Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Episode 3

This week, the sixteen remaining Season 8 cheftestants met up at the Top Chef kitchen to find Padma with David Chang, renowned chef/owner of the Momofuku empire. He is there to judge the Quickfire, which is a race. Not a relay race as in past seasons, because this time everyone works at the same time in order to chop a butt-load of garlic, cut lamb into chops, and turn artichokes. The first team to complete all three tasks then has fifteen minutes to cook a dish with those ingredients while the other teams continue to struggle with their mise en place. Consequently, each team that finishes after the first team will have less time to complete their dish.

Padma decided the teams would be formed by the way the chefs stood next to each other when they filed into the room. It panned out like this:

Green Team: Angelo, Fabio, Tiffany, Mike
White Team: Dale T, Carla, Marcel, Tiffani
Red Team: Antonio, Casey, Dale L., Jamie
Blue Team: Stephen, Spike, Blais, Tre

After many minutes of simultaneous frenzy, the Green Team finishes first and starts the fifteen minute timer. Blue finishes next, then red, then white who ends up with only about 8 minutes of cooking time. Padma and David come in to taste; despite their first place finish, the Green Team produces one of the two worst dishes, as does Red Team. Blue and White are favorites, with Blue getting the win for their dish. They do not get immunity from elimination in the next challenge, but they do get a cool $5000 each.

For the Elimination Challenge, the teams draw knives to pick one of four hot New York restaurants in which they will first dine and then cook. Team Green gets David Chang's newest restaurant Ma Peche, Team Red draws David Burke's Townhouse, Team Blue gets Marea, and Team White has WD-50. They will not work as a team, but will compete against each other.

That evening, each team has dinner at their restaurant to get a feel of the kind of food it serves. Part of the challenge is to create a dish that the restaurant would be proud to put on their menu. The next day, they have two hours to cook. Needless to say, Fabio and Carla are a bit outside of their comfort zone cooking in Ma Peche and WD-50, respectively, while Stephen and Angelo seem to have advantages with Marea and Ma Peche.

The judges go around the city in a cab, dining first at Marea, then Ma Peche, Townhouse, and WD-50. Along for the ride with Padma, Tom, and Bourdain is Food & Wine's Kate Krader, and the chef/owner of each restaurant acts as an additional judge. There seem to be few really horrible dishes in the lot, but Fabio, Dale L, Stephen, and Tiffani manage to end up as the worst from each team. On top are Dale T, Angelo, Tre, and Antonia. While each of the four restaurants would be proud to feature these cheftestants' dishes on their menu, Dale Talde takes the top honors with his egg and pork belly dish for WD-50; he also gets a 6-day trip to New Zealand. Pretty cool.

Since this episode was billed as having a shocking elimination, I feared that Fabio would be one to go, but that was not the case. Instead, Dale L and Stephen both were sent packing for their dishes.

So were you shocked? What did you think about this episode? Please tell us in the comments.


Anonymous said...

why the positive feelings for Stephen? You understand that if he doesn't go home someone else who actually cooks for a living and is likely more exciting and far less pretentious has to go home, right? I have yet to see anyone express "sadness" that he's gone other than you. You lost me on this one.

theminx said...

Because this is a nice blog. We don't trash the chefs or make judgement calls about what they do for a living. There are plenty of places on the Web who like to kick people when they're down - and this is not one of them.

MoHub said...

I pretty much had Stephen pegged to go, but I was surprised and a little sad about Dale L. I really though it was Fabio's time to go.

But what I really loved was the way Carla managed to stay true to herself with only a minimal nod to Wylie's techniques. I think the judges appreciated that she didn't go out of her depth by trying to do an unfamiliar technique.

I'm looking at you, Tiffani!

Dwayne said...

I was saddened to see Stephen go. He's from the first season, when I first got hooked on Top Chef. He was an ass at times that season, but he's matured, mellowed and I enjoy his appearances now. There are plenty of other cheftestants that I have a lot less emotional connection with.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I have to agree with Anonymous. When they asked Stephen back, they wanted the personality and not the talent. I do believe he has talent though, he just wasn't up to par with any of the other contestants. He was out of place and out of his league.

Hen of the Woods said...

Dale Levitski dropped this little bomb in his interview with The Stew: "I know it was gut-wrenching for them to send Jen (Carroll) home last week, but, if you're in the industry underbelly, then you know that Eric and Tom do not have the best relationship known to man. I guess I really don't want to go there."

Perhaps there was a personal bias on Tom's part that led to Jen's premature expulsion, and her subsequent indignant protest?

MoHub said...

Hen of the Woods—

I really don't think Tom's relationship with Eric Ripert had anything to do with Jen's ouster. If you check the extended judging video, you'll see that the whole panel was unanimous in declaring Jen's dish not only the worst on her team, but the worst dish overall.

And I believe Jen's inability to recognize the problems with her dish—unlike Tre, Tiffany, and Antonia—added to the reasons for her dismissal. Tre knew his sauce was overreduced, and Tiffany and Antonia knew the oven problems resulted in inconsistencies in the doneness of their frittatas. In fact, although Katie Lee got a near-raw frittata, Tom said his were perfectly done and fine.

It is one thing to defend your dish, but it's another to deny the obvious problems.