It’s the penultimate episode of “Top Chef All Stars: LA,” and our penultimate “Top Chef” recap, but the ultimate opportunity to use words that we learned in an SAT prep class, and have never employed in real conversations!
I’m Daniel Trainor and I actually took the ACT.
I’m Sam Stone, and, for the record, I’m completely fine with the order in which we introduce ourselves. Not a problem for me at all. All good here.
Let’s talk “Top Chef!”
SS: We’re in Italy! Still! Padma is continuing to wear completely mind-blowing jackets, and the only thing that’s changed is that sweet, sweet Gregory has left us.
DT: Melissa, Voltaggio, Kevin and Stephanie comprise the final four and we quickly learn that for this week’s episode we’re heading to Parma!
SS: Parma, as any Italian in the crowd will tell you, is the birthplace of Parmesan as well as Prosciutto di Parma. Padma in Parma – what more could a girl ask for?
DT: Padma says “Parmigiano Reggiano” and “Prosciutto di Parma” with the gusto and confidence of a woman who owns three yachts and is definitely having an affair with your husband.
SS: Kevin reacts with the giddiness typically reserved for births and weddings when told that he’ll be going to the home of parmesan cheese.
DT: With Parma as their inspiration, the chefs will make traditional Italian Primi and Secondi dishes that feature Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma.
SS: Before we get started on the challenge, the chefs meet up with Lorenzo Cogo, Italy’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, who will take them on a tour of a parmesan “cheesery” (an SAT prep word), and a prosciutto “hammery” (a word that I created because I am a modern Shakespeare).
DT: Lorenzo has a Michelin star AND moonlights as a cheesery tour guide? Italy needs to pay their chefs better!
SS: The chefs scamper all over this cheese haven in their surprisingly chic blue protective outerwear ensembles, except, upsettingly, Kevin’s beard remains uncaged! If you find a scraggly orange beard hair in your parmesan someday, you’ll know why.
DT: Just as I’m about to give them credit for not making any jokes about cutting the cheese, Kevin maintains his status as a man-child and does the deed. Truly this man needs to be stopped.
SS: Next, we head to ye olde hammery to look at some prosciutto as it ages, and as it turns out, old hanging meat looks pretty gross!
DT: The chefs are told they absolutely cannot cook with the fancy ham which, and I know we’ve only been doing these recaps for a few months, feels like the entire point of the show.
SS: Next, Lorenzo exclaims “let’s go to Parma and do some shopping!” with incredible Regina George energy, a reference to a movie that likely came out before Lorenzo was born.
DT: While shopping for ingredients, Voltaggio voraciously smells a squash in an Italian market and suddenly I’m picturing our family together.
SS: Kevin finds some insane looking beans and creams his pants over them, and we get to enjoy a nice little grocery montage as the chefs try to navigate another grocery run in a language they don’t speak.
DT: Isn’t Italian just adding an ‘o’ to the end of everything?
SS: That is offensive to Italians, but yes that is technically the deal with that entire language.
DT: The chefs make their way to Antica Corte Pallavicina, where they will eat, spend the night and cook the next day.
SS: The fact that these chefs were invited to sleep over (?!?!?) at this restaurant leads me to believe that the Italian concept of a restaurant is the complete opposite of my concept of a restaurant.
DT: Before they can eat, however, they are shuffled into a basement full of cured ham, which I imagine made Kevin feel very at home.
SS: The fact that this restaurant has a haunted sex dungeon full of cured meats leads me to believe that the Italian concept of a restaurant is the complete opposite of my own, but that…maybe I should give it a shot.
DT: Once dinner is FINALLY served, Voltaggio tells an Italian chef “gracias” and our plans for a family are now on hold.
SS: We love a man of the world. A cultured man. A man who feels no shame confusing Italian and Spanish.
DT: We get a nice little story about Melissa’s dad’s journey to acceptance. He’s a king of tolerance and learning, and he actually wins the first ever Iconic Person of the Episode™, which is a late addition to these recaps, but that’s fine because I don’t believe in rules.
SS: It’s time to begin the cook! Voltaggio’s first course, as he describes it, is pasta with salt, pepper, butter, a soft egg, and some parmesan, which I think is officially listed in the DSM as a depression meal.
DT: In the process of making his pasta thing, Voltaggio makes another “cut the cheese” joke and I’m actually filing for divorce.
SS: A big Italian man says Voltaggio’s pasta dish was devoid of “any love or passion” and I truly can’t think of a worse thing for a big Italian man to say.
DT: Kevin uses his exciting beans in a pasta e fagioli situation, but his presentation feels a little bit clunky when he insists on personally sprinkling upwards of a third of a cup of parmesan on each of the judges plates.
SS: This is not the Olive Garden, girlfriend!
DT: For his second course, Kevin has the beautiful idea to serve pork with a side of ham. He proclaims that his pork is so good it would “make you want to slap somebody” and I feel like if this is how he handles good news, it makes me worried for how he handles bad news.
SS: Melissa and Stephanie breeze through this challenge. Melissa presents her dishes that delicately fuse Italian and Asian cuisines to great acclaim, and Stephanie goes a more traditional route that nonetheless elicits a sound from Padma that says “I forgive you for the Indian nachos, Stephanie, but don’t try it again.”
DT: The two ladies wipe the floor with the boys and book their spots in the finale.
SS: Kevin and Voltaggio face some pretty harsh criticisms at the judges’ table. Pork God Kevin is told he misused the prosciutto, which I do fear will send him into a spiraling depression.
DT: Voltaggio gets pissed when told about the perceived lack of passion in his dish and he starts screaming about “trying new things” or whatever, which is basically the point you once seductive beast.
SS: Alas, Kevin’s prosciutto problems were too plentiful, and our ham queen is asked to pack his knives.
DT: Goodbye, sweet pork prince.