Tonight on BRAVO Top Chef DUELS airs with a new episode of season 1 called, “Mike Isabella vs. Antonia Lofaso.” On tonight’s episode, revenge is a dish best served. . .well, any temperature on Top Chef Duels. DC Restaurateur Mike Isabella and LA Restaurateur Antonia Lofaso have a long, storied Top Chef history. Besides discovering that they are cousins on All-Stars, Mike’s victory prevented Antonia from moving on to the finale.
On the last episode both finalists in their respective seasons, Los Angeles Chef Brooke Williamson and Las Vegas Restaurant Consultant Shirley Chung were mere inches from victory, but the title slipped through their fingers. It was their time for redemption. First, Shirley challenged Brooke to a “weird shellfish” showdown and then Brooke attacked Shirley’s Achilles heel and asked her to make a vegan dessert. For the Duel that determined who goes on to the finale, the Chefs had to step under the big top making dishes based on the circus to impress the judges and special guest P!nk. Neither Chef wanted to go home empty handed again. Did you watch the last episode? If you missed it we have a full and detailed recap, right here for you.
On tonight’s show revenge is a dish best served. . .well, any temperature on Top Chef Duels. DC Restaurateur Mike Isabella and LA Restaurateur Antonia Lofaso have a long, storied Top Chef history. Besides discovering that they are cousins on All-Stars, Mike’s victory prevented Antonia from moving on to the finale. Now can she take him down in the duel? First Antonia challenges Mike to make a better rice ball, then Mike gives Antonia a fish and shellfish butchery challenge. For the Duel, these competitive cousins go head-to-head in an Italian-themed smack down. Michael Chiarello joins the judges as well as the Chefs’ families to pick the winner. Who can win the family feud?
Tonight’s episode is going to be filled with competitive culinary that you won’t want to miss, so be sure to tune in for our live coverage of the show tonight at 10 PM EST! While you wait for our recap hit the comments and let us know how excited you are about the show!
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Tonight on #TopChefDuels, it’s Mike Isabella versus Antonia Lofaso. They are top chef all stars. The two greet each other with a hug and kiss. Antonia owns two critically claimed restaurants in LA. She’s back to face Mike who has stood in her way before. Mike was an All-Stars runner up and is a DC restauranteur. He says he loves Antonia but will beat her. We see them find out before that they might be related.
Curtis welcomes them, then Gail and guest judge Michael Chiarello. Gail asks the last time they saw each other – he ate at her restaurant two nights ago. They joke about being family – they’re cousins and Mike says they’re very competitive but loving. Curtis talks about their $10k challenges. They draw knives and Mike gets the red blade. Mike says he’ll start with Antonia’s challenge.
She says since they’re both American Italians from the East Coast, they both know this. She reveals a platter of rice balls. She says it’s a staple and part of their heritage. She says she’ll take him down. The only rule is you have to use rice and it has to be a ball. Curtis asks if Mike is comfortable with his balls and he says he is. They have 30 minutes for the challenge.
Mike asks what she’s making and if it’s the same as on her menu but she laughs and says she’s not telling him. She says it’s a family recipe she’s tweaked. She says her parents used to make it in their deli and she was forced to make hundreds of them as a kid. Mike says his will have more flavors. He says growing up, they were made with leftovers.
Miek is making a Middle Eastern dish and making it into rice balls. He says he would have gone classic Italian when he was younger but since he’s evolved, he’s shaking things up. He teases her and says the big concern is time and he’s worried about being finished. Antonia says Mike is out being a big celeb chef instead of spending knife time in the kitchen.
They are down to one minute left and they tease each other mercilessly throughout he challenge. They laugh and hug when they’re done. Curtis, Gail and Michael come in to taste. They taste hers first. Curtis says it’s really beautifully made and it’s a little salty. Gail says the cook through is amazing. Michael compliments and says the over-season on the salt was balanced.
Mike describes his and they taste. Gail says his tastes more sweet. She tells Mike she likes the cardomon. She says his dish was creative. Mike says he went in an opposite directions since he knew she went classic. Gail says his rice was underseasoned and Curtis says the rice was undercooked. Mike says Antonia is predictable. Michael tells him he knows what his wife will say, but this doesn’t mean he’ll win the argument.
