We pick up right where we left off, the unjust Chinatown elimination. And the only contestant more loathed than the miraculously enduring Jamie is Marcel, who’s back in the habit — and not in the Sister Mary Clarence way.
He’s being “salty,” as Dale charmingly puts it, berating the winner for not being invested in the game — despite trying hard enough to, you know, win. It seems as though he’s about to break out one of his Season 2 raps, but alas, he just growls his opossum growl.
The gang finds out that they’re going to Montauk for a fishing trip. It’s also a double elimination, which never ceases to sound disgusting.
Also? No quickfire today, it’s straight into it. The cheftestants are given five hours to catch as many fish as they can and then cook it on the beach for 200 people. They are divided into four teams of three. Considering how little regular “Top Chef” contestants enjoy being paired up, imagine how little these pros like it.
On the way to the boat, Angelo (the guy who let a flu keep him from competing in the Season 7 finale) reveals himself to be a weenie in another arena. He’s afraid of sharks — so afraid, he doesn’t like boats or even pools.
Dale catches the first fish and is modestly cocky about it, if that makes any sense. While everyone else has less luck, Fabio, speaking in the first person, breaks it down how many they need to catch, math-style. Apparently 4 to 7 big fish will feed 100 people.
Tiffany pulls an endearing “Old Man and the Sea,” and pretty soon its raining fish, which is good, because this is a cooking competition, and watching people fish is boring.
It’s over, and everyone is happy, especially Dale, with his giant fish. Much like with Angelo last week, Dale says that he hopes this fish makes his father proud. Are daddy issues a pre-req to get into culinary school?
The teams go to the farmers market, because apparently there’s no Whole Foods in the Hamptons, only to return to the city for the challenge. The actual cooking and service takes place at the Water Taxi Beach, in majestic Queens.
While everyone is conceiving their dishes and cooking at a frenzied pace, the editors make a special point to show that we, the viewer, are not the only ones annoyed by Jamie.
It occurs to us during service, one of the uniquely meta things about the “All-Stars” season of “Top Chef”: all of the people they’re cooking for know who they are — and are totally in love with them. One woman honestly looked as though she was going to throw herself at Carla. And who could blame her?
The guest judge this week is Tom Colicchio‘s fishing buddy, chef Kerry Heffernan , which sends us into a lovely daydream about fishing with Tom Colicchio.
We return to consciousness at the judges table, where the top two teams are Dale, Carla and Tre and Tiffany, Mike and Angelo. The judges seem universally pleased but save their highest compliments for Dale and Carla. But it’s Carla, and her inventive take on the ultra-New York smoked fish and bagel combo, that makes her this week’s winner. Her prize is a trip to Amsterdam, and the thought of doing Amsterdam up right with Carla quickly replaces a fishing trip with Tom Colicchio as the greatest-sounding thing ever.
Carla is so excited about her prize, until Marcel makes her feel bad about it, which makes us want him to go home too — but he won’t, because the episode-opening tantrum would have been too obvious of a set-up.
The bottom two teams are anticlimactically revealed as Richard, Fabio and Marcel and Tiffani, Jamie and Antonia. The boys’ biggest failure was only making one dish, but the judges didn’t appreciate the restaurant-style concept too much either. As for the ladies, Antonia is actually told she might have won if her partners weren’t’ so bad. If that isn’t foreboding for Jamie and Tiffany, we don’t know what is. (It’s finally happening!)
Jamie is bland, and Tiffani is too “fishy” — a huge mistake whenever preparing fish, oddly enough. Antonia starts crying because she doesn’t want anyone to go home — which is a lie, because “bland” and “fishy” just kept her from going to Amsterdam. Padma apologizes, but insists that two must go home, conspicuously looking at Tiffani and Jamie. The judges deliberate…
[Editor’s note: As reaffirmed during the final commercial break, it is a constant source of amusement that the same network that gives us the glory of “Top Chef” also shows Frasier’s wife pretending to find out she’s getting divorced on camera.]
Padma’s eyes tell no lies. Jamie and Tiffani head home, our fond-ish memories of one of them forever marred by her mediocre Season 8 performance and terrible attitude. We still love Tiffani, though. And, oh, she seems to take her closing moment whilst packing her knives to come out of the closet*. Huh.
Next week: All-Star restaurant wars, on paper, the most exciting episode ever.
*Note: we realize that Tiffani was not coming out of closet, we were simply acknowledging what seemed like an interesting choice of edits.