December 16, 2010

Top Chef All Stars Episode 3: The frozen melon was her downfall

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Recap: Jen went balls to the wall defending her dish last week and got sent home anyway.

Quickfire Challenge

David Chang is the guest this week. Marcel is impressed.

The chefs split into four teams of four based on how they are standing.

Fabio says Angelo wears too-tight pants.

Spike is happy to work with Richard.

As a team, simultaneously prep 3 ingredients. Each team must make one dish using all of the ingredients they prepped. Within 15 minutes from when the first team finishes their prep.

This is a high stakes quickfire, each member of the winning team gets $5000.

The chefs are excited about the money. Of course!

The green team of Mike, Angelo, Tiffany and Fabio seem to be off to a good start. The blue team is Tre, Richard, Stephen and Spike and Tre isn't used to butchering, because at home he has someone to do that for him. The white team is Marcel, Tiffani with an i, short Dale and Carla. Red team is tall Dale, Antonia, Casey and Jamie.

Fabio is not impressed by Antonia's garlic peeling. He slams a cutting board down on the garlic all at once and whips it out like a freakin' maniac. AWESOME. The green team finishes their meat and is kicking ass. They finishes first and hits the red button, meaning everyone has 15 minutes to finish prepping AND make their dish.

Spike's garlic is not fine enough. But the blue team is still second to finish.

The white team is still not done with prep with 10 minutes left. The red team decides to make lamb carpaccio, thereby avoiding cooking the lamb. The white team also goes for lamb carpaccio once they're finally done. Angelo is confident (surprise!).

The white team is up first. Their dish is a lamb carpaccio with artichoke chips, artichoke salad and garlic oil. The blue team prepared a lamb chop with artichoke 3 ways - crispy, braised and pureed. The red team made a lamb carpaccio with capers, garlic, reggiano and salad with artichoke. The green team made lamb with garlic, tandori spiced yogurt, slivers of artichoke and dill salad. The yogurt is a strange salmon color and looks funky.

David Chang's least favorites were the red team - the Parmesan and parsley were overwhelming - and the green teams dish - the thyme and dill were overpowering. They were the first team done, but did not deliver. Marcel is like "yessss."

The winning team is BLUE - Spike, Richard, Tre and Stephen.

Elimination Challenge

Each group will dine at one of New York's finest restaurants then prepare a dish for that restaurant.

Padma explains that they will be working as individuals, their teammates will be their competition. Casey is intimidated by tall Dale because his style matches the style of the restaurant. And...

DOUBLE ELIMINATION.

The green team will be dining at Ma Peche, one of David Chang's restaurants, which features French/Vietnamese food. As they dine, Tiffany is annoyed by Angelo's blah blah blahing over the food. I think she just wants to enjoy her dinner. Fabio is not confident about cooking French and Vietnamese foods.

The blue team dines at Marea, where Michael White is the chef. The food is Coastal Italian. Spike says they just need to do a "God damn good dish." Stephen apparently eats at Marea quite often. Tre thinks Stephen is arrogant and wants to use his own pallet. Richard is a little worried and knows he needs to use restraint.

The white team gets to eat at WD-50, and taste some of Wylie Dufresne's food. He uses modern techniques and molecular gastronomy. Carla wants to marry classic and modern. They eat aerated foi gras. Marcel is inspired, and feels comfortable in this zone. Short Dale wants to make eggs because it's Wylie's favorite. Carla is becoming nervous as they eat.

The red team eats at David Burke's Townhouse, which features avant garde American cuisine. Jamie has a fish in her glass. Casey says "What the fuck is going on?" She is totally intimidated by the level the fish glass has taken things to. Jamie calls the food whimsical and playful. Tall Dale loves the food and the playfulness of it. Antonia is overwhelmed.

The chefs finish their dinners and head back to the house to think and plan.

Stephen is confident. "Marea is fine dining, suit and tie, and that's what I'm all about. Fashion has become a major obsession of mine. Could be worse. Could be cocaine or heroine." Mmm hmm.

The chefs are cooking in the kitchens at the restaurants they ate at. They have 2 hours to prepare their dishes. Tiffany is not ready to go home, but knows the guys on her team are strong competitors.

Michael thinks Tiffany's dish is only going to take her 8 minutes. Antonia wants to make peas and carrots, but have it be gourmet. Richard thinks Stephen is out of place. Then there is a hilarious shot of Stephen fighting with a blender.

