“Top Chef” Recaps: Episode 4.13 “Puerto Rico”

Gail has her own issue with the food. She thought her dishes
focused more on the garnishes than on the pig itself. And guest judge Wilo said
he thought the tostone was unbalanced. She takes their criticism without
argument.

Then they turn their attention to Antonia. They ask her how
it went and she says she thought her pigeon peas could have been cooked longer.
Tom says the judges won’t argue her on that point.

She tells them when she first took them off, they seemed
soft. But that she enjoys her peas “more on the al dente side.” Al
dente beans? Is there even such a thing? Tom’s face says “no.”

Padma wants to know why she decided to make three dishes and
serve them on the same plate. Antonia says she didn’t want her presentation to
be so refined. Tom calls it an “interesting choice.” Substitute “bad”
for “interesting” and I think we can easily decipher what Tom is
really saying.

Lisa and Antonia are sent back to stew a little longer while
the judges confer. Gail said there were small elements about each of Lisa’s
dishes she didn’t like. In the waiting room, Lisa seems to sense their
disgruntlement as she commiserates with Antonia.

Lisa: I’m telling
you right now I’m going home … I’m not saying I did a horrible job, I’m just
being realistic.

Moving onto Antonia’s dishes, Gail says she thought hers
were the least sophisticated of the four. Tom thought putting the food on one
plate made it blend together. And then Gail confirms my suspicion that there is
no such thing as al dente beans. Antonia, meanwhile, states the obvious to
Lisa.

Antonia: I don’t
want to go home. I really, really, really don’t want to go home.

There’s no place like
home —
Back in front of the judges, Lisa and Antonia await their fate. Tom
says instead of bringing their A game, they both brought their B+ game.

Tom tells Antonia her dishes were good, but questioned the
decision to serve them all on one plate. And her “fatal flaw” was the
undercooked pigeon peas. Oh dear, any criticism that includes the word “fatal”
is, as a rule, not a good sign. He tells Lisa some of her dishes were memorable
and some just “fell short of the mark.”

But, he said, the most telling thing was looking out over
the garden and seeing which tables drew the most guests. One of them simply
didn’t have a crowd. So, who had to pack her knives and go? Antonia.

In her shock, she skips Gail while shaking the judges hands
before she leaves. And it is shocking. Even Lisa is shocked. Antonia was, let’s
face it, a favorite from the start. Her dishes have been consistently strong.
She is just, well, solid. Afterward she tearfully addresses the cameras.

Antonia: Coming
all this way to make such a silly mistake is just sad … My entire heart was
invested in it. My daughter is, honestly, the only person who could make me
feel better. She means more to me than anything else.

The shock continues when Richard and Stephanie hear the
news. Silent hugs go all around from Richard, Lisa and Stephanie. But for
Stephanie she has a special message:

Right on, Team Stephanie!

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