Top Chef All-Stars: now it’s a final four

Okay, so last week we were fired up that “Top Chef All-Stars” would have a final five instead of a final four, but that would change last night. When they got to the Bahamas for the finale, I wondered if this was it, if this was the episode they would name the Top Chef. But it didn’t feel like a finale. So what it wound up being is a competition that would bring them down to four.

It started last night at Fort Charlotte, where the chef-testants would compete against the chefs that won their season–Stephanie, Hosea, Michael, and Kevin. The quick fire challenge would be to compete against the chef that won their respective season, using a secret ingredient chosen for them ahead of time. Mike was up against Michael Voltaggio, maybe the best chef in the history of the show, and they had duck; Antonia and Richard would square off against Stephanie using veal; Carla was up against Hosea using lamb; and Tiffany squared off vs. Kevin using pork. The winners would each take home $10K.

Mike beat Michael with his cashew dusted duck breast; Richard beat both Stephanie and Antonia (roasted veal with leeks and almond puree) with his seared veal loin and braised veal cap with carrots, raisins and potatoes; Carla lost to Hosea when she made harissa lamb with rice; and Tiffany beat Kevin with her pork stew with potatoes and peppers. So Tiffany, Mike and Richard had confidence heading into the elimination challenge.

That challenge was to cook for a dinner party for the King of Junkanoo. But whether it was a conspiracy or not, the deep fryer in the kitchen of the restaurant they were in caught fire, which forced them out of that kitchen and having to start over again. Antonia and Carla each changed their dishes as a result. At the judge’s table, host Padma Lakshmi was joined by Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Eric Ripert and of course, the King of Junkanoo. Tom said that overall, the dishes missed the mark.

But they did have a couple of favorites, and the winner this week was Mike (chicken, mushroom and lobster hash with yams). Richard was also safe, with his lamb loin “cannelloni” with pickled turnip). Richard, of course, thought his dish sucked, but the judges liked it enough to keep him around. So facing elimination were Carla (pork loin with sweet potatoes and apple chips); Antonia (fried shrimp over grits flavored with pork, and slaw); and Tiffany (roasted spiced pork with dirty rice). I thought that they said enough good things about Tiffany’s dish, and that it would come down to Carla and Antonia—and it was Carla. So Carla heads home and our final four is Antonia, Tiffany, Mike and Richard. Okay then. I still like Richard but any of them can win, and that’s how it should be.

I have to admit, I was very surprised that none of the chefs made a fish dish, though Antonia’s shrimp and Mike’s use of lobster were the only things from the ocean. Still, no fish, in the Bahamas? Kind of interesting, or maybe the presence of Eric Ripert coupled with the fear of losing were the reasoning behind that.

So who do you like now? I still like Richard, despite his own self-doubt. See you all next week!

  

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