Thursday, January 13, 2011

Something's Fishy: The Top Chef All-Stars recap



I know that when I drink I become more Jewish. . . I’m making jokes like a Borscht-belt comedian, I’m dropping Yiddish like it’s hot, I’m letting that old Lawng-Island accent fly free.

Apparently, when Marcel drinks he becomes more. . .black?
Not really black, of course, but the most horrible white-kid-who-thinks-he’s-a-gangstah display I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness.

He’s waving his arms in this embarrassing yo-boy way, he’s circling his prey like an emcee in a rap battle at the Apollo—he’s like some horrible cross between Vanilla Ice and Teen Wolf.

It moves beyond cringe-worthy and approaches the realm of impossible to watch. (And yet we must.)

The object of Marcel’s derision? None other than Dale, formerly nicknamed AngryDale ™—but now nicknamed GandhiDale ™—who just sits there like a Buddha, taking it.
(By the way, I have no freakin’ clue what Marcel was rambling about: Dale made too much food? He didn’t make enough food? Marcel could’ve made the same amount of food as Dale? Marcel was playing by the rules but Dale wasn’t? It was complete and utter gibberish.)

Anyway, I keep waiting for Dale to attack—like some sort of wild animal that remains eerily still before pouncing.
But instead, he gets up and. . .walks away.
“Marcel is lucky I took anger management,” he says, by way of explanation. So there you go.

Meanwhile, after Dale exits, stage left, Tre is still hanging with Marcel on the deck. And I’m thinking, “Is Tre actually on Team Marcel?” Could that even be possible?

Cut to a producer’s interview with Tre: “I’ve definitely noticed over the weeks that Marcel is kind of an asshole.”
So there you go.

As a coda to this little kerfuffle on the deck, Marcel actually barks. Barks.

Because Marcel’s display took so long, there is no Quickfire Challenge. . .also, because they didn’t want me to use my puntastic blog title: Moby Quick(fire). .

Instead, the bleary-eyed cheftestants have to make their way to Montauk at 5 in the morning—off to the Toyota Siena-mobiles they go!—where they meet Padma and Tom.

Their Elimination Challenge is simple: Split into 4 teams of 3, catch as many fish as you can, and cook the fish for 200 people at a beach party.
Good times.

By the way, can we again discuss how Tom Colicchio is the perfect man? So apparently, his favorite thing to do on a Sunday is catch a fish, go to the farmer’s market and buy accompaniments, cook a delicious meal, and rub my feet. (Okay, I made that last part up.)

The teams are as such:

Jamie, Tiffani, and Antonia (nicknamed Team Poor Antonia, What Did She Do To Deserve This?)

Dale, Carla, and Tre

Mike, Angelo, and Tiffany

and

Richard, Marcel, and Fabio


Amongst the cheftestants, there are varying degrees of fishing experience.
Fabio’s father was apparently on the national (fish catching?) team in Italy.
Dale’s dad is a professional angler.
Antonia, meanwhile, thinks the best way to catch fish is to shout, “Here fishy fishy!”
And Angelo is so irrationally afraid of sharks, he won’t go in a swimming pool.

They split up onto two boats:
Boat 1, which has Team Dale and Team Poor Antonia, is absolutely on fire.
They are catching fish like they, too, are on Italy’s National Fish Catching team. (The Flying Cioppinos?)

Dale, in particular, catches the “fish of a lifetime”—a ginormous striped bass that he immediately names Marcel.

They’re going to need a bigger boat.

Over on Boat 2, there are “no fish for Fabby today.” (Heh.)
But eventually, both teams adopt some sort of quasi-sexual method that involves climbing between each other’s legs and pulling.
As Richard puts it: “We have a weird technique that I’m not sure I’m proud of. We’re kind of sitting in Marcel’s lap, holding his rod.”

In the end, everyone has enough fish for the meal.
At the farmer’s market, Antonia notices that Richard and Fabio have become inseparable.
“It’s like the professor and the . . uh. . .strange Italian immigrant,” she says. (And that analogy had such promise at first.)

But once they start cooking, there’s some tension in the bromance, as Richard is spazzing out, and telling Fabio to hurry up, and pretty much being a tool.

Fabio says something in response and—for the life of me—I need help diagramming his sentence:

“I love him to death, but this guy’s going to get a
a. nut
b. knife
c. gnat
attack if he doesn’t
a. pace
b. peace
c. please
himself up a little bit.”

