Monday, February 21, 2011

Top Chef All Stars – Way Off Target

Top Chef All Stars Lock Down

Richard feels awful that Fabio went home because of a poor hamburger. He wishes Fabio would have consulted with him because he (Richard) runs a burger restaurant.

Back at the house, the chefs toast to the remaining “Magnificent 7”.  Dale goes on (to us) about how he doesn’t believe in the philosophy of everyone being a winner and he says losing isn’t cool and he wants to win. I hear ya!

They walk into the Top Chef kitchen. Angelo is wearing shorts with his chef’s coat, which I always think looks funny. Padma is ravishing, as usual, but her dress looks like an old-fashioned flowered apron.

Padma starts talking really slowly and then she says, “Can you tell me how to get to…” 3 Muppets suddenly pop up from behind the table and yell, “SESAME STREET!” Tiffany looks terrified. The rest of the chefs look amused. 

The Muppets are going to be the judges for the Quickfire. Hmm, how exactly will a puppet taste the food? I guess we’ll see and by the way, it’s Elmo, Cookie Monster and Telly who are there.

Elmo does have a lot of star power, I must say. Richard says (to us) that in his house “Elmo is like Elvis”.

Padma starts to tell the chefs what the Quickfire is, but Cookie Monster keeps interrupting and shouting COOKIE, COOKIE. OF COURSE, their challenge is to make the best cookie they can in 45 minutes. Elmo says (sweetly) that he would like a cookie with some zucchini or carrots maybe. CM says to just make it yummy, maybe with chocolate chips. The winning chef will get $5000.

Mike (he hasn’t said anything objectionable yet, so I guess I’ll use his name) says he’s never made cookies before. He just wants to make SOMETHING that he’s not embarrassed by.

The Muppets are watching the chefs closely. Cookie Monster is really impressed when he(?) sees Tiffany WEIGHING the butter. He didn’t know one could do that. CM says he just throws “stuff in bowl and mix and hopes for the best”. Elmo is excited because Richard is making zucchini cookies…with his nitrogen tanks nearby.

Angelo says he hasn’t made a cookie in 25 years. Carla says as a caterer she makes cookies all the time.

Telly yells over to Dale, “No potato chips in the cookies,” as he’s crushing potato chips in the food processor. Dale tells them they’re going to like it. They get really excited as the time gets closer. They want their cookies!

I have to say the Muppets do seem to know their cookies. They enthusiastically “taste” each one. Here are all the cookies and dishes for the week.

First, we learn which cookies are the Muppets’ (and presumably Padma’s) least favorites.

Cookie Monster has an issue with Richard’s (which is a shame, because Richard is head over heels in love with them.) CM says, "Technically it not quite a cookie”. It was more like ice cream disks. Carla mentioned that same thing (to us) during the challenge. Richard recognizes that he (Cookie Monster) is the expert, so he feels disappointed.

Cookie also says Angelo’s cookies were a little dry.

Their favorites:
Dale’s. YAY!!!YAY!!!YAY!!! They loved the mix of sweet and salty.

And they loved Antonia’s, because it was chewy and gooey. Telly does say hers wasn’t the prettiest cookie he(?) had ever seen. Then Elmo pipes in, “It looked like cow chips.” Antonia asks, “Did they just say my cookie looked like sh#%?” Yup, they did.

And the winner is DALE!!! Dale says winning this Quickfire was probably one of his three top experiences on Top Chef. Cool.

The Elimination Challenge is worth $25,000 this week. They have 3 hours to raid a Target store in the middle of the night to make a dish for 100 Target employees. They have to leave their knives in the Top Chef kitchen and get absolutely everything they need at Target. All this with only 3 hours to shop AND cook AND serve.

Oy, they have to buy appliances too?!! Richard wishes he could go over to the TV section and pick up a little something. The store is absolutely huge and they have a lot of ground to cover. They have to get cutting boards, blenders, deep fryers or anything and everything they need.

Mike and Angelo are working together to get all their stuff. Wait a sec! They have to get TABLES too??! AND garbage cans? AND they have to fill up and roll their shopping carts on their own? This seems a bit ridiculous. Oh wait, it gets even worse. They are doing the actual cooking right THERE in the store…right in the aisles!

Everyone else is cooking and Carla is still looking for linens and then it occurs it to her that she still has to get her food.

Dale says this challenge reminds him of his college days when he used to cook in his dorm room with a rice cooker and an iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches. So there is Dale, cooking away with an iron. I guess you’d use the no-steam setting to get a good sear.

By the way, is ANY of this hygienic?!! When the chefs open their pots and bowls and knives and cutting boards, it doesn’t seem as if anything gets washed. Also did they wash their hands after they were all over the grimy shopping carts and all the boxes and stuff? Is this really a good idea to get 100 Target employees sick from iffy sanitation?

Dale looks over at the gals’ tables and sees tablecloths and other nice things. He didn’t know “this was…Susie Homemaker’s challenge”.

Finally Carla gets everything set up and she’s exhausted and she hasn’t even started cooking.

Antonia says it’s ridiculous when she sees lots of the chefs making soup. She’s making one hundred individual serving of eggs. That’s kind of crazy.

Mike tells Angelo his soup needs something. Angelo adds (lots of) salt and now it’s way too salty.

100 Target employees in their red shirts and khaki pants come strolling in.

The judges arrive and Padma says this is a first – a 3 am service. Tony says he’s going right from there to a parent teacher’s conference.

They go to Richard’s station first and Padma introduces him to Tony (for the three hundredth time), Ming Tsai and Thomas O’Brien, home designer for Target. Richard says his dish was “a play on arepas”. Tony says it was “butt ugly”(I hate that expression), but that it was delicious. Richard thought that himself. The other judges liked it too.

