Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Top Chef:All Stars 3/9/11--"Fit for a King" summary

Previously on “Top Chef: All Stars”: Padma shows up to tell everyone to go to the roof. Then she tells them to go back down and get on a ferry, and make things based on the random junk food found in a ferry snack bar. Pretty much all the food was crap, but Carla made a fruit salad that ended up being exactly what everyone wanted. Everyone ended up on Ellis Island, and met up with loved ones, to talk about their personal history. The challenge was to make a dish based on your family history. Everyone turned out fantastic dishes, as usually happens. Antonia won, but no one was sent home. (click for more)

Antonia talks about winning. Everyone’s in the Bahamas greeting each other and remembering their finales (if they made it). Richard talks about how he choked in his finale episode. It’s…a rehash of things we’re already well aware of. Except that Mike says he trained during the off time he had.

There’s a fort, which they all walk towards. Hiding inside we see shots of Michael Voltaggio, Stephanie, Hosea, and Kevin Sbraga. These are the winners of each season these finalists were on. Ha! Eric Ripert is there with Padma and Tom. Mike is like, Voltaggio should be on my team. Oops! You are going head to head with the chef who won your season. Mike’s joy turns to cursing because Voltaggio kicked his ass. Richard says his season, he was the best, so now he can prove it. Shh. Whichever chef wins, they get $10,000. Nice. Each chef has a hidden ingredient that Tom picked out, which must be included. Stephanie is a beast because both Richard and Antonia were on her season, so I guess she has two competitors.

40 minutes to cook. Season 4 gets a rack of veal. Mike and Voltaggio have duck, and Mike lets him butcher it to save himself some work. Hosea and Carla have lamb. Hosea wants to prove to the haters he deserved to win. Carla is making soup again because her soups go over well. Tiffany and Kevin get pork. Stephanie points out she could go home with $20,000. Voltaggio is trying to work every random piece of equipment he can find. Richard worries about everything, as he does. Antonia’s burner keeps going out. Carla’s too. Carla puts her rice in her pot with her stew, which she recognizes as a problem.

Kevin: barbecue pork with cilantro, celery, shaved onion and citrus salad. Tiffany: pork stew with potatoes, peppers, citrus and allspice. Tom says they’re both really good, but he prefers Tiffany’s, as does Eric. So she wins! Good for her! This is the first time she’s won anything all season. Hosea: braised lamb in red chili broth with olives and mint, goat cheese and rosemary polenta. Yum. Carla: jollify rice and harissa lamb with peppers, onions, and lime. Carla’s rice is undercooked and she doesn’t try to talk her way out of it. Poor Carla. But Hosea showed the haters. Stephanie: veal scaloppini with tapenade and poached egg. Antonia: roasted veal, leek and almond puree with sautéed mushrooms, arugula, and raisins. Antonia’s veal is tough, but there is a lot going on in Stephanie’s dish. The judges say that Stephanie’s dish is the lesser of two evils, basically. Richard: seared veal loin and braised veal cap with raisins, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. They like Richard’s dish, so of course he wins against Stephanie’s randomness. He says he has momentum. Voltaggio: duck breast with duck leg in bacon vinaigrette, burnt leek and coffee pesto. Weird. Mike: cashew dusted spiced duck breast with duck leg and mushroom jus. Tom breaks the tie here and says Mike handled the duck better. I don’t like this. Mike winning things. I don’t like Mike.

The elimination challenge: the judges were “invited” to a dinner party thrown by Bahamian royalty. So they decided the contestants should cook! Ha! Tiffany says she’s going to make what she usually does. I guess they’re working as a team? Padma sends them to the hotel.
The suite is really swank, as is expected. Tiffany is thrilled to finally win something. Richard says he’s the hardest working person there. He is willing to chase down goats. That’s what he said, he would chase down a goat.

2.5 hours to prep in the morning. The kitchen is fully stocked, and I guess they agreed on the menu last night or something. I can’t imagine they are each doing whatever they want, without consulting each other. They have to at least divide up courses. Everyone runs around. Richard is making lobster and he says his dish will be refined. Carla has things to get over mentally, because she lost the Quickfire and is psyching herself out. Mike bitches that the girls are “playing it safe” and that it’s an honor for them to be here, but not for him? Somehow it’s an honor for him to win, so…he’s not honored to have made it to the final? Shut up, Mike. They pack up coolers and whatnot. Not a lot of cooking today.

A police escort shows up to take them to the dinner location. As they drive, they end up in the middle of Carnival. Well, it looks like Carnival. Brightly colored costumes and giant feathered headdresses. They get out of the car, and Mike immediately starts dancing, sort of, but they’re all freaking out because obviously they may need to change plans. Tom appears with the King of Junkanoo, which is like Carnival and Mardi Gras mixed together. This is who they are cooking for. Tiffany is thrilled beyond belief because she was always going to make her food, which is perfectly suited to this. Everyone else and their refined dishes are in trouble.

1 hour to cook and adjust. There is a flattop, a couple of microwaves, and lots of deep fryers. Antonia notices one of the fryers is smoking. They try to turn it down, but it still bursts into flame. Awesome. Richard covers the deep fryer with a sheet pan to keep the flames down, and they try to turn off the fryer and get an extinguisher and whatever. Some production assistants or whoever start evacuating, and Richard says everyone was more concerned with covering their food than with leaving the kitchen and being safe. Not surprising in the least. The fire department shows up.

