On Top Chef: All-Stars, Carla steps it up while Jamie wimps out.
While the Top Chef All-Stars crew is still reeling from the loss of Dale L. and Stephen last week, they've got no time to mourn. With 14 chefs remaining, it's time for the next Quickfire challenge -- and it seems simple enough: classic, all-American stuffing.
Of course, there's a catch. The judges -- including guest judge (and Top Chef Masters vet Tony Mantuano, of the four-star Chicago Thai restaurant Spiaggia -- have taken away their culinary tools, from knives to spatulas to even spoons. Ouch. This is going to hurt.
For their troubles, they'll earn immunity and $20,000. Worth it?
Hell yeah. It's really funny to watch these finely trained professionals trying to cut bacon or dice onions with the edge of a bowl. It's all about inventiveness and improvisation, and it's interesting to see what refined concoctions these chefs can come up with despite not having the right tools. Or any tools for that matter.
But Carla's quinoa disaster can't be blamed on the right tools. She knows black quinoa takes more time to cook than she's got. So when Chef Mantuano asks why her dish is al dente, she's not surprised. He suggests pouring milk over it in a cereal bowl to make it "delicious."
Tre's Southwest stuffing -- a refined riff on what he made for his family Thanksgiving last year -- with a spicy but well-balanced mix is the big winner. Marcel's also "tasted great," but Tre's takes the prize.
So Tre scores $20 grand -- and immunity -- which he calls "pretty awesome."
The Elimination Challenge -- all about the U.S. Open this week -- divides the chefs into two teams, orange and yellow. Now for a game of "culinary tennis."
Team Orange is Carla, Mike, Fabio, Richard, Dale T., Antonia and Marcel. Team Yellow is Casey, Spike, Tiffany, Tiffani, Tre, Jamie and Angelo, who spends most of the challenge scrambling for some fish.
The two teams will be serving up dishes head-to-head, and whichever dish wins earns that team a point. The team with the most points at the end wins.
This one is rough, because the team members really have to collaborate to present a unified course-by-course play-by-play. And they have to do it while creating a healthy, high-energy line-up.
Of course, during the process, there are casualties, Carla slices open her finger. But instead of whining and heading off stitches (I'm looking at you, Jamie), she bandages it up and puts on a rubber glove for protection, then gets back to work.
Okay, food porn time. Here's the play-by-play:
First up is Casey's pork loin and faro salad, which goes up against Fabio's whole wheat gnocchi. Fabio takes the first point for Team Orange.
The second act is Tiffani's sashimi of black bass, which wins one for Team Yellow against Dale T.'s edamame dumpling with carrot broth.
Then there's Angelo's smoked fish, up against Marcel's cauliflower couscous with tuna. Angelo takes it for Team Orange.
Up next is Tiffany's spicy tuna with lentil salad versus Antonia's scallop with lentil puree. Antonia takes it for Team Orange.
Next up is Spike's tomato tamarind soup with shrimp served up against Richard's Thai lamb with herbs. Spike's super-worried, because he's had other chefs, like Angelo, adjusting the flavor of his soup. He's not owning it. And he was served up in place of Jamie, who wasn't ready with her undercooked chick peas. Richard's scores for Team Orange.
Then there's Tre's salmon up against Carla's African ground-nut soup. Carla takes it for the win with her confidence and a spicy soup that earns praise from judge Gail Simmons. (But luckily Tre has immunity, so no worries for him.)
Team Orange so rocked it that Jamie and Mike don't even have to compete. Jamie lucked out big time because she knows her chickpeas weren't gonna rock it.
So the top chefs of this line-up are Richard, Fabio, Carla and Antonia. Carla, who put her self out there when everyone said she was taking too big a risk (and sucked it up despite the sliced finger), ends up scoring a big trip to Italy. Yay Carla, go Carla!
Meanwhile, back in the green room, Richard is calling Jamie out on her repeated bailings. She doesn't want to hear it though. But while they're arguing, the bottom four are called. Sadly, someone's got to go. Rounding up the bottom four are Tre, Spike, Tiffany and Casey.
Not good news for Casey, who's already been in the bottom two twice. Spike's blaming everyone else for his "out-of-balance" service. Tom Colicchio says "too many other hands" got involved.
Alas, Spike's taking the fall this week, when the only reason he was served up for judging was to save Jamie, who's sitting pretty after bailing with her overcooked chick peas. To bad, he was a feisty one. And he let's Jamie have it before he signs off. Jamie, it's time for you to step up or step out of the way.
Do you think Jamie should have sucked it up and served her food? Or did Spike deserve to go home?
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