Who Packed Their Knives and Left TOP CHEF: ALL STARS? - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Who Packed Their Knives and Left TOP CHEF: ALL STARS?

December 23, 2010 by  

‘Tis the season to stuff our faces. And what better way to celebrate the upcoming festivities with a TOP CHEF challenge involving a holiday staple: stuffing! As Tiffani says “stuffing is house-specific.” I’ve had to pleasure of sampling holiday dishes from households of many friends. I have had stuffing with rice, stuffing with sausage, stuffing with sage, stuffing with berries, and instant stuffing out of the box (don’t care, it’s good stuff.) When it comes to stuffing possibilities, the sky is the limit… until, what falls from the sky but none other than a ridiculous twist that would never happen to these chefs in real life, but will test their essential chef-ly qualities of resourcefulness and creativity: They must cook with no utensils!

Fabio grates cheese on the top rack of a shelf. According to Fabio, Fabio is a genius. Carla bangs on an onion like a cavewoman. Casey feels like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Except she’s missing her “Wilson” (Dale Levitski *sadface*). Tre hyper-freezes his ingredients with liquid nitrogen so he can break it up more easily. Marcel finds this challenge ridiculous, which is how he sees much of the world.

Casey’s dish looks more like a deconstructed stuffing dish, than stuffing. Which may be good or bad. Jamie makes a crepinette (whatever that is) and since it is a take on a matzo ball soup, she has a broth, which she pours sloppily into her dish. Jamie, how are you still here?

Carla’s tries to pass her black quinoa as al dente, and then, when questioned by guest judge Tony Mantuano, admits that it is more “undone-te.” To her credit, at least she knows when she’s made a crappy dish. Dale’s oyster and crab stuffing looks interesting in a good way.

Spike serves his stuffing in a quail. Marcel makes a whole squab. That doesn’t seem fair. I can’t imagine turning down a well-made bird, and although the traditional view of stuffing is that it comes in a bird, the challenge was about the stuffing/dressing, and I find the bird to be a convenient distraction.

Tre wins a hefty cash prize and immunity with his bacon, jalapeno stuffing – not stuffed in a bird. Since when did Tre have this maniacal laugh? It has occurred at least thrice this week. I am taking a tally next episode.

The elimination challenge is to cook for the U.S. Open – healthy, high energy food. I’m excited. Tennis to me is a strategic one-on-one battle that is equally as intellectual as it is physical, with lots and lots of grunting. I am expecting no less from the chefs in this challenge.

Teams are split into orange and yellow, and players will go head to head. Carla is worried about Fabio over thinking things, which I think is a fair worry. Spike is worried about having no allies on his team. Here’s a tip buddy: your best ally is the best dish you can put out.

Mike’s team decides to use the work-as-a-team, make-good-food strategy. Spike’s team’s strategy is to send out the weakest dish first thinking the other team will send their best first. Jamie already thinks she’s going to avoid fighting. Much like she avoided being a team player in the first Quickfire. Much like she avoided doing any work after making a tiny cut in her finger. Jamie, how are you still here?

Fabio is making gnocchi…again! I’m starting to believe that pasta is all he makes. I know, he’s Italian, but there is more to Italian food than gnocchi and gnocchi and pasta and pasta, no?

Angelo finds that his mackerel is not so holy, but very mucous-y. He asks Tre to hook him up with some salmon, but the man with immunity refuses. Seems jerky of him, since even people whose asses are on the line will sometimes still lend a hand. Like Tiffany, who lends some tuna to Angelo. On the other hand, I don’t know if Angelo is someone I would help. I can’t trust that guy as far as I can throw him.

Chef Colicchio is in the kitchen, and he catches wind of some strategy going on. Spike explains to him that he expects the team to “come out blazin’/Blais-in.’” He thinks that his number one idol Richard Blais is the best chef on their team, and that they will send him out first, so they will send out the worst dish so the opposing team wastes their best dish. Sounds like a clever plan to me. Unless, of course, it backfires, which is common in most gameplay of this sort.

Carla slices her finger. I would not recommend watching the blood freely drip from her finger in HD. Not pretty. But Carla is a trooper and keeps on keepin’ on. I wait for the Jamie-injury comparisons…and don’t wait for long. Antonia reminds us all that Jamie went to the hospital, while Carla just took it like a champ. I am reminded of the great philosophy of Jillian Michaels, of “Biggest Loser” fame: “Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going!” Take note, kids.

