Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top Chef:All Stars 3/23/11--"Last Supper" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: everyone had to pair up and make 100 identical dishes, which is a good challenge that asks for skills you need to run a restaurant. Something this show doesn’t do all the time. Antonia and Tiffany won, which pissed off the boys which was fun. Then they had to go to a deserted island and make dishes with conch, which they had to catch themselves. Hilarity ensued, sort of. Mike won, which was kind of sad because I’m tired of Mike winning. Richard did not win, which is kind if interesting when you remember that he always hates everything he does. But then he gets offended when he doesn’t win. Tiffany’s chowder got cold because she plated too early and it was windy, and also it was kind of sweet, so she went home. (click for more)

The boys talk about how Tiffany was strong. Mike says she should be proud, but the three strongest competitors are still there. Shut up, Mike. Richard says Mike is on a streak, but he’s not worried. Antonia feels the two boys are expecting to dominate but “that’s not going to happen.”

Padma greets the final 3 with Wolfgang Puck. This is the last Quickfire. Padma promises it will be different from anything else. The producers picked out 7 “classic” Quickfires, and they will assign the challenge to their competitors. Mike gets to go first, and he picks Antonia and the canned food challenge. Which I think was to make stuff with only canned ingredients. Antonia gets to pick for Richard, and she picks hot dogs. Richard claims to believe that hot dogs are close to Wolfgang Puck’s heart, as he is Austrian. Uh huh. Mike gets stuck with the one pot challenge. Richard could only think of how Mike wanted like 7 sauté pans in some other challenge, but Antonia points out that he now has access to every ingredient he wants. Plus if my memory serves me correctly, you can cook something, clean out the pot and cook something else. I remember being irritated that people did that.

45 minutes to cook. Antonia I think is thrown. She’s grabbing spices. Mike is making pork and beans in a pressure cooker. Richard can’t make his own hot dogs, so he is trying to make his own bread. Really? He’s also making ketchup, which somehow will have hot dogs cooked in it. I guess as flavoring. Padma appears, and everyone immediately knows something is up. Obviously. She says that they will each assign a “classic Top Chef twist” to someone else: cooking with one hand, finishing the dish with no knives or hand tools, or three-legged races with Carla. That time they had double aprons? Remember? Eeeehhhhh. Richard makes Mike cook with no utensils, which he already did once this season. Antonia has a choice between cooking with one hand, and cooking attached to Carla, and she picks Carla. So Richard is stuck one-handed. Hee.

Mike, luckily, has cut up a bunch of stuff already, so he claims to be in really good shape and is standing around. Antonia and Carla seem to be figuring it out, and Antonia especially is pissed that Mike is laughing at them. Richard is noticing Mike is standing around and maybe that was not the best choice of twist. Antonia is asking Carla to taste her food. Richard tries to cut up hot dogs, which is kind of funny. Mike’s food isn’t right, so he’s blasting it at high temperature and hoping for the best. Richard wants to win. Of course. Mike says his pork is tough.

Antonia: curry coconut soup with shrimp, andouille sausage, peanuts, and fish sauce. They like it. Richard: hot dog on handmade roti bread with curry ketchup, mayo, and mint leaves. He calls it “currywurst”. Yeah. Wolfgang thinks he could feed it to his kids. It does sound good. Mike: pork shoulder with black beans, chili paste, ginger, and cabbage salad. They like the salad. Mike thinks that since Richard was so simple he’s a shoe-in. Uh huh.

Richard’s was too ketchupy, but it was a nice sandwich. Antonia’s soup was delicious, if too concentrated. Mike’s balance was pretty good, but the pork was tough. The winner is Mike. UGH. He wins $5000.

They go to The Cloisters, where there are “special guests”. We see Wolfgang, Michelle Bernstein, and Masaharu Morimoto. Everyone is intimidated. They freak out even more when the Elimination Challenge is revealed: cook the “last supper” of one of these chefs. Richard tells us in confessional that sometimes your favorite meal is not what you cook on a daily basis. Like, maybe Morimoto wants a cheeseburger. Oh, man, you guys better hope so, because I’ve eaten dinner at Morimoto’s restaurant, and I’m not sure any of you are up to it. Mike wants to cook for Michelle, and he gets to because he won the Quickfire. He says she told him he over seasoned something during his season, so this is a nice second chance. He also gets to assign the other two, so he gives Morimoto to Antonia and Wolfgang to Richard. Being smart for once, because Richard is closer to Morimoto’s style. He also says he wants to throw Antonia, and that Richard is “one of the best Top Chefs of all time” and he wants to beat the best in the final, which would be Richard. Could it be because you’re a jerk and you don’t want to lose to a girl? Blah. Padma tells them there is one final twist, secreted in an envelope, to be opened later. Only two people are making the finale, which is a first. Usually there are three.

Wolfgang wants good Austrian food. His mom got him into cooking. It sounds like he wants his favorite meal from his childhood, and it’s going to be compared to his mother’s cooking, and that is hard. He really wants apple strudel, which Richard has no recipe for. Michelle wants fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. For her, it’s the opposite of what she got at home. Mike is not worried, of course, but he seems concerned on giving her his own take on fried chicken, which she might not like. Morimoto wants Japanese food. Ooohhhhh, poor Antonia. She says she might not ever eat Japanese food again because of the scarring from this challenge.

