Forget the well-stocked Top Chef pantry, this week the contestants had to forage for their own food – at sea.
With 12 chefs still standing, it was off to Montauk, the most eastern point of New York’s Long Island, and all aboard two fishing vessels for an adventure. With no Quickfire challenge to warm them up, the chefs were split into four teams of three and told to catch their own fish, then cook and serve them on the beach to 200 people.
As the chefs struggled to find their sea legs, the pressure ratcheted up – and that’s before any fishing lines were even cast.
Angelo Sosa joked (we hope) about being so traumatized by sharks after watching Jaws that it almost seemed like he wouldn’t go on the boat. But other competitors, like Dale Talde and Fabio VIviani, professed great affection for the sport. Talde said his father was an angler and that he hoped to make him proud on the high seas this week.
While some teams initially struggled, Talde managed to reel in the day’s first catch – and followed it up with many more, including a gargantuan sea bass that impressed everybody.
With teamwork the focus of the challenge, it was difficult for many to avoid double entendres in the process. “We’re kind of sitting in Marcel’s lap,” Richard Blais said of his team’s fishing technique, “holding his rod. That’s bad!”
Salty commentary aside, all four teams eventually cleaned up – then headed ashore to a local market to buy seasonal produce to pair with the catch of the day. Next, it was off to Water Taxi Beach in Queens to cook.
While Jaime Lauren complained about almost everything as she prepped, teammates Antonia Lofaso and Tiffani Faison worked on their individual dishes with little grumbling. Other teams, like Richard, Marcel and Fabio, decided to make one (complicated) dish, rather than produce individual plates or several group creations.
Other fretted about their ingredients. Tiffani and Carla Hall served bluefish, not traditionally the most elegant of proteins because of its oily quality. And Antonia tackled Porgie, aka bream, a bottom-dweller that is particularly hard to butcher. Her solution was to deep-fry it and serve it po’-boy style.
Suddenly, the diners arrived – along with the judges, including guest Kerry Heffernan, and they wasted no time sampling all the food.
Their verdicts? They weren’t crazy about the overly-complex dish cooked up by Marcel, Richard and Fabio, especially with its un-beach-friendly ham-flavored foam. They also had problems with Jamie’s sea bass with cucumber water and Tiffani’s “crude” bluefish dish.
Better yet: Carla’s smoked bluefish lettuce wraps, which featured bites of toasted pumpernickel bagels. The light dish was meant to conjure the spirit of the New York City bagel, and it did, conjuring her a free trip to Amsterdam and another victory.
This week, the judges decided that two chefs would be sent packing. So, who got the hook? Tiffani bid farewell, as did Jamie, who bowed out after a rather controversial few weeks on the show.
Tell us: Are you sorry to see Jamie and Tiffani go? Who do you think should have won?