Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Episode 5

The Quickfire Challenge was all about speed, and to demonstrate what speed in the kitchen is all about was none other than Tom Colicchio. Dressed in his chef uniform, Tom rapidly banged out a dish with black sea bass, clams, tomato, and zucchini, moving with a focus and efficiency that impressed the cheftestants. The completed dish, which the chefs all deemed to be quite good, was put together in a scant eight minutes and 37 seconds. The chefs were then challenged to put together a tasty dish in the same amount of time. The winner not only got immunity in the next round, but a brand new Toyota Prius.

When Padma announced the beginning of the challenge, everyone ran for the refrigerators like soccer moms swarming Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Only Marcel stayed back and calmly snatched a leftover black sea bass from Tom's table. In the fastest Quickfire ever, the panting chefs threw together their dishes and were ready for judgment.

The least favorite dishes were Dale's skimpy pad thai, Jamie's one-clam-on-a-plate concoction, and Angelo's crudo because Tom had already warned them that anything not cooked would not be judged favorably. In the positive column were Mike, Richard, and Marcel. Ultimately, Mike took the top prize and the dark gray Prius parked outside.

Speed played an important role in the Elimination Challenge as well when the chefs were asked to take over the Grand Harmony restaurant in Chinatown for their dim sum lunch rush. Back at the chef house, they plotted their dishes and their strategy. Since Mike had immunity, he was designated as the expediter. Carla and Casey each took a bullet by volunteering to wheel the carts through the dining room, leaving others to complete their dishes for them. Tiffany D. would load the carts and run them upstairs in the dumb waiter.

The next day, the chefs spend 45 minutes in Hong Kong Supermarket trying to read Chinese on the food labels and attempting to talk with staff who can't speak English. Then it was off to the Grand Harmony restaurant for three and one half hours of prep. Jamie struggled to complete her two dishes and Antonia didn't appear to be much help. Casey spent most of her time trimming the nails off chicken feet, and Fabio fretted over his baby back ribs.

Padma, Tom, and Gail were joined by guest judge Susur Lee, who had recently made a big splash on Top Chef Masters. With the judges in place and the lunch crowd arriving, service began. Unfortunately, since most of the chefs were used to working in fine dining establishments where they can afford to be fussy about plating, no one was prepared for the mad rush of dim sum dining. The food came out painfully slowly, and many diners decided to leave. On top of that, the Chinese diners were not impressed with the "caucasian dim sum" offerings. The judges were also mixed on the offerings, which would soon be sorted out at judges' table.

The chefs creating the losing dishes were brought out first. They were Casey, Antonia, Carla, Jamie, and Tre. Casey's chicken feet were not cooked properly and the pancake they were placed on was too heavy. Much of this could have been the result of the fact that she had to rely on Antonia to cook the dish, but she had to take responsibility for it. Jamie's scallop dumpling had a thick wrapper and not enough scallop, and her long beans were not seasoned very well. Antonia's shrimp toast was deemed okay, but she was on the chopping block because of her involvement with Jamie's long beans. Carla's spring roll was bland and the custard on Tre's orange ginger dessert was too runny. Before they would drop the hammer, the judges sent the losers back to call out the winners.

Tiffany D., Dale, Angelo, and Fabio were brought out as the best of the challenge. Despite tanking in the Quickfire, Dale was judged to be the winner of the Elimination Challenge for his sweet sticky rice with Chinese bacon wrapped in a banana leaf. Then the losers were brought out again and Casey was asked to pack her knives and go. Casey could have complained about not being able to execute her dish on her own, but she took the loss well. Even Jamie admitted that she was more heavily grilled by the judges for her mistakes than Casey.

It looks like a pecking order is beginning to emerge. Will Jamie be the next to go, or will Antonia stumble again? Which chefs are making a statement as the ones to beat? Share your thoughts below.

1 comment:

Cliff O'Neill said...

Did anyone else guffaw seeing Carla nearly trip having a false start at the Quickfire?