Last night's episode of Top Chef All-Stars featured a hyperspeed Quickfire Challenge, four of New York City's most prominent chefs and the last day in the kitchen for two unlucky contestants. Were you surprised by the outcome? Read on for our thoughts on the episode and a reveal of the winner and losers.
Mise en place, lifeblood of the kitchen: We're big fans of the Quickfire mise en place relay challenges and last night's prep race seemed even more frenzied than usual. Working in teams of four, the chefs had to simultaneously peel and chop about 400 cloves of garlic, clean and prep a crate of artichokes and french several racks of lambs. They then had 15 minutes to make a dish using all three ingredients. Not surprisingly, Fabio is a pro at peeling garlic, smashing 40 cloves at a time with his cutting board, which helped his team finish first in the mise en place portion of the challenge.
Balance, balance, balance: One of the most interesting aspects of last night's episode was getting to hear the critiques of talented chefs like David Chang, who judged the elimination challenge. It became clear that having a balance of flavors in a dish is vital to him. Unfortunately, Fabio's Team Green made a lamb dish with overwhelming herbal flavors, placing them in the bottom, along with Team Red and their lamb carpaccio, which Chang also dinged for being off-balance, saying the parsley and cheese overpowered the meat.
New York's finest: For the Elimination Challenge, each team was assigned a different award-winning restaurant in New York City: David Chang's Ma Peche, David Burke Townhouse, Marea and WD-50. After eating a meal at the restaurant, each chef had to come up with a dish that would be at home on that restaurant's menu. It was the luck of the draw for the chefs, with someone like Angelo feeling right at home cooking his Asian fusion food at the Asian fusion Ma Peche, while Fabio struggled to incorporate Asian ingredients into his rustic Italian cuisine. Homemade ricotta and hoisin sauce? No thanks.
Inspired by Wylie: Dale T., knowing that chef Wylie Dufresne loves eggs, made the smart choice to prepare a flawless egg dish, but in his own style, forgoing the fancy gadgets in the WD-50 kitchen for a more straightforward preparation. His sunny-side up egg dumpling with pork belly and milk ramen was the one dish of the episode we wanted to eat immediately, especially when Tom Colicchio described the broth as smelling like buttered toast. So intriguing! We were happy to see Dale take home the win for this dish.
"Is there a reset button on the Vita-Prep?": Dapper Stephen, who seems to have struggled in the kitchen since day one, was excited about the prospect of cooking fine Italian food at Marea. Because he loves fine dining. And fashion. But not even his expertly-knotted ties could rescue his salmon doused in fennel pollen, which Anthony Bourdain said tasted "like a head shop." Stephen was sent packing along with Dale L., who made an overly sweet, overly complicated veal dish with popcorn, peanuts and French toast. Enough said.
Were you rooting for either Stephen or Dale L.? What did you think of last night's episode?