Top Chef: All-Stars Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 19, 2010
Finally, Tiffani Faison’s team is going to WD-50, which has an offering of avant-guard techniques and is Wylie Dufresne’s place. Marcel feels super confident about this challenge. He probably shouldn’t.
As the diners go to their restaurants, we see that Angelo’s team and Richard’s team are both rife with conflict. Tiffany Derry just wants Angelo to shut up. She had to listen to him through pretty much the entire previous season and she’s done with his constant yammering. Over at Marea, Stephen is “educating” everyone about the dishes, and Tre is annoyed. He says he’s not going to let someone else try to make him think he should like something he thinks isn’t good. He wants to make his own judgment calls and formulate a dish without hearing Stephen’s effusive praise.
Wylie’s restaurant is very popular and very intimidating…well, except to Marcel, who is certain he’s got this thing in the bag. He may offer Wylie a couple of tips on how to improve his dish while he’s there. Carla, on the other hand, worries about her simplicity in comparison to his complex dishes.
The final restaurant, David Burke’s Townhouse, is all kinds of crazy, starting with their cocktails that are served with a fish swimming in the bottom of the glass. It only gets weirder from there, with angry lobster and some sort of horrible-looking lamb-octopus concoction.
We move on to see the chefs preparing their meals worthy of the restaurants where they ate, and the moods run the spectrum. Richard Blais is excited at the opportunity to take on a new challenge. Carla sees this as an attempt at redemption. In not quite the same way as the first challenge of the season, she brings up the fact that her classical training is diametrically opposed to the molecular gastronomy tools in Wylie’s kitchen. She’s cooking in a way she never has before, and the last time she did that (Casey’s sous-vide), she was eliminated from competition.
Meanwhile, Angelo starts sweating all over the place. His dishes are saltier than anyone else’s because the salt comes from him (ew, we know).
In another part of the kitchen, Stephen is learning kitchen technology. He asks Richard if there is a reset switch on the Vita Prep, which is some sort of blender, and causes Tre to say, “Oh my God.” Richard asks Stephen if perhaps the Vita Prep is plugged into a bad outlet. Honestly, Stephen has avoided elimination about as long as he can. With the competition he’s up against today, we see him as easily the weakest candidate and his foibles will stand out that much more.
The judges show up at Marea, and Padma appears to be wearing some sort of peach-colored bag. Hideous.
Tre has made grilled swordfish with artichoke, mushroom panna cotta and basil oil, and Spike has prepared a seared branzino with caponata and spicy prociutto vinaigrette. Richard’s dish is a crudo of Spanish mackerel, braised veal shank and fennel mostarda. Finally, Stephen has created a coho salmon, black mission figs, broccoli rapini and fennel pollen. Spike’s fish is complimented as nice and crispy, but his caponata is loose and the diners are automatically predisposed to thinking there’s something off about it. Richard’s disk is called elegant, tasty, and “flavor forward.” Richard has not missed with a dish yet. (Go Richard!)