City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Top Chef All-Stars Recap, Episode 5: Dim sum, pet turtles, and daddy issues


At this point, if you don’t already know that this contains spoilers, then I feel no guilt for ruining the show for you.

After a week off, we pick up with our chefs discussing Angelo’s meddling with everyone’s food, and Jaime’s complete lack of cooking so far this season. Tip ‘o the cap to Richard Blais for his assessment of Jaime: “I haven’t seen her cook anything….she’s like the octopus, because you never see them. Something that comes out every once in a while, cooks some chickpeas, crawls back in their hole…”

As we get into the Quickfire, it is immediately apparent that speed is going to be central to this week’s episode. A “mystery chef” is going to prep and cook a dish as quickly as possible, and that will determine the chef’s time limit for their dishes. The winner quietly drives off with a new Toyota Prius and immunity.

Lo and behold, we get to see Tom Colicchio actually work in the kitchen. I honestly thought that Tom, who claimed to be “rusty”, would screw up a few times, and have a “wow, this really IS hard guys!” moment.

Not so much. Tom comes out and reminds the chefs and the audience why he owns restaurants that he never has to cook in. Because he has done that crap already, and he did it better than most. The chefs are awed by his speed and precision, and it is a great thing to watch. As Fabio put it, “Every move is synchronized with the next one. This guy is good.”

Marcel Moment # 1: When discussing watching Tom cook: “Seeing Tom cook like us is rad! I gotta give that guy respect, because I’ve seen it firsthand” <throws up a quasi-gang sign hand motion> All that was missing from that was a “yo” at the end.

Tom cranks out an apparently delicious dish of black bass with clams, zucchini, and tomato in 8 minutes and 37 seconds. Yup, you guys are screwed.

Oh, and by the way, I’ll believe that Angelo didn’t buy his wife out of a catalog before you can convince me that Tom didn’t practice that dish fifty times before doing it on camera. Rusty? HA!

The cheftestants now have 8:37 to prep and cook a dish, and Tom warns them that difficulty will be taken into consideration, so tuna tartar is not going to impress anyone. Queue the drum and Tiffani looking thwarted.

Always going against the grain, and being sneaky as hell, Marcel digs through Tom’s scraps for his black bass rather than fight fridge scramble. Blais goes straight for the foie gras – NEVER a bad decision, I might add – because it will cook quickly, but is challenging to cook properly. Despite being DIRECTLY told not to serve raw fish, Angelo thought that his “cool technique” for his yuzu branzino crudo would compensate for his laziness. Dude…crudo is raw fish with olive oil, salt, and citrus on it. Just because you chose an Asian citrus, doesn’t mean your technique impressed anyone.

Maybe it’s the cabernet talking, but was it just me, or was this episode rife with sexual innuendo? Are they just picking vices to highlight in each episode? So far, I thought they were just going to stick to weed references, but not this week. For example:

Innuendo #1 – Jaime: “I think speed is important in certain…contexts. I’ve dated people who are fast…I might be construed as fast..hahahaha” T-M-I.

The panic and completely unreasonable time constraint gets to quite a few of the chefs. Poor not-as-angry-as-he-used-to-be Dale. His attempt at pad Thai went completely south, leaving one paltry egg noodle surrounded by fish sauce. Tom spit it out into his napkin. Jaime manages to plate only a single clam. I’m honestly shocked that she didn’t twist her ankle and sit the whole thing out. They join half-assing-it-Angelo in the bottom.

Tom’s favorite dishes include Mike I’s pan roasted branzino, Marcel’s sea bass with dashi broth, and Blais’ seared foie gras.

Marcel Moment # 2: “Mike Isabella is actually after me, and the judges seem to really like his dish. I’m kinda wondering if they’re still getting some lingering flavors from my dish and it’s carrying into his…” Come on dude. Do you believe the crap that comes out of your mouth, or do you just like saying it on camera?

As if Marcel’s post interview bitterness didn’t broadcast it loudly enough, Mike I. wins immunity and the Prius.


The chefs will work as a single team to take over Grand Harmony, one of the most popular dim sum restaurants in Chinatown, and will serve hundreds of diners during lunch rush. Remember kids, these aren’t star struck yuppies at a movie premier that watch Top Chef every season. This is lunch, in Chinatown, with a large room full of Chinese people who want good dim sum and don’t know who the @#$% you are. Good luck with that.

Marcel Moment # 3: “ the Prius…Jersey Shore…fist pumping…’ay can I get a cup of cawfee on da cwona for a qwarta?!” This coming from a dude with Pauly D’s hair cut.