My best guess: “I love him to death, but this guy’s going to get a nut attack if he doesn’t peace himself up a little bit.” Which actually makes more sense than Marcel’s rant from the beginning of the show.

Marcel by the way, has the worst idea on the show since Spike decided to lead with his weakest dish on the U.S. Open Challenge: The boys are going to make one dish.

“That way, if the dish is no good, the judges won’t know who to send home,” explains Fabio. “It’s psychological warfare.”

Diabolical! And by that I mean, diabolically stupid!

Anyway, Tom Colicchio comes by to check on everyone’s progress and, as he is want to do, kinda freaks everybody out.

Turns out, bluefish is not only the Rodney Dangerfield of fish, it's very hard to make, and he’s not so sure Tiffani has the chops to handle it.

He also questions Team Fabio and their Single Entrée theory.

And he’s not so sure about Dale’s store-bought tortillas.

But he’s just trying to help.

Mealtime: Everyone’s sitting at picnic tables on the beach and eating this amazingly fresh fish and, not since the Top Chef Masters hamburger challenge have I so desperately wanted to be one of the judges.

Back in the waiting chamber. . .
Padma calls in Team Dale (with Carla and Tre) and Team Tiffany (with Mike and Angelo.)

“We could still be the top,” sniffs Marcel. It’s true, last week, Padma mixed things up and called out the bottom first. She’s crazy unpredictable like that.

“Your teams. . .had our favorite dishes of the night,” she announces, clearly pleased with her enigmatic ways.

In short, Dale’s fish tacos had gorgeous chunks of fish.
Carla’s riff on lox and bagels (smoked bluefish with bagel croutons) was clever and had a nice smokiness.
Tre’s striped bass with gazpacho salad was pleasingly refreshing.

Team Tiffany made only two dishes, but the judges dug both their pickled bluefish with shallots and striped bass with corn puree.

And the winner is. . .Carla! Again! Squee!
She gets an expense paid trip to Amsterdam, which she so doesn’t need, because Carla is high on life.

Carla is giddy with excitement and goes bounding into the waiting room shouting, “I won! I won! I won!”
And Marcel, oh-so-predictably ,says, “Sorry I’m not super ecstatic right now. It means we’re on the bottom.”

This, of course, upsets Carla, who really is just this sort of kind-hearted earth-sprite, and she castigates herself.
“I should’ve contained my excitement,” she says.
But everyone assures her that she did nothing wrong and Marcel is a total d-bag.

So Team One Dish, all looking twitchy as hell, are in the bottom because they tried to do a restaurant-style dish in an outside fish fry, and their succotash was muddled and laden with too many elements.

Team Poor Antonia, What Did She Do To Deserve This? proves true to form:
If Antonia hadn’t been saddled with Jamie and Tiffani, her open faced porgy po-boy (pictured, because it looks freakin’ delicious) might’ve won the whole ball of wax.

Jamie’s striped bass with cucumber salad and cucumber water was watery and bland.

Tiffani, it turns out, was not up to the challenge of the bluefish and her “bloodline” flavor (ewww) was overpowering.

It’s a double elimination, so the judges have a lot to think about.
Could two members of Team Fabio actually go? The way they described that succotash, it did seem to be suffering.

But no, the judges go the easy route and throw Tiffani and Jamie overboard.

And it occurs to me, with mounting horror, that Marcel’s stupid plan of only making one dish actually worked. The judges, in fact, didn’t know who to throw out from Team One Dish, so they went with two from the other team.

Oy. I need a drink.

7 comments:

Christian said...

So, I read a lot of top chef recap blogs, because I'm a nerd. Yours is by far the funniest and the one I look forward to the most. Today's had me cracking up at my desk!

maxthegirl said...

Thanks Christian!

vpowers314 said...

I so look forward to your TC recaps!

I'm glad Jamie is gone, but I was hoping they'd throw Marcel out as well.

donna said...

A "horrible cross between Vanilla Ice and Teen Wolf." That's exactly it!

I think Marcel was whining that Dale only put out plates for the judges and disregarded the rest of the dining room. Sounds like he spent too much time looking at what other people were doing instead of focusing on his own dishes.

MoHub said...

Although not nearly as funny as your version, what Fabio actually said about Richard was:

"I love him to death, but he's going to have a heart attack if he doesn't pace himself."

maxthegirl said...

Thank you MoHub. You have an advanced degree in Fabionics.

Cliff O'Neill said...

Super-duper late am I.

Grand recap. And who knew Italy had a national fishing team?