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Top Chef: All-Stars – Ep 14 – Padma’s Bikini and Perhaps Something Was Cooked


Elimination Challenge – Cook for the 80th anniversary of the Nassau Yacht Club for the Commodore, his wife, the ex-commodore and other members, along with Tom, Gail, Padma and Lorena. The theme is deserted island, and despite what Blais thinks, they did not have to catch a wild boar and kill it, a la John Locke. However, once they arrived at the beach, because it is an outside task, they discovered that the featured protein of conch was nowhere to be found. They had boxes of fish, lobster, veggies, etc. They had a flattop grill, pots and pans, and a few other gadgets. But no conch.

The box labeled “conch” was full of snorkeling gear. So the four of them had to go and get them from the ocean. Two things I wondered – where did they get the bathing suits? If they didn’t know they were going to swim, were they provided in the box with the gear? Second, either there are plenty of conch lying around waiting to be picked up, or the show sprinkled a whole lot of them on the beach. How cruel for the poor crustaceans – for a brief few moments, they thought they were free. And then these crazy chefs are pounding away at their shells with tiny hammers.

Mike and Blais practiced on conch back home, albeit not live ones. Mike was the only one to have the brilliant idea to boil them first so the conch meat could be removed easier. Impressively, the four chefs cooked on the beach and managed to not have their dishes full of sand. I think I still have sand in my house from our last trip to the beach last year. Also impressive, that they don’t all need chiropractors after bending over those low grills throughout the challenge.

The swimming was hysterical, especially the fact that even in very shallow water, Blais seemed incapable of descending a couple of feet to the bottom to get the conch. It was awkward and really funny. Meanwhile, Antonia has the swimming skills akin to Shelley Winters and William Shatner.

Blais – Sweet Potato Linguine with Conch and Spiny Lobster. Lorena’s lobster was undercooked, but the Commodore liked it. Tom was stunned that Blais made pasta on the beach, and more stunned when he learned it wasn’t actually pasta. Gail found it to be brilliant.

Antonia – Red Snapper with Conch Tartare and Lobster Nage. Gail is overcome by spice, in a good way. Lorena digs the punch, as does the ex-Commodore. Tom thinks the conch was cut too small and he couldn’t taste it. And yet, it was ok as vinaigrette. Whatever, I love you, Tom, but we are fighting right now. Some of the diners have overcooked and undercooked fish.

Tiffany – Conch and Coconut Chowder with Sweet Potatoes and Conch Ceviche – She plated it, but still had almost three minutes on the clock. Not good. And as a result it was cold, as Padma sarcastically noted. Lorena questions the wisdom of putting ceviche on soup. Good question – Tiffany was trying for a hot/cold blend, but got a mess of cold/cold instead. Commodore thought it was too sweet, and Tom defended the concept, but felt the flavors were not developed.

Mike – Banana Leaf Wrapped Grouper, Braised Pineapple and Conch Vinaigrette. The whole lot of judges and guests were impressed by the banana leaf and flavors it produced in the fish, and the savory nature of the pineapple. Mike braised out the sweetness and what was left was a buttery savory treat. Gail became obsessed with the pineapple.


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