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Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #7 - 01/19/11 (Spoilers)

Pre-apologies if this is more abbreviated or not as complete as I usually try to be. It was a pretty tough, emotional day today for me, and my mind is not all there. But I'll give it the ol' college try.
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The pre-bit before the show starts goes over Antonia's "black widow" jinx of her teammates always going home...and when asked, both Carla and Tiffany say they "No!" to being on her team! In Dale's confessional he says "It's true about Antonia! 'Here, drink this Kool-Aid; everything will be OK!' " LOL!

It looks like it's a fish-filleting contest at an "elite seafood restaurant". Don't suppose we might see Chef Eric Ripert, might we? (I couldn't be that lucky.) Well, it's at Le Bernardin, at least, with Anthony Bourdain introducing the Quickfire Challenge! Justo Thomas of Le Bernardin prepares 700 to 1,000 lbs. of fish EVERY DAY (AB *did* say "every day", didn't he?) in the hours before they open at noon. He can filet and portion 2 fish in 8 minutes. The cheftestants have 10 minutes to do the same with 1 cod and 1 fluke.

Bottom group - Fabio, Tiffany, Antonia, and Carla
Top Group - Dale, Richard, Mike and Marcel

Those in the top group now have to make the best dish in 45 minutes that they can using the heads, racks, fins and collars of their butchered fish. Judges are Anthony Bourdain and Justo Thomas.

Richard and Mike get very good reviews, Marcel's dish is called monochromatic by Bourdain, and Dale's dish seems to be the most praised....and he wins the Quickfire!

They head back to the TC Kitchen, where Padma is standing there with Ludo Lefebvre. Padma lets them know it's time for RESTAURANT WARS! Ludo explains about his "pop-up restaurant"...a restaurant that exists often for one day only, or up to 2 months - it depends on what he wants to do. And that's what's happening with on this All-Stars Restaurant Wars. The judges will be Anthony Bourdain, Dana Cowin from Food & Wine Magazine, and Ludo Lefebvre. And Padma says for the first time the DINERS get to choose the winning team!

Dale is one captain, and he gets to choose the other team captain - and he chooses Marcel, because he doesn't want to work with him.

Teams are:

Team 1 - BODEGA - Dale, Richard, Tre, Fabio, and Carla (Fabio is FOH)
Team 2 - ETCH - Marcel, Mike, Antonia, and Tiffany (Tiffany is FOH, even though she doesn't want to be)

As they break into their teams, it is obvious that no one wants to listen to Marcel as he tries to organize his team. He's *way* controlling and really doesn't know how to talk to his team. This is going ot be interesting.

They arrive at where they're cooking, and it's outside. Tom notices while talking to Marcel that he's bouncing off the walls. And Tom's not sure how Team Bodega's food is considered bodega-ish, but he'll give them poetic license. He tells everyone there will be ONE winner, and that winner will get $10,000.

Marcel actually instructs Tiffany on how to cook a 6-minute eggs. Their entire team seems so disorganized! Finally Tiffany gets out front, and Angelo says he'll make sure her egg dish is taken care of. And in plating it looks like he helped it a lot! Marcel said he wasn't going to do a foam for his dish - and what a surprise, he does a foam for his dish. Pissed off Angelo a LOT.

Carla hollers to the other team "you guys have a good service!" and throws kisses to Antonia. She cracks me up!

Dale gets cranky as service begins, and takes it out on the servers. Fabio's not happy with the way he's treating the servers and asks him to back off - Dale's realizing that being the expediter is not the easiest job in the restaurant! And Tiffany comes back with plates from her team's service - way undercooked lamb. She listens as they re-serve some plates, and the diners at this one table are pretty critical about the food being too salty, unbalanced with the egg, undercooked meat. Yowza.

At BODEGA, Richard's and Dale's first courses get favorable reviews, and Tom notices that Fabio is managing his staff. He says it's the 1st time he's ever seen that. Tre's pork and Richard's cod dish get rave reviews, and Fabio's dessert dish gets superb comments from Bourdain. The judges seemed very pleased overall with BODEGA.

They head over to ETCH. Padma notices that Tiffany seems to think that being FOH is schmoozing with the diners. When Tiffany finally gets over to their table, she says "we're hungry!" and Tiffany rushes back to get the judges' dishes.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Mike and Marcel are griping at each other, and Angelo is trying to get them to focus on just cooking.

The judges seem to like the lamb dish from Mike and Angelo, but Antonia's gnudi are too salty for Padma. When desserts come out, what a surprise - Marcel's had a hand in one of them, which Bourdain calls "a perfect shit storm of awfulness!"

