Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top Chef All-Stars Episode Nine Recap

At the beginning of the episode, we see the remaining eight recheftestants hanging out at a bar, drinking coffee to sober up from all the beer and wine they guzzled during the seventeen hours recently spent in the Stew Room, discussing episode 8's Elimination Challenge. Antonia had won with her mussels antipasto, and Fabio was teasing her about winning with a French dish. To this day, Fabio insists that in Italy, mussels are not cooked with fennel, so what she made was French. If you don't believe me, read his blog and follow him on Facebook - he talks about it incessantly, when he's not plugging his breakfast e-cookbook. Fabs - let it go.

Then we see the recheftestants enter the Top Chef Kitchen to find a grinning Padma and a collection of fondue pots and wine bottles. Immediately Blais associates fondue with being naked, and is sure that his parents had attended nude fondue parties at some point. Hot cheese on naked private parts doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me, but I guess that's how they rolled back in the swinging Fondue Era.

The Quickfire challenge is to create a unique fondue in 30 minutes. Padma says that means "no chocolate fondue with bananas." The "guest judge" this week will be the chefs themselves who must taste every fondue and then vote on their favorite and least-favorite renditions. There is no immunity for the winner, but he or she will win a three-day trip to Napa Valley and a big-ass bottle of Terlato wine.

Blais decides that despite Padma's admonition about chocolate and bananas, there will definitely be chocolate and bananas in his fondue, along with liquid nitrogen. Of course.

Mike I, always charming, says that fondue is "gay," and his gay little dish will include feta and lamb skewers.

Gotta tell ya, Mikey, that back head tilt thing you do is really doing you no favors. Not your best look. None of your looks are particularly good, btw.

Dale is going Vietnamese and creating a "Pho-ndue." Cle-ver. Angelo wants to show the other chefs his diversity so creates a deconstructed salad with endive, goat cheese, and a beet shooter. Sounds...gross, but it's not Asian in any way, nor does it contain raw fish, so I guess that constitutes diversity.

Time is up in a flash and Padma, still grinning, pours them all some tasty Terlato wine to chugalug while they're all sampling fondue. Blais' dish doesn't exactly wow the others, and he finds Tiffany's apple fritters to be "pedestrian." The chefs make faces at Angelo's dish, and he's disappointed with the whole thing. And did you notice that the description of Fabio's dish that flashed on the screen claims it contained "Bourdain wine?" WTH is that? "Bourdain WHINE" maybe....

When tasting and drinking are over, the recheftestants vote. After struggling to do simple math after so much wine, Padma announces that the least favorite fondues belonged to Fabio and his Bourdain wine, Tiffany's pedestrian fritters, and Mike's gay fondue. On top were Antonia's smoked salmon, Dale's Pho, and Angelo's deconstuction. Dale's dish gets the most votes so he's going to Napa to hang out with the Terlatos.

Padma then announces that they will have a "very special treat" that afternoon and are urged to go to Rockefeller Center to find out their Elimination Challenge. At 30 Rock, the recheftestants find themselves entering the soundstage where the Jimmy Fallon show is being taped at that very moment. Fabio in particular is very excited to be there.

Jeemy Falloon then announces to the audience that they will be playing a game called "Cellphone Shootout," which I assume is familiar to people who watch his show, but I have better things to do than stay up late and watch television.

The chefs are brought up in pairs and shown a screen with rapidly flashing images of food. When Jeemy Falloon gives them the sign, they are to take a photo of their side of the screen with a cellphone camera. The item they photograph will be of a dish they must prepare for Jeemy Falloon's birthday party the next day.

Is that one of the more stupid and unnecessarily complicated challenge intros, or what? I'm starting to miss the knife block.

Antonia is up first and gets beef tongue.

The rest of the chefs get more reasonable dishes: Fabio gets something that he has never before cooked:

Blais gets Ramen noodles; Carla gets chicken pot pie and almost goes ballistic with joy because she apparently had been jonesin' to make chicken pot pie for the past few days.

Tiffany gets chicken and dumplings (seems a bit repetitive to have both at the same party); Dale gets cheesesteak sandwiches; Angelo gets pulled pork; and Mike gets sausage and peppers.

For one thing, I would hardly call Jeemy Falloon "awesome." (Of course, folks who know me also know I would not refer to anything as "awesome.") It's not like he's Letterman, or Conan, or Jack Paar, or Arsenio, or hell, he's not even Leno. For another thing - if it's the awesomest thing you've ever done, you're pathetic. But I think it possibly is awesomer than pooping your way to a loss on your season of Top Chef.

They will shop at Whole Foods that night and get two hours to cook at Colicchio & Sons the next day. While shopping, they must keep in mind that Jeemy Falloon does not like mushrooms, mayonnaise, or eggplant. Pussy.