Michael votes for Antonia. Gail says she likes them both and votes for Antonia. She won her challenge and gets the $10k. Antonia says Mike should be worried. Curtis says he also votes for her. Gail tells them either of them can cook for her anytime. Mike is annoyed but says he can’t get flustered and lose his challenge.
Mike says his challenge is two-part. The first is speed butchering and cleaning seafood. The first done gets to pick the protein they and their competitor cook with. He says they have 30 minutes to do it all. Antonia says it’s ridiculous. Curtis says they have to butcher it all then pick the protein and then make the dish to earn the $10k.
Antonia feels confident and wants to take Mike’s challenge. Mike thinks he’s the better butcher than her. They go to work. She says it’s the most ridiculous thing she’s done in her life. Mike uses liquid nitrogen to super cool his. Antonia says he created the challenge to throw her off the game and says he’s not even using skills. She wants the prawns so she wants to beat him. She wants to stick him with his frozen clams.
Curtis narrates while they work and says he thinks it’s neck and neck. Mike is finished – he got it all done in 10 minutes. He tells her she has to cut mackerel and she curses because it’s a delicate fish that falls apart. She says she had told him she didn’t like it and he says that’s why he gave it to her. He is cooking and gives her a hard time. She’s still cleaning and butchering and now she can start cooking but only has 15 minutes left.
He asks what she’s making then turns on the blender to make noise over her and laughs. Antonia is making a whole mackerel on the grill. She says Mike can’t be trusted. He plates his soup and she plates her fish and they are done. The judges come into the kitchen. Curtis tells Mike it was an interesting challenging. He did a prawn scampi soup.
Gail says it’s spicy, so does Curtis. Michael says it’s also very spicy but says he likes spicy. Curtis says the soup is rich and buttery and almost too flavorful for a soup and is more like a sauce. Gail says the creaminess is nice and that it’s balanced. Michael says it’s a tasty complex dish. Next is Antonia’s mackerel dish.
Curtis says he likes fish grilled on the bone because it retains flavor. They compliment the cook and the flavor. Gail says she did the right thing because she got a lot of flavor. Michael says it was perfectly cooked and the dish made sense. Gail votes for Mike because it was something she hadn’t seen before. Curtis says Antonia’s was better. So it’s tied.
Michael says the better dish was the layers of flavor and goes with Mike. He wins the $10k and they’re tied one-one. They hug it out. Antonia reminds him she swept him on her challenge and he only got two out of three on his. Now it’s time for the duel. Curtis says the winner will move on to the finale. They have to each create a three course Italian feast.
families come in and Antonia is happy that her family is there. Her daughter Xea, her dad Fred and brother Dominick are there. Mike’s mom Joanne, sister Diana and wife Stacy are there. Joanne says he learned a lot from her and he jokes and says he learned what not to do and says his grandmother taught him.
They have to do an entree, a carbonara and a new version of a traditional Italian dessert. Curtis says each can choose one family member to act as sous chef. Antonia wonders which will deal better with her yelling. Her daughter wants to do it but she takes Dominick, her brother and tells her daughter she loves her. Mike chooses his wife Stacy who cooks at home and is a chef herself.
Curtis says they can take their family members out to buy special ingredients and when they get back their restaurant sous chefs will be there as well. Curtis wishes them luck. Antonia talks to her brother – she likes spumoni and canoli and he says it’s a bit much. He says he knows she’ll do a good job. They’re at the store picking out ingredients.
Mike is there too and offers her frozen ravioli. She jokes and says she already picked them up. Antonia picks up a colorful rooster and says many Italians have them in their kitchen for good luck. Nikki is there to help Antonia as well. Shes making Fra Diavolo for her first dish. Mike has Jose with him and they are working hard.
Antonia has her brother cutting up all her veg and says she was in the kitchen at her family’s restaurant cooking when she was just 10. Mike tells him that he can take him if his sister is being mean to him. Mike is making grilled octopus for his heirloom dish. He is also making seafood salad with blackberries. Curtis comes to check on them.