But again - the DINERS are the ones picking the winners, so what the judges are saying could be totally different from what they think!

Padma asks Team ETCH to come into Judges Table....PLEASE don't tell me they won? Nope, they show a preview, and Mike and Marcel are arguing at JT - so I'm assuming they're on the bottom! Does this mean bye-bye, Marcel? ;-)

Yup - the Diners picked Team Etch as their least favorite restaurant. Only 17 out of 76 diners favored ETCH! Wow, that's a HUGE differential! Discussion about the lack of organization in Etch's kitchen, and when Tom asked who was in charge of organizing the kitchen, no one spoke up. As Tom said "The silence is deafening."

Marcel takes a beating for his dishes, and no one at JT liked his "surprise dessert". Bourdain said it was like a "thumb in the eye". And then the arguing of Mike and Marcel in front of the judges REALLY tells all about Marcel - he goes all ghetto in his arguing yet again. Antonia tries to say "as Team Captain, Marcel should have stepped up" and he still argues.

Team Bodega goes in, and when asked, Dale said he was EC, and Richard said he was "Technical Advisor". Richard gets raves for the initial bag of potato chips, and his food was highly praised as well, as well as Carla's dish. And Richard wins!

Back to Etch - Concept, Teamwork, Service, Food - all of them were just plain bad. Ludo said being an EC (Marcel) is not just about cooking - it's about managing. Tiffany's bad dish and bad FOH was noted. Bourdain said that he thinks Angelo realized the problem early on and just kept his head down. His fish dish wasn't great, but I don't think it was the worst dish. Bourdain said "prison breaks are organized with more teamwork than this restaurant!" LOL

This is a tough one to call - I'm thinking it's either Marcel or Tiffany. I hope the former! And when Tom reviews each cheftestant's issues, there's not one of them that had something good about their dish.

YES! It's Marcel who's outta there! Interesting - Marcel says he's a nice guy and a likeable person. If you have to say that as often as he seems to, perhaps you're trying to convince people of something that isn't as true as you think it is?

And the next episode has Lorraine Bracco as a guest judge. I *think* next week (January 26th) is actually a repeat, according to TV Guide, so this new episode won't be until February 2nd.

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  1. It may be too late now, but notice that this episode is 75 minutes. Set your recorders appropriately.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 10foot5

      Aye-yi-yi. I had forgotten that RWars is usually longer than regular episodes. Thanks for the heads-up, 10foot5!

    2. Linda, I hope things are ok for you. How lovely of you to do the recap for us after a difficult day.

      Please oh please let it be Marcel.

      I think etch loses by a lot with editing intended to make it look close.

      8 Replies
      1. re: debbiel

        I'm hanging in there, debbie, thanks. Watching mindless American Idol and then fun Top Chef helps me keep my mind off of the day. :-)

        1. re: LindaWhit

          You couldn't tell from the recap--thanks for doing it!

          1. re: Nettie

            Thanks indeed - the recaps are great and I really hope things are ok.

            Gotta say this was a great Restaurant Wars - and what a treat to see the winning team really put it all together.

            1. re: Siun

              I hope all is well, too, Linda. Hang in there, and thank you again for another excellent recap!

          2. re: LindaWhit

            Great recap, Linda. Hope everything's okay.

            Hooray! Marcel is finally out of there! :)

            1. re: ChefJune

              I thought Marcel's comment to Richard was more self-deprecating than anything else. Blais is notorious for his worrying and I'm sure all of them heard Richard's doubts for a long time in that room. 

              I think I may have figured out something about Marcel. He has a Napolean complex. I saw him standing next to Carla and she's 5'11". Marcel must be about 5'6" and it bothers him. That's why he has the bouffant. He has an inferiority complex and he lashes out as a defense mechanism. 

              The reason Etch lost is because they didn't work well together. Marcel isn't a leader. In order to be a leader those being led need to have respect for the leader. They don't respect Marcel and the results were not surprising. 

              When I saw they were doing the quickfire at Le Bernardin I was quite pleased that Jamie wasn't there to foul the place. She doesn't deserve to ever walk into that restaurant ever again. 

              The difference in the FOH performance between Fabio and Tiffany was amazing. I wonder how much time Fabio spends FOH at his own restaurants? I bet he spends more time in front these days than he does in the kitchen. He can make a restaurant more successful by being out front rather than by him being in the kitchen. He can train a monkey to make gnocchi. 

              1. re: John E.

