Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 6: We’re gonna need a bigger boat

SPOILER ALERT! This recap contains absolutely NO spoilers. Seriously. If you have not watched the show, it is probably a great idea for you to read this. I promise it won’t completely ruin everything for you.*

As usual, we pick up right where the last episode left off, with the chefs reeling from the previous elimination. And, early on, Bravo and Jamie reiterate what every single person in the country already knew: Jamie should have gone home.

We also get to see drunken Marcel yelling at Dale about how he supposedly only cooked eight portions of his winning dim sum. Words can’t describe how lamely ghetto he tries to act here. Marcel’s sour grapes quickly descends into full-blown faux thug “smack talkin”, including flailing arms and the phrase “then get out the bleepin’ game”. Word to your mother.

QUICKFIRE (Or is it?)

The bleary-eyed chefs roll out of bed at 4:30 AM and head into the kitchen, only to find that Padma and Tom apparently got to sleep in. The kitchen is empty, except for a kitschy “Gone Fishin’” plaque and directions for the chefs to hop into their (PLUG ALERT!) Toyota Siennas and drive out to Montauk Point, one of the most popular fishing spots in New York.

Tom and Padma await our cheftestants at the point and immediately blindside them: There is no Quickfire this week, and it is a double elimination.

The chefs must split into four teams of three and they have 5 hours to catch all of the fish that they will need to cook for a crowd of 200. If they don’t catch any fish, they are S.O.L. At this point, I’m already imagining myself hurling a wine bottle at the screen if any of the chef’s inabilities as anglers lead to their elimination. If these guys are going to lose the challenge, I want it to be because they cooked crappy food, not because their fishing guide gave them crappy advice.

The teams are:

Team #1 – Dale T., Tre, Carla (Boat: Sea Wife IV)

Team #2 – Mike, Angelo, Tiffany (Boat: Susie E. II)

Team #3, AKA “sucks to be you guys, you got Jamie” – Jamie, Tiffani, Antonia (Boat: Sea Wife IV)

Team #4 – Blais, Marcel, Fabio (Boat: Susie E. II)

We learn that both Fabio and Dale’s fathers were avid fisherman, so one would think that their teams would have an immediate edge. We also find out that Angelo is scared to get into a baby pool because his parents let him watch Jaws a few years too early. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never panicked in the deep end and scrambled for the ladder with images of a giant great white pulling me under running through my mind. Except that happened when I was 10 years old.

The teams on the Sea Wife boat come out of the gate strong, and the Susie E teams have not pulled in a single fish as of 2.5 hours into the excursion. While I enjoy the drama of it all, I was relieved to see the Susie E boat start pulling in fish left and right to catch up.

This weeks’ sexual innuendo? The teams on Susie E help each other reel in their fish by sitting in front of the angler’s crotch and steadying their rod while one person works the reel. Mike I. makes a suggestive comment to Tiffany and Blais just spells it out for us: “We kind of have a weird technique that I don’t know that I’m proud of. I’m kinda sitting in Marcel’s lap, holding his rod…” (Eh, eh?!?!)

We also get to see Dale give birth to the biggest striped bass in Bravo history. The baby is crowning!!

Once everyone is content that they have enough fish to serve, menu planning begins. Team Blais/Marcel/Fabio makes a crucial mistake at this point. They let Marcel take charge, who thinks that they should only make one dish. Fabio is on board with this idea, because if they wind up on the bottom, the judges won’t be able to decide whom to send home for it. I’ll pick that logic apart later.

Professor Blais says, “I’m letting Marcel think that he came up with the entire dish. That is the key to managing Marcel.” Sound logic Richard, except that you actually let Marcel come up with the entire dish.

The chefs de-board and head straight to the market, which Angelo thinks is “banging”. And we get to see the budding bromance of Fabio and Richard, getting all buddy buddy strolling through the market with their cute little radio flyer wagon. No one said it better than Anotnia: “They are like the odd couple. The professor and the…strange Italian immigrant.”

Carla caught two bluefish, a “trashy fish”, but she knows that she must remove the bloodline, which is extremely bitter and fishy. This will serve her well (and others, not so well).

The chefs scramble onto Water Taxi Beach to begin prep work, and Jamie “Debbie Downer” Lauren seems to have finally gotten on the other chefs’ last nerve. She can’t stop complaining about everything, from the sand, to the heat, to the cucumber dripping on her. Though there were some great one-liners this week, my favorite was Antonia mumbling under her breath at Jamie: “What do you want me to tell you…you’re going home.”

