Conch-er Your Fears

Fidel Gastro had a harrowing week but he’s back this week to give us our recap of Top Chef.

My apologies for missing last week’s recap. I happened to be in Japan while the episode aired, and I was even on the top floor of a 24-story building when the earthquake hit. At the time, I could have given two shits about who was going to take home $200,000 furnished by Buitoni and the title of Top Chef. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to make it home safely and with enough time to digest last week’s episode (because in the absence of impending death, I really do care about who wins). To refresh our collective memories, here’s a bullet point list of what you saw (or missed) last week:

  • The cheftestants had to cook against the winners of their season. Hosea apparently has not been a hit with the press, so he’s really cooking for “all the haters out there.” Hosea, even if you hadn’t won (which you shouldn’t have), we would still hate you.
  • Told that they were cooking for royalty, the cheftestants conceive some real classy dishes, but when they find out that the royalty is the King of Junkanoo, the Bahamian version of Carnaval, Antonia sets the deep fryer ablaze so she can rethink her dish.
  • There is a very awkward moment when the judges discuss the reconceptualizing of dishes in front of the King of Junkanoo, one of them almost slipping and saying “the cheftestants thought they were cooking for actual royalty.”
  • Isabella wins the elimination. Blais retreats to his room and cuts himself.
  • Carla changes protein plans midstream and winds up serving the judges raw pork, sending Hootie-hoo back hootie-home.
  • Now on to this week’s final four, all of whose hairstyles are fighting tooth and nail against the humidity. The Quickfire involves making 100 identical plates to test the cheftestants’ consistency skills, and it’s girls against boys, beef salad against pasta with a bolognese sauce. Both dishes are smartly prepared in bulk to keep the flavors consistent. Isabella continues the shittalk that he started last week, convinced that he and Blais deserve to win because making fresh pasta in the allotted time is more of a challenge than a simple salad, but the judges think otherwise, and T&A get the win.

    For the elimination, a bikini-clad Padma and a seafaring metalhead escort the cheftestants to a deserted island to cook a meal based around the Bahamian favorite, conch. Figuring that cooking this sea slug would be inevitable, some of the cheftestants brushed up on their skills during the break between NY and Nassau. When they get to the deserted island, however, it is apparent that they should have also brushed up on their swimming skills, because the conch had to be retrieved from the ocean. Then we are treated to the vomit-inducing image of a shirtless Isabella frolicking in the clear blue waters, and an equally offensive scene of poor Richard failing miserably at swimming. I’m certain he was bullied as a kid.

    Once the conch is captured and cracked, the cheftestants get to cooking on wood-fired grills while a bunch of fancy ass yacht people show up on the scene. Everyone but Richard keeps the Caribbean theme with their food while he decides to go Hamptons with a sweet potato “pasta” served with (undercooked) spiny lobster. Although quite creative, it’s still not enough to beat Isabella, who made a fish wrapped in a banana leaf with a mystery sauce that confused and impressed the judges, and he takes the win. Antonia’s food was considered to be too predictable, but the judges were split on whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. And Tiffany? Unfortunately, she plated her chowder too soon and it got too cold. Guest judge Charo loved it because it had cilantro, but it couldn’t stand up to the other dishes, and Tiff’s nine lives are finally spent. If you were paying attention, you’ll remember that she teamed up with Antonia for the Quickfire. The Black Hammer strikes again!