Top Chef All-Stars: To Catch a Fish
In this week’s episode of Top Chef All-Stars, the chefs took a break from the kitchen to fish for dinner in Montauk. With no Quickfire Challenge and a double elimination, it was a high stakes episode with fast-paced action, ultra-fresh ingredients and a whole lot of pouting. Read on for our thoughts on the episode, as well as a reveal of the winner and losers.
• Dale took anger management classes?: Marcel is apparently annoyed that Dale didn’t make enough plates of food in the dim sum challenge and thinks his chicken should have won instead. He expresses this like he is in the world’s most awkward freestyle rap battle, posturing and pointing at Dale, who finally stands up and leaves. Dale tells the camera it’s a good thing he took anger management training or he would have hurt Marcel, who seems to have the power to drive people past the breaking point. Better confine him on a boat with five other chefs for five hours!
• Meet us in Montauk: Why a boat for five hours? Because, working in teams of three, the chefs have to catch the fish they will be serving to 200 guests that night. Two chefs will be eliminated in this challenge. Instead of a Quickfire, we get to see the chefs battle the sea and each other in the race to catch enough fish, which we found really fun to watch. Dale is a natural and ends up catching the biggest fish of the day, whose anatomy he compares to Marcel: big head and a little body.
Other highlights from the fishing trip were Angelo’s reveal of his crippling fear of sharks and therefore all bodies of water, and Antonia’s giddy, high-pitched squeal of joy when she catches her first fish, which she acknowledges sounded like a fourth-grade girl. We like Antonia.
• “The professor and the strange Italian immigrant”: After fishing, the chefs go shopping at a local farmers market and are excited by all the fresh produce. As Tom mentions later, this is the ultimate summer cooking — fish fresh from the ocean and just-picked vegetables from the farm stand. Teammates Richard and Fabio are joined at the hip, picking over produce and wheeling away their overflowing wagon together. It’s pretty adorable.
• Cooking in the sand: The chefs cook their dishes next to the water, with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Marcel, Richard and Fabio make the questionable decision to prepare just one dish, and Jamie seems to be annoying everyone with her frequent complaints. As the sun sets, the diners begin filing in and Tom orders a round of cocktails for the judges.
• Carla’s brilliant bluefish: Carla’s lettuce wrap of smoked bluefish, watermelon rind pickle, dill and bagel croutons seems to be a favorite among guests, who repeatedly call it “fresh.” Antonia’s open-face porgie po’ boy with Old Bay mayo and cabbage slaw also looks unfussy and tasty. We like that both dishes elevate fish that are normally looked down upon. But it was Carla who takes home the trip to Amsterdam, while Antonia is dragged to the bottom by her teammates’ losing dishes: Jamie’s bland striped bass with cucumber water and Tiffani’s smoked bluefish salad.
• Insert chorus of angels: Also on the bottom are Marcel, Richard and Fabio for their muddled dish of bass with succotash, corn puree, concord gastrique and Jamón foam. Lucky for them, the judges think Jamie’s and Tiffani’s dishes were the worst and the two are asked to packed their knives. Lucky for us, Jamie’s bad attitude is out of the kitchen and the chefs can get cooking with a little less complaining.
What did you think of this week’s episode?