Fabio, the “baby kisser”, is designated the prep chef for Marcel and Richard. He is fine not being “the rock star”, but his new bromance with Richard is soon tested after the 47th order that Blais barks at him.

Fabio: “Dude, shut up. You won’t get faster done if you keep asking.” Oh, Fabio. You and your endearing butchery of the English language. He had another quote about Blais that started with “I love him to death”, but after 16 rewinds on the DVR, I still couldn’t piece the second half of the sentence together.

Honestly, I’m on Richard’s side on this one. If Fabio didn’t want to be talked to like he is a prep chef, he shouldn’t have taken the job.

Tom C. makes the rounds, playing some wicked mind games with the chefs. His chats are filled with loaded questions (“Why only one dish?”) and sideways looks. Dale gets freaked out about using store bought tortillas, and Tiffani has to defend her choice of using blue fish. To say that Blais is nervous about his team’s succotash and their decision to cook only one dish would be an understatement.

This week’s quest judge, fish guru Kerry “No, it still isn’t Anthony Bourdain” Heffernan is the executive chef at South Gate restaurant, and Tom’s fishing buddy.

At the first Judge’s tasting, as he digs into Richard/Marcel/Fabio’s sea bass you can hear the contempt in Tom C. voice as he says “Yeah, this team only made ONE dish.”

TANGENT TIME!

The way that Angelo describes his dishes is an infraction that frustrates the hell out of me whenever I hear chefs talk this way: “Well, what we have here is a beautiful striped bass and a beautiful…blah blah blah.” I don’t want you to inject “beautiful”, “delightful”, or “wonderful” into the explanation of your food. I’ll be the judge of that.

Commercial interlude: Angelo thinks Mike would be a blowfish because he is gassy, Carla thinks Tre would be a creature buried in the sand because you don’t notice that he is there until he laughs, and Dale thinks Angelo would be a mermaid. Why would Angelo be a mermaid? He doesn’t say, because it just makes sense. Did you disagree with Dale? No, you didn’t. You probably said, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

JUDGE’S TABLE

Teams Dale/Carla/Tre & Mike/Tiffany/Angelo are this week’s top teams, and it is a high stakes challenge. The winner gets a trip to Amsterdam (Wait, is that stoner Antonia I hear crying from the stew room?). Though the diners loved Dale’s fish tacos, Carla’s tribute to a NY bagel (smoked blue fish lettuce wrap w/ toasted pumpernickel bagels) wins her a trip to Holland. HOOTIE HOO!!!!

Understandably, Carla is ecstatic over her win, but her jumping-up-and-down celebration in the stew room irks Marcel, who just figured out that he is on the bottom. I get that, but why be a D-bag and rain on her parade Marcel? Oh, that’s right. It is because you ARE a D-bag.

The losing teams (Antonia/Tiffani/Jamie and Blais/Marcel/Fabio) face a tough judges table. The judges quickly poke holes in Fabio’s theory, questioning whether Fabio really contributed to the dish and squarely placing blame on Blais/Marcel for a failed concept. Antonia learns that her dish was actually so good that she would have won the trip to Amsterdam if she hadn’t been on team “dead weight” that presented two other weak dishes.

You want to know why she is crying Padma? It isn’t because she should have critiqued the other two dishes. It is because she wants to legally eat mushrooms and go to the Van Gogh museum.

Tiffani should have been paying more attention to Carla, because the bloodlines that she left in her bluefish gave the dish a heavy fishy taste that the judges didn’t appreciate. And Jamie’s decision to add cucumber water on top of her striped bass w/ watermelon salad made for a bland, washed out dish.

The editors take it down to the wire, leaving us wondering if it will be a Marcel/Blais ejection or if Jamie and Tiffani will hit the bricks. I must say, I was more on the edge of my seat this episode than any this season. I was ready to flip out if Jamie stuck around while Richard went home.

Thankfully, there is justice in this world, and Jamie and Tiffani packed their knives and went.

Jamie, it has been a good run. As a Top Chef fan, I’m so very glad that you were finally cut. However, as a Top Chef re-capper, I’m sad to see you go. Your terrible work ethic and constant complaining gave me so much material to work with. Thankfully, Marcel and Angelo are still around.

Next week: RESTAURANT WARS!!! OOOHHHH YEAAAAAHHHHH!

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