"Top Chef" Island Fever (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • In the Bahamas, the meal maestros cater a high-end lunch party for a yacht club's 80th anniversary and serve up Bahamian delicacies, including conch, which they themselves must catch in the ocean.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Tiffany is bummed to see Carla go. Antonia is psyched out and says she's second-guessing herself constantly. Mike feels like he's on a roll.

    The final four head out to see what the day holds. "My guess is cooking with not enough time, not enough equipment," Richard says.

    At the kitchen they see stack of plates and aprons waiting for them. Padma is joined by Lorena Garcia, an investor in NBC's new "America's Next Great Restaurant."

    Padma talks about the importance of consistency.

    Quickfire They'll be working in pairs. Each team has to make 100 identical dishes in one hour. The winning team gets $5,000. Padma and Lorena will be randomly tasting plates.

    They pair up by gender. "I think if we win this challenge, it's going to crush them," Mike says.

    Mike decides to make pasta from scratch for bolognese. The ladies make beef tenderloin salad with four components. Tiffany starts plating immediately. Richard thinks his dish is more challenging. Antonia thinks their plating is more challenging.

    Time's up. The diners eat. Richard and Mike serve pork Bolognese with fresh macaroni and pecorino.

    Tiffany and Antonia made beef tenderloin salad with cilantro, mint basil and chimichurri sauce -- a cold dish.

    Mike thinks he would have had time to send Richard out for a six pack and do the girls' dish by himself.

    Lorena gives them credit for using four components.

    Lorena announces the winner: the ladies.

    "I think Mike and Blais were salty, sour-grapes losers. Ooooh, they were mad," Antonia says. She's right. "Are you serious? A beef salad wins? Whatever," Mike says.

    Elimination Challenge The Nassau yacht club is having an 80th anniversary party. They have to create a lunch to celebrate the "deserted island" theme.

    Richard worries they'll have to find their own ingredients, like catching a wild boar and killing it. Lorena tells them conch is abundant and they have to use it. Mike practiced on conch before he came down and says it's hard to work with.

    The next day, they head out and meet Padma on the dock -- she's in a bikini and does not look like she had a kid. She tells them their time starts when their feet hit the island.

    They pull up and see a campfire. They have 3 ½ hours. There are boxes of food and supplies on the beach -- and a box of snorkels to get the conch. "I don't want to see Mike Isabella topless- and you don't either," Richard says, right before we see Mike Isabella topless.

    Antonina feels comfortable swimming. They collect the shells from the ocean floor. Richard has a hard time swimming down to reach the conch. "I can swim, but it's definitely not my strong point," he says.

    Antonia has never worked with conch before -- but has 10 of them.

    They're back on the beach with three hours to go. They're cooking with pots and pans on a wood fire grill. They whack at the conch shells to get at the conch. Mike boils his and pulls them out. Tiffany can't get any of the meat out. Antonia is going for a tartare of conch.

    Tiffany is making conch and coconut chowder from fresh coconuts. Richard is making linguini and conch -- with sweet potato pasta. Mike thinks Antonia is doing what she always does, which he thinks is masking the flavor of the food.

    Mike remembers cooking in the desert in his season. Antonia struggles with a weak flame. The diners arrive.

    Tiffany decides to put her ceviche on top of the soup because she likes different temperatures. As they're finishing, Richard tells his fellow competitors he loves them as he finishes. He worries because he didn't do local food. "I did a Hamptons dish instead of a Caribbean dish," he says.

    Richard is up first. He serves his sweet potato linguine with conch and spiny lobster. Lorena's lobster is undercooked.

    As they finish up the sky starts to darken. Antonia serves her seared red snapper with conch tartare. Gail has to grab for her wine -- it's spicy. Tom thinks his fish is overcooked.

    As Tiffany plates, everyone huddles around her. She finishes plating with two and a half minutes on the clock. She worries about her soup.

    She made conch and coconut chowder with coconut. Padma says she'd like the chowder if it was hot. Tom thinks the flavor hasn't been developed enough.

    Mike cooked his grouper in banana leaf over braised pineapple with conch vinaigrette. Tom says the dish didn't need butter because the fish was rich. Gail loves the pineapple.

    Back at the hotel, they're all full of nerves. Tiffany says she was happy with her dish. Richard worries he went "too classic."

    "Yeah, potato noodles are super classic -- what's wrong with you?" Antonia says sarcastically.

    Judges Table Tom says there wasn't a single grain of sand in any of the dishes.

    Lorena liked the balance in Antonia's. Tom tells her about the differing fish doneness. Padma thinks hers was most predictable.

    Tom confesses to Richard that he thought he'd actually made pasta.

    Gail tells Tiffany the soup was cold. Tiffany blames the wind. Tom says it was sweet.

    Tom tells Mike he liked the banana leaf technique, but not the butter.

    The judges send them away. Gail really liked Richard's. Gail mentions that Antonia's went over really well with the diners even if the judges didn't think it was that creative. Tom thought Tiffany's chowder was too sweet. He also understand putting cold ceviche into a hot soup.

    Verdict Time Tom recaps, saying it was really hard to pick a winner, but the winner is the person who showcased the conch in the best way: Mike.

    And the knife packer is: Tiffany.

    "It hurts, of course. I felt like the dish was a good dish, but I was out-cooked and that's the bottom line," she says.

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