Bourdain is back judging. Kate Krader from Food and Wine magazine is also there. At each restaurant, the chef/owner from that restaurant will be judging the food and providing input as to which dishes they would not feel embarrassed having on their menu.

At Marea, Tre made Swordfish. Spike made branzino. Richard made Spanish mackerel. Stephen made Coho salmon. Padma likes the skin on Spike's dish. They like Richards dish. Bourdain thinks Stephen's salmon tastes like a head shop. They are also fans of Tre's panna cotta.

Next, the chefs head to Ma Peche. Bourdain admits he would not want to be thrown into any of these kitchens. Angelo is putting white chocolate with meat and fish, which will either be a huge success or a colossal fail. Fabio made roasted lamb. Tiffany made flounder crudo. Michael made sockeye salmon. Angelo made tumeric fish. With white chocolate Bourdain thinks Angelo's dish is creative and tasty. Chang likes the style and innovation. Tom can't figure out Fabio's dish. Bourdain thinks he was lost, which I'm pretty sure he was. They do not think Tiffany's dish is original enough.

Their third stop is Townhouse. Tall Dale wants Casey to taste all his elements. She is concerned that there are so many. Tall Dale made a roasted veal loin with peanuts, popcorn, french toast, corn, and thyme caramel. DUDE. Antonia made a pea puree and a carrot puree with seared scallops. Casey made coconut halibut with tapioca "caviar." Jamie made smoked tomato and bacon soup with tomato salad. Bourdain wonders if the smokiness in Jamie's dish adds anything. Burke doesn't see a wow factor there. Padma thinks Dale has a sweet dish that just has veal on it. Burke thinks the french toast was too sweet. They all like Casey's dish. Tom thinks Antonia used too much salt, Burke likes her dish and it's playfulness.

Lastly, the chefs head to WD-50. Apparently one of Wylie's sous chefs accused him of culinary plagiarism at some point, so he thinks it's funny he's cooking at WD-50. "You can't even write this sort of stuff." Short Dale doesn't know Wylie's techniques, so he is trying to be inspired by Whylie but stay true to his techniques. Tiffani says she probably should not have frozen her melons. Marcel thinks she is using technique just to do it and not thinking about the diner. Short Dale made a sunny side up egg dumpling with braised pork belly. Tiffani made powdered ham and cheese something. Carla made poached shrimp grits. Marcel made lamb with anti flatbread. Bourdain thinks the melon was an intruder at the party. They like short Dale's dish. They also like Carla's, though Wylie thinks it's a little safe. Bourdain thought Marcel's dish was timid and Tom thought his cucumber was bland.

Judge's Table

"You should have seen me using the circulator y'all" says Carla in the stew room.

Short Dale, Angelo, Antonia and Tre are the top dishes for their teams. The winner will get a 6 night trip to New Zealand. None of my favorite chefs made the top, so I am rooting for Tre. Dale's risk on cooking eggs was a good one. The winner is Dale.

Stephen, Tiffani, Fabio and tall Dale are the bottom 4. I really want it to be Stephen sent home, tall Dale is one of my favorites and I just don't want to say goodbye to Fabio's awesome quotes. I can't believe 2 of them are going home.

The judges say Fabio was not able to figure out how to cook the right style. He knew that was why. He takes it pretty well. Stephen feels frustrated. He considers himself an expert in Italian food and wine and says he blew it. He thinks his dish could have won if he had been more restrained. Bourdain says it was way too fragrant. Dale says town house is food with jazz hands. Tom says David usually starts with a classic dish and riffs on it. Tom says he gave them a breakfast dish with veal on it.

Tension.

Bourdain says Dale's dish just didn't taste good. Kate says Stephen was over-excited. Bourdain calls it unpleasant to eat. Bourdain says Fabio lacked confidence and didn't taste his dish enough. Tom says he had too much going on. Bourdain says Tiffani with an i crossed the fine line between homage and parody. Tom says the frozen melon was her downfall.

Stephen thinks he should have done well because he eats at the restaurant he cooked at often. Tom says "I have great knowledge of Led Zeppelin, it doesn't make me Jimmy Page" to Stephen. Even if this week hadn't been light on the good quotes, Tom wins for best quote of the week.

In the end, Stephen and tall Dale are sent home.

I am sad to see tall Dale go, but not surprised Stephen is going. Stephen admits he wasn't up to par, and hasn't' been cooking as much. Dale still loves Top Chef.

At least I still have my Fabio.

Next week: U.S. Open! Cut finger! Angelo! Upset Spike! Gail says flaccid!

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