They arrive at the site of the U.S. Open. Jamie is, of course, a mess. Her chickpeas aren’t cooked. She doesn’t know when they will be cooked. According to Spike, “an uncomplete dish means the worst dish.” But luckily for him, improper grammar doesn’t matter. Unluckily for him, Jamie refuses to serve first, citing her need for more time for her dish to cook. For someone who already stated early on that she would avoid going up to bat at all costs, I’m not entirely convinced her dish needing more time is an accident.

In the kerfuffle, Casey ends up going first for their team. Jamie tends to her beans then runs to hide behind a table. Strategy Spike is mentally pulling his hair out. Plan is thwarted!

The head-to-head is underway!

* Fabio vs. Casey – Fabio wins. He goes ballistic. He’s Italian, he can’t hold it in. In the excitement, teammate Marcel attempts to talk smack with the earnestness of a 5th grader trying to intimidate an ex-con “Who wants some? Huh? Who wants some?” I assure you, buddy, no one wants any of that.

* Dale vs. Tiffani – Dale pushes to be allowed to go second, even though teammate Marcel whined like a 5th grader that he was nearly done plating. Dale just had to serve his dumplings because they weren’t going to hold up. But Tiffani’s sashimi wins.

* Marcel vs. Angelo – Angelo wins. Teammate Tre goes for the chest-bump. Angelo, I’m fairly certain, does not comprehend the concept of a chest bump, and just throws his entire bodyweight onto Tre, culminating in an awkward entanglement of their bodies on the ground. Marcel is upset he lost to Angelo. “He always plates on a spoon. Are you f*cking kidding me?” For a 5th grader, he has quite the potty mouth.

* Antonia vs. Tiffany – It is a close call, but Antonia wins.

* Padma seems to be having way too much fun with that announcer microphone.

* Richard vs. Spike – Spike’s about to pee his pants because his idol/mancrush Richard Blais is one of the top chefs of the competition. Angelo adds a yuzu gelee to the bottom of his dish, saying he just wants to make sure the flavors are cohesive. Shady. When Would-be Sales and Marketing Associate Spike likens someone else for being reminiscent of a car-salesman, you know it’s bad.

* Carla vs. Tre – Despite Dale thinking the peanut soup was not up to par with U.S. Open standards of upscale food, and despite Mike Isabella thinking her flavors needed more developing, Carla’s spicy yet flavorful soup takes the win for her team. Hootie-hoo!

Not only does Carla make the final win for her team, she wins the entire challenge, and gets a trip to Italy where she can “eat around.”

Tiffany, Tre, Casey and Spike land in the bottom for serving losing dishes on the losing team. The judges’ least favorite was Tre’s dish, but he is safe since he won immunity from the Quickfire. Tom comments on Spike’s plan. He mentions how their plan backfired since Jamie’s not up for elimination. Which didn’t really make sense to me, since it is very likely she would have been up for elimination if the plan had been executed, and it is only because the plan wasn’t followed through that Jamie didn’t end up serving. Spike is eliminated, despite having performed strongly in the past few episodes.

So was Spike sabotaged? Did Angelo intentionally screw his dish up? The yuzu gelee may not have been the sole reason the dish was weak, it may have been bad regardless. But it seems reasonable that a last second ingredient addition by a chef who did not make the dish would be the reason the judges thought the dish didn’t come together. Also, it is very difficult to believe that there was no foul play there. Here’s the deal: people like Spike are unapologetic about the fact that they play dirty. They’re upfront about it. Angelo is either a control freak who can’t help but get up in everyone’s business when a team win is at stake, or he is a master saboteur who doesn’t even admit to the slightest bit of strategy in the usually-revealing on-camera interviews. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that Angelo deliberately orchestrated Spike’s departure. It’s as if a pickpocket tried to mess with Frank Abagnale, Jr. (that guy that Leo DiCaprio played in “Catch Me If You Can,” if you were wondering.) They’re both sneaky guys, but one is completely serious about it.

At the end of the day, Spike should’ve just said “eff off” to Angelo when he was trying to meddle, but I understand that when you’re pressed for time and the guy is just spooning shit on your plate, it’s hard to think fast enough to do anything to prevent it.

Also – Jamie, how are you still here?


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