After shopping and back at Top Chef House, we get a built-in commercial for Buitoni pasta products as the recheftestants all wax rhapsodic over the various varieties of ravioli, etc. Gack. Then, the next morning, we get a scene of the guys making fun of Angelo and his tight pants. Apparently the tight pants-wearing is a regular thing, because Fabio refers to him in his blog and on Twitter as "Camel Toe." Honestly, you have to go read his blog, if only for the mangled English. Eetsa funny.

At Colicchio & Sons (located in the same building as Chelsea Market and the Food Network studios), Antonia is a bit stymied by having to cook tongue in a mere two hours, so Blais gives her tips on how to use a pressure cooker. Apparently he's been helping everyone, and in a lot of cases, those to whom he lends a hand go on to win the challenge, while he finishes in the middle somewhere. Hmm...maybe he should stop doing that?

Carla, meanwhile, is frantically running around the kitchen and shrieking like a peacock while she cooks. Back in season 5, Carla reminded me of the Muppet Beaker, but now I can't help but think of Big Bird. Big Bird on meth.

In the dining room, we see the party guests congregate, including Jeemy Falloon's parents and in-laws, and members of his show staff, including his announcer Higgins who seems much funnier than Jeemy Falloon.

Antonia and Fabio present their dishes first. Fabio has made a "hambooger" out of short ribs, chuck, and smoked pork belly, with a side of cheddar cheese sauce. The guests feel that the "booger" is dry and more like meatloaf, and the curdled cheese sauce is unappealing. Antonia, however, has hit it out of the park with her tongue deli sandwich creation.

Tiffany and Blais present their dishes. Tiff's chicken soup with dumplings falls flat, mostly because the dumplings themselves are rather flat. Blais' ramen is ok, but disappoints Jeemy Falloon who expected the usual Blais performance art with blow torches, liquid nitrogen, and a Sousaphone. Jeemy Falloon is apparently a big fan of Blais and "has all of this baseball cards, and posters" which was kind of a cute fanboy comment. Apparently he actually watches the show.

Big Bird on Meth is delighted to present her chicken pot pie, which everyone loves. Dale has used a pretzel roll for his cheesesteak which, combined with the sauce on his onions, puts the salt content over the top. I give him points for inspiration though. (Philly is known for soft pretzels as well as cheesesteaks.)

Finally, Angelo's pulled pork sandwich with an oddball coffee and dill sauce impresses the diners, while everyone enjoys Mike's sausage. I just disgusted myself with that statement. I don't even want to think about something being called "Mike's sausage," and especially enjoying it, so I'm just going to pretend I didn't type that.

Back at the Stew Room of Doom, Padma calls out Antonia, Carla, and Angelo. They are the top three and are all praised for their dishes. Antonia tells the judges that they had a special beef tongue song that they sang and the three of them perform it, much to the delight of the judges. (Download it as a ringtone by texting BEEFTONGUE to 27286. Seriously.) Although they loved her sandwich and Angelo's pork, Carla comes out on top for the third time this season. Not only does she win the challenge, but also a six-night trip to Tokyo, $5000 for airfare, and an appearance on the Jeemy Falloon Show.

On the bottom are Tiffany, Fabio, and Dale. I had heard that a "favorite" would be eliminated this week, and knew immediately that would not include Dale or Tiffany, so I was prepared to lose Fabio. His booger just wasn't the moist, juicy booger they were looking for, and his cheese sauce was gross. Even the thought of boogers and cheese sauce is gross. And though he's gone, we're sure to hear more from Fabio, especially how Antonia beat him with a French dish in an Italian challenge....

Next week: MUPPETS! And not just Carla.


JoyY said...

Padma had definitely been into or something else. When she introduced Gail as "lovely and luscious," I almost lost it.

the dogs' mother said...

Next week: MUPPETS! And not just Carla.


Deb said...

Fabio, despite his meatloaf-textured "booger", was a class act when he made his exit. Most quotable line of the episode for me was when he said something to the effect of "you are the only shadow standing in (the way of) your sunshine."

Kristine said...

I actually got the ringtone last night. It's pretty funny. Looks like Season 4 is living up to the "Best Season" win in ep 1 (It's my favorite, anyway). Yes, they had the most chefs to start, but there's still 3 going strong. I'm hoping for an Antonia/Carla showdown.

David Dust said...

I need another blog on my Google Reader (already 115+ sites) like I need another Big Mac, but you've convinced me to check out Fab's blog.

Great recap!! And you're right, Padma did seem extra "happy" this week.


theminx said...

Only 115 sites? Lightweight. :)

Anonymous said...

I was just laughing out loud over your description of Carla as Big Bird on meth. So spot on...

Miss Ginger Grant said...

BigBird on meth- priceless. And you totally grossed me out talking about Mike's sausage! Ewe!

Cliff O'Neill said...

I'm just amazed that DoucheyMike could do or say anything that would make me want to fondue him more than I do already.