Back in the hotel Antonia gives Mike crap for screwing her twice over in both challenges. He tries to accuse her of wanting it easy, but she claims to be happy to have Morimoto. If she pulls it off, it’ll be awesome. That’s true. Then Mike tries to tell her she has the easy one, and he and Richard have the challenges. Antonia calls him on his bullshit and says if that was so, then why didn’t he take Morimoto? He says because he knew Michelle would be the biggest challenge. Antonia pretty much rolls her eyes. Mike doesn’t know how to make biscuits, so he’s making empanadas. He gets like, offended that they aren’t line cooks and says they must be creative. Richard is not going classic either. He interviews that he and Antonia have a whole new culture to understand, and Mike doesn’t. Mike says Richard probably thought Antonia would be his competition, and instead he is. Antonia doesn’t want to get eliminated like last time. She’s crying, and I hope that’s not because she gets eliminated and this is afterwards.

In the morning, everyone freaks out. Mike paces, Antonia giggles hysterically. Richard panics, as he does.

3 hours to cook. Everyone kind of freaks out. Further. Tom time! Mike is cooking something sous vide. Tom interviews that Mike has the easiest dish. Richard admits Mike is on a roll, but claims to not care as long as he wins the finale. Antonia is quietly freaking out, but Tom tells us that while her dish might be simple, if it’s perfect it’ll be fine. Antonia’s fish is about to go bad. Uh oh. She’s supposed to have sashimi but she can’t if the fish is bad. Richard can’t open the pressure cooker, and it gives him flashbacks to how he choked his season finale. Richard says he’s won more challenges than anyone else ever, but not the finale.

The judges come in, along with the author of the book “The Last Supper”, which is about basically this challenge. Antonia is substituting tuna for the hamachi that has gone bad, and she says it doesn’t have the flavor but I mean…can’t serve rancid fish. She’s still crying in her interview and that doesn’t look good.

Antonia: tuna sashimi with pickled daikon, mushrooms and eggplant, miso soup, and rice. It’s all in a bento box and it’s cute. The miso is too salty but Morimoto says he doesn’t dislike it. Gail chokes, apparently because there are Scotch Bonnet peppers on the sashimi. Various people like different things, but Tom says that Japanese food is subtle, and this is not. Yeah. Scotch Bonnets?

Mike: fried chicken with pea puree, egg yolk empanada, and mustard gravy. Michelle admits she gave him creative license. She also likes the empanada. The white meat seems to be dry, and Tom says when you sous vide things the batter won’t stick. Michelle seems to like it.

Richard: beef goulash, spaetzle with sour cream and apple strudel with tarragon cream. Wolfgang seems to like it, although Tom wishes it was hotter in temperature. Backstage everyone thinks they screwed up badly. Michelle likes that Mike was creative, but Wolfgang wants food like his mother. Morimoto knows Antonia had the hardest challenge, but her food wasn’t the best. Richard managed to balance old school with his own modernism.

They call the three out and Padma tells them that Judges’ Table is right now. Michelle says that the chicken wasn’t really juicy, and it was crispy but the breading didn’t stick. Richard’s goulash was the exact right flavor, but the spaetzle was tough. Morimoto thanks Antonia, that it wasn’t what he expected, and the miso soup was salty but interesting. Tom then says that Richard will be cooking in the finale. Did he win? I don’t think he cares. He’s proud to have made it to the finale again. Padma addresses Antonia and Mike, and then pulls out the envelope again. Everyone freaks out again, although I’m pretty sure Richard is very glad he’s already in the finale.

Commercial interlude: they talk about the envelope and how crazy it is. Bravo, how about you SHUT UP and just get back to the show already?

Padma gives the envelope to Antonia, who reads that there will be one more challenge to see who joins Richard in the finale. They have 45 minutes to make one bite. 7 people, 7 bites. Hmm. I don’t know if I like this.

They’re both tired. Mike talks about high end product, creativity, whatever. I’m tired of him. Antonia has some fish and curry. She knows it’s her second chance to be connected to her food. Mike says he believes in his dish. Antonia talks about how it’s her last chance to get to the finale. The judges discuss the pressure.

Antonia: seared grouper in coconut curry lobster broth with yam, apple, and dill pollen relish. Mike: tempura lobster over beef tartare with caramelized olives and chimichurri sauce. I will say that both of them look like more than one bite. Antonia’s dish is very strong, but Tom thinks that if you have one bite, you want to leave a strong impression. Morimoto thinks that since grouper is mild, she’s trying to put too many flavors in. At least, I think that’s what he’s saying, until he says he wants a bigger piece. Mike’s dish wasn’t a “wow”, but the caramelized olive sauce is good. You just have to eat it with everything else. Gail says if she had to eat one of the dishes again, she’d eat Mike’s, as would Michelle. Morimoto and Padma, and the book author pick Antonia. Tom says Mike’s dish was “one bite” and he prefers it. So it’s down to Wolfgang, who says he would remember Antonia’s flavor, but Mike’s techniques were perfect. Mike talks about how he’s freaking out, and he’s smirking but that might be his default expression.

Tom tells Antonia that her dish was very aggressively spiced, but used vegetables well and was all around “a good dish”. Mike’s tartare was bland, but the sauces added to the punch. Antonia is sent home. LAME. She’s very disappointed, and feels worse this time than last time. Poor Antonia.

Next time: the finale, finally. They must make the restaurant of their dreams. With eliminated contestants as sous chefs. Should be good.

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