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Top Chef Recap: A Night(mare) at the Museum

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Myles Aronowitz/Bravo

A night at the museum was more like a nightmare for some contestants on Wednesday’s Top Chef: All-Stars.

In a demanding challenge, the 17 remaining chefs were asked in their Quickfire challenge to make a kid-friendly snack for a group of children who were spending the night at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

Judging them – Joe Jonas, whose celebrity impressed some, like Antonia Lofaso, who said her young daughter would freak out if she knew her mom met the rocker. Others, like Dale Talde, weren’t as star-struck. “I had no idea who Joe Jonas was,” he said. “I thought he was a pastry chef.”

With 45 minutes to cook, everyone got to work, whipping up saccharine treats for the kids to enjoy at midnight.

In the top, Spike Mendelsohn, who made carrot chips with a sweet dipping sauce, and Tiffani Faison, whose confection was part Rice Krispies treat, part snowball and totally sugary.

Sleepless Nights

But Jonas never picked a winner, instead declaring it a tie. The chefs were told to split into two teams, head to the museum and pass out 150 servings of each treat to the kids, who ultimately decided a winner. Much politicking went into the decision – lots of chatting up the diners and smiling – but ultimately, the kinder selected sugar over salt, declaring Tiffani’s team the winner.

And just when the chefs thought they could enjoy a good night’s sleep, Tom Colicchio arrived at 1:30 a.m. to deliver the grim (to some) news that the chefs would be “joining the sleepover” – only not, you know, sleeping.

Instead, the two teams would be cooking breakfast for the children and their parents – forced to use only what was in the museum’s kitchen. In another twist, one team was told they could use meat and meat byproducts (like dairy and eggs), while the other would only use grains and fruits and veggies.

As the winner, Tiffani’s team picked their poison – opting for the carnivorous route and thinking they’d also get to use herbs and vegetables.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Saddled with meat, meat and more meat – and not the kind they expected, like bacon, for instance – the chef and her all-star team were forced to get creative, but not without some major griping.

Spike’s team, meanwhile, harmoniously whipped up fruit parfaits, gnocchi (that was Fabio Viviani’s doing, naturally) and other breakfast-lite dishes.

In Stitches

Disaster struck Jamie Lauren, who sliced her finger while working on a play on bacon and eggs with Jen Carroll, and the chef had to leave the competition briefly to get stitches, missing all the action and the derision of her fellow competitors who thought she should have bandaged her finger and moved on. (They were more chagrined when they learned she only got two stitches!)

Cue the sunrise – and the horde of hungry diners. And who’s more discriminating than the judges? Kids! Those children were merciless with their criticism, picking apart dishes for being too spicy, weirdly textured or too healthy.

Ultimately, though, the judges had the final say – and this week’s Judges’ Table was especially dramatic.

Spike’s team was named the winner, and Marcel Vigneron, Richard Blais and Angelo Sosa were called out as winners for their fruit parfait dish.

And, in a startling elimination, the judges sent home a livid (is that an understatement?) Jen Carroll for her bacon and eggs. The chef was steaming mad at the decision and stormed off in a bizarre tirade of laughing, bleeping and anger, while her absent partner, Jamie, was spared elimination with her newly stitched up finger.