Friday, November 6, 2009

Top Chef “All Stars” Dinner Party - Dinner Parties Aren’t Supposed To Put You In Bad Mood, But This One Did

Top Chef All Stars Dinner

This “Dinner Party” was more like a Dismal Party. The guest list was listless; the food was okay, but by the time it was served, nobody cared (the viewers didn’t anyway); and the party games? Not so great either.

It started with an uncomfortable meet and greet in a bar/lounge with Fabio acting as host. (Who made him the king?) There were two folks from each season (Fabio made three from Season 5). After mindless chatter, Fabio instructed one person from each pair to draw a knife. That determined which course they would be cooking of a five course meal. A trip to Whole Foods followed (boring!) and they were back in the kitchen to cook.

I admit I often find the challenges stupid, but without that extra oomph and screwball twists, the cooking was just that – watching a bunch of people that we don’t particularly care about cook. (Maybe next time, I won’t complain so much about challenges using breakfast cereals or vending machine “food”.)

Fabio came strolling into the kitchen. (Tom’s chef’s jacket is much better for this than Fabio’s smoking jacket.) He chatted with the chefs which gave them the opportunity to show us various flashbacks. Not riveting.

The meet-up between Carla and Casey was heavily promo-ed. So I guess I should have known it would amount to a big nothing.

Carla didn’t have her usual sparkle. She seemed quite bored and she completely gave Casey a miss for her miserable behavior. Carla claimed that her final disappointing result was NOT from Casey’s really poor and pushy ideas.

BUT if THAT were the case, then why had they not spoken since the finale months ago? Wouldn’t you have thought someone would have reached out to someone? Casey could have said she was sorry Carla didn’t win and Carla could have said she didn’t blame Casey for losing. It just seemed as if, at this dinner party, Carla wasn’t interested enough to engage in any brouhaha…that she was beyond it.

Lisa was a complete bore. She looked awful too. Richard was just as annoying as when he was on Top Chef. He was so eager to be there, so thrilled to be asked back that he seemed like an over anxious puppy about to have an accident on the carpet.

The ONLY drama came from the pissy, obnoxious, disagreeable Marcel. What a total ass. He was apparently bullied and goaded by his chef-mates. How did I not see this season?

They showed a part, which was actually horrifying, of some overly large chef beating up on Marcel, threatening to shave his head. It’s not surprising his cast mates hated him. He was nasty and mean from what I saw. BUT that’s scary that that resulted in physical violence.

There is no excuse for that. I don’t believe there is EVER an excuse for blaming the victim for the crime. Tom wanted anyone involved sent home, but that didn’t happen. Frankly, the camera folks that were standing there shooting were also at fault. I hate that. I hate the guy that started the fight. I hate anyone that saw what was happening and didn’t try to stop it and I still hate Marcel, but certainly wish him no physical harm.

The only other drama came when Marcel wasn’t that thrilled about reliving that incident or really any other. He clearly didn’t want to be there in the first place. Fabio stood up and yelled at him and told him the next time Top Chef invites him to anything to just say no, if he’s not interested. That was kind of fun.

One other entertaining moment – We saw a flashback of Tiffani acting totally uncowed by the criticism of the judges for making a cake from a box. She’s an idiot, if you ask me. There’s no excuse EVER to serve a cake from a box…if you’re a chef. Obviously, if you have 18 minutes to make 24 cupcakes for school (which they don’t even allow anymore, do they?) then fine, but for a chef to say baking is hard, I can’t do that on the fly, is outrageous.

Memorize the proportions for a genoise before you go on Top Chef and stop belly-aching. It doesn’t take an Escoffier to tell you that using a cake mix will garner no points in a professional cooking competition.

Great waste of time, this episode.

Top Chef folks, do NOT do this again. It dilutes and cheapens the brand, which is fine if you’re drinking whiskey and want to get drunk, but not if you’re a Top Chef aficionado.


DebCarol said...

Wow, glad I gave that one a miss. Phillies were on and by 10 o'clock they were losing badly, I decided to skip Top Chef and go to bed. Why does Top Chef do this stuff anyway, right in the middle of the challenge? This is the kind of filler stuff that should be put on in the off-season (or never).