Michael is there as well and asks what she’s doing. She says she’s doing carbonara but with ravioli. Curtis wonders how the egg yolk will play and if it will be sticky. They go to talk to Mike and he says he’s going to win. He says his dessert will be basil panna cotta. They tell him not to get the gelatin wrong. Curtis pulls Stacy and Dominick away to come eat. Antonia is panicking because her ravioli broke.
The diners sit down to the table and Curtis welcomes them and tells them no food fight today. Joanne says Mike always said he would be a chef. Dominick says Antonia was calmer than he thought she would be and is so proud of her. They are down to less than three minutes to get their first dish plated. It’s down to 10 as they’re adding garnish.
They take out their dishes. Antonia says she has Fra Diavolo with a little bit of sausage. They taste and Dominick says it reminds him of their childhood. Mike describes his octopus dish and his mom says it’s a nice spin for how they cook. Joanne says Antonia’s dish is good too and Mike gives her a hard time and says she’s on the other team.
Mike thinks Antonia is being boring. Curtis says Antonia’s dish was exceptional but that Michael has embraced the challenge better. Next up is their carbonara. She has made egg yold ravioli and says there are a lot of moving parts in the dish. She worries that if there’s too long between plating and service it will be bad.
Mike has out a lot of ocean in his and is using seafood – sea urchin and crab. He says his dish is more innovative than classic and he’s a little nervous. The plates go out. Mike says he used duck egg and she urchin. Michael says the flavors are epic. He says Stacy made the pasta dough. Joanne says she loves it. Antonia describes hers and they dig in.
Michael says she nailed it and says she loves salt, but that’s like him. Gail says it’s rich and a little heavy. Fred says the ravioli is too good to even talk about. They head back to the kitchen to work on their desserts. Antonia is nervous they like Mike’s food better and says they need to blow their minds. Xea says the egg melted in your mouth. Gail says she likes that Mike changed it up.
Mike says her dessert is boring. She’s doing cannoli with spumoni. Mike has pea leaves and a green thing – plus a chocolate crumb ball. It’s a pretty but kind of crazy dish. She says Mike is taking a lot of risks so she’s interested to see how it comes together. They taste Antonia’s dessert and Joanne says it’s good. Dominick says he had doubts but it came off great.
Mike describes his complicated dessert and they dig in. Curtis says it’s very different. Stacy says it’s not too sweet and she likes that. Gail says it was a little soupy but had good flavors. Michael says it’s a little overwhelming. Fred says he thinks his daughter won it with that dessert. Curtis thanks them both and says he feels like part of the family.
Antonia says her brother and dad are hardcore. Antonia hugs Nikki and sends her off and Mike sends off Jose. Michael is worried that his dessert fell flat. The two chefs sit down to try each other’s dishes and have a glass of wine. She says it’s been down to them before in All Stars and hopes she wins.
Fred says the first dish was Antonia’s was great. Gail says Michael delivered on the challenge but that Antonia’s protein was cooked a little better. Joanne says her son’s carbonara opened up her palate. Dominick says the egg yolk ravioli was really impressive. Curtis says there was too much dessert on Mike’s plate and that messed with the texture but says Antonia’s dessert was safer.
Gail says Mike took more risks but he didn’t always give the more satisfying bite. Michael says he likes classic food like Antonia’s but Mike’s put it over the edge. Antonia says Mike is a great chef and she loves him and says he’s grown over the years. Curtis tells them it was a pleasure dining with their families and thanks them.
Michael tells them their personalities came through in their dishes. Gail says this is the third time she’s stood in front of them and says they both keep getting better. Antonia is crying and Mike gets teary too. She says it’s overwhelming being there with Mike again. Mike says he would only come back to compete with Antonia. Curtis tells them there can be only one that moves on to the finals.
He say the winner of the duel is Antonia. She curses and then covers her mouth. She says she never wins and hugs her cousin. She’s floored and thrilled. She says she’s also sad for him losing too. Gail tells them it was neck and neck and it was the dessert that made the difference. Mike says it’s easier to lose to your cousin than someone you don’t like and hopes she wins. Curtis tells him he still may get a shot to get into the finales with the other challenge.