December 23rd, 2010
11:00 AM ET
Despite the "All-Star" level cooking, we haven’t really been getting our recommended seasonal allowance of drama. But last night, thanks to some direct and indirect smack downs, that all changed.
The Quickfire challenge was to settle the great stuffing debate by creating a great stuffing. Here’s the twist: they couldn't use knives or kitchen tools of any kind.
Resourcefulness, thy name is "Top Chef." Fabio used a shelf as a cheese grater. Tiffani broke down a chicken with a pepper mill. Tre used liquid nitrogen to freeze something so he could crumble it.
In the end, it was Tiffani, Casey and Carla who ended up with the bottom three dishes. Normally, I would hate to see Carla on the bottom, but since it introduced us to the concept of “undone-tay” (as in, the quinoa in my stuffing is so unfinished it’s undone-tay), I’ll make an exception. (Point: Carla.)
Tre’s spicy stuffing won the great stuffing debate, earning him immunity and $20,000 to boot.
Then came the Elimination challenge: Divided into two teams, the chefs served their dishes head-to-head at the home of the U.S. Open. A face-off win earned one point; the first team to earn four points would win; and only the chefs from the losing team who lost face-offs were up for elimination.
Let’s all acknowledge that there was no way this would be a 4-0 sweep, or even 4-1. That’s not based on knowing the talents of these chefs; it’s based on knowing what makes for good television.
During cooking, Carla sliced her finger pretty badly. (Thank you for that close-up of the bloody finger, Bravo. Nothing works up an appetite like a little carnage.) Does she freak out? Run to the hospital? No, she gets it wrapped up on the spot, throws on a glove, and keeps on cooking. Carla is too classy to mention it, but I certainly took it as a direct shot at Jamie, who two episodes ago used a similar injury to disappear for hours in the middle of prep. (Advantage: Carla.)
On to the teams and the order of presentation:
Fabio took round one, followed by Tiffani and Angelo scoring points for their team. But then it was three in a row for the Orange team, with Carla bringing home the win. (Game, set, match: Carla.)
Some of the chefs on the Yellow team, especially Angelo, started giving a little too much input into other chefs’ dishes. This didn’t start until after Angelo won his round, which meant there was no chance he would be eliminated.
I’m not insinuating that he’s sabotaging other contestants - each chef has the ultimate responsibility for his or her dish. But Angelo did have a bit of a reputation for this in his own season, something that Colicchio brought up during Judges’ Table.
More importantly, the Yellow team's strategy of sending their weakest dishes out first backfired, because while they all agreed that Jamie had the weakest dish, she refused to go over and over again. In the end, she never had to serve, which meant even though her team lost, she wasn’t up for elimination.
And with that, I’ve officially had it with Jamie. For someone who showed up talking about how great her food is, she doesn’t seem to want anyone else to eat it. She’s found a way to essentially back out of two of the last three challenges and somehow escaped elimination both times. This is "All-Stars," Jamie. If you aren’t up for it, just do us all a favor and leave.
The person who actually got sent packing was Spike. His elimination isn’t a huge loss; I always got the feeling he was cast more for his personality than his cooking, but he does get in one parting shot on his way out the door (one I agree with wholeheartedly): This is a competition. Eventually, Jamie, you’re going to have to compete.
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