Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Top Chef:All Stars 3/2/11--"Give Me Your Huddled Masses" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: Paula Deen presided over a Quickfire of fried foods. Mike stole an idea from Richard, and yes, I know technically chefs do it all the time, and technically it’s not against the law, but he laughed about doing it and then said “I didn’t steal anything, because I made it”, and plus he’s an asshat. And Richard didn’t make that same dish, MIKE, because he was busy making fried mayonnaise. So Mike won, because the universe thinks this is hilarious. Then they all had to make Gulf seafood for a charity benefit. 300 guests, so they brought back some eliminated contestants for some drama. Richard, because he’s no dummy, picked out Fabio based on how they get along and not what seafood he had. He won, proving that he had an excellent strategy. It looked like Marcel would send Tiffany home for screwing up her dish but Dale’s mustard crouton overpowered his dish and he was sent home. I know! Dale! Sad. (click for more)

Tiffany says this is when she went home last season. She is determined not to go home on the same challenge. Later in the “bar”, Antonia gets a phone call home. Her daughter is super cute! Mike says he doesn’t want to celebrate being in the final round until he’s in the final round. Let’s hope this editing is for Mike and not Antonia.

Richard hopes for a challenge with less than 50 plates. He asks Antonia what she thinks will happen today, since she seems to have a good psychic vibe about this stuff. She asks “Is Padma coming here today?” and the other girls agree they felt that too. Cue Padma coming around the corner of the kitchen. Hee. Richard likes it but says it’s like she’s coming into the zoo. Padma summons them to the roof. Antonia thinks they will base jump off the roof and scramble eggs on the way down. Hee. For the Quickfire, they’ll all get on a ferry to Ellis Island. Then she sends them back downstairs. Why did they have to do that on the roof?

On the ferry, there is a note that the challenge will be on the ferry. They must make a dish with whatever is on board the ferry, that must be finished by the time the ferry gets to Ellis Island. Mostly there is junk food. Richard sneers at junk food. Shush. When they hear the horn, they start. When it sounds again, it stops. So they don’t have an actual clock or countdown.

Everyone stands around waiting for the horn, and then jumps over the counters. Tiffany tries to tell them they’re at the island. She is making nachos. Antonia is using the hot dog grill thing (with the rotating pipes) to make grilled cheese. Richard claims to have been carrying an MRE in his knife kit. Really? You just happen to carry an MRE with you at all times? That is so fishy. Carla is making salad. Interesting. Mike is trying to make soup with hot dog buns but it ends up as soggy bread. Richard has hot dogs. I can’t find his MRE stuff in his dish. Antonia keeps an eye out and warns them that they’re docking. Tiffany thinks she needs more than nachos so is making some popcorn too. Mike just finishes but is not happy.

Padma comes down with Dan Barber who is executive chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He also worked with Richard during the finale of Richard’s season. Interesting. Richard: hot dog and beef jerky sandwich with jalapeno, pork rinds, lettuce, and apple. He says he only used the MRE packet for the chemical heating to cook the hot dogs, and he also says this is supposed to be like a bahn mi. Tiffany: nachos with cheese, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, banana peppers, and sour cream. Also popcorn with candied mango and pineapple. Mike: bread soup with cheddar cheese, sour cream, green chili, and pork rinds. Carla: orange and papaya salad with carrot and rosemary juice. Antonia: grilled cheese with apples and raisin bread. Everyone pretty much makes fun of other people’s food and how it sucks.

Tiffany’s dish was plain and a throwaway, but she knows it was. Richard was creative (of course). Mike’s soup was too heavy, and Antonia gloats. Antonia, on the other hand, did a creative job on grilling her sandwich, and Carla had a refreshing salad. Cut to Richard looking irritated, because he didn’t think they did enough work. Carla wins, which pisses people off but so what? Mostly Richard is pissed, and he’s been pretty full of himself this season.

This is the last Elimination challenge in New York. Today, they will use their family history to create a dish. Nice. Padma makes a note that Tiffany and Carla are African-American. I’m not sure why she singled them out, as Carla says that they’re all part of the “fabric of America”. Padma then says they hired a genealogist to research their lineages. Awesome! Plus, special guests! Which are family members. Carla takes a minute to figure it out, because the first people aren’t familiar to her. Tiffany is really moved to see her mom. It’s moms, and Carla’s husband and Richard’s wife. Richard’s wife is pregnant again.

Free evening to hang out and look over the genealogy information. Richard ends up being Irish and English, and makes a joke about Worcestershire. And how one of his ancestors was a chemist. Tiffany asks her mom what they ate mostly in Louisiana. She throws out okra, because Tom doesn’t like okra, but then decides to do it anyway. Carla discovers her family was some of the last slaves to be freed, but they had their own business. Mike’s parents got divorced when he was three, and he claims he was a troublemaker and cooking kept him out of jail. Antonia finds she is one-quarter Jewish. Then she finds out that she and Mike might be vaguely related. Everyone laughs at them. Antonia is horrified, and her mom says she takes no responsibility for anything.

30 minutes to shop at Whole Foods. Richard is complaining because he has to make Irish and English food and I guess it doesn’t inspire him.

