“Top Chef All-Stars” Recap (8.04): Game, set, dinner

Guest Judge Tony calls out Carla, Tiffani and Casey’s dishes as his least favorite. His favorites then are Tre and Marcel. But then who took home immunity and big bucks? Tre. Thrilled with his win he runs out to shake Tony’s hand and give Padma a hug. Smooth move, man – you’ve got to take your opportunities to get a little mmm, Padma, mmm action whenever you can.

With snuggle time over, Padma tells them they will be serving food at the grounds of the U.S. Open for the Elimination Challenges. By luck of the tennis ball the cheftestants are sorted into Yellow (Angelo, Tiffani, Casey, Jamie, Tre, Tiffany and Spike) and Orange (Mike, Fabio, Dale, Carla, Antonia, Blais and Marcel) teams. Spike seems most worried with the selections, since he has no allies on Team Yellow, or with anyone who hates asshats.

Each chef must prepare a healthy, high-energy dish to serve to the judges that is fit for a professional tennis player. Then, they’ll play a game of culinary tennis with a chef from each team going head-to-head against another. The winning dish earns a point, and the first team to four points wins. Call it game, set, dinner.

The teams get together to plan. Carla tells her teammates she wants to do a vegetarian peanut soup, but Little Mad Dale dismisses her idea as “not the kind of food these people want to eat.” On Team Yellow, Spike is scheming out a plan to put their team’s worst dish against the other team’s best. Angelo seems all for it while the ladies, particularly Jamie, seem less enthused. Her strategy is simpler: “If I can avoid fighting, I’m going to avoid fighting.”

At the USTA National Tennis Center Kitchen, the teams get cooking. Despite her team’s skepticism, Carla feels confident with her dish because she is a runner and understands what athletes need to perform. Her teammate Antonia, however, never played sports in high school and “smoked a lot of pot” instead. Though, if you think about it, her history with getting the munchies should at the very least help her make something tasty.

The chefs hit a few snags: Fabio makes his gnocchi without a mixer, Angelo needs to borrow tuna from Tiffany because his mackerel is slimey, Jamie worries her dried chickpeas won’t in time, Spike butchers his shrimp and needs to make another batch. But none is as big as the hangnail – as in nail hanging off her finger – that Carla gets. She slices off half her fingernail while cooking.

Little Angry Dale says he can hear the medic telling her she should go to the hospital, but Carla declines saying “I can handle it.” This, of course, impresses him because God forbid a chef seeks care when a medical professional tells her to. He says, “Carla manned up. It’s called being a professional.” Antonia chimes in as well, comparing Carla’s injury to Jamie’s earlier injury. OK, we get it, you want people to bleed for their food. Can we give this damn “Jamie is a wuss” thing a rest?

Also, if we want to get technical, Jamie’s injury was a deep cut to her thumb, Carla’s was slicing her fingernail. Both looked painful, but as Carla said, you can’t stitch a fingernail. Moving on.

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