The judges liked Dale’s. Ming says it was brilliant to use an iron, which gave it a good sear on the outside. (Didn’t I just say that…sort of?) Tony thinks it tastes like “stoner food”, so, of course, he likes it. He thinks Dale should be given a urine test just to check. Harhar. Ming was much cleverer when he says Dale was trying to become an Iron Chef. Now THAT’S funny. The other judges grimace.

Carla is nervous about her curried apple soup. No one seems to like it.

Tony says it was ballsy of Antonia to make eggs for 100 people. Thomas, the designer, says he likes the sweetness in the dish as a nice breakfast surprise.

Mike introduces his soup saying it had fresh coconut milk in it. Padma says incredulously, “You found FRESH coconuts here?” He says No. She says, “THEN it’s not fresh coconut milk.” He says she’s right and I SAY he’s a liar. Padma is not a fan of the soup. Tom and Ming like its spiciness.

Tiffany serves her jambalaya. The judges look exhausted. It is after 3 in the morning, after all, but how can they even taste the stuff if they can’t even hold their heads up? Tony looks wiped out (and a little po'ed) as he says he doesn’t like Tiffany's jambalaya.


After tasting Angelo’s baked potato soup, Ming says, “If you eat a whole bowl of this, you die.” The others agree that it’s too heavy and salty.

Padma looks like she’s talking in her sleep. 

And Tom looks like he just wants to go home. They’re making me really sleepy. The judges leave.

Apparently, it’s 4:30 in the morning. Is this really necessary? Why couldn’t they get a decent night’s sleep and do this all at 4 in the afternoon. I know the point was to shop at Target when it was closed, but this is kind of ridiculous.

Dale, Antonia and Richard are called into Judges’ Table first. They’re the winners, although they’re so tired and ashen-faced that they may not care.

Tony says Antonia’s dish was an audacious move. Tom really enjoyed Dale’s dish. Tony says his dish was a great combination of goofy devious. Dale says it came from being a broke student and partying a little too much. And Ming announces the winner and it’s DALE. Yay!!! Yay!!! Yay!!!

They want to see Carla, Tiffany and Angelo. Oh, I think it will be Angelo, unless they want to keep him around for the finale and then it will be Carla.

Tony and Tom say Angelo’s soup is too salty. Padma says it was way too rich, too.

Tony says the prepared spice mix that Tiffany used was the problem with her dish.

We heard Tiffany say in the store AND at Judges’ Table that she loved the pre-made Creole seasoning. That kind of surprised me the first time she said it and then to say again at Judges’ Table probably wasn’t smart. But I don’t think she had the worst dish of the night. 

Padma asks if any of them have any final words before they decide who they’re sending home. Tiffany launches into a tearful and heavily southern-accented tale of being from Beaumont, Texas and having big dreams and that whatever decision they make, it has been an honor and a pleasure for her to have been there.

Padma says, somewhat sincerely, that regardless of who goes home, it HAS been a pleasure to have them there and that it won’t be an easy decision.

As the judges discuss the dishes, Tom says about Tiffany’s that sometimes there are these things you grow up with that you love, but that doesn’t mean they’re GOOD. That would definitely be Yodels for me!!!

They say they can’t get past the salt in Angelo’s dish. Doesn’t that basically mean HE will be sent home?

And it’s…Angelo. He says he was honored to be there. The chefs in the stew room are shocked, especially Mike. I’m sorry he’s leaving, because I think he COULD have done so much better and WOULD have shown us so much more. That’s a shame, but I think he’ll do just fine. 


Tracy said...

I'm dying to make Dale's cookies but wish I could trust the recipes on the Bravo website. It calls for 1 bag each of potato chips and pretzels -- I wish it says which size.

And I agree with the Target challenge. Even if they had to do the judging after hours, couldn't everyone get some sleep before judges' table? It looked like torture to me. And I agree that none of it looked particularly hygienic unless there's stuff they weren't showing us. Yech. Glad Dale won -- and glad Carla stuck around. I'd like to see those two in the final.

Anonymous said...

So funny -- when I started reading your post I had the same reaction: they're using prep and serving merchandise off the shelves without washing it first! Good thing we weren't there to eat any of it.

CGambee said...

Yeah Top Chef has been a little out of focus lately. Maybe Paula Dean's appearance will bring them back to making a real meal and less of making an advertisement.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I want to bake for Muppets! I wonder who was really judging the contest? Was it the puppeteers? I know the guy who regularly voices Elmo is a bit of a foodie and once made an appearance on Bobby Flay's show. Imagine if you were actually making cookies for Frank Oz! *Sigh* If only they could have bake for Jim Henson himself.

surendra said...

Thanks for nice posting

Romantic Dinner Bruges

Emily said...

That's gross about nothing being washed. I didn't even think about it. Do you think they even washed the produce.

I was shocked to see Angelo go. I thought he should have stayed around for a little longer. That soup must have been realllly salty.

Sue said...

I should look at that recipe. Don't they just go on top or in the middle? So I would just mix equal amounts of pretzels and potato chips and get a thorough coating on.

That challenge was brutal for the chefs and kind of brutal to watch.

Too bad our hopes for Dale in the finale have been dashed.

I'm so glad I wasn't the only one. I couldn't stop thinking about them using all those gross, unwashed things.

Hi CG,

Top Chef can certainly be far away from real cooking, but Paula's always real.

Hi Rachel,
That's cool that you've seen Elmo on Bobby. AS Elmo or as himself?'s so sad Jim Henson is no longer among his Muppets.

Thanks, Surendra.

I'm not sure they washed anything, including their filthy hands after they touched everything in the store!

I think the sleep deprivation just got to Angelo more than the others, which was a real shame, but he could cook!