Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Chef:All Stars 2/2/11--"An Offer They Can't Refuse"

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: the chefs had to break down fish, which was only moderately entertaining, and then some of them had to make dishes with fish offal, and Dale won. Yay Dale! Then it was Restaurant Wars time, and Dale got to be one leader, and got to pick the other leader. Not being stupid, he picked Marcel, and got to watch Marcel completely fail. It’s not like the usual set-up for Restaurant Wars where the one team that looks like rock stars bites it, and the misfit team will prevail. Dale had rock stars, and his team won handily. Richard won the challenge. Marcel went home, still insisting on his awesomeness on his way out the door, even though only 17 out of 76 diners preferred his restaurant. (click for more)

Mike complains about Marcel while Antonia reveals that Mike is on her list of people who need to go home. Mike thinks he stepped up when Marcel started blaming everyone else for their loss.
Isaac Mizrahi? Huh? Angelo gives us some insight into his life by knowing who Isaac is and also loving fashion. Fabio thinks they will have to make dishes and wear them. It’s Fashion Week and Padma has some jewelry to show. And Isaac has things to show too. He says food and clothes are related. Yeah. Today for the Quickfire, they will NOT taste the dishes, but judge the contestants on presentation only. Interesting.

30 minutes to cook. Carla came to food via modeling. Fabio doesn’t like to cook without flavor. He’s talking about women and the rain. Richard thinks people are having a problem not making things that taste good. Antonia is making trees or something. Dale is inspired by street graffiti. Angelo wishes he was a food stylist. He…seems to have plastic bags of vomit. Fabio is right.

Carla: borscht and sandwich with lattice of cucumber. It’s a section of cucumber, hollowed out, with soup in it, a little tiny round layered sandwich, and woven strips of cucumber. Tre: smoked salmon, beets, curry noodles, food coloring. It’s just a lot of dots and stripes on the plate, in different colors. Fabio: tuna with a sidewalk of caramel, mushroom umbrellas, and lemon juice. The idea is that Fabio loves to see women caught in the rain. Isaac looks confused. Dale: beet puree, cantaloupe, maple syrup meringue, avocado, mango. It’s like…piles of chopped up stuff. Isaac thinks it looks like the remnants of a real dish, like the stuff left after you plate the food. This is the fun part of having someone like Isaac judge. He knows what to say. Dale is like, who does this jerk think he is anyway? I don’t care what a fashion designer thinks. Mike: carrot puree, roasted eggplant, and egg yolk. It’s all one color, but it actually isn’t that bad looking. Richard: “Black Sundae”; black chocolate ice cream, menthol crystals, herbal salad, mint ice cream dots. It’s all very dark. Isaac loves it, of course. Antonia: yucca potato, lentils, nuts and seeds. It’s a tree made out of the potato and eucalyptus leaves, with the rest of the stuff sprinkled like dirt. Isaac says the seeds are too big, proportionally, and Antonia can’t believe Fabio got away with his crap but she gets “the seeds are too big”. Tiffany: almond gazpacho, grapes, dirt made of rye bread. It’s pretty and it looks like real food. Angelo: has written “crocodile” on his workbench. Yeah. Then he tells Isaac one of his favorite designers is Cavalli, and Isaac just rolls his eyes. Duh, flatter the guest judge! Anyway: pineapple skin, curry salted egg, and dill. It’s all in a plastic vacuum bag. Eh.

Isaac had fun, but he didn’t like Dale, Tre, or Angelo. Fabio’s plate looked good, Carla was like a perfectly made simple dress, and Richard’s plate was “just incredibly beautiful”. The winner, based on which plate Isaac sort of wanted to eat, is Richard. He gets immunity.

For the Elimination challenge, Padma says they’ll be cooking at a restaurant so exclusive, tables are not reserved but “owned” by families who pass them down through the generations. The knife block comes out: “Frankie No“, “Junior“, “Dino the Chef“. Three groups of three. In walks three old Italian men, whom Fabio thinks belong in the Godfather, which they totally do. Fabio is dying from joy. He knows all of them, as they are restaurant owners of Rao’s. They must cook an Italian feast for this restaurant family, with dishes “inspired” by the family. They have to use the family history for inspiration. The dinner has three courses: antipasti, primi (pasta), and secondi (meat). The teams are to assign what course you are making.

30 minutes to plan. Tre is going to make risotto. Mike, smartly, asks if they stay traditional or if they ever try to evolve the dishes. No, they need to be traditional. Tre says people call him “The Black Italian” but that nickname sounds like it has nothing to do with food and everything to do with things you can’t talk about on a family show. Carla is thrilled to make antipasti, she says she makes comfort food. Fabio talks up the guy, while Angelo and Richard just kind of stand there. Eventually they get the advice to keep it simple. Yeah, Angelo is going to keep it simple.

Fabio is making polenta and chicken. Mike is thinking of his grandma. That’s about it for the shopping.

2 hours to cook. Antonia (who is also Italian) says her dad would not get over it if she didn’t do well. Dale has never made Italian food, not professionally anyway. Mike is trying to make fresh rigatoni, which he claims has never been made on Top Chef. That’s entirely possible. Tiffany is tired of hearing about how the Italians are going to win. Tre has won challenges with his risotto. Antonia thinks he’s screwing it up. Mike is nervous and claims he doesn’t like being a favorite.

