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Top Chef: All Stars – Ep 14 – And Then There Were Two


Antonia – Poor Antonia. My wife’s favorite chef. She just misses the Finale – again. And this time it was in such excruciating fashion. According to the post-show blogs, it seems as if Puck was really torn on which dish to vote for after Mike and Antonia had to cook a second plate for the judges. Her “one bite” dish, part of the twist of the challenge, lost to Mike 4-3. That close.

Perhaps if her original fish wasn’t “almost rancid” thus forcing her to spice up the replacement tuna in such a way that turned off some of the judges. Maybe she would have won the challenge due to her degree of difficulty, or at least gone into the second challenge with greater confidence.

But that didn’t happen. She didn’t. And her second dish was good, but barely not good enough. I like Antonia and find her very appealing to watch on TV. I am certain her food is delicious – when you consider that she does not win due to superior technical skills, but rather from executing simple dishes with rich flavor, you know that will be a perfect win-win for her diners.

I would have been pleased to see Antonia and Blais have a Season 4 showdown for the title, but that also didn’t happen. It is Blais vs. Mike. The Genius vs. the man-child. The Hair vs. the Belly. The Favorite vs. the Underdog. Ok, I am done with analogies. The Finals in the Bahamas started with more women than men, but ends with the two men. This guarantees that after eight seasons, only one woman will have ever won Top Chef. The woman that defeated…Blais.

Quickfire – Padma enters in stunning yellow. Seriously, are there any other women who look better in yellow than Padma? Well, she and Mr. Puck announce the chefs have to re-do one of several classic Quickfires. Mike Assigns canned foods to Antonia, she gives Blais hot dogs, and Blais gives Mike the aforementioned one pot. One point – Blais runs a hamburger joint, is giving him hot dogs really a good idea? Antonia clearly has the most difficult task here.

It gets worse when in mid-challenge, Padma gives another twist – one must cook one-handed, another with no knives and hand tools, and the other tied to Carla in the double apron. Blais takes Mike’s tools, and Antonia takes Blais’ hand. Not literally, that would be a really hard core choice by the show.

Antonia – Curry Coconut Soup with Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, Peanuts and Fish Sauce.

Blais – Currywurst – Hot Dogs on handmade Roti Bread, with Curry Ketchup, Mayo and Mint Leaves.

Mike – Pork Shoulder with Black Beans, Chili Paste, Ginger and Cabbage Salad.

Puck says that Blais’ dogs were too ketchupy, but made a nice sandwich. Antonia’s soup was delicious but too concentrated. Mike’s had good balance, but the pork shoulder could’ve been cooked more. Mike wins thanks to the flavor and eye appeal.

Elimination – Cook a Last Supper for Puck, Michelle Bernstein or Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Wow. Mike chooses Michelle, and assigns Morimoto to Antonia and Puck to Blais. I thought Morimoto would be the toughest, so I was surprised Mike didn’t pair him with Blais. Mike said he wanted to beat the best in the end. Whatever. You would have beaten him here, so what’s the difference?

Antonia – Tuna Sashimi with Pickled Daiken, Mushrooms and Eggplant, Miso Soup and Rice. Morimoto found the miso too salty, but “didn’t dislike the dish.” Not really high praise, right? Gail gags on the spicy fish. Melanie Dunea, some food photographer, said some stuff, but I really don’t care about her. Not. A. Chef. Michelle thought Antonia did a good job with a difficult task and Gail praised her veggies and pickling. Tom loved the eggplant, but Japanese food needs to be subtle. This wasn’t.

Mike – Fried Chicken with Pea Puree, Egg Yolk Empanada with Mustard Gravy. Puck said it was elegant, and Michelle was blown away by the egg in the empanada, instead of a biscuit. She normally doesn’t care for that, but this was excellent. Morimoto’s white meat was dry and Gail’s batter slid off. Tom thinks the sous vice caused the breading not to stick.

Blais – Beef Goulash, Spaetzle with Sour Cream and Apple Strudel with Tarragon Cream. All chefs made yummy sounds. Blais was clearly the winner. Puck thinks it reminded him of his Austrian childhood. Tom nitpicked the onions a bit, but that was it. Gail raved about the strudel. Michelle was impressed at how he combined the classic dishes wit his modern Blais touches. Puck said his mother would approve.


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