Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Episode 4

Feeling stunned by the double elimination of Chefs Stephen and Dale L., the cheftestants retreat to a bar for the usual second guessing and vows to do better next time. But soon a new day dawns and the chefs are back in the Top Chef Kitchen where they meet Padma and guest judge, Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia restaurant in Chicago. Their Quickfire Challenge is to create what they consider to be the world's best stuffing in 45 minutes, but the catch is they can't use any knives or kitchen utensils. The winner not only gets immunity but $20,000.

For the next 45 minutes, the chefs scramble around the kitchen bashing and scraping with anything they find available. Fabio grates his parmesan cheese on the webbed surface of a metal shelf. Tiffani F. rips apart a quail with a pepper grinder.

When time is called, Padma and Chef Mantuano make the rounds and pass judgment. The least favored are Carla, for her undonete quinoa, Tiffani F. for her too sweet soy maple stuffing with quartered grapes, and Casey for her mushroom, chicken liver, and miso cake. The top two were Tre's Southwestern inspired bread pudding with apple-smoked bacon,cheddar, bell pepper, and chilli powder, and Marcel's whole squab, stuffing with raisin brioche, cherries, currants, and Ras El Hanout gravy. While one bread pudding got Tre eliminated the first time on Top Chef, this new bread pudding gave him the win.

The Elimination Challenge is set at the U.S. Open where the chefs are asked to make healthy dishes befitting a professional tennis player. The chefs are broken out into two teams. In the spirit of a tennis match, a chef from each team will go head-to-head, each offering a dish from which the winning dish will be chosen. The first team to receive four wins will be declared the winning team of the challenge. The teams broke out like this:

Team Orange - Mike, Fabio, Marcel, Carla, Dale, Richard, and Antonia
Team Yellow - Angelo, Spike, Tiffani F., Jamie, Casey, Tre, and Tiffany D.

That night, the groups go into private areas to menu plan and strategize. While the Orange team decides to just make the best dishes they can and figure out who goes first when they get to the event, Team Yellow believes the best strategy is to send out the worst dishes first and finish strong.

The next morning is shopping at Whole Foods and prep work. Carla cuts her finger, but gets bandaged up and goes back to cooking. Angelo is not happy with the condition of his fish and goes begging other chefs for some of theirs. Spike overcooks his shrimp and doesn't have time to cook new ones.

Next they move to the tennis court where they set up for the game. Joining Padma, Tom, Gail, and Chef Mantuano is guest Taylor Dent, a professional tennis player. For the first round, Team Yellow wants to send out Jamie because she clearly has the weakest dish, but because her beans are not fully cooked, she refuses and Casey volunteers to go first. So its Fabio versus Casey and Fabio's gnocchi wins, putting Team Orange ahead 15-0. Next is Dale versus Tiffani F. Tiffani's sashimi wins, so it's 15 all. Angelo and Marcel go head-to-head, and Angelo wins, so Team Yellow is ahead. Antonia and Tiffany D. are next, and Antonia's scallop ties the game. Richard beats Spike, whose tomato tamarind soup was modified by Angelo, and the Orange team moves ahead. When Carla goes up against Tre, her African ground nut soup beats out Tre's salmon and Team Orange wins!

The four winners of Team Orange go to the Judges' Table first for compliments, and then Chef Mantuano declares Carla's African ground nut soup with sweet potatoes, adzuki beans, and peanuts the winner. Next, the losers from Team Yellow are brought out. Casey's pork tenderloin was considered too heavy for a healthy dish, Tiffany D. salad was overdressed and her tuna was underseasoned, Tre's salmon was deemed overcooked (Angelo cooked the salmon), and Spike's soup was a mess of ingredients. While Spike called out his teammates for messing around with his original concept, Tre kept quiet about Angelo cooking his salmon, probably because he had immunity. Finally, it was Spike who was asked to leave.

So what did you think about last night's episode? Was it Spike's time to go? Should Jamie have gone first in the challenge? Leave your comments below.

1 comment:

Dwayne said...

We've seen this before. Spike's Team Yellow had a strategy to not lose, as opposed to winning. They want to purposely give up the first point? Where do you see that? In baseball playoffs, does a team put up their worst pitcher against another team's ace? What kind of mindset is that? They have SEVEN dishes and you need 4 points to win... and you want to put up your worst dish first?

In any case, they didn't put Jamie up first, and still lost the first point and the entire game. Their worst dish didn't get off the bench, and they were plain beaten by a better team.

This strategy, however, may work for the individual competition where you want the worst dish to go up, so you can make sure that if you lose (again, negative mindset) that you won't be the one to go home. Jamie never made it off the bench, so she never had to stand before the judges. We'll never know if her dish would have been deemed inferior to Spike's.

Play to win people.