1 hour to cook at the restaurant. Carla, Antonia, and Tiffany have the antipasti. Antonia and Clara are calmer while cooking. Antonia hopes her mussels taste OK. Tiffany burns her polenta. Like, flames. Tony is here. Kick ass. And the other guest judge is Lorraine Bracco from the Sopranos. Everyone plates up family style. Carla: minestrone soup with basil oil, tomatoes, and homemade focaccia. Antonia: mussels with fennel, white wine, garlic, and parsley ciabatta. Tiffany: polenta terrine with Italian sausage, roasted peppers, and kale. Everyone likes the family style. Someone thinks Carla’s soup could be found in Wisconsin. They love Tiffany’s dish, although Tom seems to have some rant about the sausage. They enjoy the fennel in Antonia’s mussels.

Dale, Tre, and Mike are up for the pasta course. Tre is emphasizing his vegetables in his risotto. Mike has to cook the pasta last minute, but it’s not cooked enough so he has to hope it cooks in the sauce. Mike: spicy calamari, fresh rigatoni, and tomato sauce. Dale: fresh pasta, pancetta, Brussels sprouts, chanterelle mushrooms, and pecorino Romano. Tre: grilled vegetable risotto, marinated tomatoes and fresh basil. Dale’s dish has no sauce, and all the ingredients were cooked separately and didn‘t meld. Dale had said he made it for his girlfriend, but Lorraine says if that had happened to her, he wouldn’t get laid. Hee. Tre shot himself in the foot, because the dish is not about the rice anymore. Mike’s pasta is not cooked. And he was told he could use dried pasta just in case he screwed up like this. Tony is flabbergasted that three professional chefs could fuck up a pasta course. “This is something you would find in a steam table at your worst enemy’s wedding.” Nice.

Angelo, Fabio, and Richard cook the last meat course. Richard says Fabio always looks like he won’t make it. He’s waited until the last half hour to cook his chicken. Angelo is trying to get advice from Fabio, who has miraculously produced delicious food. Fabio: polla alla cacciatore, polenta al pecorino. Angelo: sautéed pork chop, cherry peppers, green olives, tomatoes, pancetta. Richard: fresh pancetta cutlet, broccolini, pickled cherry tomatoes. You can make cutlets out of pancetta? But Fabio’s food sounds absolutely delicious. Angelo’s dish is busy and has a lot of sauce. Richard’s cutlet goes over well. Fabio’s polenta has redeemed Tony’s faith in humanity. Or something.

Commercial interlude: Mike schools everyone on making gnocchi. I guess that’s his “Top Chef University” class. Whatever. At the end of the lesson Angelo wanders into the kitchen and asks if something’s burning. Hee.

In the Stew Room Mike tells Tiffany he didn’t think her dish sounded like antipasti. Padma asks for Antonia, Carla, Fabio, and Tiffany. Mike of course doesn’t think he couldn’t possibly be in the bottom because Tiffany and Antonia didn’t do enough work. Richard wisely points out they wouldn’t call the bottom group 1st two episodes in a row. Of course Richard is right. Tiffany is tearing up. Her dish was wonderful. Antonia left her mussels largely alone. Carla’s soup had the cheese inside, which Lorraine loved. Fabio’s chicken was perfect, and his polenta was perfect too. The winner is Antonia. She knows his dad will be proud. Fabio says steamed mussels and fennel is French.

When Antonia gets back and says she won, Mike just stares at her with his mouth open like he’s stopped understanding English. It’s pretty great. There is a serious pause before they clap for her. Mike, Dale, and Tre are called out. Mike knows his pasta was bad, and claims to not be surprised to be in the bottom. Tony says if he’d used dried pasta, he wouldn’t be there. Tom thinks his pasta had too much egg. Dale’s pasta was also crumbly, or something, and Tom complains about not having sauce. Or it being cooked with the sauce. It was bland too. Tre’s risotto was too thick, to the point that Tom says it’s no longer risotto. Tre tries to come back with “if I had chosen a different dish, it would have spread out”. Really? Tom just said you should be able to scoop it out and it will spread out on the plate. Do you think he didn’t try that? On top of that the rice is buried in garnish.

The judges think Tre’s never eaten good risotto, and they discuss how most people make it too thick. Dale’s dish had potential, but it was so bland. Mike understood what he should do, but didn’t cook his pasta properly even though his sauce was fine.

I think Mike is standing in front of the judges with his eyes closed thinking “Please don’t pick me please don’t pick me please don’t pick me”. So they pick Tre. He says he represented his family, and he’s made new friends.

Next week: Jimmy Fallon, Carla is crazy, Antonia raps or something.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

The guy who said that Carla's soup tasted like something you could get in Wisconsin? And Lorraine was all dismissive with a shrill WHAAAATTTTT? WEll then the guy said 'you can get great soups in Wisconsin' Which is totally true because we're always so DAMN COLD that we need to start off our meals with soup so that we can warm up. Really, we should have a national reputation for our soups.hmmmmm I'm hungry right now for some.