We love Loren Means’ Top Chef All-Stars recaps about as much as we love grilled cheese (even if it is made with an iron). Confused yet? Read on and all shall be made clear…
Episode 10, REALLY?!? By the end I had to scoop my jaw up off the floor. I am fully aware that the judging is based on each chef’s performance during each specific challenge but c’mon! When choosing whom to send home out of the bottom three, I truly believe that cumulative performance should be taken into consideration. The title is for Top Chef. The winner should be the best all-around chef. It’s like watching a game of Nine Ball. A highly skilled player can dominate, have a great run, get balls 1 through 8 in the pockets, and slip up on the 9. Then the lucky SOB up next happens to get the nine ball in and they win. It’s bollocks.
jump to keep reading the recap…
The Quickfire began with the seven remaining Cheftestants: Dale, Richard, Angelo, Mike, Carla, Tiffany, and Antonia. The challenge was to make a delicious cookie from scratch to be judged by none other than the Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Telly. While the concept was cute, I was once again confused about whom the target audience is for this show. We have now had a night in the museum with kiddos, Joe Jonas as a Quickfire judge, and now, Sesame Street characters. Are there 2 year-olds and teenyboppers watching Top Chef? I’m curious. Maybe I’m just insecure because I wouldn’t have been able to pick the Cookie Monster out of a line up before last night.
Once the timer buzzed, the chefs scurried off to grab their ingredients. Richard, of course, scurried right over to the liquid nitrogen to create his ice cream cookie with chocolate chips and zucchini. I said it last week and Mike said it this week, “is there ever going to be a challenge where he (Richard) doesn’t use nitrogen?” Richard and nitrogen is the new Jamie and the damn scallops! Where’s Fabio to make a killer comment when we need him? The Cookie Monster went around the room sampling cookies (nom, nom, nom!) and was not at all impressed with Richard’s ice cream cookie as he didn’t think it was a cookie at all. He instead chose Dale’s pretzel, potato chip, shortbread cookies as the winner. Even the Cookie Monster can’t resist the beautiful combination of salty and sweet.
Up for grabs in the Elimination Challenge was $25,000—the largest prize in Top Chef history. To take home this prize the chefs had to cook for 100 Target employees at a Target Store. Seems easy enough, except they had to first run through the Target collecting any supplies they would need such as pots, pans, knives, groceries, plates, can openers, etc. If they required it to make their dish, they had to grab it at the Target. We all know how huge some of these Target stores are, so you can imagine the time it took to round all of these items up. Carla was pumped because she “love, love, loves Target!” (It should be known that I share her enthusiasm for Target. I could spend hours there—multiple times a week.)
Everyone grabbed a cart and took off! Mike and Angelo tried to work as a team grabbing things while most others were out for themselves. Slowly but surely, most of the Chefs had everything they needed and started setting up their stations. I say most, but what I really mean is everyone but Carla. All six chefs with the exception of Carla where slicing and dicing, meanwhile Carla was still scooting around gathering décor for her table. Only after she had her décor did she remember that she still needed to get groceries to cook for the actual challenge. Focus Carla, focus! Time was whittling away, and Carla finally had her groceries, but instead of setting up her station she was still wandering around Target looking for a tablecloth. Carla, Isaac is not actually here. His bad clothing line is. Let the aesthetics go.
Time was up, all of the chefs completed their dishes, and the Target employees walked in for the 3 am service. The Cheftestants had been up all night racing around Target and preparing these dishes for the guests. Guest judge and Target Home Designer Thomas O’Brien had created lovely tables for the guests to be seated at. One by one, the chefs served their dishes to the 100 Target employees and the other judges, Padma, Tom, Anthony Bourdain, and chef/owner of Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai. Richard made pork tenderloin arepas. Antonia went a breakfast route with an over easy egg on a Parmesan crostini, which looked incredible. Tiffany cooked her version of a jambalaya. Carla prepared a curried apple soup with apple slaw. Mike made a coconut soup. Keeping with the soup theme, Angelo cooked a potato soup with bacon and cheese. Last but not least, Dale made a rib-eye and grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup.
By the time the judges assembled at 6 am, the chefs were exhausted and delirious. Antonia, Dale, and Richard were brought in as the top three. The judges raved about how perfectly Antonia’s eggs were cooked. They also loved Richard’s spin on arepas and thought the flavors were excellent. Dale’s creativity of using a clothing iron to create a perfect crust on his grilled cheese really impressed the judges. Dale said his inspiration was being “drunk and poor” in college. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time he’d used an iron to cook food. Anthony loved the flavors in the soup and thought the sandwich was cooked to perfection. I believe he respectfully referred to it as great “stoner food.” The judges deliberated and chose, my boy, Dale as the winner. (Yes, I’ve switched favorites. I had to because my previous favorites have been sent home.)
Brought it as the bottom three were Carla, Tiffany, and Angelo. Carla’s soup didn’t have any flavor complexity due to her short cooking time, and she was missing a protein. The judges didn’t really consider Tiffany’s jambalaya to be jambalaya at all and thought her overuse of pre-made Cajun seasoning was unacceptable. And finally, the judges thought Angelo’s potato soup was completely over salted—a crime punishable by elimination—and he was sent packing. While I hate to be ugly about very nice people, Tiffany has no business staying in the competition while Angelo is sent home. She hasn’t won one single challenge. Not one! I don’t care how many times she cries and says she’s from Beaumont, she is not a better chef than many of the chefs who have gone home before her. Right now, Tiffany is the lucky SOB who got the 9-ball shot, but we all know Angelo has more skill.