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.


BW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BW said...

Pssst.....DaleL went home, not DaleT.......

Love your recaps!

*prior post was a mess*