Join me on my blog for Top Chef Tuesdays, as I recap each episode. I'm aware that Top Chef All Stars has already been airing in the US and we Canadians are a couple (*ahem - maybe more than a couple) episodes behind. So please, all you folks who are ahead of the watching, please, no spoilers. I'm recaping in my own personal opinion and it is all in good fun. Please join me in the comments.
I'm sitting in my kitchen, huddled over my little tv for the start of Top Chef All Stars. Where better to watch Padma say "Chef's. Unpack your knives, we're giving you a second chance."
woo hoo. Break out the truffle-oil infused popcorn.
I laugh out loud as we are treated to a reel of arrogant chefs claiming they are the best, the cream of the crop, and ironically they lost but that they came "this" or "that" close to winning it all. So pumped of confidence now but I foresee, we the audience, will see weeping like babies in due time, I'm sure of it.
Cue in the happy reunion music and in comes tough Tiffani who is here to "cook my nuts off". Then, snooty Stephen who has "standards unlike you" tells us he has a restaurant in his namesake, but of course. I'm sure his farts smell like Grey Poupon, not that he does that but if he did he'd refer to it as pooting or something like that since cutting the cheese would be so passe to say for a chef.
Elia strides in with a full head of hair and then Marcel, the guy whom everyone loves to hate except for "the beast" Tre, who admires him. In come Dale and Casey who were "neck to neck" but unfortunately both lost in their season. My favorite line was Richard's: that "everyone, of course, remembers his season because of his losing the season". Yeahhhhhh, that's it. I so appreciate his modesty.
Spike the "kitchen rat who bloomed" is told by Antonia that she's not interested in sharing her bathtub with a dirty Ratatouille. Explosive Dale T. meets Jamie, who's soft, wavy locks juxtapose her tough, tattooed exterior. She tells us that people come from all over the world so that they can be graced by her presence. I, in this moment, thank her for coming onto Top Chef again so I too can be graced by her refreshing effervescence. Is that grey poupon I smell? sniff sniff. No, blue cheese I believe.
One of my faves, Fabio (or Fabi'oh' as I like to call him)mumbles on about being a good Italian dog and that he is not looking forward to c'oh'cky, too loud Marcel and that he will not squ'oh"sh his balls on the top bunk bed this season. I hope he doesn't bunk with "cook my nuts off" Tiffani, that would be interesting to say the least. Carla, who is all about harmony and peace, is followed in by strong, competitive, massive pedigree Jen and "keeping it real" Mike. Doe-eyed "advil" Angelo is here to make it right and "Beaumont to New York" Tiffany rounds up the all star cast.
Quickfire Challenge. For immunity and bragging rights, create a dish that represents your season's city and prove that your season was the best. The scramble begins, as GE Monogram is flashed subtly and ingrained into our psyche, and Spike Ratatouille kitchen rat claims "this day the food will speak on it's own". Bravo. And here I thought it was supposed to do that for every challenge.
Mad-scientist Richard is futzing with liquid nitrogen, Angelo blames Stephen for causing him to drop his fish and Tre has 40 seconds to cook pork. UTENSILS DOWN, HANDS UP.
*Season 1 San Fransico- Tiffany & Stephan - Cioppino Gazpacho with Sourdough. Did you catch it? It almost looks as if Tom spits his food into the napkin. Not a good sign. Apparently, WAY too much raw garlic.
*Season 2 Los Angeles - Marcel & Elia - Shrimp Tacos with Guacomole in an apple wrapper. Tom asks why they used a wrapper. Questions people, not good. Shrimp needs seasoning and the apple is a "hair" too thin to pick up. Impossible!
*Season 5 New York - Jamie, Fabi'oh' & Carla - Curried App'oh'le soup, Pasta with caramelized app'oh'le, and rib eye with app'oh'le. Carla's eyes bug out as Padma mentions "interesting flavors" which means the kiss of death.
*Season 7 Washington DC - Angelo and Tiffany - Crabcake essence with rockfish lemongrass, jalapeno, old bay. Tiny bit too much salt rounds up the bottom 4.
