We are still in it, and the real season finale for Top Chef: All-Stars is still not even upon us. Let the torture stop and the recap begin!
Last night's Quickfire Challenge was the Quickfire of all Quickfires. The cheftestants each got to assign a Top Chef Quickfire classic to their competition. Antonia made Richard do hot dogs, which he was excited about because the guest judge was Wolfgang Puck. According to Richard, Austrians love hot dogs. Smart Richard also gave Mike, the guy on the winning streak, a one-pot challenge. Antonia pointed out that was stupid because now Mike had access to the whole kitchen. She dissed him by saying, "Blais, not the sharpest one in the drawer." There is nothing that we love more than the irony of an unfinished putdown.
Antonia was stuck having to make a dish using canned food, thanks to Mike. After the cooking began, Padma came in and the cheftestants got to assign each other a Quickfire twist: one hand, no utensils, or the double-apron twist. Once again, Richard choked on his assignment and gave Mike no utensils after his cooking prep was already done.
The result: Wolfgang thought Richard's hot dogs were too ketchupy, and Mike won on the strength of a single dish. The beauty of winning was that Mike was now the guy who got to orchestrate the Elimination, which was the celebrity chef last supper: Each cheftestant would have to make a famous chef's dream meal.
Mike picked Michelle Bernstein for himself; she wanted fried chicken with biscuits and gravy. Richard got paired with Wolfgang Puck -- his last supper was goulash, spaetzle, and strudel. And Mike stuck it to Antonia with a Morimoto pairing. He craved a bento box.
Michelle (my fella Jewtina, whoop-whoop!) was the only one who didn't choose a dish her mother made, and that gave Mike a bit more creative license. Richard and Antonia bitched about how they had to understand an entire culture with their dishes while Mike got to make fried chicken. BFD!
Oh, it was on. Richard couldn't open his pressure cooker and was scared of choking again. Antonia had to deal with rancid hamachi and got into some sexy talk regarding Mike giving it to her twice.
Here's what it looked like:
• Antonia: tuna with pickled daikon, mushrooms, and eggplant served with miso soup and rice
• Mike: fried chicken with pea puree, and egg yolk empanadas with mustard gravy.
• Richard: beef goulash, spaetzle with (liquid nitrogen) sour cream, and apple strudel with tarragon cream
Morimoto complained about salty miso, Michelle applauded empanada creativity, Wolfgang loved his dish, and Google search engines were blowing up looking for "Scotch bonnets" after Gail Simmons said she choked on one in Antonia's sashimi. It's a pepper, BTW.
Richard won on the spot in the dining room and the remaining two cheftestants had yet another challenge before them: They were given 45 minutes to make one last bite.
The result: one bang and one subtle. Wolfgang was the tie-breaking vote. Richard described it as sudden death at sea, where both chefs threw down. Padma had the dumbest line of the night, which made us choke on our grapes: "You came into this as competitors, you leave as cousins!" (Remember, from that pinche Ellis Island episode?)
So who went home? Antonia. The Top Chef boys' club lived on, as Richard and Mike secured places in the finale.
We can't tell what we're more excited about: the imminent finale, or the fact that this weak season is almost over. Probably the latter, although our prayers for an injection of tiger blood in this series might finally be getting heard. Either way, we are pumped. Put on your Scotch bonnet, slip into the pressure cooker, and bring on the finale!