The chefs begin menu planning, and this is where bad decisions are made. Jaime immediately suggests a scallop dish, which is a great segue into her Season 5 “Top Scallop” montage. Mike I. steps up to take the role of expediter, and Casey and Carla take on the responsibility of pushing the carts and serving the food. But all three of them still have to present a dish, and Mike has immunity. You sure you thought that one through ladies?

To round out the bad decision-making, Jaime decides that she can handle cooking a second dish. What, did all of those weeks of not cooking let you save up some extra juice for this challenge? You barely cooked a single clam in eight and half minutes.

The chefs pop open a few late night bottles of vino and kick back, savoring the last bit of relaxing they will do for the next 24 hours or so. Which brings us to…

Innuendo # 2, 3, and 4 – I’m not going to type out the whole exchange, but it involved Tiffani’s bra size (36 DD…where’s my “hootie hoo” Carla!?!), said bra being rubbed in Antonia’s face, and the line “fiddling around with their diddlies.”

As the chefs search through the Asian market for someone that speaks English, a saddened and distracted Fabio is making kissy faces at the live turtle display. It seems that he keeps a pet turtle at home – his “little princess” – which he takes for walks on a Chihuahua leash. And they somehow got footage of it. No offense to avid turtle pet owners, but WHAT?!

Casey decides to cook chicken feet, which is seriously ballsy. But she knows that “if given time, I can make this dish amazing.” Were you not paying attention? Time is pretty much the only thing that you aren’t going to have sweetheart, especially since you thought that you should work front of house on top of everything else.

The scene in the kitchen descends quickly into madness as service approaches. A hundred and eighty portions per dish turns out to be more than some of the chefs can keep up with. Jaime’s scallop dumplings aren’t working out and she and Antonia have barely thought about their second dish, Casey is still trimming chicken toenails, and Carla realizes that she should have picked something less “fiddly” than her spring rolls.

Am I the only one that felt a little uncomfortable with Angelo’s confessional about his daddy issues? I felt bad for him…I mean, he was already a successful chef before the show, but it took making it onto television for his dad to be proud of him for the first time? But then again, I’m pretty sure that if I were Angelo’s father I would have spent a lot of time shaking my head and blaming his mother’s side of the family.

Lunchtime comes, and patrons are literally stacked out front. As soon as service starts, the kitchen goes from chaos to Armageddon. The judges, including this week’s guest and Top Chef Masters alum, Susur Lee, are served immediately. This leaves 246 starving people to crane their necks to catch a whiff and fight over the crumbs falling from Padma’s plates.

Service is shamefully bad. People are leaving, Tom storms into the kitchen to crack the whip, and a 60-year old Chinese woman almost tackles Mike I. to get a plate.

Judges table finds Jaime (shocker), Antonia, Tre, Carla, and Casey on the bottom. Jaime’s scallop dumplings and long bean dishes were both unappetizing. Tre’s orange dessert was an overheated soupy mess. Carla’s pretty spring rolls had no flavor. And Casey, who trusted Antonia to plate and cook her dish for her, didn’t win anyone over with her leaden pancake and inedible chicken feet.

This weeks’ favorites were Fabio’s short ribs, Tiffany’s pork buns, Dale’s sticky rice, and Angelo’s spring rolls. Ultimately, Dale takes home the win, but leaves without any fantastic trip or large sum of money. What, Toyota only wanted to spring for the Quickfire?

Once again, bad planning is the nail in the chef’s coffin: Casey is sent packing. “Taking one for the team” and cooking a dish for the first time are never good ideas.

NEXT WEEK: Double eliminations, deep sea fishing, Marcel continues to be a jackass, and the return of Angry Dale?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog


- Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast

30 comments Add your comment

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January 6th, 2011
7:31 am

I’ve encountered only two foods in my 40 years that I’ve been unable to even get to my mouth, much less eat. Whole baby octopus, and chicken feet. I’m not sure what the issue is with the chicken feet, but I CAN say that if I didn’t have an issue with them before, after watching Casey give 500 of them harsh little pedi’s last night I definitely (probably) couldn’t eat them.

That said – WHAT KIND OF DECISION WAS THAT TO SEND CASEY HOME??? I’ll tell you what kind, the WRONG kind. I just KNEW it was going to be Jamie or Carla (thankfully, Ms. Hootie-Hoo survived to Hoo another day). Antonia was safe due to her shrimp toast. Tre, well, maybe they’re just tired of sending folks home due to an ill prepared dessert.

Anyway – as much as I like Jamie’s ‘tude and even Twitter-stalk her a bit, she should have exited last night.

