Top Chef Recap: The Professor and the Strange Italian Immigrant

Photo: Barbara Nitke/Bravo

Last night’s episode of Top Chef kicked off with Marcel being pissed off at Dale for winning the last challenge, yelling at him on the roof as he chugged a bottle of Sapphire gin, flapping his arms like a chicken, and growling like a baby dinosaur. He must have been very hung-over when the chefs’ alarms went off at 4:30 a.m. the next day for them to head to the Quickfire, only to discover … no Quickfire this week! Instead, a trip to Montauk. We would love to show up to work only to find that we need to go spend a day in the sun in Montauk! Tough life, chefs.

Once in Montauk, Padma and Tom told the chefs that they would have five hours to catch enough fish to cook and serve to 200 people at a beach party, working in four teams of three. And b-t-dubs, it would be a double elimination. The chefs drew wooden fish to end up in teams of Antonia/Jamie/Tiffani, Carla/Dale/Tre, Mike I./Tiffany/Angelo, and Fabio/Marcel/Richard. Angelo then remarked how he was scared to go in the boat because he’s watched Jaws too many times, while Fabio let everyone know that he’d be great at this challenge because his dad was on Italy’s national fishing team, which apparently is a thing that exists.

The chefs proceeded to fish with a lot of help from the charter-boat captains, who were very nice considering the chefs disregarded most of their advice as to how to shake the poles. Tiffani thought Tre’s fishing technique looked like he was going into labor, while Dale (who caught a fish “as big as Marcel”) thought that the fish Angelo was most like was a mermaid. Fair enough. After their day at sea, the chefs shopped at a farmers’ market that made us very, very sad that it is the middle of January and that the only things in Union Square right now are meat vendors and slush piles. For unknown silly production reasons, they then went home and didn’t cook for another 24 hours, which kind of defeats the purpose of getting up early to catch fresh fish, no?

During cooking time at Water Taxi Beach, most of the chefs were pretty calm except for Jamie, who complained about everything from the sand to the sun to her cucumbers. Tom popped by to visit, finding doubt in almost everyone except Mike I., whom he appeared to be flirting with. Meanwhile, once service began, diners all rushed with glee to Carla while Padma was awed by how close Queens was. It’s almost like it’s the same city, isn’t it, Padma? Don’t you come across the river every day for the Quickfires?

Team Dale/Carla/Tre and Team Mike/Tiffany/Angelo made the top. Everyone loved Dale’s fish tacos with avocado corn relish, Tre’s striped sea bass with gazpacho salad, Carla’s smoked bluefish lettuce wrap with bagel croutons, and the teamwork behind Mike/Tiffany/Angelo’s pickled bluefish with spicy watermelon and striped bass with corn puree, tomato, and watermelon, all of which sound delicious. The win went to the dish that Tom considered “brilliant”: Carla’s! Yay! She bounced around in her wonderful, genuinely happy way until Marcel rained all over her parade when she returned to the stew room. You are on our List now, Marcel. He was on the judges’ list, too, along with Richard, Fabio, Antonia, Jamie, and Tiffani. Well, Antonia wasn’t quite on the list, with Tom pointing out that she might have even won the challenge had she not been on such a team of losers.

The judges were very unhappy with team Marcel/Richard/Fabio’s decision to only make one dish, especially since it was so heavy and unedited, but they were even more unhappy that Tiffani didn’t take the fishy bloodline out of her smoked bluefish salad with tomato, and that Jamie’s striped bass with watermelon and cucumber water was so bland, and sent them packing. Did anyone else know Tiffani was doomed the second they showed her interviewing at the start of the episode with uncharacteristically nicely styled hair? Not that it matters, since we’re just so happy that Jamie is FINALLY gone.

Next week: Restaurant Wars! Cooking outside again! Everything’s cold! Fabio’s front of house again! And trying to date Dana Cowen? Dale is yelling! Anthony Bourdain is back!

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat