Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Chef:All Stars 12/22/10--"Advantage Chef" summary

Previously on "Top Chef": there was a mise en place relay race, sort of, and then everyone had to cook for various restaurant owners, in different styles that perhaps they are no good at. DaleT won, because he made eggs for Wylie Dufresne who loves eggs. Stephen and DaleL went home, which is sad because I like Dale. (click for more)

Oh, they let everyone escape the house and go to a bar. How nice of them. Casey misses Dale. Tiffani "cannot allow" being in the bottom again. Dale doesn't want to sit on his laurels. Mike thinks Angelo is his biggest challenge. Whatever, dude.

Tony Mantuano, who was on Top Chef Masters, has the Quickfire challenge for everyone. The chefs must make stuffing. Really we're talking about dressing, as it's only stuffing if you actually stuff things with it, but we'll pretend for today. Tiffani says that stuffing is very different from region to region and also home to home. Tony puts Italian ingredients in his. Oh, boo, it's a [product placement] challenge. For broth. Don't pretend these people wouldn't rather make their own broth/stock/pretty much anything. Padma pretends this Quickfire will settle the debate of whose stuffing is the best. For added fun, they cannot use any knives or kitchen tools. Mike pretends he saw it coming. What is the point of this twist? I know it's a reality show so they need a gimmick but this is so pointless. Fabio is going to crush things with his head. Winner gets immunity AND $20,000. Tre has two daughters and he says "girls are expensive".

45 minutes to cook. Everyone shoves each other around the fridges while Casey and Carla stay out of the way. All that is left for Carla is quinoa. Casey is going Asian, which is out of her comfort zone, but she says if you're here to just cook food you already know how to cook, you're in the wrong place. Yeah, I can see that. People are pounding things and Fabio is grating cheese on the bars of shelving units and who knows what all is going on. Tiffani talks about her mom's stuffing and how her mom kicks them all out of the house and when they get back it's "Jedi fucking stuffing." Hee. Tre's family doesn't like his cooking? Wait, they can't use utensils but they can use the liquid nitrogen? Tre is freezing things to crush them with a pot. Many people are grabbing quail or Cornish hens or something so they really are making stuffing. Carla thinks her quinoa is undercooked.

Casey: mushrooms with crispy chicken liver, miso cake, mushroom dashi. Jamie: stuffing crepinette with pork, lemon oil, broth. A crepinette is a "sausage parcel", according to Wikipedia. Carla: Thai inspired vegetable stuffing with black quinoa salad. She calls it "undone-te", and when Tony is like "Why did you call it al dente?" she corrects him. Hee. Spike: stuffed quail with raisins, herbs, port and apricot glaze. Marcel: whole squab, stuffing with raisin brioche, cherries, currants, and ras al hanout gravy. Richard: pressure cooked onion, nitro fried fennel, raisins and pine nuts. Tre: Southwestern stuffing with bacon, cheddar, bell pepper, chili powder. Dale: Spanish influenced stuffing with crabs, oysters, chili lemon aioli, grapes, olives. Tiffani: soy maple stuffing with quail, grilled mushrooms and quartered grapes. Fabio: polenta bread, vegetables, smoked bacon and grated parmesean.

Tony says overall they did well. Carla is on the bottom, which she expected, and her stuffing is maybe closer to cereal. Tiffani's stuffing was too sweet, and she thinks her mom would kill her. Casey I think was too deconstructed. Tre's was spicy but well balanced, and Marcel's had a good bird too. The winner is Tre. Marcel looks kind of pissed.

Elimination challenge: Cook at the US Open. Oh, sorry, at "the home of" the US Open. Padma says some line about healthy food, and then makes everyone pick a tennis ball can. See, if you had just let them draw knives, then you wouldn't have to spend money on tennis ball cans with the logo on them, and then you wouldn't have to beg money off of advertisers and end up with stupid [product placement] challenges. This divides everyone into two teams. Spike whines about his team because he has no "allies". They will serve dishes one at a time, head-to-head. Winner of each battle gets a point for their team, first team to 4 wins. Padma says that chefs on the winning team will be up for the win, but only those chefs who lost a point on the losing team will be up for elimination. Interesting, as it means someone with a poor dish will skate through if their team wins. They will have to use some strategy about when to play strong dishes. 15 minutes of menu planning now.

Angelo argues that the other team (with Richard and Marcel) will go too cerebral. Carla wants to make African peanut soup, but Dale for some reason feels the lack of meat is not appropriate for the US Open. Marcel starts to argue about dishes, but Mike claims they all have to agree on everything. Yeah, but you're putting your name on a dish, which will cause YOU to go home. They aren't being judged on a total menu.

Back in the loft, everyone splits up to plan, even though this means they all go over 15 minutes. Spike decides they should put their weakest dish up first, because this will cause the other team to "waste" their best dish. That only works if you're sure that's what the other team is doing. Jamie interviews that she's just kind of going along with it to avoid fighting.

30 minutes for shopping. Tre's been eating healthy so he feels good about this challenge. Carla is going to make whatever she wants. Good for her.

3 hours to cook at the US Open. The teams shake out this way: One team is Marcel, Carla, Richard, Fabio, Mike, Dale, and Antonia. The other team is Angelo, Spike, Jamie, Tiffani, Tiffany, Tre, and Casey. Richard has a punny name for his dish. Antonia admits that rather than play sports she smoked pot in high school. Hee. Fabio is making gnocchi, which might backfire for being too heavy. He can't find a paddle to mix so he's making them by hand. Jamie is making dried chickpeas which might not get done in time. Angelo for some reason doesn't like the look of his fish, which he himself purchased. He asks Tre if he can have some salmon for sashimi. Tre knows that even though he has immunity, helping Angelo will screw him, so he throws Tiffany under the bus and laughs about it. Wow...that's kind of cold and I love it. Tiffany is a nice person so she gives Angelo some tuna.

Tom time! Jamie says they have a secret plan she can't tell him. Actually no one will tell him, and Antonia laughs about it in interview, although in the kitchen she seems pretty interested in what people are telling Tom. Finally Angelo and Spike tell him what they're doing. Tom just kind of chuckles.

Carla gets distracted while cutting and cuts off half her fingernail. Good job. She asks them to bandage it up and keep going, which is called "manning up" by Dale and also "professional". Antonia makes sure to slam Jamie about it. I think the only person who can legitimately slam Jamie for that is Jen. I'm glad you all will work through cutting off your finger but other people won't so shut up about it. I don't hear Carla going on about it. Jamie's chickpeas aren't cooking. Spike has to make new shrimp and he blames the time factor for any lack of "seasoning and love".

They get to set up and serve on an actual tennis court. Well, along the sides anyway. The court itself is roped off. Bravo paid some random people to show up and watch them cook for some reason. Spike says they tasted everyone's dishes except Jamie's, and an unfinished dish by definition is the worst dish so she should go first.

First dishes are due. Fabio asks to go first, with confidence. The other team tries to force Jamie to go, but she refuses because her dish is not ready. Casey finally volunteers, and Spike whines because no one is paying attention to his strategery. Guest judge is Taylor Dent who is a tennis player. I don't watch tennis so I can tell you nothing about him. Fabio: whole wheat gnocchi with pork loin ragout, caramelized fennel and zucchini. Casey: grilled pork tenderloin with farro, cherries, sugar snap peas, and vinaigrette. Everyone likes Fabio's dish as Casey's is deemed too heavy. Fabio leaps over the tennis net and goes to his knees like a soccer player who just scored a goal. Nice.

Marcel is supposed to go second but Dale says his dumplings have to go now. Marcel complains that they should have told him before he started plating, which is a valid complaint, but then he throws his utensils around and has a tantrum. Angelo takes over and says they should just go for it now, no dumb strategy, so Tiffani goes up. Dale: edamame dumpling, spicy carrot froth, crispy soy nuts. Tiffani: sashimi of black bass, avocado and ponzu vinaigrette. Tiffani wins, as her dish is light and tasty. Dale curses.

Angelo vs. Marcel. Well...at least it'll be full of posturing. Angelo is 100% confident his dish will win. Smoked tuna, yuzu gelee, red onion and capers. It's one bite, served on a plastic spoon. And froth. Marcel: cauliflower couscous with pomegranate seeds, golden raisins, and yellowfin tuna. Tom can't taste the tuna, and he and everyone else goes with Angelo. Marcel curses and complains that Angelo always serves on a spoon. Does he?

Jamie says she hopes she won't have to go at all. I guess...if your team got their 4 points then the other matchups wouldn't matter, but everyone should still have to serve food, right? That doesn't seem fair. Angelo is futzing with everyone's food and Tiffani is irritated. Tiffany (who is the one actually up): spiced tuna with fennel, peppercorns, coriander seeds and lentil salad. Antonia: scallop, Indian lentil puree, mint, dandelion greens, cilantro and chives. Antonia wins.

Richard and Spike, who says he's the best they have left and he's afraid of Richard. Angelo and Tiffani are really "aggressive" about Spike's dish, as they've already heard the judges' comments. To the point where Angelo is adding gelee to Spike's food. Oh, you'll have to shove him out of the way before he'll leave you alone. Spike just leaves it and takes the food up, while interviewing that this is no longer his dish. You're going to get the same thing everyone else gets: you should stand up for yourself and make your own food. Spike: tomato tamarind soup, olive oil poached shrimp, pineapple, tomatoes and dill. Richard: "Thai-bouleh" with lamb, herbs, and yogurt. Curse his stupid naming he always does, but it looks good, anyway. Both proteins apparently suck, but Richard's tabbouleh saves him.

Carla vs. Tre. Jamie's chickpeas STILL aren't cooked, after all this time, which makes me think she has no idea what she's doing. Casey worries that Tre has immunity, so if he loses and their team loses, he's still safe. Did you just figure that out? Mike is worried about Carla's dish, to the point that he's assuming she'll lose and is getting his stuff ready. Angelo offers to help Tre, and ends up burning some of the fish. You guys just need to tell Angelo to get lost, seriously. Carla: African groundnut soup with baked sweet potatoes, adzuki beans, and peanuts. Adzuki beans are what they make sweet bean paste out of. I bet it's good soup. Tre: Coho salmon, parsnip puree, olive oil sauce with citrus, tomatoes, and olives. Carla wins and her team goes insane, pretty much. But I still think Mike and Jamie should have to serve. Tiffany says Spike's plan was stupid anyway. Wait, Jamie didn't have to finish her dish and she's not even eligible for elimination. See my point?

Commercial interlude: Everyone dances and Mike is an obnoxious frat boy but everyone says they love that he's a big kid and makes them playful. Sure.

Mike asks Jamie if she's upset she didn't get to serve, and she claims she wanted to present her food. Spike complains AGAIN that she had the worst food. Fabio, Carla, Richard, and Antonia are up first for the win. I guess you're really only up for the win if you win your point, not just if you're on the winning team. Winner gets a trip to Italy. Gail says this is the best food ever. Richard says their team just randomly picked out people to go, and it probably helped them to not have a strategy. Carla's soup was homey but she elevated it. Antonia layered her flavors very well. Richard's tabbouleh tasted great. Tony says to Fabio that light gnocchi is "a miracle". Carla wins! Yay! I love Carla. She gloats about winning with her dish that her team didn't want her to make.

Casey, Tiffany, Tre, and Spike are up. Back in the Stew Room Richard says to Jamie "You've got a story going now". She fires back that she's trying not to be offended but what exactly is that supposed to mean? It means that it's an "odd" story because she hasn't cooked (she didn't cook for the museum challenge and didn't cook this time either). Jamie just shrugs, like, "Whatevs, I'm not going home for it" and Richard I think is surprised at the non-reaction. Well, she hasn't cooked. I don't think she's so stupid she'd pretend that's not the case. Padma asks the losers about their "strategy", and Spike shares his idea. Casey shakes her head, and Gail is like, you thought Casey's dish was the WORST? but he claims that's not what he said. You said you were going to put your worst dish first. Casey went first. Shut up, Spike. Spike tries to throw Jamie under the bus but Tom points out his strategy failed since she's not even in danger of going home. Plus as Tom points out in his blog, they could have told Jamie "Tough shit, you're going" and then shouted her name at Padma, forcing her to go first. Then Spike throws Angelo and Tiffani under the bus for screwing with his dish. Tre pretty much laughs at him. Gail asks if Angelo messed with Spike's dish without asking, and Spike hems and haws enough that I think he gave Angelo permission. The dish was too sweet, but Tom says that's because the shrimp were bland. Tom asks Tiffany if Angelo sabotaged Spike, as Tiffany was there in Angelo's season where he interfered with things. She said she thought so at first, but in the end, you cook your own food. Ha. Tiffany's salad was overdressed and "flaccid", and her fish was lacking something. Tre's fish was overcooked and his dish was the judges' least favorite, but since he has immunity that's all we're going to hear about that. Casey's dish was heavy, but she argues that it's "hearty, so...you can feel like you can eat a lot of it without feeling guilty". Is that how she defines "hearty"? With the pork loin it was too much. She argues (with a lot of hand waving) that she disagrees.

Spike FINALLY, in the Stew Room, stands up for himself and his dish. Tiffany tells him he's responsible for himself. Tre would have gone home, it sounds like. Spike's dish didn't need yuzu, it needed salt. Tom says he shouldn't have let anyone touch his dish. Casey disagreed with the judges, but understood what they objected too. I think also they just feel it's bad luck she lost. Tiffany's dish was underseasoned and lacking something to make it perfect.

Tom says to stick to the system, and then Spike gets sent home. Good, take your asshat and go. He says he got screwed and of course, there are people worse than him who should have gone home. Like the people on his team. But of course he is still "the best of the best".

Next week: cooking against Tom and working in a Chinese restaurant. People are ready to walk out. So...Hell's Kitchen, then. Clicky clicky

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Chef:All Stars 12/15/10--"New York's Finest"

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: for some inexplicable reason a Jonas brother showed up to have the chefs make snacks for a children’s sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History. I didn’t hear anyone say it had to be healthy, but I think some people did. Tiffani was praised for her sugar bombs, though, so I guess in the end it didn’t matter. Spike also was praised, and in a situation that was NOT CONTRIVED AT ALL there was a tie so they had to make teams and have the kids decide between the two snacks. Of course, sugar wins over carrot chips and Tiffani’s prize is to pick what menu she wants for the Elimination challenge: all meat or all plants. She picks meat, making the false assumption (as I did) that she could still use things like herbs and flour. Nope, meat, eggs, dairy. Oh, and the challenge was to make breakfast for everyone on less than an hour’s sleep. The vegan team did quite well, winning and awarding Richard, Angelo, and Marcel the win for banana parfaits. Jen went home for soggy pork belly, but not before she called out all the judges and was generally belligerent and defensive. It was kind of awesome. (click for more)

So I guess instead of doing “Previously on” clip sequences, they have a couple of clips and then some interview pieces from everyone as they hang out in the Stew Room. Mainly the comments this time revolve around how Jamie didn’t need to go to the hospital to get two stitches in her thumb. Tom said she had never gotten stitches before, but I will admit that I had more sympathy for her before I knew how many stitches she needed.

David Chang is next to Padma for the Quickfire. He owns a bunch of restaurants. Today it is time for the mise en place relay race! The teams are divided randomly based on what order they wandered into the kitchen. First, as a team, they will all need to prep artichokes, meat, and garlic. Aww…not the mise en place relay race. After that, then they have to make one dish using the ingredients. The first team to finish their prep will start the 15 minute clock. So…if you are slow, you won’t get enough time to cook? Interesting. I hope later they have the usual relay race, though. I like it. Oh, and of course, no immunity for the winners. However, each winning team member gets $5000.

Each team has racks of lamb (they have to french the bones, I think), artichokes to clean, and garlic to crush. Fabio is using two cutting boards to smash piles of garlic. Tre’s restaurant had their own butchers to do this. Marcel for some reason is thrilled because he has some magic method for cleaning lamb bones. DaleL tells us that Casey is flying through the lamb, probably because during the relay race in her season, she had dull knives and failed at chopping onions. Woo, flashback shot of CJ! Fabio is the only one smashing garlic in volume. Everyone else is doing one or maybe two cloves at a time, so Fabio’s team finishes that part first. Tiffani is using a mandolin for some reason. Mike sadly finishes the lamb, and he’s on Fabio’s team. They finish the artichokes and no one else is anywhere near finished with anything. Like…everyone else only has one thing done. David makes Spike rechop the garlic which makes me laugh. Sadly his team finishes next, with 12 minutes to make something. DaleL’s team gets 10 minutes to cook. Tiffani’s team is still working. Casey’s team has decided to make lamb carpaccio, since it’s raw and they won’t have to take time to cook it. FINALLY Tiffani’s team finishes, and makes the same decision since they have 8 minutes 40 seconds to make something. Lots of frantic flailing and plating.

The white team (Tiffani, Marcel, DaleT, and Carla) were the last ones done. Lamb carpaccio, artichoke chips, artichoke salad, garlic oil. The blue team (Stephen, Tre, Spike, and Richard) took 12 minutes to make crispy lamb chop with artichoke 3 ways. “Crispy” is not an adjective I want describing my meat. The 3 ways are raw, crispy, and braised. The red team (Antonia, Casey, Jamie, and DaleL) get a greeting of “Hello, ladies” from Padma, as DaleL slowly raises his hand in the back. Hee. Lamb carpaccio with capers, garlic, reggiano, and salad with artichoke. The green team (Tiffany, Fabio, Mike, and Angelo) had the full 15 minutes to cook. Lamb with garlic, tandoori spiced yogurt, slivers of artichoke, dill salad.

The red team had too much parmesan and parsley, and the green team had too much thyme and dill. Aww, and Mike JUST got done bragging about how he won. Ha. Angelo is embarrassed. The white team had a complex dish, and apparently “crispy” lamb chops are good. The blue team wins. Richard claims that because he took the lead on the dish (they didn’t have time to collaborate on anything so he kind of just gave orders) that his team trusts him and that’s better than money.

When they go to talk about the Elimination challenge, there’s a wide shot and you can see the floor of the kitchen is just covered in random pieces of artichoke and things. Padma says something about elite restaurants or whatever, and then says each team will go to “one of New York’s finest restaurants” to experience the food and then each one has to make a dish the head chef of that restaurant would put on the menu. Interesting. The restaurants are ma peche (David‘s restaurant, Asian) david burke townhouse (modern American), Marea (Italian), and wd-50. Awesome. You know Marcel and Richard will die if they don’t go to wd-50. Oh, I get it now. Each team drew one knife and that whole team will go to that restaurant. So the team competes against itself, basically. The black team is going to ma peche (Angelo is thrilled), red team to townhouse, blue team to Marea, and white team to wd-50 (meaning Marcel gets to go there). Casey is kind of nervous because DaleL already cooks American food. Then Padma breaks the news that two of them are going home. Fabio curses because he has to make Asian food.

Everyone goes to their restaurants, meets the chefs, takes notes. And why was Fabio cursing? Because ma peche serves French-Vietnamese. Heh. Angelo babbles while Tiffany sits there and realizes how annoying he is. They all look kind of worried. While at Marea, apparently a place where Stephen eats all the time, Tre is served sea urchin crostini. Well, they all are, but Tre doesn’t like sea urchin so much. Neither do I, dude. Stephen gets all Stephen about everything, which is to say, arrogant and obnoxious. Tre just kind of rolls his eyes. Richard knows he will have to have restraint. Wylie Dufresne looks the same as always. Poor Carla! I feel for her. I mean…they’re being served aerated foie gras that looks like a sponge. DaleT is going to make eggs because Wylie likes them. Carla is full on freaking out. And then we go over to townhouse, where the chefs are served cocktails in glasses that have fish in the bottom. You know those martini glasses that are one piece that is a cone, and the other piece is a bowl you’re supposed to put ice in to keep your drink cold? Inside the bowl piece they’ve put water and a live fish. Crazy. This food is really playful and wacky. DaleL is in heaven. Everyone else (Antonia, Jamie, and Casey) is very worried.

Back at the loft Stephen thinks he is in good shape. That’s about all that happens in that segment. I guess the point is to make sure you know Stephen is confident. So that’s a bad sign for him.

Everyone gets 2 hours to cook. Mike is still an asshat about everyone else, but he at least understands that he is competing against Angelo, making Asian food, and that could be a problem for him. Antonia wants to make peas and carrots but elevated. Carla is trying to stretch herself, and I’m worried for her. Stephen breaks a blender, maybe, and Richard is totally aware of his flailing. Tre laughs that people call him “The Black Italian”. I can’t tell if he’s serious. Everyone puts their hands up when time is up, except for Spike who has plates in his hands. There is a shot of Tre with his hands up, and Spike behind him very calmly and quietly saying “I can’t put my hands up right now”. Hee.

Kate Krader, who is an editor at “Food and Wine”, is here instead of Gail for some reason, along with Tom and Tony and the owner of whatever restaurant they’re in. The blue team, at Marea, is up first. Tre: grilled swordfish, braised artichoke, mushroom panna cotta, basil oil. Spike: seared branzino with caponata and spicy prosciutto vinaigrette. Richard: crudo of Spanish mackerel, braised veal shank, fennel mustarda. The veal is stuffed into onions carved to look like squid, Richard makes sure to mention. Stephen: Coho salmon, Black Mission figs, broccoli rapini, fennel pollen. Does pollen really taste like anything? Spike made a good dish, but it isn’t really “caponata” (like eggplant relish, I think) and he gets dinged for making everyone expect one thing and not delivering. They love Richard’s dish. Apparently pollen does have a flavor, if you use enough of it. A bad flavor. Tony says it tastes like a head shop. Tre’s food is simple and perfectly cooked.

I would like to go on record and say I do not like Padma’s dress. Fabio says his task is like asking an Asian grandma to make fresh pasta and osso bucco to please him. Angelo is putting white chocolate with his dish, for some unfathomable Angelo reason. Fabio: roasted lamb, hoisin plum BBQ sauce, corn tomato salad, lemongrass chevre ricotta (which he made himself). Tiffany: crudo of summer flounder, pickled radish, peach puree. Mike: warm sockeye salmon, eggplant, marinated tomatoes and pickled peach. Angelo: turmeric marinated fish (what kind of fish, Angelo?), dill, cilantro, salmon roe, chorizo, and white chocolate. They love Angelo’s dish, so the chocolate paid off. Sadly they like Mike’s too. Fabio’s dish is heavy, and they aren’t really thrilled with the combination. Tiffany is missing the one thing that would elevate it. Plus I think they are bored with the crudo.

DaleL is asking Casey for advice on everything, and he has a huge number of things going on. DaleL: roasted veal loin, peanuts, popcorn, French toast, corn puree, thyme caramel. Weird. Antonia: pea puree, carrot puree, seared scallop, pickled carrot. She put the purees in concentric circles so it looks very pretty. Casey: coconut halibut “scallop” (she cut the halibut to look like a scallop), tapioca pearl “caviar”, ginger-carrot emulsion. Jamie: smoked tomato and bacon soup with heirloom tomato salad. I think it sounds good, but they want more creativity and more wow factor from Jamie’s dish. DaleL is too sweet and it’s like a sweet dish with a veal chop. They love Casey’s dish. Tom thinks Antonia’s dish is very salty but David Burke (the chef) likes aggressive seasoning.

Dear Campbell’s Soup: My sister and I have been eating your Vegetable Beef Soup over rice for at least 15 years. I’ll let you know where you can send the royalty checks.

Commercial interlude: Marcel tells DaleT apparently some time in the past one of Wylie’s sous chefs accused him of stealing some techniques. Wait, you took a preview clip from the commercial interlude??

Andy Cohen if I thought that by watching your stupid fucking show I could eliminate YOU I would be all over it. But since I know you’ll be around to plague me forever you can forget about it.

DaleT doesn’t know Wylie’s techniques so he’s not going to try and screw it up. Tiffani thinks she shouldn’t have frozen her melons. Real quote. DaleT: sunny side up egg dumpling, braised pork belly, milk ramen with bacon, beef, and pork. Yum. Tiffani: broken summer heirloom melons with powdered ham and taleggio. The melons were vacuum packed, frozen, and then broken up with a hammer. Carla: poached shrimp, grits, and okra chips. It looks good but not crazy. Marcel: vadouvan lamb, tzatziki, pickled red onion, and “anti-flatbread”. The flatbread is supposed to be like the aerated foie gras, and “vadouvan” is a spice blend that has Indian and French elements. Tiffani’s dish had to much going on and the melon is an intruder. They absolutely love DaleT’s dish, and they think the broth tastes like buttered toast. Carla’s dish is safe, but technically well done. Tony was afraid Marcel’s dish would be crazy, but it was timid. Wylie thinks he knows how to use all the equipment, but he didn’t use it to improve the dishes.

In the Stew Room, Carla brags about using the immersion circulator. Padma calls DaleT, Angelo, Antonia, and Tre as the top group. The winner of this challenge gets a week in New Zealand. Nice. Antonia’s flavors were delicious, Angelo’s white chocolate was “genius”. Tre perfectly cooked his fish. Tony asks DaleT if he was aware that Wylie is “a total egg slut”. Hee. Of course he was! He used restraint to keep from overdoing it with the techniques. The winner today is DaleT. Sweet. I wonder if Wylie is going to steal the dish.

Stephen, Tiffani, Fabio, and DaleL get called out. No Loser Gong, though. I am sad about this group. Someone I like will be going home. Fabio tries to defend himself, knowing he just threw in ingredients, but his sauce was too thick and it needed a thinner sauce. Stephen is frustrated because he’s cocky and feels he should have nailed it. He knows he put too much on the plate. Tony didn’t like the pollen. Tiffani made everything watery and mushy. She’s upset. DaleL was trying to be crazy, and says he was inspired by a dish of his that is buttermilk French toast with banana black pepper caramel. See, that sounds delicious! The judges point out that maybe he shouldn’t have put veal in a breakfast dish.

DaleT’s dish didn’t taste good; too sweet. Stephen’s fish was perfect, but he kept going when he should have stopped. Fabio had Asian ingredients, but he kind of threw them all in together in a pile. Tiffani had one technique too many and it ruined the dish.

I find it interesting that Tom reminds everyone of how they screwed up but it’s Padma that ultimately sends people home. Stephen and DaleT are sent home. Aww. I like Dale. Stephen, I’m OK with. He’s kind of out of his league. Dale is sad, but Stephen also admits he’s out of his league. Dale wants back on the next All Star season.

Next week: the U.S. Open, someone cuts themselves, some fighting, Gail says “flaccid”. I'm not sure when I can write the recap because of the holiday, but I'll try.
Clicky clicky

Monday, December 13, 2010

TAR17, Recap Leg 12, 12/12/10

Welcome to Leg 12! Last time, on It’s All About Seoul, teams raced from Hong Kong to Seoul, South Korea. There was a visit to the border, and Nick and Vicki falling extremely behind. This led to their elimination, which left two awesome teams (and an asshat): Nat and Kat, the doctors and best friends, Brook and Claire, the HSN hosts, and Jill and Thomas, the YDC. Who will win The Amazing Race 17? (click for more)

Arrival at the pit stop last episode:
1st – Jill/Thomas, Team Who?
2nd – Brook/Claire, Team Infomercial
3rd – Nat/Kat, Team ER

Temple of Heaven, Seoul, South Korea

3:57 AM Jill/Thomas (1st)
Clue: Fly 6000 miles to your FINAL DESTINATION CITY: Los Angeles, California, USA! Once there, take a taxi to the Port of Long Beach and find Pier J.

Thomas: “Oh, good, California. I can work on my Spanish skills.”

4:23 AM Brook/Claire (2nd) – Brook: “I would like to boot Thomas.”
4:27 PM Nat/Kat (3rd)

Teams leave the Pit Stop and head towards Incheon International Airport. They arrive in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brook/Claire
3- Nat/Kat

Teams discover that everyone will be on the same Korean Air flight to LA. And Brook and Claire will be in their cheetah pants. (Toyouke: “The "cheetah pants" are EXACTLY why they shouldn't win.”) So, the Amazing Red Line takes us across the Pacific Ocean. (Toyouke: “Is no one going to ask to be seated in the front of the plane?”) All teams arrive in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Ubiquitous shots of LA, plus Katy Perry’s “California Girls”. (Auburnium0513: “Noooo! The music, really?” Toyouke: “Oh, CBS, Katy Perry? Really?”)

Teams take a taxi to the Port of Long Beach, find Pier J and arrive in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Teams are welcomed to the Drop Zone. This means that the teams will ride a cramped elevator up a crane, pick up their clue, and then bungee swing 120 feet down to a raft below. (Toyouke: “What is the point of the bungee swing?“) Once teams are on dry land, they can open their next clue. Teams jump in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Then, teams finish the task and open their clue in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat – Nat: “I’ve never loved asphalt so much.”
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Teams open their next clue to find that they must board a helicopter which will take them to a surprise destination. They board helicopters in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Teams then ooh and ahh at their air tour of LA. After the comments of it being better than taking the freeway (Toyouke: “I love that everyone keeps complaining about LA traffic but every freeway shot has had NO TRAFFIC.”), teams land at their surprise destination: The Rose Bowl. Teams get their clue in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

And teams come to the twelfth and final roadblock.

“Who’s bright enough to float?”

In this roadblock, one team member must complete three different parts of a Rose Bowl float: mums on the edge, tulips in the middle, and a large rose for the outside. Once all parts are completed correctly and verified by the float captain, teams get their clues from Rose Queen 2009, Courtney Lee.

The following team members complete the Roadblock.

1- Nat – who forgets to fill water tubes on the tulips. Not a mistake to make on the last leg, ladies.
2- Thomas – who strategized to make sure Thomas got the final Roadblock. (Toyouke: “That's an interesting Roadblock strategy for Jill and Thomas. But I don't think it takes decorating skills to do this.”)
3- Brook

After much float building, teams complete the Roadblock in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire

Teams are now given their next clue:

1: I am Sancho Panza’s Master.
2: I am the place to hear the Symphony of the Glen.
3: Monroe’s Year of the Itch

Fill in the blanks: ___1___ Studios, ___2___, Stage _3_.

So, everyone ponders the clue. (Toyouke: “This clue is tough.”) Nat and Kat call information and somehow get the woman to look stuff up for them. Brook and Claire convince their taxi driver to take them to a hotel so that they can access a computer. And Jill and Thomas irk their taxi driver into doing nothing. After all that, all three teams eventually figure out their destination: Quixote Studios, Griffith Park, Stage 7.

Teams arrive in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Brook/Claire
3- Jill/Thomas

Once teams arrive, the final task begins.


Teams arrive at stage 7 and are greeted by game show legend Bob Eubanks. He leads them to a podium in front of a video screen with 48 flashing pictures of people in hats. All 48 of them have greeted at a Pit Stop on the Amazing Race over the last seventeen seasons, including the eleven from this season. Teams are instructed to find the 11 greeters and put them in order. Once completed, teams get their next clue. For reference, the Pit Stops were Eastnor Castle, Accra, Doyumo, Norwegian Border, Narvik, St. Petersburg 1, St. Petersburg 2, Muscat, Dhaka, Hong Kong, Seoul.

(Toyouke: “Remember the GREETERS!? That is EVIL. Oo, I wonder if you could get close enough to read lips.”)

Teams complete the task in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat – (Auburnium0513: “Nicely done, ladies! Way to take notes!”)
2- Brook/Claire
3- Jill/Thomas

Teams get their clue and find that they must now find Greystone Mansion, the FINISH LINE of this racearoundtheworld. The first team to arrive WILL win the Amazing Race 17!

1- Nat/Kat
2- Brook/Claire
– (Toyouke: “Brooke, being a strong woman DOES NOT INVOLVE BEING SHRILL AND WEARING CHEETAH PANTS.”)
3- Jill/Thomas

4 continents, 30 cities, 32000 miles, Nat and Kat, you are the first ever all-female team to win The Amazing Race, and the winners of TAR 17! Now, THAT was satisfying.

1st – Nat/Kat
2nd – Brook/Claire
3rd – Jill/Thomas
4th – Nick/Vicki
5th – Chad/Stephanie
6th – Gary/Mallory
7th – Michael/Kevin
8th – Katie/Rachel
9th – Connor/Jonathan
10th – Andie/Jenna
11th – Ron/Tony

Next season: Remember all those teams you loved? And they all lost because of a technicality or a silly situation that knocked them out of the race? Well, they are back in TAR 18: Unfinished Business! Join Amanda & Kris, Flight Time & Big Easy, Gary & Mallory, Jaime & Cara, Jet & Cord, Kisha & Jen, Kynt & Vyxsin, Margie & Luke, Mel & Mike, Ron & Christina, and Zev & Justin as they race AGAIN! Until February 20, 2011 . . . see you next time!

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top Chef:All Stars 12/8/10--"Night at the Museum"

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: there was a minimum of drama, I guess because everyone wanted to wait a while before starting fights. The different seasons had to cook together, which wasn’t that exciting, except for the part where Jamie said she was better than everyone else on her season and didn’t want them to drag her down. Then each contestant had to remake the dish that got them kicked off the first time. An excellent challenge. Some people had an easier time than others, in that they just had execution problems the first time. As opposed to deciding miso butterscotch scallops was a good idea. In the end Elia served raw fish and didn’t think there was anything wrong with her dish anyway, not even the first time, so she was the first one eliminated. She’s still super bitter about it; she’s been interviewing about how she followed the rules when others didn’t, and how Tom is a sell-out anyway and isn’t qualified to judge. (click for more)

Instead of starting in the house in the morning, we start in the Stew Room right after the challenge with everyone in shock that Elia went home. Richard is still weirded out that he got disqualified for plating after time. Also Fabio got insulted by Tony, who went on his blog and said he might have been drunk and overly mean.

When everyone comes in for the Quickfire, Padma is standing next to some generic guy, and had I not seen the previews I wouldn’t know it was a Jonas, and I am proud of that fact. Spike, however, knows Joe Jonas on sight. DaleT has no clue who the Jonas Brothers are. Good. For their Quickfire, they’ll be going to the American Museum of Natural History to cook for a “Night at the Museum” sleepover for 150 kids. Each one will make a dish, and Joe will decide which one will be the midnight snack for the kids. Richard points out that what kids will eat and what Joe will like may not be the same. The kids won’t have any utensils or plates. Joe jokes that they have 30 seconds, and everyone freaks out before he says he’s kidding. Winner gets immunity and “an advantage”.

45 minutes. DaleL seems to be making something with marshmallows, graham crackers…random stuff. He calls it “crack for small children”. Hee. DaleT takes the big bin of sugar out of the pantry and leaves it on his station while everyone hollers for it. He doesn’t respond with “I have it” or anything, so everyone gets pissed as he’s not even using it. I can’t tell if he’s just in the zone or if he’s trying to mess with everyone. Marcel is glad to cook for kids, because his mom took over the food program at his school…we get photos. Spike is making chips and dip. Tiffani reminds us how her season, they had to cook for kids and she went off at Judges’ Table about how 10 year olds don’t know anything, and Tom is like, good thing you have immunity. She knows she was an asshole. I think she is freezing marshmallows with liquid nitrogen. Richard used to do things like put heavy cream on his cereal because no one told him not to. You know, that kind of explains a lot about Richard if he used to make up crazy things when he was a kid. Stephen is making “healthy” snickerdoodles, in that they are sort of healthier than regular cookies. DaleT says healthy food sucks. I think I remember liking DaleT. He wants to put Nyquil in his dish so the kids will sleep. Mike is sweating a lot. His cookies aren’t as sweet as he wanted.

Antonia: white chocolate and cherry muffin with cinnamon and allspice. Richard: white bread, spiced apples with whipped honey and crunchy chocolate. Spike: homemade potato and carrot chips with mascarpone and marshmallow dip. Ew. Individually, OK. But not together. Tre: cracker with cranberry and cherry jam and apple smoked bacon. Casey: chocolate and bacon lasagna, with apple juice and candy. Mike sneers at it. DaleL: SweetTart nuggets and caveman boulders with chocolate sauce. He says his goal is to get the kids as jacked up on sugar as he can. Like a 10 year old rave. Hee. Jaime: mini cheddar biscuits with homemade cinnamon applesauce. Tiffany: coconut rice pudding with grapefruit sauce. It falls apart. DaleT: corn cake with dried cherries and whipped maple topping. Fabio: apple with white chocolate, caramel, and blueberry, and an apple with dark chocolate, marshmallow, and candied ginger. Tiffani: rice krispy treat snowball with malted milk and graham crackers. Angelo: fried dough, white pepper, Old Bay, and cheddar crumbs. Stephen: snickerdoodle with white chocolate, coconut ganache, apricot, and mint. Jen: bacon ginger taffy and honey grilled peaches. She says if the kids don’t like it they can throw it. Mike: chocolate coconut corn bar, and coconut horchata chaser. Eh. I don’t feel it’s so superior to chocolate bacon lasagna.

I wanted to see what craziness Marcel made. Tiffany’s was messy, Mike’s chocolate wasn’t strong enough (ha), and Stephen’s cookies were good but the other stuff wasn’t great. Spike and Tiffani were the top, and Joe won’t make a decision, so Padma says they’re all going to the museum to let the kids decide. Awesome. Several people discuss how they don’t like kids. Padma says they each have to make 150 snacks so the losers have to help them. That’s rough. They take turns picking, which is boring. Fabio is last, and he decides to be on Spike’s team just to piss off Spike, which is a thing I can get behind.

2 hours to cook. DaleL likes the teams because it’s “the Spice Girls and a bodyguard” (Tiffani’s team with him and Tre and most of the girls) and “all the cool guys and their babysitter Carla”. Hee. Spike claims he has fun in the kitchen and is in no way abrasive. Richard kind of wishes he was on the other team to play with the liquid nitrogen. Angelo and DaleT make fun of Jen for some reason, and then DaleT complains about making the dish. Everyone for some reason is really into the teams, even though Padma didn’t say anything about anyone on the team getting anything except for Spike or Tiffani. But whatever. Fabio says he likes to fly under the radar. You know what, I bet they’re gambling that the immunity/advantage will be applied to the whole team in a “twist”.

Everyone sets up at the museum. There is a brief discussion about how to charm the kids, even though each kid is going to get a bag from each team and then probably go away to eat it. A herd of kids shows up. Casey says they’re getting a lot of sugar, but it’s not HER kids. Heh. Spike thinks he won’t win if he doesn’t campaign. Some kid doesn’t like raisins. There’s a lot of yelling. Jamie never wants kids. Joe walks in but no one faints, sadly. They make the kids cheer for their favorite, and do you think the kids cheered for carrot chips or rice krispy treats rolled in chocolate? Yeah. Only Tiffani wins anything, immunity and some advantage.

The kids file out, after having TRASHED the room they were in, and the chefs are wandering away when Tom shows up. No one is happy to see him. Antonia actually flails, like rolling your eyes but with your whole body. Tom says the Elimination challenge starts right now. Ha! Everyone stares at him. It is 1:30am. They will join the sleepover, and make a breakfast dish for the kids and their parents. Breakfast will be served 6 hours from now. Tiffani is super psyched. They can use whatever they find in the museum kitchen. For no reason, one team has to cook with meat and “meat by-products” (meaning eggs and dairy), and the other has to go vegan. Supposedly it’s being done because of the dinosaurs, a T. Rex and a brontosaurus. “Inspired by a dinosaur’s diet”. Whatever. Tiffani, as winner, gets to pick, and of course she picks meat and dairy. They can spend the night in the Hall of North American Mammals, and everyone laughs so you know they’re slap-happy. There will be a winning team and a losing team, and one chef from the losing team will go home.

2:10am, and there are cots in the hall, with flashlights and jammies for everyone. Stephen of course does not camp or “rough it”. Tre is also not totally pleased because he sleeps naked. The teams take some time to plan menus. Jen tries to run her team and says they’re all against each other and they need to plan, because everyone is against everyone else or whatever. Both teams seem to be pairing off. Casey points out they don’t know what they’ll find in the kitchens so planning a menu may backfire.

Eventually a group of them decides to go on a “flashlight tour”, a group of them being the boys pretty much. Antonia interviews they’re only going to have like, 45 minutes of sleep, so she’s taking it. Spike feels this will make the other team sleepy and they’ll fail. Yeah.

Antonia was right, they only got maybe an hour of sleep, and that’s the ones that didn’t wander around. The alarm goes off at 3:45, and they run to the kitchen at 4am. The vegan team has plenty of stuff that they wanted, and the meat team is discovering that “carnivore” means “meat only”. Oops. No acid, no herbs. DaleL is pissed that they don’t even have flour. Yeah…I thought meat would be better too, but it seems to have backfired. Carla and Spike are making gazpacho. Fabio is making gnocchi. Jamie slices up her thumb and the medic tells her she needs stitches. So she leaves to get stitches. Casey is pissed, but seriously? THIS IS A TV SHOW. Jamie has to be able to use her hand after this is over, and if she needs stitches for that, then she should go to the hospital to get stitches and come back later. The medic is a professional. Fabio is also annoyed because he broke his finger during his season. Yeah, but that’s different because had he gone to the hospital, they would have just splinted it the same as the medic did in the kitchen, so what is the point? Jen is fine with it, even though she has to work twice as hard. Tre and Casey are making salmon and sauce. Casey is taking the pinbones out of the salmon, in case that comes up later. She makes a very stupid comment that she’s never seen a live T. Rex. Tiffany and Antonia are trying to make mini frittatas in muffin tins but the oven isn’t cooking evenly. One of them says “just give the best ones to the judges” and why haven’t they figured out by now that if you say “I’ll give the best ones to the judges and the rejects to everyone else” that it pretty much guarantees the judges will get a reject messed-up one? DaleT and Mike can’t get the polenta to set up into a cake so they’re just going to serve creamy polenta. Fabio is trying to be gentle with the gnocchi, and apparently told Spike to cook them 10 at a time, but Spike is in a hurry. So they probably didn’t turn out right. Antonia wonders who wants to eat gazpacho and gnocchi at 7:30am. Casey says right before service she tasted Jen’s pork belly and it tastes like wet bacon. Jen thinks it’s good. I don’t know, “wet bacon” does not conjure up horrible images to me.

They have an hour to set up outside. Everyone works but not flailing. Angelo tells Marcel the plums in his dish are too large, and apparently told Carla to cut up the plums, which Marcel discovers. I know Angelo spent a lot of time telling other people what to do his season, but messing with other people’s dishes is going kind of far. Jamie returns and jumps in to help. Apparently she only got two stitches, which no one thinks was worth the time. Yeah. Casey says she didn’t have time to taste Tre’s sauce right before service, and he said it was spicy, but that sounds ominous.

