Top Chef

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Pros and Conch

One short boat ride later, they arrive at the island. Mike explains that he's trying to "stay cool, calm, and collective [sic]" and if you think I'm not quoting every dumb thing he says, well, have you read my other recaps this season? The boat obviously can't go right up to shore, as there is no dock and the water is too shallow, so the cheftestants have to jump into the water and swim/run to shore. It is less than graceful. As soon as they get on shore, they all head for the stash of crates. Were they washed up on shore or dropped by the Dharma Initiative? Inside, they find lots of proteins, fruits, and vegetables, and also various other cooking needs: oils, spices, etc. But what they don't find is conch. Inside the crate labeled conch, they find snorkels and masks. So they've going snorkeling. Tiffany perfectly delivers the line: "There are sharks out there. I'm pretty sure." Heh.

Then comes the really mean part. Look, I don't like Mike Isabella OBVIOUSLY. But I have tried to stay away from body snarking, because the reasons for disliking him are vast and myriad, but his body size and shape have nothing to do with it. The producers disagree with me, so they insert an interview of Blais joking, "I don't want to see Mike Isabella topless. And you don't either." And then there is the most unflattering shot of chubby Mike waddling towards the water, wearing a snorkeling mask. Look, even Padma would look dorky in a snorkeling mask. Poor form, editors/producers.

The four cheftestants head into the water and start diving down to grab conchs. The water seems to be about as deep as the deep end of a swimming pool. Antonia does well. Blais is terrible. Like he can swim through the water fine, but he doesn't seem to be able to swim down to the bottom and grab a conch. It's pretty funny to watch, and even he admits that it's comical. Tiffany just enjoys the experience. No word on how Mike did. I'm sure whatever he did, he did it fatly.

Everyone heads back to shore and starts prepping. Antonia admits that she's never cooked conch before. Someone didn't do her homework! They have to cook everything over a wood fire, although they do have a grate. I'm assuming it's wood fire. I guess it could be charcoal. Blais notes that he can't pull out any of his culinary tricks here: they have a grill, a table, and some ingredients. I like that.

Antonia worries that their food is going to have sand in it, since A) they're cooking on a beach and B) it seems kind of windy. Everyone moves on to the task of removing the conch from its shell. Blais couldn't practice this one at home, because we can't get conch in the shell in the States. I don't know if it's an import problem or just a logistics problem -- how would you keep the conch alive during transport? Anyway, everyone grabs these tiny pickaxes and starts hammering away, trying to break the shells and pull out the meat. Mike decides to boil his shells to kill the conch inside so it will come out easier. That seems like a good idea, though I would be worried that the conch would start cooking and become rubbery. I'm just waiting for someone to hit themselves in the face with a pickaxe or stab themselves with a knife. Tiffany seems to have the most trouble of everyone, and she remarks that if she doesn't figure this out soon, she's not going to have enough time left to cook.

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Top Chef

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