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Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #14 (Finale Pt. 2) - 03/16/11 (Spoilers)

Well, Tom said in an interview this is not a 3- or 4-part finale; just that the competition has moved to another venue (Bahamas). But I say it is a several part finale. So this is Part 2. :-)

After last week's competition, they're sitting around talking about Carla. Antonia is still second-guessing herself, just like she did in her season. Mike is very cocky and confident. Hmmmm...that usually means someone's going home! LOL

As they head out the next morning to the Atlantis kitchen, Richard wonders "will we be cooking with not enough time? Not enough equipment?" Little does he know. :-)

Padma and Lorena Garcia greet them in the kitchen. The Quickfire Challenge will be all about Consistency and Precision - they are to pair up (ends up being Richard & Mike vs. Antonia & Tiffany) and they are to create 100 plates exactly the same for hungry diners in the dining room. Padma and Lorena will choose 2 different numbers from each of the plates they are serving from as "blind" tastings, to ensure they don't plate judges' plates more nicely. They have 1 hour to cook.

The guys go with Pork Bolognese with fresh macaroni and Pecorino cheese. Mike said the guys have the upper hand, and the girls know it. There's that cockiness again!

The women go with Seared Beef Tenderloin Salad with Lentils and Chimichurri Sauce. The guys are going crazy in the kitchen; Richard has a drippy sweaty nose.

The judges liked both the guys and women's food...Mike, cocky again, says the women's dish is way too easy...but Lorena Garcia ends up saying that the women win! Antonia said "The guys are definitely sour grape salty losers!" LOL The ladies get $5,000 for their win. Mikey is ticked off. Awwww, poor baby!

So Padma describes the Elimination Challenge - the Commodore of the Nassau Yacht Club has invited them to an 80th anniversary party lunch for him and his friends. Conch is a signature dish of the island, and Lorena says they should be sure to use it.

Mike and Richard both practiced with conch back on the mainland, so they sound prepared. They meet the next morning at the dock to be taken to a deserted island - and there's Padma in her itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikini. :-) Time will start when their feet hit the beach. They'll have 3-1/2 hours to cook.

When they get there, they scramble for the baskets. Lots of great seafood but no conch - and then they see the snorkel masks in a basket marked "Conch". Yup - they have to go out and find it themselves in the water! Here's where Richard says "I don't want to see Mike Isabella topless......and you don't either!" LOL (P.S. He was right!)

They have difficulty getting the conch, but they do. Here's where Richard's lack of swimming ability gets shown. LOL! After pulling up the conch, they then realize there's no electricity, no gadgets, just a wood-fired grill with some pots and pans. Not going to be easy! They know there's going to be the issue of sand in their dishes. Tiffany has major problems removing the conch from the shells...Mike learned to heat them up in the shell and they are more easily removed.

Antonia's in the weeds, and Richard is very nervous with his NON-Caribbean dish.

Richard's dish = Sweet Potato Linguini with Conch and Spiny Lobster - they all said "ingenious!" when they realized it was sweet potato "noodles", although there was some slightly undercooked lobster. But I thought his dish looked superb!

A storm is now coming in - will they all be able to finish?

Next is Antonia - her dish = Seared Snapper with Conch Tartare. Interestingly, Gail takes a bite and immediately reaches for a glass of water - VERY spicy! But the Bahamians love it, as they love their spices! But Tom's fish is overcooked, while someone else's is undercooked.

Tiffany - she ended up plating too early - could be an issue with soup! Her dish = Coconut Chowder with Snapper and Conch. Padma said the soup would have been good if it was warm, and others think it was never meant to be served warm. Hmmm.

Finally, it's MIke's turn. His dish = Banana-Wrapped Grouper with Braised Pineapple and a Warm Conch Vinaigrette. Some felt the dish was overwhelming with the pineapple, but others, including Gail, loved the risk he took.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the in-between bit between commercials, they compared themselves to the characters on Gilligan's Island:

Richard = The Professor
Mike = The Skipper
Tiffany = Ginger
Antonia = Mary Ann

And Carla would have been Gilligan. Good choices, all! LOL
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

OK, we're back - they're back in the suite, and Richard is still nervous re: his flavor profile (and Antonia kind of gives him a dig about it!) Back at Judges Table - Tom notes that no dish had any sand - yay!

Antonia's dish had good balance, per Lorena, but the conch needed to be bigger, said Tom. Padma said her dish out of all four, was the "most predictable" - but Antonia takes that as a compliment, because she wants them to know it's her dish.

Richard's "pasta" dish was very much enjoyed - Gail said the flavors weren't typical, but they all worked...but Lorena had slightly undercooked lobster.

Tiffany's dish - they liked her chowder, but it was asked - was the soup supposed to be hot or cold? It was supposed to be hot - Tiffany said the wind kicked up during her plating and cooled it down too quickly. It was also too sweet for some.

Finally, Mike's dish - Tom liked the banana leaf smokiness, but the butter just didn't belong.

Interseting - there was something wrong with each dish, according to the judges. Who's going home? I'm thinking it's going to be Tiffany. But who knows anymore?