Back at the house, Antonia and Mike are still on the kick that they’re “cousins” or at least related somehow. Also Antonia’s mom tried to tell her that Mike was cute. Ew. They all look through the folders and the old pictures. She says you can’t write this shit. There is also an extremely kick ass picture of Mike when he was maybe 5, in dance class, with a bright pink jumpsuit, lime green satin vest, and bowl cut. With his legs planted and hands on his hips. It is hilarious. Immediately everyone mocks him, as they should.

Tiffany and Carla hang out. They find a DVD on the table, and a car key. Wait, didn’t they already give away a car? They gave one to Mike for winning that Quickfire where Tom cooked and they got like 8 minutes to make something. How did they get another car? The DVD says winner gets the Highlander hybrid. That’s the car my parents have, although, not the super fancy version with DVD player and touch screen. It’s a pretty nice car, though.

They get to the restaurant with 3 hours to cook. Carla is making braised pork shoulder with fried grits and biscuits. Maybe. There seems to be liquid nitrogen involved. Richard approves, of course, because she is “pushing herself”. Tiffany is going to use her okra, with braised short ribs. Yum. Antonia has veal. Richard also has braised short ribs, but with pickled glassworts. He says “glasswort” sounds sexier than “sea beans”. No it doesn’t. He then claims it’s what they call them in Ireland. Mike’s making his grandmother’s recipes. Carla’s biscuits aren’t baking. Antonia is trying to make risotto, which she knows will be awesome if she does it well. The family members are at the table with the judges.

Mike: potato gnocchi with braised pork shank ragu and burrata cheese. Mom says he started early with cooking. They like his gnocchi. Mom says he’s better than grandma. Sigh. Suddenly it’s dark outside and Antonia is talking about cooking for her mom, and then it’s lighter outside and she’s serving. Antonia: braised veal, rapini leaf and fava bean risotto. They really enjoy the risotto. Tom says it’s packed with flavor. Antonia’s mom and Mike’s mom joke about who was better. Tiffany: braised short rib with mustard greens, stewed okra, and oxtail marmalade. Her mom says they make it at home, and Tom says their family is well fed. AND he says he’s never liked okra until now. Go Tiffany! Richard is nervous about cooking for his wife because she’s an athlete and is competitive. Richard: short ribs, potatoes, fried bone marrow, corn puree and pickled glasswort. And he says “it wouldn’t be steak without fried bone marrow.” OK. They think it all came together. Carla’s husband says they met on Really? I wouldn’t have guessed that. Carla: braised pork shoulder, fried grits, corn and sweet potato hash and cheddar biscuits. Richard’s wife likes that the biscuits were on another plate that they got to pass around. I’m glad to see it turned out well. Tom and Gail talk about how hard this decision is going to be. Everyone says goodbye. Richard’s wife tells him she thinks he’s safe. Hmm.

Commercial interlude: everyone eats everyone else’s food, and freaks out. Actually, they all seem to like everything, instead of mocking them like during the Quickfire. They’re freaking out because it’s all so good.

Padma makes them all come out at the same time. Carla’s broth was delicious, and Gail praises the biscuits. The corn was tough, says Tom. And then she admits she used liquid nitrogen. Tom tells her it all worked together and was soulful. Richard’s dish was thoughtful and made sense. That’s about it. See, when they praise everything it’s not very interesting. Padma tells Antonia she was courageous to serve them risotto, but it ended up having a great texture. The veal fell apart and was perfect. Tiffany cheers when Tom admits he liked her okra. It was also clear that food was important in her house and there was love. Mike made his grandmother’s gnocchi. It was very light, and Gail says he should always listen to his mother, who gave him some advice. Mike kind of loses it, and admits his grandmother passed away when he was younger so he’s never cooked Italian food professionally because it was too painful of a reminder. Gail gently tells him that his mother said his gnocchi was better than his grandmother’s.

“Top Chef: Masters” with new host Curtis Stone? Not that I’ll be complaining about Curtis Stone, but I wonder why the change.

Back in the Stew Room, they talk about how they’re glad they liked everything but someone still has to go home. We’re really nitpicking today. Antonia’s veal was a hair salty when eaten alone. Mike maybe could have plated with less meat. Padma wanted more green on Richard’s plate. Carla’s garnish got lost with the fantastic broth. Tiffany could have done without some accessories, although they were all delicious. Other than that, the judges talked about how delicious and well balanced and homey everything was.

Winner gets to go to the finals and they also get a new car. Antonia wins. Wow. She’s pretty shocked. And then Padma announces the final round will take place in the Bahamas. Mike is also safe. Eeehhhhhhhh. They keep cutting in shots of Richard looking supremely upset. Mike and Antonia get to leave. Tiffany had a lot of things going on, but they enjoyed it. Richard tied together many random things. Carla had some vegetable problems but one of the best sauces this season. Richard…is going to the finale. But Padma screws with his head first by telling him to pack his knives. Hee. We get a commercial break before discovering that they’re both going, which is LAME. Look, I know you had a hard time deciding, but this “everyone is a winner!” crap reality shows like to pull is ridiculous. Someone has to be eliminated. Eliminate someone. That’s what they pay you for. Back in the Stew Room there is shrieking and freaking out.

Next week: cook head-to-head with the chef that won your season. Kick ass! Grease fire, diving for things, people being pissed, actual criticism of dishes.

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