Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Episode 2

The episode begins with the tearful exit of Elia. For all the chefs, the true reality of their circumstance is setting in. They are once again in the ring of fire, facing stress, exhaustion, humiliation, and possible elimination for the second time.

The next day, the cheftestants enter the Top Chef kitchen to find Padma standing with Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. Since none of the chefs are 12 years old, his presence is not all that exciting. Apparently, Joe Jonas is participating in a Night at the Museum sleep over at the American Museum of Natural History. 150 elementary school children will be sleeping over in the museum, and the chefs are asked to make these rug rats a midnight snack. The Quickfire Challenge is to create the winning snack in 45 minutes, making sure that the snack can be eaten from a brown paper bag.

After the usual scrambling around and fretting over their dishes, Joe and Padma make the rounds to sample all the sugary snacks. The least favorite snacks were made by Tiffany D., which was deemed messy; Mike, whose snack was not chocolatey enough; and Steven, whose complex mixture of ingredients did not go well with his cookie. For the winner, there is a tie between Spike and Tiffani F. Conveniently, the tie will be broken by the children who will get to sample both snacks and declare the winner. To make 150 samples of each hyperactivity delivery system, the rest of the chefs are divided into teams chosen by Spike and Tiffani F. Spike's group is Team Red and Tiffani F.'s is Team Blue.

The snacks are hastily assembled and transported to the museum where the kids get jacked up on the sugar and vote on the winner by a show of manic screaming. Team Blue wins by a wide margin, giving Tiffani F. immunity.

Just when everyone wants to go home and have a beer, Tom arrives and announces that the Elimination Challenge starts right now. The two teams will have to prepare breakfast for the children and their parents. In keeping with the museum's theme, the teams will be broken out into a Tyrannosaurus Rex group and a Brontosaurus group. That is, one group can only serve carnivore food (meat, eggs, and dairy) while the other group must serve vegetarian fare (fruits and grains). Since Tiffani F. won the Quickfire, she gets to choose first and picks the carnivore menu. Tom explains that the chefs will use the museum's kitchen where their ingredients will be provided.

The two teams huddle to plan their menus, leaving only a short time for them to sleep before they must rise at 3:45 to start breakfast prep. Some of the chefs (all guys) decide to forgo sleep and wander around the museum with flashlights. Whether they slept or toured the museum, all the chefs are tired and cranky by the time they hit the kitchen.

When they look at their carts of ingredients, Tiffani F. realizes that she made a tactical error. Apparently, she did not understand the difference between a carnivore and an omnivore because she thought that she would be able to use fruits and grains in addition to meat. Nope, just meat, eggs, and dairy are on her carts. So her group seems to struggle while Team Brontosaurus floats along with a wide variety of dishes.

Team T-Rex is dealt another blow when Jamie cuts her finger and, rather than toughing it out, decides to leave for an emergency stitch-up. This leaves Jen alone to complete their dish.

After cooking, the teams are given one hour to set up an outdoor buffet. Marcel gets pissed that Angelo is trying to alter their Banana Parfait dish without his approval. Marcel is suspicious of Angelo's motives. Soon the one hour is up, and everyone digs in for tasting and judgment. Most people gravitate toward Team T-Rex since they have eggs and bacon, but the soft pork belly is not what kids want for breakfast, and the other proteins like salmon seem a little strange as well.

Meanwhile, despite the lack of crowd pleasing meat and eggs, Team Brontosaurus is winning over tasters with their greater mix of dishes. Fabio, in particular, is charming the crowd with his glad-handing pitch for his freshly made gnocchi. After much eating and talking, the judges retire to their Judges' Table to figure out the winners and losers.

Team Brontosaurus is given the win and the Banana Parfait, made by Richard, Angelo, and Marcel is deemed the winning dish of the day. Team T-Rex, a.k.a. The Losers, is then sent in for their tongue lashing. Among the criticisms, the frittatas were uneven (some were over cooked, some undercooked), the steak and eggs were good but pretty simple, and the sauce for the salmon dish was over-reduced and salty. Jen and Jamie's dish was singled out as the worst and, since Jamie wimped out and did nothing to prepare it, the poor results were laid squarely at Jen's feet. This enrages Jen and she disagrees vehemently with the judges. Although Tom admires her feistiness, it still doesn't justify the poor quality of the dish and she is sent packing. Jen's angry retorts echo down the hall as she leaves.