The guest judge today is Katie Lee. Is it not Katie Lee Joel anymore? I guess it’s too early for Tony. The vegans are up first. DaleT and Mike: fresh corn grits, stewed peppers and salsa verde. Angelo, Richard, and Marcel: banana parfait with seasonal fruits and tandoori maple. Carla and Spike: “V9”, gazpacho with fruits and vegetables (redundant). Fabio and Stephen: potato gnocchi with leeks, spinach, and mushrooms. Tom and Katie Lee accost some kids and sit at their table. They like the gnocchi, but not the gazpacho so much. The grits are OK, and the parfait is great.

Meat group. Tiffany and Antonia: mini frittatas; bacon and cheddar, ham and cheese, and chevre. Casey and Tre: salmon with shrimp and apple-smoked bacon sauce. Jen and Jamie: braised bacon and hard-boiled eggs. Tiffani and DaleL: steak and eggs with hollandaise. The pork belly is not cooked right. The salmon sauce is too salty, which Tre blames on having to keep the sauce on the burner. Some of the frittatas are undercooked, but I like my scrambled eggs to be almost underdone so that would never bother me. Like, take the eggs out of the pan when you can still see raw egg in places. Tiffani and DaleL had better steak and eggs.

Commercial interlude: Fabio charms all the women in line. Everyone else on the show makes fun of him.

For some reason in the Stew Room they are arguing about whether Tiffani’s advantage was to get the better menu or the chance to choose. Padma comes to get the vegan team. The other team is so confused, and DaleL says he thought the vegan team’s choices were weird for kids, and Jen is like, I don’t cook for people anymore, I cook for the judges, I learned my lesson. So DaleL says that’s selfish, and Jen just says, do you want to win? Or do you want to please 150 people who you’ll never see again? The vegan team is the winners. Fabio jokes about throwing Spike under the bus for the gnocchi. They also liked the parfait, which ends up being the winning dish. Richard claims he’s going to be back to work in 5 minutes. Angelo thinks it’s hard to beat him when he’s on a streak. Marcel thinks he had more stuff on the plate than anyone else so if one person had to win, of course it would be him.

Tiffani starts off by complaining that having a choice of two ingredient lists, with no explanation, is not really an advantage, because she had made a poor assumption. Gail says the point of the challenge is being limited, and Tom says he told them that they could only have meat and meat products. Did he? I don’t remember, but even if he didn’t, stop whining about it. Tiffani finally says that she thought they did a good job with what they had. The frittatas were inconsistently cooked, and they know about it. Tiffani and DaleL did a good job, but with a very simple dish. The salmon was salty, and Tom is annoyed that Tre seems to be admitting he knew the sauce was too salty. Jen is fidgeting and pretty much rolling her eyes and sighing, and when Padma calls her on it she says she doesn’t think they should be there, even though she tasted the other team’s food and she won’t answer a question about whether she liked the other team’s food. Jen tells them she thought they were better and that’s all she’ll say. If you’re going to be so obviously pissed off, then you’d better back it up. Otherwise, STFU and stand still. Tiffani didn’t think it was breakfasty, and Jen makes a face about gnocchi. It was inventive and they weren’t as inventive. Tom asks them why they didn’t plate everything individually, and it doesn’t even sound that annoyed, and Jen is like, you’re the judges, you’re smart, why don’t you ask for a separate plate? Tiffani can’t even believe it. Tom just replies that he’s smart enough, and someone on her team should be smart enough too. Jamie admits she left to get stitches, and didn’t really help. Antonia pipes up to say she would have just duct-taped her finger and stayed to help. I don’t think Jamie’s being around would have helped you win. They tell Jen her pork was good but the eggs were bland, and Jen flat out tells them they’re all wrong and the eggs were great and not bland. The rest of the team just kind of stands there.

Tom says no one will go home for talking back to the judges. I guess that’s true, they usually don’t do that. DaleL and Tiffani had a good dish so they’re safe. The frittatas are boring and not cooked evenly, and they should have been. The salmon was cooked well but the sauce was too salty and Tre should have fixed it. The pork belly was soft and not crispy and the eggs were bland, no matter what Jen said. Jamie was apparently unnecessary, which is not a good thing.

Tiffani and DaleL get to leave and are safe. Tom attacks everyone and then Jen goes home. She curses and I think she is trying not to cry. She also thinks her dish was great and maybe she was “too strong” and vocal at Judges’ Table for them. Yeah. On her way out of the Stew Room after saying goodbye she curses up a storm.

Next week: double elimination, Wylie Dufresne, Marcel gets in trouble.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

TAR17, Recap Leg 11, 12/5/10

Welcome to Leg 11! Last time, on Kowloonin’ Around, teams raced from Bangladesh to Hong Kong. Nick and Vicki fell behind by missing a ferry. And then Nick wanted to quit. Twice. But in the end, a penalty at the Detour led to their late arrival at the pit stop, but not their elimination. So, speed bump this leg. Who will be eliminated. . . next? (click for more)

Arrival at the pit stop last episode:
1st – Nat/Kat, Team ER
2nd – Jill/Thomas, Team Who?
3rd – Brook/Claire, Team Infomercial
4th – Nick/Vicki, The Geniuses

Statue Square, Hong Kong, China

4:37 PM Nat/Kat (1st)
Clue: Fly to Seoul, South Korea! Once there, drive yourselves to the DMZ and find Seungil Bridge to get your next clue. You have $117 for this leg of the race.

(Toyouke: “Oh, so now we're going to the DMZ on purpose? Is that really a good idea?”)

4:47 PM Jill/Thomas (2nd)
5:26 PM Brook/Claire (3rd)
– who go to the hotel and book their flight rather than going to the airport right away. They get the 12:25 AM flight that everyone gets on. (Toyouke: “Shut up Brooke. And your headband too. God, I hope Nat and Kat kick their asses.”)
11:26 PM Nick/Vicki (4th) – who don’t even get a pit stop time. (Toyouke: “Why can't we see when Nick and Vicki left?” Auburnium0513: “You're not even going to tell us when they're departing? Boo!”) Nick talks about how they are working through the flaws in heir relationship. (Toyouke: “I love that the montage of "the flaws in our relationship" are all Nick being an asshat.”)

Teams leave the Pit Stop and head towards the Airport. They arrive in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire
4- Nick/Vicki
– who miss the 12:25 AM Korean Air flight, putting them 9 additional hours behind the other teams. They make the 9:30 AM Cathay Pacific flight. (Toyouke: “Just think, if they hadn't quit, NICK, it's possible they might have made it.”)

So, we fly to Seoul. All teams arrive in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brook/Claire
3- Nat/Kat
4- Nick/Vicki
– who get a Fern. Who then stops to use the bathroom. Uh-oh. (Toyouke: “These Ferns are so cute but basically useless.”)

Teams drive themselves to Seungil Bridge and arrive in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brooke/Claire
3- Nat/Kat
– (Toyouke: “That would be hard, to not have any Roman characters on the signs.”)
4- Nick/Vicki

Teams are welcomed to the DMZ. They are told to take a raft down the river to a HUM-V and ride it to The US Army Base Camp Casey. Teams finish the rafting in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas – (Auburnium0513: “Is it bad that I want to see a team fall out of the raft?”)
2- Brooke/Claire – (Toyouke: “Brooke looks pretty stupid in her wetsuit and knee high socks.”)
3- Nat/Kat

Teams then board the HUM-V. (Auburnium0513: “I'm not sure how I feel about using the US military stationed so close to North Korea for a reality TV show task.”) They arrive at the camp and get their next clue in the following order:

1- Nat/Kat
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Brook/Claire
4- Nick/Vicki

However, once they arrive, Nick and Vicki find the Speed Bump.


A speed bump is a task that must be performed by the last place team on a non-elimination leg. Once they complete this task, they may return to the place where the speed bump occurred and continue the leg. In this speed bump, teams must clean and wash an entire tank. Once completed, they will receive their next clue.

Teams complete the Speed Bump in the following order:

1- Nick/Vicki

After much washing, they continue with the rest of the teams in getting the clue at the base.

(Auburnium0513: “I like the idea of washing a tank as a speed bump. I'm really surprised that they made them go through all the tasks. Haven't they put in a different clue telling them to go straight to the Pit Stop when teams were that far behind in the past?” Kmanpat: “I think they were obligated to do the speed bump. They didn’t seen to raft, and there’s no footage of the other tasks.”)

And teams come to the eleventh roadblock.

“Who’s ready to be all you can be?”

In this roadblock, one team member must take a headband and search a football field of 200 soldiers performing taekwondo for the member that has the headband with the same characters. Once the correct soldier is found, they will chop open a board containing the next clue.

(Toyouke: “This Roadblock reminds me of the one with the Samoans. Only with more violence.”)

