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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I watched that episode three times and cheered everytime Hatboy had to go home. One down, Marcel and Isabella left to go!

Also, LOL Jamie being all super defensive at Blais.