Top Chef: Is Food Art?

Top Chef Recap, Episode 8, Results, Winners
Padma Lakshmi, Isaac Mizrahi and Fabio Viviani
David Giesbrecht/Bravo

02/03/2011 AT 09:30 AM EST

On Wednesday's episode of Top Chef, designer Isaac Mizrahi challenged the remaining All Stars to indulge their artistic side and create an delicious-looking dish. Forget flavor. Nobody tasted the food. Instead, the chefs would be assessed on aesthetics alone.

While many – including Carla Hall and Richard Blais – took to the challenge with alacrity, Dale Talde struggled. And Angelo Sosa, who professed his love of Roberto Cavalli, served his dish in a grotesque-looking plastic bag after being inspired by the designer's use of crocodile skin.

Mizrahi seemed nonplussed by the reptilian offering – and maybe even a little disgusted. He didn't love Talde's messy plate either, though he had plenty of praise for Richard, whose sophisticated black ice cream topped with greenery earned him a victory.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs were assured that people would be eating their food. Met by the owners and cooks at Rao's, an old-school Italian restaurant, the contestants were split into three teams. Each chef would be judged independently, though each group would be responsible for one course of a traditional Italian meal.



Antonia Lofaso, Mike Isabella and Fabio Viviani boasted of their Italian heritage – as if that alone would sail them to the top of the challenge.

As it turns out, Antonia's faithful rendition of mussels ultimately did earn her major kudos from the judges, including guest Lorraine Bracco, who singled out her dish despite a strong showing by her teammates Carla and Tiffany Derry.

But Mike Isabella's too-hard homemade rigatoni wasn't al dente as he claimed. It just wasn't cooked properly. And his teammate Dale's pappardelle came out under-sauced and flavorless. After explaining the dish was a favorite of his girlfriend, Bracco quipped, "He's not getting laid tonight," after tasting Dale's food.

Even more distressing, Tre's non-traditional risotto was bogged down by too many vegetables, which overwhelmed the rice. Or, as Anthony Bourdain put it, everything was "covered over like you're hiding a body."

Fabio's chicken Cacciatore impressed everyone and his polenta "wiped away the stain of the previous course," as Bourdain put it. In the end, though, that was no match for Antonia's mussels – and Lofaso was named the winner of the challenge, while Tre was sent packing for his over-garnished risotto.

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