Thursday, February 24, 2011

Top Chef All Stars Ep. 11 - Deep-Fried Redemption, Dipped In Butter


Last time on Top Chef All Stars, the Cheftestants showed us how to get, how to get to Sesame Streeeeeeeeeet … and then to Tarjay. Angelo was sent packing and Dale ended up winning the Quickfire, the Elimination, and a buttload of cash.

Only 6 chefs remain – and the morning after they discuss Angelo’s departure while sitting at the kitchen table. Blais mentions that he has brought notebooks with drawings, descriptions and plans for various dishes. Note to Richard: this is a reality television competition, not worldwide espionage. It’s not that serious.

After breakfast, the Cheftestants head over to the Top Chef kitchen and are greeted by Padma and that lovable lump of Southern butter known as Paula Deen.


Paula explains her life’s philosophy: “If You Can Eat It, You Can Fry It”. Now there’s a religion I could follow. I’ll meet ya’ll at KFC on Sunday for deep-fried worship with a side of biscuits. Grease is the word. Amen.

Anywhore, this week’s quickfire will be to deep fry something delicious – Southern-style. Paula mentions that she has deep fried everything from lasagna to mac & cheese to butter (natch) – she does NOT want to see some fancy-schmancy “Calamari on top of a salad”. Translation: don’t even try to be vaguely healthy – Paula only wants food that clogs your arteries and can kill you. Again – sign me up for the Church of Our Lady of Saturated Fats.

Some of the Cheftestants are excited about this Southern-fried Quickfire – particularly Carla, whose specialty is Southern comfort food, and Tiffany – who may have mentioned once or twice that she’s from a town in Texas that rhymes with “Slow Jaunt”.

Dale, on the other hand, laments that Paula Deen’s style is so different from his – reminding us that he works in a “Chinese Restaurant, fer chrissakes”. A Chinese Restaurant that’s too fancy to deep–fry an eggroll?? Maybe they bake their eggrolls and serve them on top of a salad (SACRILEDGE!). [Dear food snobs: YES, I know he works at the very fancy Buddakan].

Blais uses liquid nitrogen to fry mayonnaise or something – and I’m just going to say it: Would Richard Blais be able to compete if they took that damn liquid nitrogen tank away?? In the famous words of Fabio – “Thees eesa Top Chef, notta Top Leeqwud Nitrogen”.

While Richard Blais plays with his frigid gasses, Bighead Mike is being sneaky. Bighead read in one of Blais’ TOP SECRET HOMELAND CULINARY SECURITY journals about cooking a chicken “oyster” (part of the thigh) and serving it on an oyster shell. And, because Bighead Mike is Bighead Mike – he steals the idea and uses it for himself. That's Bighead Cooking 101.

Time for tasting. Padma and Paula – looking like a “before” and “after” PSA about the detrimental effects of butter – taste each dish. Tiffany maybe mentions she’s from Beaumont (we get it girl), Carla’s hush puppies taste like “spit balls” (wadded up pieces of elementary school worksheets???) and Antonia forgets to plate two dishes (only plating one). When Paula visits Richard, she mentions that her hair looks exactly like Blais’ in the morning. EVERYONE is stealing from Richard Blais!!

Results:

No likee – Dale, Carla.

Likee – Antonia, Blais, Bighead Mike.

Paula states that Antonia would have been the winner, but since she didn’t follow the rules and plate two dishes, sneaky Bighead Mike gets the win. This makes Blais look even more like Droopy Dog with Chronic Depression.



Padma announces that Paula will be one of the guest judges for the Elimination Challenge – along with New Orleans chef John Besh, who enters the Top Chef kitchen.

The Cheftestants will be catering a fundraiser for the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which helps families around the New Orleans area who were affected by the Gulf oil spill. And since it’s such a big challenge, the Chefestants will be getting “help”.



The “help” arrives in the form of Angelo, Fabio, Tiffani, Marcel, Spike and Tre. Each of these eliminated Cheftestants is carrying a Gulf seafood item. The 6 remaining Cheftestants get to choose their helper/protein. Here’s how it shakes down:

Mike and Tiffani - Brown Shrimp

Richard and Fabio - Red Snapper

Carla and Tre – Grouper

Tiffany D – picks the White Shrimp, which unfortunately comes with Marcel

Antonia – “I’ll take Spike and his Crabs”. That’s one brave woman.

Dale and Angelo - Amber Jack, which apparently is a fish and not a mixed drink.

The teams meet and discuss strategy. Bighead Mike learns that Tiffani spent some time cooking in New Orleans, so he lucked out (yet again). On the other hand, Carla figured Tre would know Southern food, however he does not. Carla threatens to take away his NAACP card, but Tre explains that he’s just a Dallas pretty boy “city boy” who doesn’t know country cuisine. I bet Tre could hook up some fried calamari and serve it on top of a salad, though.

The chef’s go to Restaurant Depot and then to Whole Foods to buy ingredients. During shopping, we find out that Fabio and Blais have kind of a thing for each other – with Fabio saying that “Reechie” reminds him of his ex wife. So their relationship based on angry revenge sex?? We also learn that Carla – after being dissed by Paula in the Quickfire – is attempting to prepare a big plate of redemption with a side of atonement. I bet Blais doesn’t have THAT one in his book.

