Let’s give a big hootie-hoo to Carla Hall, who nabbed her first Top Chef: All-Stars victory in Wednesday’s episode – a strenuous challenge that found the chefs competing head-to-head at the US Open.
Split into two teams – orange and yellow – the chefs each devised a dish that would be appropriate to serve to tennis players and US Open-attendees. Translation: their food needed to be elegant, light and healthful.
At first, it seemed like Hall could end up in the bottom: She insisted on making an African nut stew – healthy, sure, but not necessarily to the liking of her teammates. No matter, though, the Washington, D.C.-based chef stuck to her guns – and showed a resilient spirit even as she sliced her finger in the kitchen. (Unlike Jamie Lauren weeks earlier, Hall decided to bandage herself and keep it moving, earning her the respect of her fellow chefs.)
A major element in this week’s challenge was strategy – which Angelo Sosa knows something about. Portrayed at times as underhanded and wily, Sosa and his team decided they would send out their worst dish first and assume that the other team would send out their best dish. True, they’d lose the first point, but the team hoped they would lower expectations and then handily beat their competitors.
In reality, the strategy fell apart from the get-go. Jamie refused to serve her dish which features undercooked chickpeas. (In fact, she never served anything in this challenge!). So Casey Thompson sent out her dish, but fell to Fabio Viviani, who made whole wheat gnocchi that impressed guest judge Tony Mantuano.
As the competition rolled on, it looked as if it could be anybody’s game – until team orange eventually pulled ahead after Richard Blais bested Spike Mendelsohn, whose soup dish got some (possibly unwanted?) help from Sosa and his teammates. The judges ultimately took issue with Spike’s bland shrimp, but the chef claims the dish he served wasn’t of his own creation. Did his team tamper with his dish too much?
In the final round, Carla served against Tre Wilcox, who was immune from elimination after winning the Quickfire challenge – and $20,000 in the process. The judges didn’t love his salmon dish, so Hall won the round and, later, earned a nod of approval from the judges, who named her the winner of the entire challenge. Her prize? A trip to Italy.
Unfortunately, Spike was eliminated this week. And while he didn’t take responsibility for his final dish, despite his team’s interventions, he had to answer for it.
Tell Us: What did you think of this week’s challenge? Did Spike deserve to go home?