tomatoes were "murky," while Carla's poached shrimp were just safe.
Asian Dale, Angelo, Tre and Antonia were the top four, with Dale T. taking the prize, because he knew, as judge Anthony Bourdain put it, that Wylie Dufresne was "a notorious egg slut" -- and worked it to his advantage. So he scored the six-day New Zealand lamb adventure!
The bottom four were Fabio, Stephen, Tiffani, and blond Dale L. And two of them are going home. Not great odds guys. Fabio gets called out for lacking confidence is his dish, while Stephen's overwhelmed with it's overt aromatics. Tiffani got way to experimental and ended up with some watery crap, while Dale L.'s was this odd combo of breakfast topped with a slab of veal. my techniques, creating a watery dish. Dale's dish had too many components and was described as a breakfast dish with a slab of veal on top. "If your inspiration was the circus, we ended up with caramel popcorn and not much of a surprise," Tom Colicchio told him with disdain. Ouch.
Still, always-upbeat Dale L. couldn't get too down about it. "Maybe I'll come back for Top Chef 16: Seniors." See ya then.
Do you think Stephen and Dale deserved to be sent packing? Who are you rooting for this season on Top Chef All-Stars?
Image via Bravo TV