                Fabio spends a lot of tim in the FOH. I've never noticed him directing the servers, but he does schmooze and walk around quite a bit. Service is pretty good, and the food is very good as well.
                It's not surprising that Marcel went home. I think it was easy to tell from the moment they picked team it was going to be a catastrophe.

          3. re: debbiel

            Yes thank you!

            I enjoy being "spoiled" by you every Thursday morning!

          4. Finally. Oh, and in case folks didn't notice, Marcel didn't actually make any mistakes (roll eyes).

            22 Replies
            1. re: debbiel

              What a treat to see him head off ... and to see how the other team really got the pop up style and made it work. When only 17 out of 70 diners voted for etch, that's really bad.

              Also what a treat to see the Le Bernadin guy from Raw Medium .... that man's a god.

              1. re: Siun

                You mean Anthony Bourdain? He wrote the book, but he's not a Le Bernardin guy - that's Eric Ripert. But Linda (and I) won't argue with you about Bourdain's god-likeness!

                1. re: mariacarmen

                  I believe Siun is referring to the guy at Le Bernadin that preps all the fish, Justo. There was a chapter in Bourdain's book about him and his prowess at breaking down fish for the restaurant.

                  1. re: sibeats

                    oh duh, of course you are right. sorry!

                  2. re: mariacarmen

                    No, we won't argue about EITHER of their god-likeness!

                    And I get to see BOTH of my boyfriends in early March here in the Boston area, thanks to a very nice person who linked the info to me in last week's thread, and who has decided I'm not an axe murderer and will be joining me (although she's bringing a friend just in case I *am* an axe murderer :::grin:::).

                    I will have to refrain from squealing like a 16yo at the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium. (None of this Biebermania shite...I'm going back to a *real* squeal producer! LOL)

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      what??? TB and ER are both coming to your town?? how did you manage that??

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        how did you manage that??
                        ~~~~~~~~~~
                        When you wish upon a star
                        Makes no difference who you are
                        Anything your heart desires
                        Will come to you

                        Jiminy Cricket was RIGHT! :-)

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I swear to G-d, LW, I saw Ripert first! Thief! : )

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Finders keepers, losers weepers! ;-)

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        She's bringing the friend in case you embarrass her w/the squealing and drooling ;-)

                        1. re: momjamin

                          Oh balderdash. She's gonna be squealing too. Or at least looking at me with a big silly grin on her face, just like mine! ;-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            OK, maybe your prediction is more accurate. Hey -- when does All Stars end, relative to their visit?

                            1. re: momjamin

                              Good question - they have 9 cheftestants left - Tiffany, Carla, Richard, Tre, Angelo, Mike, Dale, Fabio and Antonia. Next week is a repeat, so assuming it's one cheftestant told to PYKAG in subsequent episodes, and they'll have three cheftestants in a two-part finale, I calculate the finale will be on March 16th and 23rd. So we won't be able to ask questions about the winner - just up to what we've seen, which will be a few episodes before the finale. :-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                OMG. We demand full recount, pics, DNA samples (just kidding)

                                Just don't think you can drink them under the table :)

                                1. re: julietg

                                  Just don't think you can drink them under the table :)
                                  ~~~~~~~~~~

                                  I wouldn't DREAM of it! LOL

                        2. re: LindaWhit

                          well, well, look at you! after the week you've had you *definitely* deserve to have this to look forward to :)

                          it's funny, i was just thinking yesterday that [in a fantasy world] it would be awesome to organize a CH group vacation to the Aspen Food & Wine classic this year - the lineup is amazing, and they're doing a Top Chef QF challenge between Kevin Sbraga & whomever wins All Stars. too bad it's so darned expensive!

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Now if it was Kevin Gillespie, I'd be there in a heartbeat. :-) Kevin Sbraga? Meh....not so much. ;-/

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              agreed, but i'd kinda like to see if Sbraga can bring it. and since i'm talking fantasy here anyway, who cares which Kevin it is if he's facing off against Tre? ;)

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Geez Louise, that is pricey! Guess they don't want any ordinary Joes there.

                              1. re: Parrotgal

                                i know. bums me out because i'd love to go, but that doesn't even include hotel or airfare!!!

                    2. wooooo!! this was one of my favorite resto wars so far! so glad with the outcome of this episode overall

                      thanks for doing these recaps. theyre awesome! hope everythings ok

                      1. Marcel FINALLY got his comeuppance - only problem is, he doesn't know it. Too bad he thinks he was eliminated because he "didn't make any mistakes." It would have been soooo wrong for anyone else to get eliminated.

                        On the other hand, Bodega really rocked it. I can't remember another RW where the judges raved over every single dish from one team. Professionals one and all.