Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top Chef All Stars Ep. 10 - "COOKIES! .. NOM NOM NOM ..!"

Last time on Top Chef All Stars, Fabio was sent home by ‘Jeemie Fowl On’ for his bad 'boy-gurr' – and Carla won for her bottom-crusted Chicken Pot Pie.

On this week’s episode, the 7 remaining Cheftestants seem genuinely sad to see Fabio sent home, and each of them vow to make it to the end. Dale “Tell It Like It T-I-Is” Talde states that he doesn’t believe in all that hippie-dippie “We are ALL Winners!” bullshizz. Leave that mess for the Special Olympics – there is only one “I” in “WINNER”.

The Cheftestants enter the Top Chef kitchen and are greeted by Padma, standing alongside an empty table. Padma starts speaking in weird tongues, reciting an ancient magic spell …

“We’re on our way, and everything’s A-OK...”.

And up pop three of the fuzzy critters from Sesame Street! There’s Cookie Monster (my favorite), Elmo (who has a Tickle Fetish and wasn’t around when I was a kid) and some dude name Telly who was about as exciting as a snoozing Snuffleupagus.

The Cheftestants, for the most part, seem thrilled to meet these Muppets – except for Tiffany, who gets a little startled when they pop up suddenly from behind the table. Thank goodness Tiffany wasn’t holding a knife…

Cookie Monster – the best Sesame Street character ever – announces the Quickfire Challenge:


Guy Smiley couldn’t have said it any better. Yep, they have 45 minutes to make a cookie worthy of the Cookie Monster (and those two other freaks) – and the winner will receive $5,000. Padma asks the Muppets for some cookie suggestions – and Elmo requests a cookie with zucchini and/or carrots. WTF?!? During my childhood, if you asked a character on Sesame Street what he wanted in his cookie, he would have said “butter” or “lots of butter” or “how ‘bout some lard?”. But NEVER zucchini. Hell, I doubt Mr. Hooper even sold zucchini in his store – but you KNOW homeboy had some Land-O-Lakes up in there.

Ready … set … COOKIE!!!!!!

Bighead Mike states that he’s never baked a cookie from scratch – although Dale notes that Mike obviously enjoys consuming cookies. Werd. Blais, the ultimate brown-noser, sucks up to Elmo by putting zucchini in his “cookie”, as requested. However, as some of the other Cheftestants note, it’s really not a cookie – just some frozen ice cream with bits of veggies in it (GAG).

The absolute best part of the Quickfire was that the Sesame Street guys could heckle the Cheftestants while the chefs cooked. This should become a permanent feature on all future Quickfires. Can you imagine Art Smith tsk-tsking the competitors about not preparing their dishes with "Lots of Love", or Michele Bernstein yelling at them to make their dishes “Mas Latina!!”??? Now THAT would be entertaining.

Dale, in particular, gets heckled for making a cookie using potato chips and other non-cookie-ish stuff. And he doesn’t quite know how to react. Dale instinctively wants to tell Elmo, Telly and Cookie that today’s Quickfire challenge is being brought to them by the letters “F” and “U”, but quickly decides against it.

During the cookie craziness, the Sesame Street gang marvels at the madd culinary skillz being displayed in front of them. Cookie Monster then lets us in on his secret to making the perfect cookie: “Me just kind of throw stuff in bowl and hope for best.” Coincidence! That’s the same way Jamie cooks scallops!!

Time is ticking away and Cookie Monster is running out of patience - he is HONGRAY. Poor thing is a bundle of nerves and can’t wait to eat – even munching on the table cloth. Cookie looks a little like me at the Arby’s counter – waiting impatiently for my heaping TRAY-O-DELICIOUSNESS.

Utensils down, hands up. COOKIE time. Padma leads the Sesame Street gang around to each of the chefs to taste the cookies.

Blais, maybe because of his zucchini suck-up maneuver, gets Elmo to shout-out to his daughter – at which point I think Richard Blais actually crapped his pants. Today’s Quickfire is NOW being brought to you by the letters “P” and “U”.

