Top Chef All-Stars Recap, Episode 5: Dim sum, pet turtles, and daddy issues

At this point, if you don’t already know that this contains spoilers, then I feel no guilt for ruining the show for you.

After a week off, we pick up with our chefs discussing Angelo’s meddling with everyone’s food, and Jaime’s complete lack of cooking so far this season. Tip ‘o the cap to Richard Blais for his assessment of Jaime: “I haven’t seen her cook anything….she’s like the octopus, because you never see them. Something that comes out every once in a while, cooks some chickpeas, crawls back in their hole…”

As we get into the Quickfire, it is immediately apparent that speed is going to be central to this week’s episode. A “mystery chef” is going to prep and cook a dish as quickly as possible, and that will determine the chef’s time limit for their dishes. The winner quietly drives off with a new Toyota Prius and immunity.

Lo and behold, we get to see Tom Colicchio actually work in the kitchen. I honestly thought that Tom, who claimed to be “rusty”, would screw up a few times, and have a “wow, this really IS hard guys!” moment.

Not so much. Tom comes out and reminds the chefs and the audience why he owns restaurants that he never has to cook in. Because he has done that crap already, and he did it better than most. The chefs are awed by his speed and precision, and it is a great thing to watch. As Fabio put it, “Every move is synchronized with the next one. This guy is good.”

Marcel Moment # 1: When discussing watching Tom cook: “Seeing Tom cook like us is rad! I gotta give that guy respect, because I’ve seen it firsthand” <throws up a quasi-gang sign hand motion> All that was missing from that was a “yo” at the end.

Tom cranks out an apparently delicious dish of black bass with clams, zucchini, and tomato in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. Yup, you guys are screwed.

Oh, and by the way, I’ll believe that Angelo didn’t buy his wife out of a catalog before you can convince me that Tom didn’t practice that dish fifty times before doing it on camera. Rusty? HA!

The cheftestants now have 8:37 to prep and cook a dish, and Tom warns them that difficulty will be taken into consideration, so tuna tartar is not going to impress anyone. Queue the drum and Tiffani looking thwarted.

Always going against the grain, and being sneaky as hell, Marcel digs through Tom’s scraps for his black bass rather than fight fridge scramble. Blais goes straight for the foie gras – NEVER a bad decision, I might add – because it will cook quickly, but is challenging to cook properly. Despite being DIRECTLY told not to serve raw fish, Angelo thought that his “cool technique” for his yuzu branzino crudo would compensate for his laziness. Dude…crudo is raw fish with olive oil, salt, and citrus on it. Just because you chose an Asian citrus, doesn’t mean your technique impressed anyone.

Maybe it’s the cabernet talking, but was it just me, or was this episode rife with sexual innuendo? Are they just picking vices to highlight in each episode? So far, I thought they were just going to stick to weed references, but not this week. For example:

Innuendo #1 – Jaime: “I think speed is important in certain…contexts. I’ve dated people who are fast…I might be construed as fast..hahahaha” T-M-I.

The panic and completely unreasonable time constraint gets to quite a few of the chefs. Poor not-as-angry-as-he-used-to-be Dale. His attempt at pad Thai went completely south, leaving one paltry egg noodle surrounded by fish sauce. Tom spit it out into his napkin. Jaime manages to plate only a single clam. I’m honestly shocked that she didn’t twist her ankle and sit the whole thing out. They join half-assing-it-Angelo in the bottom.

Tom’s favorite dishes include Mike I’s pan roasted branzino, Marcel’s sea bass with dashi broth, and Blais’ seared foie gras.

Marcel Moment # 2: “Mike Isabella is actually after me, and the judges seem to really like his dish. I’m kinda wondering if they’re still getting some lingering flavors from my dish and it’s carrying into his…” Come on dude. Do you believe the crap that comes out of your mouth, or do you just like saying it on camera?

As if Marcel’s post interview bitterness didn’t broadcast it loudly enough, Mike I. wins immunity and the Prius.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

The chefs will work as a single team to take over Grand Harmony, one of the most popular dim sum restaurants in Chinatown, and will serve hundreds of diners during lunch rush. Remember kids, these aren’t star struck yuppies at a movie premier that watch Top Chef every season. This is lunch, in Chinatown, with a large room full of Chinese people who want good dim sum and don’t know who the @#$% you are. Good luck with that.

Marcel Moment # 3: “ Isabella..in the Prius…Jersey Shore…fist pumping…’ay can I get a cup of cawfee on da cwona for a qwarta?!” This coming from a dude with Pauly D’s hair cut.

The chefs begin menu planning, and this is where bad decisions are made. Jaime immediately suggests a scallop dish, which is a great segue into her Season 5 “Top Scallop” montage. Mike I. steps up to take the role of expediter, and Casey and Carla take on the responsibility of pushing the carts and serving the food. But all three of them still have to present a dish, and Mike has immunity. You sure you thought that one through ladies?

To round out the bad decision-making, Jaime decides that she can handle cooking a second dish. What, did all of those weeks of not cooking let you save up some extra juice for this challenge? You barely cooked a single clam in eight and half minutes.

The chefs pop open a few late night bottles of vino and kick back, savoring the last bit of relaxing they will do for the next 24 hours or so. Which brings us to…

Innuendo # 2, 3, and 4 – I’m not going to type out the whole exchange, but it involved Tiffani’s bra size (36 DD…where’s my “hootie hoo” Carla!?!), said bra being rubbed in Antonia’s face, and the line “fiddling around with their diddlies.”

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