*Season 3 Miami - "Neck in neck" Casey and Dale & Tre - Pork Tenderloin, Avocado lime puree, Tostones (which are spanish for twice-fried sliced plantains) and habanero sauce. Tom believes that the pork represented.
*Season 6 Las Vegas - Mike and Jen -
*Season 4 Chicago (WINNERS) - Dale T, Spike, Antonia, Richard - Pork & Black Pepper Sausage with Mustard Ice cream. Really inventive and Tom loved Richard's "avant garde" mustard ice cream.
Fabi'oh' is annoyed that a h'oh't dog with gelat'oh' mustard wins the competition.
Elimination Challenge. Turn the dish that sent you home into a success.
Cue the serious, competitive music. At the historic Russian Tea Room, where you too can sit in gaudy retro-red booths, Padma and Tom are joined with Gail Simmons and Tony "Rip you a new one" Bourdain. The chefs are split into 2 groups since the kitchen isn't large enough and each group gets to dine & critique with the judges when not cooking.
The camera spans past the Kitchenaid, taking turns with GE Monogram for expensive advertising air time. Chaos in the kitchen. The chefs learn they are able to watch and hear what the judges and their fellow competitors have to say about the dishes.
We are treated to a flashback to the season when Elia shaves her head. She says she's matured as a person and a chef since her head shaving 4 years ago. Elia refuses to watch the critiques... instead she's sitting in the back, wishing he could crawl into a nesting Matryoshka doll. Probably drinking some sous-chef's hidden stash of cheap russian vodka found in the back cupboard of the kitchen and slowly pulling out her luscious curly hair. Oh Elia, you haven't matured, you are going home.
"Rip you a new one" Bourdain thought Dale T. "unf*cked" his dish. He's amazed anyone can make scallops and butterscotch a success. Stephen's dish was swampy & muddled, Jamie didn't like the way it looked and "Rip you a new one" Bourdain didn't think he solved the problem.
Fabi'oh's dish received the most comments. Angelo didn't understand the fried basil or the paper it was served on, whereas, Tom thought you could roll up the paper and smoke it after the dish. "Rip you a new one" Bourdain was so appalled by the dish and hated it so much that he constantly poked the "inside out animal". Fabi'oh' later brings up to "Rip you a new one" Bourdain that he used the word hated at least 11 times. Moment of silence... I think "Rip you a new one" Bourdain actually blushed and was speechless! Can you say uncomfortable???
Elia's fish was raw, watered down with no personality and it seems as though she gave up on the dish. Spike's dish was so good and he did such a great job trying to hide the frozen scallop that "Rip you a new one" Bourdain called him the craftiest motherf*cker that has ever been on the show.
Spike, Jamie, Richard and Angelo are called in. They are the top 4 but Richard couldn't freeze time with his liquid nitrogen and he was disqualified for plating after the buzzer. Spike pulled out his dish smartly, Jamie's dish was great but it was Angelo who won for "killing it with the watermelon tea".
This is where the fun begins. Fabi'oh', Stephen and Elia are the bottom three.
Stephen's food was so bad that "Rip you a new one" Bourdain actually drifted to thoughts of his last colonoscopy. Even grey poupon would not have helped snooty Stephen. I predict food writers and reviewers will use the words murky and muddled as the new "it" descriptions for sh*tacious foods.
Fabi'oh' became defensive, especially after "Rip you a new one" Bourdain asked him what he was thinking serving something brown, wet and horrifying. Apparently, the good italian dog doesn't mind being criticized but doesn't like being made fun of and in a mafioso tone, he tells "Rip you a new one" Bourdain that "if we were in a different situation, there would be a different problem."
Elia lies like a 5 year old, saying that the fish was not raw to her. Tom and her go back and forth, on whether she actually even looked at the fish as it was raw not just on the inside but on the outside too and she finally admits to not testing it. Instead, she threatens "don't eliminate me, I have a lot more to do".
And with that, a crying and humiliated immature Elia is sent packing. I think "Rip you a new one" Bourdain gave her a hair trimmer as a parting gift.