Top Chef All-Stars: tennis anyone?

Last night’s episode of “Top Chef All-Stars” was mostly shot at the site of the US Open tennis tournament in Flushing, New York, which took place back in August and September. Anyway, host Padma Lakshmi along with Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano announced the quickfire challenge, which was to make some sort of holiday stuffing. Of course, they couldn’t make it that easy. The chef-testants were asked to do this without using any utensils and having to be as resourceful as possible. The winner would receive both immunity this week AND $20K. Wow.

Tony’s least favorites were Carla’s quinoa, which she jokingly referred to as “undente,” meaning it was not cooked enough. She knew it and so did Tony. He also didn’t like Tiffani’s sweet maple stuffing because it was too sweet; and Casey’s mushroom dish, which didn’t really resemble stuffing at all. His faves were Tre’s cheddar/bacon/chili cornbread stuffing; and Marcel’s stuffing with raisin brioche, cherries and currants. Tre was the winner, so he had immunity this week as well as a cool 20 grand. Nice!

For the elimination challenge, they had to break into teams by choosing tennis ball cans. There were orange balls and yellow balls and the challenge was culinary tennis, as chefs from each team would compete one on one for a point, and the team to four points first won. The premise was that they were cooking for the tennis players, and Taylor Dent was one of the judges along with regulars Padma, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and also Mantuano. Anyway, those who lost a point for their team were possibly up for elimination.

The teams were Fabio, Dale, Marcel, Mike, Antonia, Richard, Carla vs. Tiffani, Casey, Tiffany, Angelo, Spike, Tre and Jamey. Fabio went up against Casey first, but Casey’s team wanted to send Jamey out first because their strategy was the worst dish went first in order to lose a point and then finish strong. They knew Jamey’s chick peas were not cooked all the way through, and yet she stayed back, saying her dish wasn’t complete. Casey was pissed, especially when she and her pork tenderloin with cherries and farro lost to Fabio who made potato gnocchi with pork ragout. Tiffani’s bass sashimi beat Dale’s edamame dumpling to tie the score. Angelo’s smoked tuna on a spoon beat out Marcel’s cauliflower cous cous over tuna; Antonia’s scallops and lentils beat Tiffany’s spiced tuna. Tie score again. Richard’s Thai-bouleh with lamb beat Spike’s tomato tamarind soup with shrimp. Then Carla got her team the win by having her African peanut soup beat out Tre’s salmon dish.

So there were a few problems here. One, the team with Jamey allowed her to skate AGAIN. She did this a few weeks ago with the museum challenge when cutting her finger. She didn’t get her dish up against Mike Isabella’s smoked chicken, and had no shot to go home. Also, Angelo “helped” Tre, who had immunity, and screwed up his fish on purpose…allegedly. He also added some weird “gelee” to Spike’s shrimp as they were plating. Of course they were both up for elimination. Angelo is no dummy, but he’s also a sneaky bastard.

Anyway, the favorite dishes were Fabio, Carla, Richard and Antonia, and Carla won—her prize was a trip to Italy. Imagine if Fabio won that? Ha! Okay, that wasn’t that funny. The bottom four were Casey, Tiffany, Spike and Tre. But Tre was already safe. The judges asked Tiffany, since she was in Season 7 with Angelo, if he typically “helped” others and sabotaged them. She kind of smirked and said she didn’t think so. Um, okay. Casey was pissed that she was there, mostly because Jamey wasn’t, and she was fidgeting like Jen did a couple weeks ago. But in the end, Spike was sent home, thanks in part to Angelo’s “gelee” on his shrimp, but also because it apparently didn’t taste very good overall.

So that’s it, we’re now down to 13 chefs, and this season is just heating up. One thing is for sure though….Jamey isn’t long for this thing. Her strategy is to skate, while Angelo’s is to sabotage others around him. So I predict Jamey will be sent packing soon, while Angelo will reach the Final Four like he did in Season 7. I mean, the guy can cook, but still…. Happy holidays everyone, and see you next week!

  

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