Unfortunately all that sucking up didn’t help – Blais (and Angelo) end up in the bottom. Dale and Antonia end up at the top. And Dale wins – possibly because Antonia’s cookies looked like what they found in Blais’ underwear after his little Elmo-induced “accident”.

The Muppets leave – and Padma explains this week’s Elimination Challenge. The Cheftestants will have three hours in an empty Target store to shop and then prepare food for 100 store employees. They must get everything they need in the store – including cooking equipment, food and “décor” – and the winner will receive $25,000.

The Chef’s head over to Tarjay and begin scrambling.

Mike and Angelo, who have suddenly become BFF’s, form Team Douchebag and help each other out. The rest go it alone – and eventually they all get their ingredients and their stations set up – except for Carla. Carla strolls around Tarjay like it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon – shopping for “décor”. Miss Thang doesn’t have any food yet, but by golly she sure found a cute tablecloth.

Halfway through the 3 hours, Carla finally gets set up – but she is now way behind. She decides to do a soup (as most of the others do), although one hour isn’t a lot of time for flavors to develop. But did you notice those ADORABLE matching napkins??

Elsewhere, Dale decides to kick-it “Penitentiary-Style” and make grilled cheese sammiches using an iron - a little trick Martha Stewart taught him after her stint in the Slammer.

Over at Team Douchebag, Angelo asks Bighead Mike to taste his soup. Mike says it’s “missing something”, so Angelo adds more salt and bacon. Wait, did Mike just “pull an Angelo” and sabotage his BFF??? Usually it’s Angelo who, in the name of being 'helpful', gets people sent home by messing with their dishes. WELL PLAYED, Bighead!

During this time, they show a few shots of a mysterious man they call "Thomas O’Brien", who skulks around Tarjay setting up pretty dining tables. Although “décor” was mentioned as part of the challenge, they really don’t address it for the remainder of the episode. Which means that Carla’s dazzling linens with matching napkin holders – which took her so long to shop for – don’t do her a damn bit of good.

At 3:00 am, the Target employees come get their grub – along with the judges (Tom, Padma, Bourdain and Chef Ming Tsai). Oh, and that spooky, ghostlike Thomas O’Brien fellow.


Anthony Bourdain comments that Dale really knows how to make late-night stoner food and asks if Dale has been drug tested. I have a three-word response: Pot, Kettle, Black.

Ming Tsai loves Dale’s technique of using an iron as a grill – and makes an “Iron Chef” joke. Damn – I wish I thought of that.

Carla’s soup needs protein. Tiffany’s Jambalaya needed less Target-brand Creole spice mix. Angelo’s “Baked Potato Soup” needs to come with a side of blood-pressure medication and a case of bottled water because of the excessive salt content.

At 6:20 AM, the exhausted Cheftestants enter the No-Longer-Glad Storage Room. A few minutes later, Padma calls in Dale, Antonia and Blais. They are the top three.

Blais is commended for the fact that he cooked a protein two ways. Antonia is praised for having the huevos to cook individual eggs (instead of soup), and Dale is lauded for his “Grilled Cheese a la Alcatraz”.

Ming Tsai announces that Dale is the winner of the challenge and of $25,000. Added to his Quickfire winnings earlier, that’s $30,000 for one day’s work. Not too shabby.

On the bottom are Carla, Tiffany and Angelo. Carla’s flavors never developed (but her décor was FABULOUS), Tiffany’s Jambalaya relied too heavily on store-bought flavoring, and Angelo’s soup was just a few tablespoons away from being the next Great Salt Lake. All he needed were for some Mormons to settle nearby.

The three are given one last chance to say something to the judges, and Tiffany does her “I’m from Beaumont, Texas routine, which even made sweet Carla roll her eyes. I get the feeling that no matter what the scenario, Tiffany always begins every sentence in the exact same way:

In a restaurant: “I’m from Beaumont, Texas – What are your specials this evening?”

At the bank: “I’m from Beaumont, Texas – I’d like to make a deposit”

At the Beauty Parlor: “I’m from Beaumont, Texas - Just take a little off the top, please”.

