Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top Chef:All Stars 2/23/11--"For the Gulf" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: Muppets showed up and ate cookies. They liked Dale’s cookie, which, while technically just junk food mashed together and covered in chocolate, still sounded delicious. Then everyone had to go to Target in the middle of the night to pretend you can create gourmet meals from Target. I mean, Target’s cool and all, but no one thinks you can cook like a chef with anything you can buy there, food or equipment. Dale won again, because he has discovered how to please the judges: when it is the middle of the night, or really any time, cook some stoner food that might not be fancy or crazy, but IS what a group of jaded foodies wants to eat at 3am. Tony seems especially vulnerable to this. Angelo made really salty soup and seemed to be flailing just like last season, only this time, he wasn’t given the chance to recover and went home. (click for more)

Mike is shocked, Tiffany thinks she was the only possibility, Dale says he plates wonderfully. Eh. Angelo was going slowly crazy, just like last season. Dale reminds us he’s on a roll.

Richard has two little notebooks with detailed plans. Including pictures. Why? Is he trying to predict what crazy challenges he’ll have? Does he have time to look through them? I’m not sure what advantage that gives him. He and Mike look at the notebooks. Shredded coconut is mentioned. I note this for later. Suddenly everyone starts giving Tiffany shit because she’s wearing makeup. She just says that she looks better and feels better and is therefore more confident. In confessional she admits we’ve reached about the same point where she got eliminated last season, so she’s feeling it.

It’s Paula Deen, y’all! I love her. Her food looks like it would be so horrible for you, but she seems like fun. Carla and Tiffany are especially pleased. Antonia knows she will be frying things. Padma says today will be about Southern cooking. Paula talks about how Southern cooking is about showing love. You must create a deep-fried dish. Hee. Paula specifically says not to make fried calamari on a salad. Winner gets $5000. Tiffany will fry anything for $5000.

30 minutes to cook. Dale is kind of worried, because he works in a Chinese restaurant, but he is frying oysters wrapped in beef. He already has won $30,000, but says he is “a greedy American” and wants more. Hee. Antonia has shrimp. Mike starts talking about part of the chicken, between the leg and the body, I think. It’s called the oyster, and he’s highly amused with his chicken oyster. He says he and Richard talked about a similar dish that morning, which was in Richard’s book, with a picture. Mike admits it’s still stuck in his head. Richard wants to fry mayonnaise. Flavored with coffee and lime, then frozen in liquid nitrogen to make a solid ball to fry. Sigh. Carla does not expect to fail, but she gets flustered during Quickfires and leaves her fish in the batter too long. Now it is bland and thickly breaded. Tiffany is making wings and pickles. Mike sneers at everyone else’s food, as he plates a dish that he didn’t even come up with himself. When time is called, Antonia realizes she’s only made one plate instead of two. Oops.

Antonia: fried avocado, shrimp, and jalapeno, grilled corn, tomato, fried herbs. It seems strong. Dale: fried steak wrapped oyster with egg yolk omelet, parsley tips and chives. Richard: fried bacon with fried mayonnaise, tomato and cucumber. When he’s done describing his dish, Paula says she hasn’t heard a word he’s said because his hair looks just like hers does when she wakes up. Ha! Tiffany: fried chicken and pickles, honey mustard sauce, with cilantro and cumin salad. Carla: catfish with Dijon mustard, hush puppies, coleslaw with mayo, hot sauce, and mint. Mike: fried chicken oysters with mustard gravy and oyster liquor. Served in an oyster shell. Richard is shown shaking his head, because of course he’s recognized this dish as coming from one of his notebooks. Mike won’t look at Richard, which to Richard is just proof of his guilt. Finally after Paula and Padma leave Mike looks over and tries to wink and laugh. His excuse is that he’s seen the dish done before, and Richard should have done his own dish? What kind of stupid ass excuse is that?

Dale’s dish didn’t wow her, and Carla’s food was too heavy. But she knew that. However, she liked Antonia’s food the best! Paula continues that she could “come over there, put you over [her] knee, and whip your cute little ass”. Because Antonia forgot to make two plates, she can’t win. Poor Antonia. Richard’s fried mayo was delicious, but you knew she would like it. And of course Mike is the other person who was on top. Richard is pissed, but unless he’s going to say something right now, he’s kind of approaching the end of the sympathy period. Mike wins, OF COURSE, because the universe thinks it’s hilarious for asshats to win things and thwart me. And Richard. In his interview he says he’d like to thank Richard for “inspiration” but then he says it’s not Richard’s dish, it’s his own dish because he won. Asshole. He’s just an unpleasant person, with his homophobic jokes and his racial slurs and his plagiarism.