And we're back for the elimination - wow - Mike wins again! Damn. I really thought Richard might pull that out. As for who's outta there? It *is* Tiffany who's told to PYKAG. But Tiffany's got some damn fine trips to take with her husband!

So it's going to be Richard, Antonia, and Mike in the finale. And OOOH! It's another "Last Supper" competition for Wolfgang Puck, Michelle Bernstein, and Masaharu Morimoto! Interesting!

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  1. After seeing the attitude of the girls following the Quickfire win, I really wanted to see the guys do well. Congrats to the girls for the victory, but they could have done it with some class, imo.

    10 Replies
    1. re: ahack

      I actually found myself cheering on the ladies...because the guys were being so condescending! It's interesting how differently things are percieved. Although...on this end it could have been the vodka.

      1. re: LiveRock

        I had no vodka, and I was cheering on the ladies as well. The editing really laid it on thick with Mike's overbearing cockiness. I was glad he was taken down a small peg by the ladies winning the Quickfire.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          i was actually rooting for the guys simply because i thought their dish was far more ambitious, and it was quite impressive that they executed it well.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I think the guys anticipated getting a lot of credit for the difficulty of preparing their dish in the time alotted. It didn't appear to be a factor for the new judge.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              But the challenge was about consistency. They stirred their sauce and pasta altogether, so the only thing they had to worry about was keeping the portion size consistent. Also, those were some ugly plates.

              1. re: Terrieltr

                well, if the challenge was to be judged *solely* on consistency with no concern for difficulty of preparation, complexity & development of flavors or creativity, then they might as well just have plated 100 identical PB&J sandwiches and walked away with the win...and then it also shouldn't have mattered that they were "ugly plates" as long as they all looked the same.

                i'm not saying the women shouldn't have won the challenge. none of us were there to taste the food, and clearly they presented a well-executed dish. it just seems to me that some people are going out of their way to avoid giving the guys due credit for what they pulled off.

            2. re: LindaWhit

              Mike did prove that he can make pasta from scratch, unlike his adventures at Rao's. I'm glad the girls won, if only to stick it to Mike a little.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                i was cheering them on as well, because not only was Mike's cockiness annoying, but that new judge said that the 4 components of the girls' dish made it actually more difficult to achieve consistency, so she at least felt the level of difficulty was the same as the boys'.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Mike made me cheer for the ladies, too -- and against Blais for the first time.

                  1. re: momjamin

                    Well, if there was a way to cheer for Richard and against Mike, I would have done so. Richard became collateral damage when cheering for the women to win. :-)

            3. okay - antonia's line to richard "yeah, potato noodles are classic. what's wrong with you?" was hilarious!!!!

              27 Replies
              1. re: AMFM

                I thought it was pretty snarky mean. Damn - Richard's already feeling like crap - she needed to say that?

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Maybe it was just me but I took it as Antonia saying "Really? Quit dissing yourself Richard"!

                  1. re: LiveRock

                    OK, that makes sense. However, with as much as Richard is down on himself, he probably took it as cutting him down! LOL

                  2. re: LindaWhit

                    I wondered if she was irritated with false modesty.

                    Husband and I were annoyed that there were no black people in the yacht club, but plenty to serve.... sigh...I know.... it's a cooking show....

                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                      Last week at the Junkanoo episode, almost all the diners were "of color." Yes, apparently the Yacht Club is segregated, and I don't approve of that, but we didn't set the venues for these challenges.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        We really don't know for sure if the yacht club is segregated. We do know that if there are minority members, none of them were invited to this particular event.

                        1. re: John E.

                          ...and why would ALL the members NOT be invited to the 80th anniversary celebration? I'll just bet they were all there.

                          And now, back to the food.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            ALL the members? How many members do they have? Using your logic, ALL the members were there, all 10 of them. Whether the yacht club is segregated or not, they couldn't invite all of the members to eat in the sand of a deserted beach.

                            1. re: John E.

                              It's a fairly large membership. They have a website:

                              http://www.nassauyachtclub.org/index....

                              I doubt there are many "locals" in the Club, but that's not the point. If TC offered the services of the cheftestants, why would they refuse?

                              1. re: Mayor of Melonville

                                You really should have directed your reply to June. I don't have any problems with the yacht club. I just think it's a little silly to judge them from afar with little information.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  comment was not directed at you, John E, but at the thread

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      no i totally thought it was her saying cut it out - you're fantastic, stop being down on yourself already!

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        agreed - that's what i thought too! i thought she was saying "you're FABULOUS!"

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            I agree--I thought it was a great comment from her, not condescendingly nice.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Interestingly, the link posted below by ghg from Silvestri's blog on Eater.com seems to see it the way I did - condescending:

                              "Before Judges' Table, the chefs fret. It was a close one! Richard is worried about how he was the one who didn't do Caribbean flavors. "Mine was too classic." Antonia rolls her eyes. "Yeah, potato noodles are super classic. What's wrong with you?" "

                              http://eater.com/archives/2011/03/17/...