At Target “I’m from Beaumont, Texas – where are your restrooms?”

To the 9-1-1 Operator: “I’m from Beaumont, Texas – I’d like to report a murder”.

Yeah, that would get old.

But in the end, it isn’t Tiffany, but Angelo who is sent home. And, believe it or not, he’s pretty sweet and gracious about it.

When Angelo returns to the No-Longer-Glad Storage Room and announces that he’s going home, his BFF responds with a surprised (?) “You?!?”. Bighead Mike is simply SHOCKED that Angelo would be sent home – even though it was Mike who prompted the saltlickification of Angelo’s soup in the first place.

Again … WELL PLAYED, Bighead.

On next week's episode – Paula Deen…

What did YOU think of last night’s episode? Please share your innermost thoughts in the Comments Section.



theminx said...

Cookie Monster was probably my favorite Muppet, although I have more in common with Oscar. :)

I heckle the chefs every week - could be fun if the guest judges do it, too.


P.S. I'm not from Beaumont, TX, but please read my recap!

Kailyn said...

Loved the comments from the Muppets. Loved Dale for speaking all that truth. Surprised that Mike is still around. Want. Him. Gone. Worried about Carla and all that time she spent on decor. Maybe we should chip in on some Ritalin to help keep her focused. Nah. That might end up taking away too much of the Carla we like.

paul said...

I'm happy that you write these recaps so I don't have to watch. It appears that Dale is the favorite child and I cannot stand him. Used to love this show, but now, it appears(at least from my point of view) that most of the time, they choose the wrong person. Seeing Dale take home all that money would have really set me off.

Dan said...

I loved the Muppets.

Dale is growing on me, ick.

Mike set up Angelo! Karma baby!

Tiffany who?

froggy said...

"This should become a permanent feature on all future Quickfires."


"Tiffany’s Jambalaya needed less Target-brand Creole spice mix."

Ouch! Ouch! Did someone get their paycheck docked after that? NEVER DISS THE SPONSOR.

I read someplace that Angelo started TCAS right after getting back from the end of season 8. He must have been beyond exhausted.

Paula Deen. oh, noooess!! I *tried* to watch her on Iron Chef. Her cackle just about drove me up the wall. Maybe I can find the closed caption thingy on our new system and then rely on you for all the color commentary.

Wonderfulness, as always, xoxox

Miss Ginger Grant said...

I thought that was the cutest quickfire EVAH!!

When Collichio called out Beaumont for using Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning I immediately thought: "Oh shit! I'm fucked!" But then I remembered I was only making dinner for myself, so I sprinkled another shake and then opened a bottle of pinot grigio. Dale has grown on me... he keeps it REALZ!

Howard said...

I watched acre run, cause I watched Face-Off on the SyFy Channel instead. The cheftestants are getting on my nerves, and want to see them all sent home! I will say BH Mike & Dale are especially annoying. But, I find no eye candy nor any likable chefs left. Your recaps are more than enough!

Lisa Klow said...

Oh, Angelo, Baked Potato Soup? Really? I think he got distracted by the fact that he was cooking for Target employees instead of the judges.

"Iron" Chef - lol.

Steve just asked, "Who will Dale swoon over now?"

Dale's dish looked really good. What else did he cook in college?
And I was screaming from the couch at Carla shopping for so long! When the judges said her soup needed some kind of protein, I thought: she could have just grabbed some walnuts!

Can't wait for Paula, but we will be without t.v. and internet for a couple weeks during the move.

Tom A. said...

The muppets were awesome! Tarjay paled in comparison.

Great ep and funny recap as always!

MoHub said...

I believe Carla was planning on salmon cakes but got too flustered and preoccupied with decor to find the fish.

The beauty of Carla is that when she gets it wrong, she owns up, analyzes the error, and proposes solutions.

Angelo seemed shocked that his soup was too salty, and failure to recognize the problem will more often than not get you sent home.

Ask Jen and Tre.

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