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I didn't watch this (caught another cold - too sleepy to stay up) but I've been hearing about how poorly this went. It's funny because so many of these reunion shows make everyone seem so buddy-buddy and this was just indifferent people.

What I thought was interesting was how Fabio came off so badly. He was so happy and likeable during his run on Top Chef and he was really showing another facet of his personality (or his true, non-edited-by-producers-trying-to-make-him-look-good colors?)

Anonymous said...

My husband refused to let us watch because he said it'd be stupid. He watched Real World/Road Rules Challenge instead, so I don't know what that really says about him.

Casey lost to Hung in the final because Hung sous vided his final dish. Hung pretty much sous vide everything that season. So Casey probably thought that was the great perfect way to go, and I bet they didn't show that part of the Carla finale, where they had the convo "Hung won cooking this way, it's the way to go." Besides, Carla could've said no.

I never knew Tiffani (who I hated) made a cake from a box. I find that HILARIOUS, because she would always complain about various things, "I don't cook this kind of crap food."

Sue said...

Well, Deb, between the Phillies and this, I'm not sure which one imploded more.

They could have put together a show of clips from this season that would have been better than this.

You made a wise choice. I actually felt bad for Fabio. Even if he'd been a Formula One driver, he couldn't have gotten this vehicle moving.

Your husband is a wise man, but you could have watched Househunters. And I peeked in at Eastwick too.

I didn't know that about Hung. That would have been valuable information. Carla's attitude WAS that she could have said no, but what fun is that not to have blame and recrimination being thrown around?

Yeah, Tiffani was unappealing on so many levels.

Kitty said...

Wasn’t this just the worst? I wonder what the folks who made it were thinking? “People will really like this show because” – why? Because we are stupid? Even the temper flare-ups that had been edited out were boring. People throw things. Wow, what excitement. I still think what they did to Marcel was criminal (even though I wanted him to lose; I didn’t really like him either.) What they didn’t show was the “friendship” between Elan, the winner, and his girlfriend. When the last three of them were before the judges and Padma had already opened her mouth to announce the loser, Elan’s girlfriend asked if she and Elan could say something (about Marcel, of course.) Elan’s girlfriend has more hanging down parts than Elan, so she usually did the tattling for both of them. And here’s what their complaint was, I swear: “Some people in the kitchen (Marcel) don’t respect the food.” WHAT? OMG! Should we kill him now? A crime so egregious doesn’t even deserve a trial, even though no evidence was given.

Well, when she finished tattling, Padma asked her to pack her knives and go. Hahaha!

I think a two hour show of Hosie and what’s her name? would have been more interesting. Was it Leah?

(I’m trying my best to learn how to make pie crust. Thanks for nothing, Alton Brown.)

Meleyna said...

The whole thing was pretty silly, but I did find Leah and Jamie tipsy in front of panel to be funny, if not unprofessional.

Side rant: No, you are not allowed to bring homemade treats to school anymore. However, I choose not to disclose this little tidbit to the parents in my classroom. (95% of everything still comes in store bought anyway..) I still make homemade things for my son's class, and no one has any idea. Cake boxes are cheap. :)

Sue said...

C'mon, tell me how you really feel! And WHERE is your blog? You're hilarious.

I couldn't agree with you more about Marcel. I don't find bullies masquerading as chefs entertaining at all.

And thank goodness, there was NO Hosea. That would have made it 10 times more difficult to watch than it already was.

You're going to hate what I say about pie crusts. I think that's one of the reasons to go to cooking school. You need someone RIGHT THERE to slap your hand when you're doing it wrong.

Hi Meleyna,
How are you? Yeah, the stew room scenes were funny...the best part of the show.

Let me get this right...You can still bring in baked crap to a schoolroom, but it has to be junk you BOUGHT, not made?!! You gotta be kidding me! I thought it was that you couldn't bring in anything with sugar anymore and it had to be fruit and flax seed snacks. But store bought is okay? THAT makes less than no sense.

Emily said...

I completely agree with you about Tiffani. Before you go on Top Chef, have some cake and dessert recipes memorized! It's not difficult.

You said it all in this post. I feel the exact same way.

Keith said...

I shined this all star dinner episode, too. Also, I'm just not feeling the juice for this current group of chefs. Some seem out of their league, some seem way too young to be so confident and one guy seems to be taking the cake, figuratively. We'll see . . . .