It’s getting down to the wire on Top Chef: All Stars, and I’m most dismayed to report that Mike Isabella has been coming on strong so far. How did this happen? Coming in to this week’s episode, he had already beaten out a Voltaggio in one challenge and taken home the big prize for another. He’s suddenly unstoppable. That’s hard for me to say though. I can’t even say “coming on strong” in association with Mike. It’s more like the others are just coming on weak. Whatever it is, somebody’s gotta stop Mike before he somehow takes home the big prize.

Not cool.I thought maybe this might be Mike’s week to get chopped, but I forgot the basic rule that anyone who teams up with Antonia will go home, and sure enough the curse continued this episode. Yes, beloved Tiffany was sent packing after having joined forces with Antonia during the Quickfire, thus leaving Chef Lofaso’s reputation intact. To be fair, as much as we all love Tiffany, she did seem out of her league. She had narrowly escaped elimination entirely way too often to have a realistic shot at the big title. The good news is that Tiffany had made it farther than her original run in D.C.. The bad news was that once she told us that this second run had proven that she could do anything, I knew she was a goner.

Nevertheless, this week’s elimination challenge was pretty fun. The chefs were dropped off at an island with all sorts of fun ingredients; however, the one mandatory element — conch — was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the chefs had to don snorkeling gear and hunt down the conch themselves. This was a fun twist, even if it did afford us many not so glamorous shots of Mike Isabella shirtless (a visual that Richard Blais warned us would be difficult to take in).

Anyway, the gang had to cook a gourmet lunch for the members of a Bahamian yacht club, all of whom were wearing white, which was rather appropriate given the general lack of color in this Caribbean group. Padma and Gail looked better than ever in their borderline Grecian frocks, and from what we could tell, all the chefs did an impressive job with the challenge. Not a single complaint about sand in the food despite everything having been prepared just a few feet down on the beach.

Alas, in the end, TIffany’s chowder was just a tad too cool for the judges’ liking. Plus Tom made a salient point about her strange idea to top the hot soup with ceviche. Wouldn’t that have cooked the fish? I guess it didn’t matter with the tepid temperatures. Tiffany went home, and now we’re left with just three.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m awfully nervous about Mike’s proximity to the winner’s circle…

Padma: “Chefs, for this Quick Fire challenge, you will be graded on consistency and flavor. You will pair up and make 100 plates of food, all of which will be eaten by my dear friend Gail Simmons, bless her heart.”

Antonia: “Give me a second. I can get the whole fist in there. Here we go…”

Antonia: “Don’t worry, Tiffany. Just because everyone who teams up with me always goes home doesn’t mean that YOU’LL be in any danger…”

Mike: “Hey Blais, you think that if we head-butted each other, our faux-hawks would lock together?”
“Only one way to find out…”
[insert sound of two hollow coconuts thudding]

Padma: “It’s a shame my dear friend Gail Simmons couldn’t be here for this. She absolutely loves a beef salad, especially when it’s served on a bed of candy corns and Ring Dings. Bless her heart.”

Mike: “Hey Blais, five dollars the girls scissor tonight.”

“Hello, cheftestants. My dear friend Gail Simmons was supposed to join me today, but she leapt overboard after she mistook a sting ray for a giant pancake, bless her heart.”

“Chefs, please remember that if you take one step closer to me, you’ll be fed to a hammerhead shark. Or Gail. Bless her heart.”

“Bold flavors, rich body, creamy texture, delicate nuances… I HATE IT.”

Tom: “I didn’t want to wear white today. I wanted to wear gray, but OHHHH NO, I had to wear white. Well, I’m not taking it anymore. DAMMIT, I’m NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE!!!”

Padma: “Hello, chefs. Welcome to Mount Olympus.”

“Seriously? Mike won again? Is this some sort of prank? Like an Andy Cohen version of Punk’d? It’s called Mazel’d, isn’t it?”

Tiffany: “Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. And fuck you.”

What did you think about the episode? Agree with the judges’ choice?

15 replies on “TOP CHEF PHOTOCAP: Conch Blocked”

  1. I can’t get The Commodore’s eyebrows out of my head. Those things were two mini-versions of his hair. It was like he had 3 skunks on his head.

    Geez Blais – all you have done this season is pout. This guy is full of sour grapes.

    Antonia, you are my only hope.


  2. Blais is that girl we all know who complains to everyone about how fat & ugly she is just so everyone will tell her how pretty she is. Gah, annoying & fake. I’d buy his self-loathing only if he didn’t bitch & moan about how he should’ve won his season, as well as every single challenge this season. At least Mike’s just stupid. A whole lotta stupid-especially since he’d rather win due to everyone else’s failure rather than having the best among strong dishes.

  3. This self-hatred thing by Blais is new, and puzzling. Maybe it was edited out of previous seasons, or maybe it’s a conscious effort on his part to look neurotic and insecure because he’s afraid he’s come across as arrogant. I’m enough of a fan to chalk it up to an artistic temperament and a competitive nature because it’s clear that he wants this so badly. He has always been a good sport about helping out other cooks and does not make fun of the other chefs or cheat like Mike Isabella.

    I laughed my ass off at the esteemed Italian chef Tom Colicchio not being able to distinguish pasta from sweet potato, and I was mesmerized by Gail’s gorgeous beach hair.

  4. Mike amuses me. I would be okay if he wins excpet that he will be a total dick about it. Wait…will that amuse me?

  5. Mike’s cockiness is intolerable.

    Padma must’ve been really affected by her weight gainage last season. She totally wanted to show the world that she’s back in shape.

    1. I was just going to say…..I found it quite amusing that Padma was standing there in her swimsuit for only that segment. No real point, just there… a bikini. Of course, if I had her body I’d walk around everywhere in a bikini.

  6. “Bold flavors, rich body, creamy texture, delicate nuances… I HATE IT.” I almost spit out my drink!

    Your recaps are the best, hands down! And thx for having it up so quickly!

  7. Tom is becoming that angry little Ompha Lompha from the most recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. Scary little guy he is.
    And yes Padma finally got out of her clothes to prove she lost her baby pounds. Good for her. I am seriously disappointed we did not get any shirtless Mike love. Seeing him running to the ocean, I am surprised he didn’t explain that away for us.
    Richard Richard Richard… get it together man.

  8. I actually yelled at the TV when Mike won!! So annoying. I still think it will be Richard in the end but the way he is acting, I am not sure I want that now either!

    The Mount Olympus shot is hysterical.

  9. Please, Mike Isabella CANNOT win……I won’t be able to take it!
    Go Antonia!!!!!

  10. If Mike wins, I’m never watching this show again. And, don’t think I haven’t forgotten about my ban of Project Runway after last season’s fail, Kors!

  11. I couldn’t stand the fact that Isabella was in the top five, but now he slithered into the top three! Oh, please Richard or Antonia make this nightmare stop!

    Oh, and Tiffany was very lucky to have made it to the top four, she should’ve been gone long ago.

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