Paula is going to be a guest judge, along with John Besh who is pretty cool. The Elimination challenge has to do with Deepwater Horizon and helping fisherman from the Gulf. John and Paula are hosting a benefit, and everyone must make Gulf seafood, Southern style, for 300 people. Mike immediately gets an interview where he says it’s about helping out and giving back and he’s “inspired” by the challenge. Did it come with a diagram? It’s going to take a lot more than that to make up for 2 minutes ago. 300 people is a lot, so they are getting some “friends” to help out. Cue eliminated contestants. I’m going to hate this episode. Spike, Tiffani, Tre, Fabio, Angelo, and Marcel are back. Sigh. They all have trays of seafood, and when you pick your protein you pick your helper. Richard, being smart, says he’ll cook anything, so he’s going to pick a helper and then figure out what he’s going to cook after that. Mike gets to pick first, and he gets Tiffani and brown shrimp. Mike magnanimously lets Richard go next, and admits Richard was his “inspiration” for his dish today, and I want to smack the smirk off his face but I’m sure not as much as Richard does. Richard picks snapper and Fabio. Carla gets Tre and red grouper. Tiffany picks Marcel and white shrimp, mostly because she wants the shrimp so badly. There is some joking about how Marcel is the afterthought of the decision (because he is) but he deserves it. Possibly she was calling Marcel a white shrimp, which is also funny. Antonia picks out Spike and his crabs. Hee. Dale gets stuck with Angelo and amberjack. He’s not worried.

15 minutes to plan. Spike has ideas. Tiffani tells Mike to make shrimp and grits, which is not is his comfort zone, but Tiffani has lived in New Orleans so he’s going with it. Angelo tells Dale he’s gotten into Richard’s head and he should just keep it together to beat him. Richard is making fish and grits and pulled pork. I don’t know. He claims he only makes new dishes on Top Chef, which then segues into a claim that he doesn’t make other people’s recipes. Tiffany is feeling the pressure. She hasn’t cooked a lot of Southern food, but she’s eaten a lot. Marcel whispers to her that they should steal all the good equipment. Shut up, Marcel. Tiffany is not interested in his ideas. Carla was depending on Tre to help her out with Southern food. Doesn’t Carla already know about Southern food? Anyway, Tre grew up in the city and is unhelpful. I probably know more about Southern food and I grew up in California. She wants to take Tre’s NAACP card. Who is asking other people about Southern food? Right.

30 minutes and $200 at Restaurant Depot. Fabio and Richard have fun shopping. Fabio once told Richard that he (Richard) reminds Fabio of his ex-wife. Hee. They also get $500 at Whole Foods. Carla wants some redemption for the Quickfire so she’s making the fish again. She’s making her same dish? OK.

Back at the house (eliminated contestants I guess sleep elsewhere) Carla realizes there is no middle. Everyone is either top three or bottom three. Antonia mentions her forgetfulness, and Carla says she feels so bad. Mike says he feels bad also and then thanks Antonia for the $5000 and then laughs. Asshole. Antonia says it’s not cool that Mike won by default and then on top of that it wasn’t his dish. Richard I guess won’t look at Mike and is basically ignoring him. For some reason Mike feels he can be offended by this, because it’s childish. You have no room to talk, seriously. He doesn’t want to talk to your stupid ass, so he’s ignoring you. Seems pretty grownup to me. The girls gossip about it in one of the bedrooms, where Antonia tells Tiffany and Carla the story. Carla says that is Chef Law (like Man Law) and that is not OK.

2 ½ hours to cook. Suddenly there are twice as many people in the kitchen as usual and Dale can’t find a burner. The fish is the size of Dale. Hee. Antonia is making crab cakes. Carla has to teach Tre how to cut up collard greens because he buys his greens in a can. Mike hollers at Richard across the kitchen. Something about the CIA. Dude, did you really think he was just going to forgive you and be your friend again? What planet are you on? Richard ignores him. Antonia notices that Mike is more obnoxious than usual, because Tiffani is making his sauce for him so he‘s got time. Marcel continues to tell Tiffany to use the shrimp heads in her sauce. Apparently he’s made this suggestion several times. Finally she tells him that she’s more concerned with having enough dishes, and she’ll worry about using the heads later. Seriously, I don’t see anyone else pushing their ideas on an indifferent contestant. Dale feels Tiffany can put Marcel in his place better than anyone else there. Richard tells Fabio that when they get to the site, they’re going to pull a “Fabio Viviani” which is where you do a million things at the last second. Hee. Lots of running around packing food. Someone hooked up the liquid nitrogen and forgot about it so it’s spilling on the floor. Who do we think that was? Marcel snatches plastic wrap out of Fabio’s hands. I think everyone makes it.