Day One ends and Day Two begins in the Top Chef kitchen. The teams seem to be getting along fine, except for Tiffany and Marcel (of course). Marcel is obsessed with shrimp heads (I guess because he has one), but Tiffany just wants to finish. Which is probably the reaction of every female who has ever “teamed up” with Marcel. "Just let this be FINISHED quickly ... I pray to you, dear Paula Deen Lord"

After the mayhem in the kitchen, the teams move to the Puck Building where the event is being held. The guests and judges arrive and lines form at each station. Some teams deal well with the pressure of serving 300 guests – and some do not.

The judges discuss and it becomes very clear who the top and bottom will be.

Bottom:

Tiffany/Marcel: Marcel makes the 2nd batch of honey glaze and Tiffany doesn’t taste it. He also overcooks the shrimp. Basically, Marcel is to this challenge what Paula Deen is to healthy eating - TOXIC.

Dale/Angelo: They are “in the weeds” (as they say in the restaurant biz) and end up serving the judges fish stew with undercooked potatoes.

Carla/Tre: Poor Carla has to spend her entire time “Hootie-Hooing” everybody in line, and not enough time cooking. And fancy, pretty, city boy Tre isn’t much of a help with her “down-home” plate of non-redemption. Tre should have pulled out the big guns (literally) and just taken his shirt off. AUTOMATIC WIN!!



Top:

Bighead Mike/Tiffani. Ugh.

Blais/Fabio: Despite a lovers quarrel, Blais’ Combo Platter #3 (Fish, Pork and Grits) is a hit with the guests and the judges.

Antonia/Spike: Antonia knows how to deal with Spike’s crabs - just boil the hell of them and hope for the best, I guess.

The remaining Cheftestants say goodbye to their loser helpers and then go to the Not-Ever-Going-To-Be-Glad-Again Storage Room. As expected, Padma calls Antonia, Blais and Bighead to appear in front of the judges. They are the top three. Richard “Keeper of the Books” Blais is declared the winner. His prize is a trip to Barbados, and Blais says he will invite Fabio to come along “with his family”. Right…

That leaves Dale, Tiffany and Carla in the bottom.

Tiffany’s shrimp was overcooked by Marcel, and the glaze (which was prepared by Marcel) was too sweet. On a positive note, we learned that Paula Deen loves sucking on heads. Too easy.

Judge John Besh said that Dale’s Amber Jack stew was “flavor warfare” – and you couldn’t taste the fish. Also – raw potatoes. Dale works in a Chinese Restaurant, fer Chrissakes!



Carla’s fried fish and collard greens was covered in too much sauce and “didn’t make sense” to Paula Deen. “Doesn’t make sense” means “needs more butter” in the Church of Paula Deen. FYI.

So there I was – sitting in my living room with my notebook on the tray table in front of me, sipping on a Diet Dr. Pepper – thinking that Tiffany is going home. After all, Tiffany hasn’t won any elimination challenges yet – whereas Carla and Dale both have. Also, as far as entertainment goes – Carla and Dale are reality TV gold. Carla because she’s so sweetly wacky, and Dale because he says what’s on his mind. Tiffany, on the other hand, is mostly known for her “I’m from Beaumont, Texas” schtick.

So there I sat, waiting for Padma to tell Tiffany to pack her knives and go back to that place that rhymes with “No Font, Lexus”. And then Padma says…

“Dale, please pack your knives and go”.

WTFOMGWTFOMGWTFOMG!!!!! Really??? Dale?????

Poor Dale. After the announcment, tears welled up in his eyes because he got so close to winning AND improved so much as a person and a Chef this season. Not many of the others can say that.

I’ll miss you, Little Daddy.


What did YOU think of last night's episode? Were you surprised at the outcome?? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments.


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8 comments:

Tivo Mom said...

I am devastated. I loved Dale this season and was pulling for him to win. I don't like Richie (I just don't) and I know that he is going to win. I was shocked by the whole thing. And what the hell is going on with Carla? Also, I know you can't stand Mike but if Richie has a problem with him using his ideas than don't show him the super secret book dumbass. Here's hoping Antonio can surprise us all. Missing you my friend.

Bob said...

I.HATE.MIKE.

xoxoxo

froggy said...

Also in Dale Mourning here. We like it when someone shows growth.
Unlike Mike.I who has entered trollhood. And why didn't Rich know that?
Spot on, as always, my dear!!!
xoxoxo

theminx said...

I'm also pissed that Dale had to go. Why the hell couldn't they just get rid of Miss No Want Texas?

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Kailyn said...

I was just so sure Tiffany was going home this week. I'll miss Dale. Now I'm hoping for Antonia and Carla as the final two. Can we have a double elimination next week and get rid of both Tiffany and Mike?

Doug said...

Not a Dale OR Mike fan here. However, I was thinking Tiffani would go.
I'm still mourning Angelo being gone.

I am pulling for Carla, though Antonia or Blais (in that order) would be okay with me.

Miss Ginger Grant said...

I was sad to see Dale go- I think he is a very talented chef, and his "personal growth" exit edit seemed really genuine. Douchey Mike, on the other, should have been gone a long time ago. While I have always liked Tiffany, I will admit she seems a bit outclassed by her competition. And Carla is suffering some of the same inconsistencies she showed in her season when she lost touch with her "spirit guides".
I'm predicting the top 3 will be Antonia, Douchey Mike, and Blaise. Let's just hope there are no freaky issues that throw Blaise and Antonia off their game so one of them can beat the douchebag!

Tom A. said...

Meh. I miss the muppets.

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