(Am I the only person whose initial thought, when Isabella won the Prius, is that He Can’t Fit In A Prius?)

steve brown

January 6th, 2011
9:01 am

Blais bad mouthing Jamie is ironic since he should already be gone for cheating by going past the allowed time a few shows back. The producers must like his hair.

nom nom nom

January 6th, 2011
9:51 am

@sb – Blais had immunity in that challenge so it didn’t even matter that he went over the time limit by a few seconds. “Cheating?” Give me a break. I’m not sure if the producers like his hair, but the judges like his food which is all that really matters, numb nuts!

Agree with Rodney (Ho?) about Casey, she should not have gone home. Jamie should have. Jamie made two poor dishes. Casey made one dish that may have been delicious (for Chinese people) if she had the time to cook it, instead it was poorly cook by Antonia who took on more than she should have.

Favorite moment of the show: Blais’ smirk at the end of the show toward Jamie. Priceless.


January 6th, 2011
10:10 am

I think they made the right decision to send Casey home. She tried making a dish she never made before – actually got someone else to cook them for her (who may not have ever cooked them either), and they were INEDIBLE. At least they could eat Jaime’s scallops. Also, trying to impress the judges simply based on your butchering skills, as she claimed, is never a good idea unless you have the flavor to back it up. Who’d even know, since no one could eat those chicken feet. They didn’t like her “waffles” either.

Krystal Meyer

January 6th, 2011
10:11 am

At least Blais can cook. Jaime hasn’t done squat this season, its a small miracle she’s still around.


January 6th, 2011
10:20 am

Love the review!! I love dim sum so I clearly could see myself as one of the pissed off patrons. As far as who should’ve gone home, all the weak links will be eliminated eventually and Casey was definitely one of them.

Bride of Puerquito

January 6th, 2011
11:47 am

Blais can’t cook, and yes, the producers do like his hair. what a joke.


January 6th, 2011
12:05 pm

Loved this column – it’s more entertaining than the show. I’m just going to read these recaps from now on… laughed my a** off!


January 6th, 2011
12:20 pm

I love having Richard represent the City. He is the classiest guy, with an amazing amount of talent. It’s refreshing from the usual bravo representation (RHoA).

Christi J

January 6th, 2011
12:28 pm

Definitely think Jamie should have gotten the ax long before Casey.


January 6th, 2011
12:45 pm

@John Kessler, loved this review, can’t stop laughing,and am embarrassing myself in the middle of my cube farm..omg.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Scholz and Live to Feast, Jenny Turknett. Jenny Turknett said: From Jon Watson: Top Chef All-Stars Recap, Episode 5: Dim sum, pet turtles, and daddy issues [...]


January 6th, 2011
12:59 pm

No doubt Marcel is jackass, but so are most of the chefs on the show. At least he can cook and back up his arrogance. Also, wasn’t Jaime in the bottom on half the episodes during her season? I think I remember her arms crossed pissed off stare down at judges table so many times that season that is an absolute joke that she made Top Chef All Stars. Any one who thinks Blaise can’t cook is a moron. My guess for Final Four is Blaise, Angelo, Dale and Marcel.


January 6th, 2011
2:04 pm

Mr. Watson:

Just a thought, but do you really believe that Tom Colicchio came up with that 8 minute, 37 second dish off instant thought? It’s more likely that the show had that dish lined up for him, and that he meticulously planned his moves step by step to create that dish beforehand. Nonetheless impressive in that time span, yes, but you really give much praise that may be undeserving on his part.


January 6th, 2011
2:57 pm

Totally agree with mjp regarding the final four with Dale the winner even though I would love to see Richard Blais win.

John Kessler

January 6th, 2011
3:16 pm

SamE: props go to Jon Watson, our Top Chef recapper extraordinaire…


January 6th, 2011
3:23 pm

Oh how I am loving this season. I can’t get enough of the all stars. I totally agree that Jamie should have gone home last night, she hasn’t done a darn thing all season. I mean they eliminated Casey who didn’t even cook that nasty chicken feet dish. Wrong choice judges!! Anyway, congrats Dale this challange really was just right for you. Oh and can someone please slap Angelo, if he put his hand anywhere near my dish he would loose a linb!

steve brown

January 6th, 2011
3:40 pm

nom nom nom- I believe you are wrong wrong wrong he did not have immunity-just another local RB worshiper. We really need more joints with Burgers between $7.50 and $14 and $6 milkshakes. Give me a break this craze will never last.

