Our five finalists on Top Chef: All-Stars headed down to the Bahamas Wednesday night for the first of several final challenges. After last week’s strong showing, it was hard to imagine who might go home next. But alas, a new country brought on new challenges, and whereas once these chefs soared, they now seemed barely able to put anything edible on the plate. It didn’t help that they nearly burned down their kitchen in the process.The episode began with everyone arriving in the Bahamas and exchanging hugs. The cast looked pretty much the same except for Richard, whose hair was darker and faux-hawk deflated. I wasn’t sure if he had abandoned his awful, signature look or if humidity had gotten the best of him, but either way, his new trendy style looked equally as goofy. Plus he now had facial hair. Why, Richard? Just do a cute high-and-tight and be done with it.
Also struggling with his personal style was Michael Voltaggio, who returned along with other Top Chef winners (Stephanie, Josea, Kevin — he won? Oh yeah. Worst winner EVER) for a Quickfire. Poor Mikey V had abandoned his old look in favor of a strange Bieber-esque combover / bangsaster. It just looked bad. And anyone who can upstage Richard in the bad hair department needs some seriously haircare help.
Nevertheless, the challenge for the finalists was to square off against whoever won their respective seasons. This mean Carla went up against Josea; Tiffany against Kevin (really? He REALLY won?); Mike against Michael; and Richard and Antonia against Stephanie. Whichever chef offered up a better dish from a surprise ingredient would win $10,000. No surprises here: Richard beat Stephanie, who in turn beat Antonia. Josea beat Carla, who choked once again. And Tiffany beat Kevin (of course she did because Kevin is the worst winner EVER). The only shocker was that Mike Isabella triumphed over Michael Voltaggio. Hard to understand how that happened. Perhaps some cosmic blip. I refuse to believe that Mike can actually be proficient, even if he did win the Quickfire and later the Elimination Chalenge. Eh, he probably stole his recipes again.
Anyway, after the Quickfire, Tom informed the chefs that they’d be cooking for royalty. The cheftestants immediately got to work preparing fancy meals, but surprise surprise — Tom was being tricky. The “King” in question was merely the King of a Bahamian festival that’s akin to Mardi Gras and Carnival. Gotcha, chefs! This was a big problem for most of the finalists as they were all preparing haute cuisine (everyone but Tiffany that is, who now had a big leg up). Needless to say, they were all shocked when they discovered they’d be cooking in a little fry shack. Oops.
Ah, but the universe works in mysterious ways. One of the deep fryers malfunctioned and caught on fire big time, causing the chefs to evacuate while fire crews went in. The bad news: all their food was ruined. The good news: everyone could start over. And there went Tiffany’s advantage.
Well, most people changed their dishes up, and Carla decided to do something she’d never tried before: deep frying pork tenderloin. This was when I wanted to grab her through the TV and shake her. NO CARLA. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??? Did she not remember how she got sent home in the finals for employing a technique she had never tried? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US AGAIN, CARLA? WHY???
Sure enough, Carla’s meat came out unevenly with some pieces being perfect and others raw (a.k.a. Gail’s piece). We all know where this is going, right? I won’t draw this out: Carla went home. It just wasn’t her night, I suppose. Heck, it wasn’t anyone’s night really. Everyone messed up their food big time. It seemed like the high point of the meal was watching Tom inexplicably introduce every plate that came out of the kitchen.
I was really hoping for a Carla / Richard / Antonia finale, but I guess that would have been too much to ask for. Let’s just hope the judges put an end to this Mike Isabella nonsense. If he wins the big title, I’m not sure I’ll be able to deal. He’d be the worst cook to win since… Kevin. Ah, who am I kidding? Kevin still is the worst.
Padma: “Hello chefs. Welcome to the Bahamas. Unfortunately my dear friend Gail Simmons couldn’t be here for this Quickfire today. She’s spent the morning with her mouth attached to a frozen piÃ±a colada machine and has refused to budge. Needless to say, we’ve alerted Bahamian authorities, bless her heart.”
Richard: “I’ll just plate this veal right here. Not that it matters considering everything I make tastes like SHIT. DIRTY, NASTY, SHIT!!! DAMN YOU, RICHARD! DAMN YOU!!!!”
Eric: “This veal tastes like, how you say? Ah yes: AWFUL.”
Padma: “It’s a shame our dear friend Gail Simmons isn’t here. If there’s anyone who likes rubbery veal, it’s her. Then again, you could give her an old basketball to chew on, and she’d be happy, bless her heart.”
Tom: “Chefs, if you take one step closer to me, you’re all eliminated.”
“So what’s your plan, Carla?”
“Wellllll, since this is the finals, I’ve decided to do something I’ve never tried before. Because, you know, that ALWAYS works so well.”
“Ugh. I might as well scrape this COW FECES out of this bowl. Why must I suck at cooking? WHY???”
“This is fun! Now let’s BURN THIS MOTHER EFFER DOWN!!!”
Eric: “The sauce is very delicate, which I like. And the flavors strong. TrÃ¨s bien.”
Tom: “Yeah, whatever. Just shut up, Ripert, and move down. I’m on half a cheek here.”
The King: “You are very beautiful woman, Padma.”
“Oh you are sweet. Have you met my dear friend Gail yet? She’s perhaps more your style. A real salt-of-the-Earth woman. And so friendly. She’ll never say no to anything you put in her mouth. And I mean anything, bless her heart.”
What did you think of the decision? Sad to see Carla go? Was it her own damn fault?