The following team members complete the Roadblock.

1- Thomas
2- Brook
3- Kat
– (Auburnium0513: “I think that the somersault board break is my favorite.”)

After much searching and board breaking, teams complete the Roadblock in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brooke/Claire
3- Nat/Kat

Teams are now instructed to travel on foot to the subway station and catch a train to Seoul World Cup Stadium to get their next clue.

So, everyone gets on the subway arrives in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brooke/Claire
– (Auburnium0513: “I enjoy that Brook and Claire couldn't work the turnstiles.” Toyouke: “Heh...missed the train because you can't work the turnstile.“)
3- Nat/Kat

And we get the Detour Clue.

Full Throttle OR Full Bottle
*Full Throttle: Teams go by foot or subway to the Mok-dong Ice Rink and put on speed skating suits and completed a two-person skating relay of 24 laps of the rink in order for the coach to give them their next clue.
*Full Bottle: Teams go by foot or subway to Namdaemun Market to put on delivery uniforms and then deliver six glass bottles of ginseng tonic to a holistic wellness store, without breaking any of the glasses, and then both drink from a bottle of ginseng in order for the pharmacist to give them their next clue.

(Toyouke: “Ugh...be able to skate or deliver things and drink tonic. Not a good choice.”)

1-Brook/Claire choose Full Throttle – but they took a taxi to get there. (Auburnium0513: “Hmm...taking a taxi when you're not supposed to...this seems to be a theme this season.”) That could get interesting. Especially since Claire doesn’t skate well. (Toyouke: “Claire didn't say "I don't skate well", she said "I don't ice skate". That is different.”)
2-Jill/Thomas choose Full Throttle
3-Nat/Kat choose Full Throttle

Teams complete the detour in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas
2- Brook/Claire
3- Nat/Kat

Teams are now instructed to travel to Yeouido Hangang Park to find the airplane statue. Teams arrive in the following order:

1- Jill/Thomas – Thomas: “You can’t ask old people for directions.” Jill: “Well, how about him? Is HE in your age range?” (Toyouke: “"You can't ask old people"!?!?! WTF”)
2- Brook/Claire
3- Nat/Kat

And then after getting lost, teams find the clue in the following order:

1- Brook/Claire
2- Jill/Thomas
3- Nat/Kat

Teams get their clue and find that they must now find the Temple of Heaven, the PIT STOP of the eleventh leg of this racearoundtheworld. The last team to arrive WILL be eliminated!

1- Jill/Thomas – who win a trip for two to Iguazu Falls in Argentina.
2- Brook/Claire - who were the first team to arrive, but incurred a penalty for not reading directions.
3- Nat/Kat
4- Nick/Vicki

And Nick and Vicki . . . are eliminated. Nick finally realizes that getting angry doesn’t help. Shocker.

1st – Jill/Thomas
2nd – Brook/Claire
3rd – Nat/Kat

Next week: This season, we’ve seen watermelons hit faces, snowmobiles spill, heart wrenching proposals and discovered that Nick has a temper. But on next week’s finale it’s HSN versus the doctors versus the last man standing. Plus . . . big TAR18 announcement! Until next time!
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Top Chef:All Stars 12/1/10--"History Never Repeats"

Previously on “Top Chef”: 7 seasons of drama and people I hated until the next season started and I thought “Jesus, ANYONE but this guy”. (click for more)

I will say that I like there are no winners in this group. We’re back in New York for this season, and it seems Tony Bourdain is a permanent judge. Love him. Lots of clips of people talking about how awesome they are and how they deserve another chance. It’s the usual prizes except they get $200,000 if they win. Also the opening credits are hard core, but interspersed with people like, dancing around. Like if you told a choreographer you needed people to move around with pans and then played the theme music for him. And then all the graphics were hard-edged red and black. Tiffani arrives first, and I see we’re leaving out the LAST All-Star “Christmas” challenge where she won. Stephen, “hospitality entrepreneur”, gets a clip of the argument with Candice who called him a tool and a douchebag. Hee. Elia was angry not to win. She says this time she will win. She hopes Marcel matured. He thinks he was a threat. I think he was just in a season with jerks. Did you know he has a cooking show on Sci Fi? Oh, sorry, Syfy. Tre! You know, when people think of Restaurant Wars they think of Tre going home that challenge, because Restaurant Wars sends home strong competitors and I’m glad to see him get another chance. Dale L…damn, there are two Dales. OK, DaleL was from Season 3, and he made it to the finale. Casey is here too, so we can see a clip of both her and DaleL losing to Hung. Richard Blais is taking time off from “Iron Chef”, I guess, where he is one of Cat Cora’s sous chefs. You’ll remember he choked in the finale. Also HIS new cooking show will be on Discovery…so take that, Marcel. Spike…Spike, a backwards baseball cap is still an asshat. Antonia is here too and admits she doesn’t like Spike.

DaleT is Asian Dale who got into that giant fight with Jen and whoever in the Stew Room. Anger management. He’ll be entertaining and possibly crazy pants. Jamie, season 5, was the blonde girl that Stefan was always flirting with even though she likes girls. Fabio! Yay! He says he does not want to see Marcel, because of the reunion dinner that Fabio hosted and Marcel forgot that he agreed to come to the dinner so he should have expected people would ask him about the drama on his season. And also for the record NO ONE SHAVED YOUR HEAD MARCEL. You got held down, which was wrong, but no one actually got any of your hair. Fabio loudly declares he will not take a bunk bed because they squash his balls. I don’t know. Carla! Everyone is happy to see her. Jen, from season 6, that I think was just a solid chef. I can’t think of anything. Mike I. Why is Mike I. here? He’s such a tool. Angelo is back and wants to make up for being sick. I don’t think his “villainy” stacks up against the likes of Tiffani and Spike. Tiffany (must keep separate from Tiffani) is also back from his season. Ok, I think that’s everyone.

Jesus, 18 people? Everyone puts on black chef’s jackets and heads for the kitchen. Padma and Tom remind them they’re all losers because they haven’t won yet. She tells them the cash prize, and they pretend they weren’t already told what it was. I don’t know, maybe they weren’t.

Dear TLC, there is no fucking way I am watching your “Top Chef: Just Desserts”/“Cupcake Wars”/“Food Network Challenge” rip-off with The Cake Boss. Love, Toyouke.

Tom says they all talk big about how great their seasons were and now it’s time to back it up. Each chef will team up with the other chefs from their season to create a dish representing the city where their season took place. Winners get immunity. Nice.

25 minutes to cook. Antonia says that having 4 people from their season makes it harder to be heard and agree on what you’re doing. Angelo and Tiffany are making crab cakes. Jamie thinks she is stronger than Carla and Fabio, so she convinces them they should each make their own dish. I see. Elia and Marcel are making fish tacos. It looks like Elia tries to give Marcel a fist bump but he leaves her hanging. A very long shot of people freaking out and pretty much running into the cameramen. Tiffani calls herself and Stephen “the original gangsters”. Hee. Mike thinks “Vegas” equals “Old School Italian Mobster Scene.” Richard has busted out the liquid nitrogen to make mustard ice cream. I think. Spike makes fun of him. Stephen bumps Angelo and Angelo drops his fish on the floor. He doesn’t really blame Stephen but scrambles to cover it. Tre is trying to make sure the pork is cooked. Lots of last minute flailing.

Season 1: San Francisco. Cioppino gazpacho with sourdough. Season 2: L.A. shrimp tacos with guacamole in an apple wrapper. Sadly, it’s like, a huge pile of guacamole that dwarfs the shrimp and is too big for the wrapper. Mike calls Marcel a spoiled child. I can’t even…seriously? Season 3: Miami. Pork tenderloin, avocado lime puree, tostones, mango habanero sauce. Season 4: Chicago. Pork and black pepper sausage, mustard ice cream. It’s supposed to be a Chicago-style dog. Season 5: New York: curried apple soup, pasta with caramelized apple, and rib eye with apple walnut blue cheese slaw. Padma declares it “interesting” which Carla calmly tells us is the kiss of death. I can’t replicate her delivery, but it was hilarious. Season 6: Vegas. Bucatini with bacon lobster carbonara. Season 7: D.C. Crab cake essence with rockfish, lemongrass, jalapeno, and Old Bay.

Marcel and Elia failed, the apple was too thin and the shrimp was not seasoned properly. Tiffani and Stephen had too much raw garlic. Carla, Fabio, and Jamie had two poor dishes; only the soup was good (and I think it was Jamie’s, so I guess she was right). Tiffany and Angelo had too much salt. Miami had great flavors, Chicago was inventive (well, yes, mustard ice cream is inventive), and Mike can make pasta apparently. The winners are DaleT, Spike, Richard, and Antonia. Mike whines about it.

