Top Chef: All-Stars Recap

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

December 19, 2010

Stephen, maybe you should consider cooking some before your next appearance.

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Out of this group, Antonia and Casey would appear to be the leaders, while Jamie is somewhere in the mediocre range, with Dale Levitski on the bottom.

Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 is the final stop. Tiffani has gone way outside of her comfort zone, and it seems very problematic. As Marcel says, she is showcasing technique at the cost of pleasing the diner, and Tiffani admits that she has a hard time reining herself in. Dale Taldes, who knows of Wylie’s affinity for eggs, has created a sunny side up egg dumpling, braised pork belly, and milk ramen with bacon, beef and pork. Tiffani’s (overly?) ambitious dish is a broken summer heirloom melon with powdered ham and taleggio. It looks like barf on a plate. Carla’s dish looks very simple – poached shrimp, grits and okra chips. Finally, Marcel made vadouvan lamb, tzatziki, pickled red onion and anti flatbread.

Bourdain confirms what we’ve been thinking so far. “Tiffani lost control of this mission on the launchpad,” he says. Wylie says it’s murky and believes she should have pared some things off of the plate. A chorus of “mmmmms” comes up for Dale’s dish, and Wylie says that the dish is nice and runny, which sounds icky, but egg fans will know what he means. The broth in the dish almost tastes like buttered toast. Carla’s dish is safe, but well-prepared and tasty. Finally, Marcel’s food is surprisingly bland and restrained.

From this group, Dale is clearly on top, with Carla and Marcel in the middle, and Tiffani on the bottom.


So, to summarize, we absolutely believe the divide this week is pretty clear. The top slots should go to Dale Talde, Antonia, Angelo and one of Tre or Richard Blais. The bottom group looks to be Stephen, Dale Levitski, Tiffani and Fabio. Let’s see if we’re right.

Indeed, Padma calls out Dale Talde, Antonia, Angelo and Tre as the night’s winners. The winner will receive a trip to New Zealand. All four chefs are heaped with praise, and Tre is appreciative of the kitchen where he was able to work. He says it’s like “driving a Lamborghini.” Bourdain asks Dale if he knew that Wylie is a “notorious egg slut” (and truly, watching him eat the dish was like watching someone with a fetish). Dale says he did, and the judges are that much more impressed that he went out on a limb like that. Tom is positively beaming as he talks about how great Dale’s food tasted. And thus, Dale gets his first win in the All-Stars competition, and showed that you can imagine a dish for a molecular gastronomy restaurant that has restraint.

The bottom four chefs are Fabio, Dale Levitski, Tiffani Faison, and Stephen. Fabio is maintaining a defensive stance as Bourdain starts talking, but Tony is pretty congenial and commiserates with Fabio about the difficulty of cooking such fare. He says perhaps Fabio tried to do too much, like a painter who uses too many strokes. This is a fitting analogy, and Fabio, relieved that Tony isn’t tearing him a new one, readily agrees.

As for Stephen, he’s feeling a lot of emotions, he says. We’ll define the strongest one as “lose-y.” We’ve said all along that he’s in way over his head, though it’s through no fault of his own. Stephen hasn’t truly been cooking for some time, and he’s been at a distinct disadvantage compared to his competitors. Stephen feels he overdid it, and Tony comments about the overpowering sandalwood scent that destroys the dish. Apparently, Stephen could have a second “Weeds-ish” career.

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