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I don't know--I read what she said as a fact. She did roll her eyes and say that but Silvestri didn't say anything more than what happened. I think we'll read that as we saw it. If we see it as her cutting him down, we'll read it as such; if we saw it as her disagreeing with what he said in a sarcastic way, we'll read it as that.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I don't see condescension either. Maybe more exasperation cuz he says that shit all the time. Obviously after making sweet potato noodles, you can't take him seriously commenting that it's "too classic".

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    If anyone is old enough to remember the scene in Moonlight when Cher slaps Nicholas Cage in the face and says, "Snap out of it!!!!" That might be appropriate for his stewing. And I like Richard!

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          Moonstruck--I'm old enough to remember the idea but forgetful enough to forget the details. Thanks.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            It was very charming and Nic Cage played a baker who had only one hand, and who romanced Cher.

                            2. re: LindaWhit

                              I thought she was trying to ease his worries, it's just her way. She's doesn't come off as the most sensitive person, and frankly his whining about his dishes is odd. The beatings he gives himself come across as aconstance cry for reasurrance. Don't get me wrong, I like Richard, I think he's an awesome chef, but just from the few clips seeimg him be so critical of himself, and the negative self talk like he hates "his food" and wants to "smash it". So needy, one of the reasons why he and Fabio got along so well, Fabio was very nurturing and catered to his whining. Oh well.

                            3. re: AMFM

                              I'm with you AM - I thought it was hilarious, and I also thought it was a good natured tease

                              So many funny lines in this episode!

                              1. re: NellyNel

                                This is weird - when I replied to AMFM's comment this morning - Linda's was the only othe comment on this posted, but now there are loads that werent there this morning, but were posted yesterday.
                                (???)

                            4. was padma crying as she told tiffany to PYKAG?

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: mattstolz

                                I thought the same thing. Sure sounded that way.

                                1. re: Pylon

                                  editing,,,I thought that big sniff/sigh was Tiffany as they then cut to her crying.

                                  1. re: edible complex

                                    Coulda been. I think one reason I thought it was Padma is that they didn't show her while she said it, which is a bit unusual.

                                    1. re: Pylon

                                      they did show Padma's face when she said it...because i was watching her intently to see whether her mouth was going to form a T or an A!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        IIRC, they cut away pretty quick, like right after she said the name. The "sob" in question was after that. But I only saw it once, so I could be wrong.

                                        1. re: Pylon

                                          i'll have to check a rerun if i catch one - i deleted the recording after my second viewing last night.

                                      2. re: edible complex

                                        you're right. i watched the repeat last night while i was waiting for the new one to start, and the sob/sharp intake of breath was Tiffany.

                                    2. re: mattstolz

                                      sure sounded like her voice broke to me.

                                    3. Richard had a couple of interesting tweets during the show. First, he gave a warning about "topless chef" coming in a few minutes, and having just seen the previews of them diving I figured that we'd be seeing more than we might want to of one of the guys. In his interview comments during the judging he said that he didn't believe that his lobster was undercooked, then in a tweet he said he'd like to get Eric Ripert's opinion on it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Nettie

                                        My wife and I looked at each other when the guest judge stated her lobster was undercooked and both agreed that it most likely wasn't. She seemed to be the type that makes snap judgments and then searches for reasons to back up her initial judgment. She did this with the QF and with the EC. Note her going out of her way to praise Tiffany's dish by stating "I love anything with ceviche on it!" Sorry but Tiffany serving "ceviche" on top of a hot soup kind of defeats the point of ceviche.

                                        For what it's worth, this judge was my least favorite....even worse than Paula Dean or Lorraine "Obnoxious and Grating Voiced" Bracco.

                                      2. I thought I would get the answer to this question on the rerun, but I missed the exchange. There was a guest in the beach that was a 'three time world champion'. In what?

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: John E.

                                          A simple google search revealed this:

                                          "About Donald Martinborough
                                          Commercial Property Manager. Licensed Broker member Bahamas Real Estate Association. Three time World Champion, Sunfish Sailing Class."

                                          http://www.bahamasrealty.bs/scripts/i...

                                          1. re: ahack

                                            I couldn't google anything because I also didn't catch his bane. We had a couple of sunfish class sailboats when I was a kid when what we really wanted was a ski boat. I got to be a pretty good sailor for a 15 year-old.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              i swear it sounded like he was saying "selfish" - and he *only* said Sunfish, not sailing, so for the life of me i couldn't make a connection to anything that made sense :)

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                No worries. I just googled Three-time world champion bahamas... ;)

                                            2. re: John E.

                                              not a clue. i just rewound & replayed it four times to get you the answer, and i have no idea what the guy is saying!

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Sunfish is a pretty specific and common type of small sailboat. My husband used to sail them and he got it right away, and it took me a few moments.

                                                Now I miss my sailboat...lol

                                                1. re: sommrluv

                                                  i know what a Sunfish is - the problem was that in the midst of a discussion about Bahamian Club Commodores and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, it was totally out of context for me.

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    It may have been appropriate dinner talk, but many of us would have preferred it to land on the floor of the cutting room (yes, I know digital editing means that nothing winds up on the floor).