30 minutes on site. Dale says this is his hardest challenge, and he’s behind. Richard hopes the judges get his dish. Carla is not using her grits? I think they’re not up to par. So they showed them arriving during the day, and then suddenly it’s nighttime and everyone’s getting there. Everyone’s behind on plating and running around.

The judges (Padma, Tom, Paula, and John) show up, and for some reason Jonathan Waxman is here too. But I guess he’s not judging. They talk about the charity which is the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Mike: grit-crusted Gulf shrimp, sour cream and chive potato, with pork and lobster sauce. They like it, sadly. Fabio and Richard freak out and snap at each other while the judges approach. Richard: crispy Gulf snapper with pulled pork and citrus grits. It all comes together somehow and is light. Dale and Angelo are also freaking out, because Dale is trying to make things taste different. Angelo insists that it’s fine, but we all know Angelo got sent home for over seasoning. Tiffany tells us that in the middle of service, Marcel told her they were out of glaze, so she told him how to do it and then didn’t have time to taste it. Nooo! Don’t let Marcel drag you down with him! Carla is getting tired. Carla: fried grouper with collard greens and chow-chow pico. The fish has too much hot sauce and something is too salty. Apparently people are returning to tell her they didn’t like her food. Sad. She hopes someone has screwed up more than her.

Tiffany: honey glazed shrimp, grits with jalapeno and cheese, shellfish sauce. She seems to have left the heads on. The glaze is good but John can’t taste the shrimp. The glaze seems to be the problem. Marcel has ruined it. Dale: amberjack stew with andouille sausage and potatoes, Creole mustard crouton. He’s babbling and very nervous. The potatoes are undercooked and the crouton is very strong. Oops. Antonia: blue crab cake, corn, jalapeno and andouille relish with crab broth. It goes over very well. She’s pretty confident that she at least hasn’t gone down in flames. Mike thinks he left his season too early. Richard worries about his dish but Fabio tells him to shut the fuck up and it was fine. Carla says she put her pride into the dish and not her heart.

Commercial interlude: Antonia tries to send Spike to spy on the judges for her, but he just spills wine on the floor and flirts with girls. Figures.

Padma calls Antonia, Richard, and Mike up first. It’s so entertaining to watch Richard freak out because he always worries he’s done poorly. He showed restraint in his dish, and had a great combination. Mike’s shrimp coated in grits was “genius” according to Paula, and she loved the potatoes. Antonia’s smokiness and the flavor from the sausage was what put it over. And the winner is Richard. Mike claps in a half-assed manner and I’m not ashamed to admit it makes me pleased. Richard also wins a trip to Barbados and money for airfare. Nice. He says he’s inviting Fabio to go with him. And his family, don’t get excited. Although…the trip is only for 2 so I’m not sure how that’s going to work.

When the top three get back to the Stew Room, Antonia asks Mike if he’s going to burp, because if so, she’s moving seats. Then she asks him not to burp, fart, or flick boogers on her, and it’s just sad that you have to ask a grown man not to do those things. Tiffany tells the judges she didn’t cook any of the shrimp, which ended up overcooked. She admits she knows it’s still her dish. Paula tells her it was too sweet. Dale’s potatoes were raw, and he knew it, and Tom says that he should have made all of them wait for them to cook, as if they wouldn’t have nailed him for that too. The mustard was way too strong, and no one could taste the fish. Carla had beautiful fish, which she then doused in hot sauce and mustard. Nothing else on the plate made any sense.
Richard says Marcel was telling him how Tiffany’s dish was bland and he had a better idea. Everyone laughs because they know Marcel. Tiffany knows Marcel screwed her with the sauce, but she’s not going to stand in front of the judges and blame him. Dale’s fish got lost behind everything else. Carla also hid her fish behind other things. Tiffany’s shrimp was too sweet. The theme today seems to be “drowning the seafood in other flavors is bad.”

In the end Dale is sent home. Holy shit. And MIKE is still there? This is worse than Jamie. He’s really upset. I feel you, dude. He says the first time he was on Top Chef he didn’t like himself so he took it out on everyone else. Now he’s a better person and a better chef. Totally. He knows now he can handle anything.

Next week: Padma shows up to the house, cooking on a ferry, family visits.

1 comment:

deedee_912 said...

Just letting you know how much I appreciate you and your commentary. I don't have cable, my internet is down, and Bravo sucks with updating new episodes (I watch at work.hehe)You keep me in the know!!