Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reactions to Top Chef All-Stars Episode 8

This week, the challenges were a bit more straightforward than in recent weeks, although kinda interesting in their own way. First off, the recheftestants meet Padma with special guest judge Isaac Mizrahi and pretend it's Fashion Week in NY (actually, that starts next week). The challenge is to create an aesthetically-pleasing dish that will be judged on appearance alone. Fabio comes up with the sorta-poetic "beeootiful women walking in rain trying not to get messed up by water" with fish and mushrooms...Uh-huh. Angelo does something hideous with eggs and bags and tells us his inspiration is Roberto Cavalli's crocodile prints. Um, yeah. In the end, Isaac is most impressed with Blais' black ice cream decorated with herbs.

For the Elimination Challenge, the nine cheftestants draw knives to see which course of a typical three-course Italian meal they will be preparing. Antonia, Carla, and Tiffany get the antipasti course; Tre, Dale, and Mike get the primi piatti, and Fabio, Angelo, and Blais get secondi. They will be working at the famous Rao's restaurant and trying to impress Frank Pellegrino, his son Frank Junior, and chef Dino, among others, with their spin on Rao's home-cooked-style Italian food. The three Italians in this competition - Fabio, Antonia, and Mike - all think they have it in the bag. Fabio surprises all by not making gnocchi, and Mike gets ambitious and makes his own fresh rigatoni (pretty impressive that the Top Chef kitchen is equipped with an extruder and dies for doing such a thing, unless he brought his own).

After two hours of prep, the recheftestants head to Rao's for one more hour of cooking. We see the tasting panel assemble: the Pellegrino boys, actress Lorraine Bracco, and some long-time staff of Rao's. The three antipasti chefs go out first with their minestrone, mussels, and polenta, all of which please the judges. The pasta boys go out next and serve overly al dente rigatoni, mushy and unsauced fresh pasta, and clumpy risotto, all of which displease the judges. Finally, the meat boys go out with pancetta cutlets, pork chops, and chicken cacciatore, and get mixed results.

On top are Antonia, Carla, Fabio, and Tiffany. Despite of - or because of - her simple mussel dish, Antonia was given the win. On the bottom were Mike, Dale, and Tre, all of whom could have definitely been out of the competition for their missteps with the primi course. Mike squeaked by with his good sauce and because Tre's over-garnished, too-lumpy risotto was the worst of the three.

Always sad to see Tre go.

So what did you think about this episode? Please leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

It was written on Mike's face that he would just die if he got offed on this challenge. But his dish and Dale's seemed equally as bad as Tre's, at least according to what was edited at the judges' table. At least Tre won some prize money and kept his dignity. The question is how low will the other cheftestants go in the remaining episodes...

Laura K said...

Richard Blais was a genius to figure that since Isaac always wears black, he would go for something black on the plate!

MoHub said...

So, conspiracy theorists, isn't it interesting that each team got an Italian or Italian American? Luck of the knife draw, or other forces at play?

And Carla was robbed on the Quickfire.

Tom said...

Not sure what made Tre go garnish happy. I think he could have sold his "stiffer" risotto, but there was no trying to crawl out from under all those garni