Jon Watson

January 6th, 2011
3:44 pm

I have to say though, despite the fact that Jaime unquestionably should have been sent home (a while ago), the judges didn’t make a BAD choice in sending Casey home. And for the record, Casey is on my Fantasy TC team, and she is one of my favorites. But, she did this one to herself.

She decided to work front of house and leave her dish in someone else’s hands (something that Jaime point-blank said that she refused to do…which was smart), plus the instructions that she gave them to cook the feet were wrong. At Judges table, Susur specifically said that to properly cook chicken feet, they need to be highly deep fried so that the muscle and fat would “puff up”. Casey’s were undercooked. When Casey went back into the kitchen to check on her food, she scolded Antonia and Co. because they had her chicken feet in the deep fryer instead of in a wok. So, had Casey actually cooked the feet HER way, they probably would have been WORSE than what was actually served.

As much as I hate to say it…Casey had it coming.

Carla Roqs

January 6th, 2011
3:51 pm

am totally loving the recaps- you are hilarious. anyone who thinks blais cannot cook IS an idiot. angelo should be missing limb Peachy, i agree. jaime should have disappeared after she cut her finger and did not cook, again after her chickpeas were not done and she did not present and definitely last night. cannot guess final four– too many surprises before now… dale and angelo are pains, but at least dale tries to be “fair”– he does not touch anyone else’s food. oh well…

top chef fanatic

January 6th, 2011
4:08 pm

Well Mr. Kessler you knew sooner or later i would return…I have to say that i was soo dissapointed in last season, and the way that the Tracy Bloom of table 1280 represented us and our city of talented chefs, Lets just say this is the only way they could of saved the show. Im a little bit different on you on my opinion of Marcele, He has matured alot since his earlier depature. and really displays no more inmaturitty than any of our other 420 friendlly chefs or judges. That being said the biggest suprise and dissaointment was to see Jenn go , Not only because she was the finest looking chef ever on the history of the show. Because she is soo much better than what she did. Being endorsed by Eric Ripert she should be ashamed of her fine a55 self. Who remembers the 3 second clipof her in a bikini? well those who did …know what i mean. Anyways i think Dale kikked butt and laughed at the competition buffing his chef clogs. Well done for a the only chef that had enuff rocky mountain oysters to sucker puch Micheal Chiarello:) All i want to see is Blais redeem himself in this season and if that cant happen I would like to see Carla take some fame …she cooks straight from her heart and has learned alot from her experiences on the show. Also about Casey her speciality is asian in her restraunt in dallas, Although i would never munch on any feet with or without toenails. And you notice how nobody tasted Toms 8


January 6th, 2011
4:44 pm

I love Top Chef and have watched it since season 1. However they need to devise a better way to come up with the winning contestant, the “Top Chef”. It is very possible for a weak chef like Jaime to end up winning. She and other weak contestants can be one step away from being eliminated or either not being among the best or worst each week. A top notch chef like Richard or Angelo can have an off day while a weak chef can bang out a winner. Maybe a points system?

nom nom nom

January 7th, 2011
10:03 am

@ Steve “Numbnuts” Brown – Blais won the 1st quickfire challenge with Dale, Antonia and Spike by making a Chicago hot dog. Soooooo…suck it!

And for anyone who’s been in Atlanta longer than 5 minutes knows that Blais has done more than just burgers. He was XC at Fishbone, had a 54 course meal at BLAIS, and turned ONE into something good. But, people in Atlanta have short memories, right Steve Brown?

Carla Roqs

January 7th, 2011
11:06 am

Guys, this is not “the vent”. knocking the show and contestants are one thing– knocking each other harshly? there are enough negative events and people on “top chef” to keep us too busy to insult each other– and NOM NOM, you are A-1 right on your points re Blais.

Jon Watson

January 7th, 2011
12:10 pm

@Mike – I completely agree that Tom prepped that dish beforehand (which I comment on), so it isn’t as impressive as if he came in blind and had to figure something out. But, you can’t really find fault in his technique. It was impressive, especially for a chef that hasn’t regularly worked in his own kitchens in years.


January 8th, 2011
4:17 pm

Our fantasy top chef is at 18 (me) and 2 him! I can taste my winning meal now!


January 8th, 2011
4:52 pm

WTG, Pam! I’m up 23 to -1 and I have 7 chefs left, compared to the hubby’s 5. Starting to wonder where I want to go for my winning meal, too!

Betsy Gluten Freedom

January 11th, 2011
1:03 pm

Loved the recap. I, too, cannot believe that Jaime is still around. It’s pitiful. Casey didn’t really think the chicken feet all the way through but I still thought Jaime would be the one to pack her knives.