So, what did you think? Was it Jen's time to go, or was someone else more deserving? Who do you think will go next?


Anonymous said...

She got to big for her britches and thought she was safe just because she is employed by Eric Ripert. My Opinion is that she dug her own grave

Se'La Vi, Jen

Anonymous said...

I'm going to assume you mean, "c'est la vie." :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jen came on really strong. Hubris sank her? Couldn't tell if Jamie tasted their dish - she seemed so removed - as she said - 'it's not my dish'. Had she been more involved at the end, maybe she would have caught the flavor problems - Casie sure did, saying it tasted like 'wet bacon'. To me, it seemed like the dish was poorly conceived - pork belly with bits of hard boiled egg on top? Yech. I was glad to hear Tom say he didn't mind if the chefs talked back to him.In the end, it's the taste, which doesn't change because of a tough chef stance.

Anonymous said...

Jen should not have been sent home regardless of what she said. How about the liquid biscuit chicks, or the girl who didn't help because of her cut finger? This elimination had Gail written all over it!

Anonymous said...

They're not going to eliminate someone who is injured during the challenge. The 'liquid' biscuits were not all bad - Tom said his were baked through. One of the judges, I believe, said they liked the bacon one best. No one liked Jen's dish. It had no flavor. That's why she was sent home.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what is going on with the female chefs so far in this season. They seem to have the poorest attitudes, and the biggest chips on their shoulders i.e., Jen, Elia. And I have to say Jamie's attitude sucks too. She's so not a team player proof in where she said it wasn't her dish (snack challenge) and she really didn't care about it, and relunctantly participated in it because she had too. She even admitted she didn't care about helping to make Tiffany's dish, didn't care to help her get a win as she put it. Jamie is another one that has a chip on her shoulder, and I won't be surprised if she's sent home soon.

Anonymous said...

Jen's dish was topped with chopped up boiled egg? That's why the eggs had no flavor. Egg whites are bland. She deserved to go.

MoHub said...

In the extended judging video, the entire panel agrees that not only was Jen's dish bad, it was the worst of all the dishes on both teams combined.

Her passionate defense of her dish and her team is actually praised. Jen went home for inferior food. Period.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised no one is commenting on Tre's horrible sauce. That was the only thing he was responsible for and it completely ruined the dish. He should have went home.

Anonymous said...

This is a television show, not a real restaurant. The contestants are placed in an unnatural environment using surprise ingredients, side by side with competitors who are willing to sideswipe you, and the judges have tasted virtually every dish on the planet. Oh, yeah, and there is virtually NO time available to plan and execute to the level these chefs are used to. It is no wonder the men make it to the end. It takes the stamina of a Harold, the speed of a Hung, and the mojo of a Voltaggio to win. Good luck, ladies.

MoHub said...

One of the vignettes that really made me giggle was Marcel's assertion that if there had been an individual winner, it would have been him because he had more components on the plate.

I would refer him to Jeff on season 5, who always picked quantity over quality and felt the more ingredients, the better the dish. His inability to edit himself is part of what got him PYKAG'd after his head-to-head with Josie. ("But I used, like, 19 ingredients!")

Tina said...

I agree with Anon. that Jen dug her own grave. Even if the judges thought her dish was the worst, I still think they would have gladly eliminated Tre for over-reducing his sauce and doing nothing to fix it, especially since Jen had to work alone. Unfortunately, her insistence that everything was done to perfection, precisely the way she planned, did her no favors. How could they not eliminate her for this? She didn't score any points either for insisting that her team was better than the other one. Let's see: Tiffany and Antonia served some improperly cooked frittas, Tre served a salty sauce, and Jen served "wet bacon," but they deserved the win? Huh? Normally, I'd be gutted that Jen would have been eliminated so soon but her behavior was ... difficult to watch. Not one of her brighter moments for sure.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter that said, "it's no wonder the men make it to the end" because of their stamina, speed, and mojo - uhm, there are as many women cheftestants who fit that description as men, and certainly, as many of the male contestants who have gone down because of a lack of those qualities. Let's check our sexism at the kitchen door, ok?

Cliff O'Neill said...

Totally agree with Anonymous! But, Anonymous, what were you thinking? You couldn't be more mistaken!

Kudos to Anonymous for being the voice of reason in all this. Let that be a lesson to you.