The chefs sit out in the restaurant. Mike apparently had no idea what was going on. Antonia talks about changing her dish and Richard tells her to go with her gut. She basically tells him to shut up because she’s freaking out. She was right next to the fire and Mike (jokingly, I guess maybe) accused her of doing it. Everyone’s unhappy. Richard then gloats he’s inside her head and he wants her to bomb. Richard, don’t turn into a jerk. Tom interviews that the thermostat might have been busted, or something was wet, or something. They don’t seem to know what went wrong, but what they do know is that all the food in the kitchen is now contaminated. Suck. Tom gives everyone the bad news, which is that they have to start over and scrub down the whole kitchen. They’ll clean, redo all the prep, and serve later tonight. Later tonight? Huh? Now they can all rethink their dishes, so Tiffany isn’t super pleased.

Carla thinks she could have done her dish better the first time. Richard says some bullshit about doing a new dish because that’s the spirit of the competition, making up new dishes. You’re making a new dish because your old dish was too refined once you figured out what the challenge really was. Don’t pretend otherwise. Antonia is changing her dish too, but she says that she and Richard are the only ones changing. So more prep, and then back to the restaurant. Now they all have countertop household deep fryers. Carla is deep frying her pork tenderloin. Hmm. Mike says he’s better than everyone else. Tiffany wants to win. Carla’s pork didn’t cook all the way through, so she puts the slices on the flattop to try to cook them through. The judges and guest arrive and all the judges are drinking beer which amuses me for some reason. Antonia doesn’t feel quite right about her dish, like it’s not really her. Carla thinks it’s coming together and is as good as it will get.

Carla: fried pork medallion with sweet potato puree, apple sauce and apple chip. It’s very sweet, and of course Gail has a raw piece of pork. Antonia: crispy shrimp and grits with cilantro and pickled vegetables. The shrimp seems overcooked and muddled maybe. The king says it would be better with conch. They like the idea. Mike: sous vide chicken, mushrooms, yams, lobster sauce and lobster hash. They only have good things to say. Boo. Oh, Gail thinks the white meat is dry. That’s about it. Richard: roasted lamb loin and malted braised leg with pickled turnip and mustard. It’s like a cannelloni but with turnip instead. And I see a foam. It’s delicate and tasty. Richard, of course, thinks it sucks. Tiffany: roasted spiced pork tenderloin, dirty rice, curried slaw and tomato jam. The meat is tender, and they enjoy it, but they seem under whelmed. The judges discuss what might have happened, if they were mislead by what they thought the challenge was (whose fault is that, JUDGES) or maybe they got spooked by the fire.

Commercial interlude: Richard for some reason has assigned equivalent musical genres to nuts. Peanuts are rock and roll, walnuts are close like British rock, almonds are ballet, pistachios are pop, etc. Of course he did.

Everyone waits for Judges’ Table and talks about how they second-guess themselves. Richard says he hates everything he does. They all go in to face the music. One elimination today. Tom acknowledges the fire and says “it’s going to be tough from now on, deal with it”. They liked how crispy Carla’s chips were but it was too sweet. She says she had to put something on it. They tell her Gail’s meat was raw, and she claims that that batch was the only one. Eric says his meat was perfectly cooked. Antonia wanted to go less stuffy when she realized what was really the challenge. Her shrimp was overcooked, and her grits had meat in them for some reason so it changed the texture. Tiffany’s dish was not complex enough and kind of dry. Her “curried slaw” didn’t have enough curry in it. Mike starts by saying he liked his dish. They say a lot of nice things about his sauce and how everything worked together and whatever but the breast meat was dry. Richard tells the judges he hates everything he does. Sigh. His seasoning was right on, but Tom wishes there was maybe one more flavor. Eric didn’t like the turnip and thought it was too soft. Richard promises to work on his “vegetable cookery” if he makes it through this round. Today the winner is Mike. Sigh. He of course brags that beating Richard will screw with his head. Everything screws with Richard’s head. That’s not an achievement.

Richard is disappointed, but not so much that he can’t contribute to the discussion of who did the worst. Tom is saying any one of them can go home. Carla’s dish was too sweet, and Gail points out she couldn’t eat hers. Antonia’s two major components both had problems: overcooked shrimp and meat in the grits. They seem bored with Tiffany’s dish, which at this point in the competition is not acceptable.

Tom reminds everyone what they did wrong, which they already know, and then Padma sends Carla home. Boo. I mean, I get it, but I like Carla. She knows she did poorly, and she wishes she could have gone home making a dish she was proud of. She says she’s now a better chef, and accepts herself.

Next week: Padma wears a bikini so Mike makes a sexist comment, diving for conch, flailing and failing.


Nicole said...

I chuckle to myself every time Ol' Richard "Banana Scallops" Blais makes a big to-do about never re-doing a dish.

JoyY said...

Too late, Richard is already a jerk...everytime he talks about his season he gives Stephanie no props or respect. He conveniently forgets that she had won just as many challenges as he had before their finale. Mike may be a douche, but he respects the winner of his season and just says "I went home too soon."