Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top Chef All Stars Episode Ten Recap

At the top of this week's program, we are once again treated to scenes of the remaining recheftestants, this time post-Fallon, drinking themselves into oblivion (with cold coffee). Richard laments that his bromance with Fabio was cut short last week.

Gonna call him "Modesty Blais" from now on.

When we next see the chefs (15.6 seconds later) they are entering the Top Chef kitchen to find Padma, grinning wildly, standing behind a table large enough to hide three grown men underneath, maybe even four. She then introduces the guest judges for this episode - Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Telly. Muppets! Awww! Cuteness!

Carla has been both Beaker and Big Bird (on meth) during her time on Top Chef, so I think it would be appropriate if she sat out this challenge and joined the fuzzy guests at their big table.

The Quickfire Challenge, naturally, involves creating cookies. Elmo wants to see cookies with zucchini and carrots. Cookie Monster wants chocolate chips.

Telly just wants to go home and watch TV with Baby Bear, but he's got a hand up his butt and is kinda stuck where he is at the moment.

Blais is excited that he gets to cook for the Muppets, because his toddler thinks Elmo's a superstar. Antonia also seems to appreciate the challenge. Angelo claims not to have made cookies in at least 25 years, and Carla says she's an old hat because as a caterer she makes cookies all the time. Dale crushes potato chips and pretzels for his cookies, which prompts Telly to heckle his choices and Antonia to say he's "cheating."

After 45 minutes, time is called and Padma and the Muppets "taste" the cookies. Blais' "cookie" made of zucchini and ice cream and liquid nitrogen didn't pass muster, and Angelo's chocolate chippers were a little dry. On top were Antonia's double chocolate cookies, and Dale's pretzel and potato chip shortbread. Because the puppeteers liked his combo of sweet and salty, Dale's cookies were declared the best, winning him a $5K bonus prize.

The judges are then packed into suitcases and carried away. Padma announces that the Elimination Challenge will be held at Target, where the chefs have three hours to shop and cook for 100 Tar-jay employees. Everything - from cooking implements to food - will be found within the store. The winner of this contest will get an additional $25K, the biggest single-challenge prize offered so far.

At Midnight, the chefs are let loose in an empty Target and they race around to collect folding tables, tools, plates, and appliances on which to prep and serve, plus food. If the challenge were held in our local Baltimore, completely nutrient-free Tar-jay, the recheftestants would be forced to make do with Chee-tos, Dentyne Ice, and Choxie.

Angelo feels like Carl Lewis running through the aisles, only whiter and slower. And a whole lot nerdier. Gone are the tight "cameltoe" pants from last week and in their place are baggy shorts worn with dark knee highs and white shoes.

Any thoughts of Angelo possibly being gay have been banished with this look. But wait...look how chummy he and DoucheyMike have gotten recently, as they shop together and call each other "sweetie" and "pookie" and "studmuffin."

An hour into prep time, the chefs have shopped and set up and are cooking away. Except for Carla, who is still worrying about napkins and place mats and trivial stuff, which she blames on being a caterer. Eventually she stops running around and settles down to cook. She realizes she doesn't have enough time to prepare what she originally wanted to make, nor could she find the proper ingredients, so settles on making a curried apple soup.

There are a lot of soups. DoucheyMike is making a spicy coconut broth; Angelo is doing a baked potato soup that he calls a "deconstructed baked potato." No, Angelo, it's just soup. Dale is also making soup, a spicy tomato, that he's accompanying with grilled cheese sandwiches made with the aid of steam irons. He said the challenge reminded him of his college days, trying to cook in his dorm while hung over.

At 3AM, the hungry Target employees descend on the chefs, along with the judges: Padma, Tom, Bourdain, and for who-knows-what-reason, former Iron Chef wanna-be Ming Tsai.

They taste everything. Blais' non-soup dish of two kinds of pork with corn pancakes is praised for flavor, but called "butt-ugly" otherwise. And then we get the very lame answer to the question, "why Ming?" When he learns that Dale used an iron to crisp up his grilled cheese sandwiches, Ming quips, "Maybe he wants to be an Iron Chef?"


Carla's curried apple soup was called "two-dimensional" and was missing a protein. Antonia's choice to make eggs for 100 people was ballsy, and it worked for her. DoucheyMike's soup was too sharp and spicy, but Ming liked it. And Angelo's potato soup was very heavy and way too salty.

After feeding the employees, the tired gang is then herded to the Stew Room. Padma comes in and calls for Blais, Antonia, and Dale - if you notice, all are chefs from Season 4, my personal favorite. Their dishes are praised but ultimately Dale is given the win. I think the irons clinched it for him. And now he's $30,000 richer, if you consider he won $5K in the Quickfire.

Tiffany, Carla, and Angelo are brought out next. Tiffany made jambalaya with too much creole seasoning (it looked like Tony Chachere's, which is extremely salty to my tastebuds). Angelo's soup was too salty and too dense - even without the salt, nobody would have been able to eat a bowlful. And the flavors in Carla's soup just weren't developed enough.

Angelo's errors, both culinary and sartorial, were the most egregious, and he was asked to pack his knives and his avocados and go.
(Honestly, he posted that on Facebook this week.)

Next week: Wigs, false teeth, and butter, AKA Paula Deen! Plus, old recheftestants are recycled again.