Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top Chef All Stars Episode Three Recap

Two down, sixteen to go. Yeah, still too many chefs, but that will soon be rectified somewhat, as this week is a double elimination!


For the Quickfire Challenge, our numerous re-cheftestants have to team up and compete in a relay race, but not just any relay race! Yes, it is a three-legged race, complete with burlap bags and rope! No, only kidding - but wouldn't that have been fun? Imagine Fabio and Marcel as partners...or Marcel and just about anyone.
And, it's not even a relay race. Instead, the chefs team up with the chefs standing nearest to them (as designated by Padma) and go at it simultaneously. "Go at it" meaning to peel and chop garlic, turn artichokes, and cut racks of lamb into chops, not anything more interesting.

King of the Momofuku empire, David Chang, is the guest judge who keeps a watchful eye on the re-cheftestants as they smash and chop. The first team to complete their mise en place gets fifteen minutes with which to create a fabulous dish with those ingredients.

The teams work out like this:

Green Team: Angelo, Fabio, Tiffany, Mike
White Team: Dale T, Carla, Marcel, Tiffani
Red Team: Antonia, Casey, Dale L., Jamie
Blue Team: Stephen, Spike, Blais, Tre

Fabio has issues with Antonia's one-at-a-time garlic peeling technique:

Spike also has issues with the way Stephen works the garlic, and lends a hand or two.

Marcel shows off a "technique" that he learned to french a rack of ribs by bashing the hell out it with his chef's knife. I was just waiting for the knife to bounce off the bone rather than hit the meat and ricochet back into his fool forehead. Now that's TV gold. Alas, it was not to be.

After many minutes of simultaneous frenzy, the Green Team finishes first and starts the fifteen minute timer. Blue finishes next, then Red, then White who ends up with only about 8 minutes of cooking time. Padma and David come in to taste; despite their first place finish, the Green Team produces one of the two worst dishes, as does Red Team. Blue and White are favorites, with Blue getting the win for their dish. They do not get immunity from elimination in the next challenge, but they do get a cool $5000 each.

Then the knife block comes out and the teams draw to see which schmancy New York restaurant they will be dining in that evening. Because the White Team is suddenly wealthier, I think they should treat, but apparently this is part of the Elimination Challenge. The teams will first dine and later create a dish that would fit in with that restaurant's menu. Team Green gets David Chang's newest restaurant Ma Peche, Team Red draws David Burke's Townhouse, Team Blue gets Michael White's Marea, and Team White has WD-50, owned by our old friend Wylie Dufresne, who still cuts his own hair with safety scissors.

That evening, each team has dinner at their restaurant to get a feel of the kind of food it serves. At Marea, Stephen the Obnoxious encourages Tre to try various things. Tre, on the other hand, knows his own palate and acts like a big stubborn baby. The chefs who drew WD-50 end up eating in what looks like a cinderblock room full of wine, but the Townhouse diners get a private room.

The next day, the re-cheftestants have two hours to cook their own dishes - although they are in teams, they will not be cooking as teams and will be competing against each other.

Carla is unsure about having to work her hootie hoo style into the WD-50 menu, and she cites the disastrous attempt at sous vide that lost her Season 5. But we all know that was Casey's fault; they're not on the same team this time so Carla won't fall under her evil influence.

Fabio is also having issues with being a primarily Italian chef having to cook French-Vietnamese food at Ma Peche.

Stephen, who should have his dish in the bag, is fighting with the blender at Marea.

Tre isn't having problems at all working his way around the Marea kitchen. Apparently he has a very special nickname:

Soon we see the judges exiting a cab - Tom and Bourdain looking fine in suits, guest judge Kate Krader of Food & Wine Magazine looking...well, she's not all that good-looking, and Padma wearing a dress that she quickly fashioned out of the bed-skirt on her daughter's crib.

They hit Marea first where Bourdain gives us the foodie judgement of the evening:

Next they head on over to Ma Peche where they criticize Tiffany's crudo for being boring and Fabio's dish for being too crazy. As this episode was billed as a "shocking double elimination," I suddenly feared that Fabio would be on the chopping block.


At David Burke's Townhouse, Jamie's smoked tomato soup (soup! so safe!) lacked a "wow factor" that would be necessary to get it on the menu at Townhouse. And Dale Levitski's veal dish included peanuts, pop corn, and a too-sweet French toast component. Yeah - read that again: Cracker Jack and French toast with veal. That sounds ten times worse than Dale Talde's disastrous butterscotch scallop dish from Season 4. Ugh.

Finally, at WD-50, Tiffani's frozen melons [insert joke here] were watery and "an intruder on the plate." Carla's dish was "safe" but good, and Marcel's dish was timid.

Fakeout Scene! Cut to Marcel saying that he had in the past been accused of plagiarizing a dish from WD-50, so it was now ironic that he was now cooking a dish in the kitchens of that very restaurant. /Fakeout.

Yeah, that was one of the lamest fakeout scenes ever.

Back in the Stew Room of Doom, Padma comes in, a little giggly from four meal's-worth of wine pairings, and calls Dale T, Angelo, Tre, and Antonia in front of the judging panel. The four of them had produced the favorite dishes from each restaurant, and while all of them were great, Dale T's egg and pork belly dish was the best of the best. He knew that Wylie Dufresne had an egg fetish so played it very smart and prepared a well-cooked egg. Also smart was not using any fancy molecular gastronomy techniques, which are not Dale's strength. Not only did Dale get the win, but also a 6-night trip to New Zealand, courtesy of Hilton Hotels.

When they get back to the stew, he has the unpleasant task of telling Stephen, Tiffani, Dale L., and Fabio that they are on the bottom. Fabio on the bottom again! Oh noooooo!

At this point, I was pretty sure that Stephen was going to go - he admitted that he wasn't spending as much time cooking in the kitchen so was perhaps rusty. Fabio's dish sounded pretty bad and misguided, but somehow he was spared and poor Dale Levitski and his too-sweet, bizarre combination of breakfast and veal was sent home.  Sad, but not heart-breaking.

If you remember, I mentioned last week that first week loser Elia Aboumrad said that Jen Carroll, Dale Levitski, and Spike were her bestest buds. So who goes home next week, hmmmm?

Hey, I'm not doing this for my health, yannow - if you like my post, please leave a comment!


Kristine said...

Classic as always, but didn't the blue team win the quickfire? Not sad to see Stephen go. I like Dale but that dish did sound pretty bad.

the dogs' mother said...

ah, Fabio! Will have to turn my lonely eyes to him now that DaleL is gone!

Gail Carriger said...

Thanks for doing this, for some reason I can't seem to get it together to watch on Weds, so I keep missing the actual show. You're my lifeline.

Tom A. said...

Spike seems to has lost his Mojo as compared to his first time on the show.

Los Gatos Girl said...

Dale L's heart wasn't in it...weird to think it was probably back with Sarah in Chicago :-)
IIRC, Fabio was hit or miss the first few episodes as well until he found his groove. So, please Fabio, find your groove.

And Minx, keep up your groove. Love all of your postings especially the recipes (ok, these are really my favs but i'm learning to love the recipes)

Nanc Twop said...

Yes, Happy Dale and his CrackerJack Veal - quite a unique 'last meal'.

Thanks for dishin' it up for us. :)

MoHub said...

I really thought Fabio would go. I will miss Sweet Dale, but I think I would miss your renditions of Fabio's speech patterns even more.

JoyY said...

I love your recaps! I read your blog several times a week, but rarely post. Sorry!

Michi said...

I love these episode recaps!! They make me laugh out loud