Elimination challenge: this involves a very large number of covered trays. Padma knows no one wants to go home. She tells them to lift the covers and they find…random items. For each chef, someone did their research and collected the ingredients that caused them to be eliminated, and now they’re being presented to the chefs on silver trays. See, the only one I can think of is CJ and the broccolini, but he’s not here sadly. I love it. And it gets better: not only are you using the same ingredients, but you must make the same dish that sent you home. Only this time, hopefully it won’t suck. You can improve on the dish but you can’t stray too far. They will have 3 hours tonight and 2 hours tomorrow.

Spike not only has scallops, but FROZEN scallops. That he tried to blame on the guest judge, but it wasn’t his fault and also shut up asshat. DaleT reminds us that he made “miso butterscotch scallops” and also that Tony Bourdain was there that night. Hee. There seems to be a lot of chatting. Fabio made crawfish and crab stew, which he thought was fine, but apparently not. He also points out that if you go home twice for the same dish, you’re pretty stupid. Stephen has to make 3 dishes, as he went home during Restaurant Wars for not spending enough time in the kitchen. So he has no idea what he’s doing. Tre doesn’t think Stephen can cut it. Elia made snapper in a ti leaf but thought it was fine. So this answers the question of finalists who make 4 or 5 dishes and what dishes they’ll have to make. They just pick the one the judges disliked the most. Elia is going to stick to the same dish, pretty much, as she thought her dish was fine. I sense the theme of the evening. Jamie went home during the episode where they had to make all of Eric Ripert’s dishes, and she never liked the dish anyway. Richard says Angelo has “spiked [his] curiosity”. Angelo’s making ramen again. DaleT fills something with liquid nitrogen, and when Angelo comes by to comment that he should refrain from blowing himself up, DaleT admits he didn’t measure; he just waited until it got “crazy” and then turned off the valve. Hee. Tiffany thinks he’s just doing random stuff. Mike has to make braised leeks again. Oh, I remember those. Ha. Jen is carefully not making her dish too salty. Carla reminds us of how Casey convinced her to make some sous vide dish, and then everyone blamed Casey but I don’t think it was really her fault. Carla is determined to cook her food no matter what. Spike is screwing around, trying to hide his scallops, as he has immunity so he can do whatever he wants.

Commercial interlude: Jesus Christ, we have to bring up the head shaving.

At the Russian Tea Room, everyone has 2 hours to prep. Tom comes in and tells them they’re going to serve in two groups. One group will cook while one will eat. Nice. Tom says they can comment or not, as if they’ll refrain from commenting. Winner of this challenge gets $10,000. This is going to be a long day, if they have 2 hours of cooking, then tasting, then another 2 hours of cooking and then tasting for the second group. Stephen can’t get done in time. I think he finishes and has food, but he says it’s not at the level he wants. Richard goes over time but no one will say anything to him, they’ll just talk behind his back. Back in the kitchen there’s a TV so the chefs can watch the reactions. Elia doesn’t want to watch.

Richard: pork belly with bread and butter radishes, mirin and cheddar. Jen and Casey liked it. Angelo: homemade ramen with sweet glazed pork belly and watermelon. They like it too. DaleT: butterscotch miso scallops with crispy long beans and spicy eggplant. Tony gives him props for digging himself out of the hole. Tiffany: pan seared halibut with coconut curry, steamed rice balls, and pea tendrils. Antonia and Carla don’t think it’s perfect. Tre: cured wild king salmon, grapefruit gelee, salted macadamia cookie. Jen thought the “macadamian toast” was too overpowering. Tiffani: crispy branzino, black olive pappardelle and spicy fennel. Branzino is a type of sea bass. I think they like it. Stephen: OK, I was going to try, but he had to remake 3 appetizers, and the chyrons are on the screen so briefly I can’t copy them. It’s a lobster egg roll, a savory oyster sabayon, and crab soup dumplings. They don’t like them. Tony says there are people who could solve this problem. Stephen did not solve this problem. Fabio: handmade caserecci pasta, crawfish and crab stew. Tony hates it. He says it looks like it’s an inside out animal. Fabio claims he’s going to tell Tony where he can put his comment. Elia: red snapper steamed in ti leaf with snapper jus. DaleL complains that it’s super watered down with no personality. I think also earlier someone found a scale.

Second group cooking time. Casey is slightly intimidated after eating everyone else’s food. Jamie still hates the dish. Fabio, to his credit, goes right after Tony, as he counted how many time Tony said he hated the dish. As the food is served, the second group finds the TV and realizes they’re really in for it. Antonia: sausage with cilantro, pigeon pea puree and roasted cherry blossoms. Tre could have eaten the whole dish, but Tiffany says it was incomplete. Spike: pickled mushrooms, scallops, lime dressing with hearts of palm salad. They could have lived without the scallops (which was the point), and Tony gives him points for being a crafty motherfucker and coming up with a solution for crappy product. Jamie: pan seared black bass, celery, green peppercorn sauce and herb salad. They like it, so she’s relieved. Mike: melted leeks, carrot puree and salt-crusted potatoes. They like it and think it’s pretty. Sigh. DaleL: curry poached lobster dumplings, chanterelle, corn and bacon. DaleT says the dumpling is pasty. Stephen doesn’t like it either. Carla: grilled strip steak, smashed potatoes, tarragon butter, and red wine sauce. Tiffani liked it but Angelo got some gristle. Casey: molasses glazed pork belly, pickled peaches, whipped crème fraiche. Gail says there is no doubt she redeemed herself. Marcel: uni and caviar, Meyer lemon gelee, fennel cream and kalamata olive dust. Tre doesn’t like it but Fabio at least gives him credit for putting it out. Jen: duck, squash, foie gras, apple cider vinaigrette, micro arugula. The duck ‘wasn’t there” and Tiffani was shocked it wasn’t as good as she expected. Yeah…Jen works for Eric Ripert. So I think everyone expected her to school all of them.

Back in the Stew Room everyone hangs out, discusses their screw-ups, and also how Richard was working after time. Padma collects Spike, Jamie, Richard, and Angelo. There is polite applause. These are the winners, of course, but before they start Tom tells Richard that he’s only there because they want to acknowledge he made a great dish, even though he went over his 2 hour time limit. Richard looks super confused, which lends weight to Tiffany’s theory that he was just too focused to notice time was up. Tom watched the tapes. They make him leave, which is kind of harsh. He explains to the people left in the Stew Room, and while people like Mike commiserate with him, you can easily tell who was in his cooking group because all those people look smug. OK, back to the winners. Jamie’s fish was crispy and the celery was great, but she still wouldn’t serve it. Angelo had to kill it to make the dish work, and he did. Spike chose a smart way to deal with a serious problem. The winner is Angelo. He’s really pleased and shockingly humble. Everyone congratulates him but DaleT thinks Richard’s disqualification was bullshit. Rules are rules, and also how do you know he had the best dish when you only tasted half of them? AND he cooked with you?

Fabio, Stephen, and Elia enter to the Loser Gong. Not quite who I expected for the first eliminated. Stephen knows he wasn’t around the first time the dish was made. He and Tony get into it about the color of the dish and the texture, as Stephen thinks he was fine. All his proportions were off. Elia thought she did well, but Gail got a raw piece of fish. Elia was pushing for medium, she says, but Tom cuts her off and says he asked her if she was going for raw. Then when she tries to say she didn’t check if every piece of fish was done in the center, Tom interrupts her again to say Gail’s fish was raw on top. Oh, that’s not good. Tony thinks she couldn’t overcome the dish’s problems. Fabio thinks the only problem the first time was it was too light. This time, it was overdone and looked horrifying. Fabio stands up for himself and tells Tony he is fine with criticism but not being made fun of, which is what Tony did all through the meal. A valid point. But that is Tony. Padma dismisses them, and Elia pipes up to beg them not to eliminate her because she has “a lot more to do”.

Elia’s dish should have had improvements, but she just shut down and did the same dish. And it was not cooked properly. Fabio’s dish was muddled and was sort of a pasta dish and sort of a gumbo. Stephen had no idea what the dishes were supposed to be, so he couldn’t improve on them.

Tom attacks everyone again, as always, and then Padma sends Elia home. She’s very upset. I kind of am OK that I get a few more weeks of Fabio and Stephen. Yeah, she’s too upset to even say the usual “This won’t stop me, I’m still a good chef, etc.”

This season: Paula Deen (proclaiming to someone she could “whip your cute little ass“), Jimmy Fallon, tennis, small children, Elmo and Cookie Monster, cook head to head against Tom, someone’s sent to the hospital, drama from Marcel, Mike yells at someone, diners are ready to walk out like on “Hell’s Kitchen“, Jen talks back to the judges.
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