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Offline apskip

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Top Chef All-Stars
« on: September 23, 2010, 11:14:21 AM »
Top Chef has announced its New York City-based season 8 with an All-Star cast with premiere Dec. 1 at 10pm on BRAVO:

Here are the chosen competitors(note that no season winners were included):

Elia Aboumrad; Season 2, final four

Stephen Asprinio; Season 1, top five

Richard Blais; Season 4 finalist

Jennifer Carroll; Season 6, final four

Tiffany Derry; Season 7, top five

Tiffani Faison; Season 1 finalist

Carla Hall; Season 5 finalist

Mike Isabella; Season 6, top seven

Jamie Lauren; Season 5, top seven

Dale Levitski; Season 3 finalist

Antonia Lofaso; Season 4, final four

Spike Mendelsohn; Season 4, top five

Angelo Sosa; Season 7 finalist

Dale Talde; Season 4, top six

Casey Thompson; Season 3 finalist and Fan Favorite

Marcel Vigneron; Season 2 finalist

Fabio Viviani; Season 5, final four and Fan Favorite

Tre Wilcox; Season 3, top eight

I personally will be looking forward to seeing Richard, Jennifer C., Antonia, Marcel and Casey again. I consider Tiffani and Stephen from season 1 to be good comic relief.

The host will continue to be Padma Lakshmi, head judge is chef Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons returns as a judge and new this season best-selling author and chef Anthony Bourdain joins as a judge.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 01:52:34 PM by apskip »

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2010, 01:58:17 PM »
I'm so happy that Jennifer will be back, she is an All-Star for me. I wish Stefan Richter was also coming back. I still believe he should have won his season.
The choices we make dictate the life we lead.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 03:58:57 PM »

This special season of Top Chef brings back many of the most interesting competitors who did not win the Top Chef prize in their season. In particular, there were many 2nd or 3rd place finishers who were close but got no cigar. The chefs competing were:

Season 1 – Tiffani Faison (#2) and Stephen Asprinio (#5)
Season 2 – Marcel Vigneron (#2) and Elia Aboumrad (#4)
Season 3 – Dale Levistski (#2), Casey Thomson (#3), Tre Wilcox (#8)
Season 4 – Richard Blais (#2/3), Antonia Lofaso (#4), Spike Mendelssohn (#5), Dale Talde(#7)
Season 5 – Fabio Viviani (#2/3), Carla Hall (#2/3), Jaime Lauren (#7)
Season 6 – Jennifer Carroll (#4), Mike Isabella (#7)
Season 7 – Angelo Sosa (#2/3), Tiffany Derry (#5)

The prize for TC8 is a record $200,000 with maybe another $300,000 for episode prizes and to spread among the lower place finishers. Marcel stated that as runner-up in season 2 he won absolutely nothing for it. Padma let sink in the statement that none of the competitors for TC8 were able to bring home an earlier top chef season victory even though many were quite close. Other prizes for the winner are a feature in Food & Wine Magazine, a showcase at the magazine’s annual Food and Wine festival in Aspen CO, $200,000 and, most importantly, the title of “Top Chef”

This episode started with a little light banter. Stephen has opened 2 restaurants in New York City (Asprinio’s is one of them). Richard in surveying the competition thought Jennifer are very strong. Fabio stated that he had some issues with Marcel in the All-Stars reunion form seasons 1 through 5 that he hosted.

The Quickfire takes the chefs from each season back to the city they competed in to team up with the others from that season in creating a dish in 25 minutes that represents that city:
1 – San Francisco
2 – Los Angeles
3 – Miami
4 – Chicago
5 – New York City
6 – Las Vegas
7 – Washington DC
 The winning team receives immunity in the upcoming Elimination Challenge.

Dishes presented were:
1- cioppino gazpacho w/ sourdough
2- shrimp tacos w/ guacamole in an apple wrapper
3- pork tenderloin, avocado lime puree, tostones, mango habanero sauce
4- pork and black pepper sausages w/ liquid nitrogen mustard ice cream
5- apple trio: curried apple soup, pasta w/ caramelized apple and rib eye w/ apple
6- bucatini pasta with bacon lobster carbonara
7- crab cake essence w/ rockfish, lemongrass, jalapenos, Old Bay seasoning

The judging was by Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi (who with Anthony Bourdain and Gail Simmons were the judges panel for this season). They found that season 1, 2, 5 and 7 to be the losers’ group for these reasons:
Season 2- shrimp was bland, apple too thin
Season 1- too much raw garlic
Season 5- 3 dishes weren’t tied together very well; soup good, other two mediocre
Season 7- too much salt
That left season 3 (Miami representation, flavors great), season 4 (inventive, ice cream unique) and season 6 (flavors great, pasta cooked perfectly) in the winners’ group. Season 4 (Richard, Antonia, Spike and Dale T.) brought home the victory (although they also had the most manpower of any team).

The Elimination Challenge was to confront the dish that had eliminated each individual from their original top chef season and redo it to have a much better dish. Each has 3 hours to prep day 1, then two hours the next day at the Russian Tea Room before guests and judges arrive. The dishes created were:

Stephen – 3 dishes he avoided by playing Front of House: lobster harumaki, hibiscus ponzu, and coriander; kumamoto oyster sabayon, yuzu soy, salmon roe, and citrus; deconstructed crab soup dumplings, poached egg, and togarashi
Tiffani – crispy branzino, black olive Pappardelle pasta, spicy fennel, kimchi marinade
Marcel – uni and caviar, Meyer lemon gelee, fennel cream, Kalamata olive dust
Elia – red snapper steamed inside a ti leaf w/ snapper jus
Dale L. – curry poached lobster dumplings, chanterelle, corn, bacon
Casey – molasses-glazed pork belly w/ pickled peaches, whipped crème fraiche
Tre – cured wild king salmon, grapefruit gelee, salted macadamia cookie
Richard – pork belly w/ bread and butter radishes and mirin and cheddar
Antonia – sausage w/ cilantro, pigeon pea puree, roasted cherry blossoms
Spike – pickled mushrooms, scallops (originally frozen), lime dressing w/ hearts of palm salad
Dale T. – butterscotch miso scallops w/ crispy long beans and spicy eggplant
Fabio – caserecci pasta w/ crawfish and crab stew
Carla – grilled strip steak w/ smashed potatoes, tarragon butter, red wine sauce
Jamie – pan-seared black pass, celery, green peppercorn salsa, herb salad
Jennifer – duck, squash, foie gras, an apple cider vinaigrette, micro arugula
Mike Isabella – melted leeks, carrot puree, salt-crusted potatoes
Angelo – homemade ramen w/ sweet glazed pork belly and watermelon
Tiffany – pan-seared halibut w/ coconut curry, steamed rice balls, and pea tendrils

Tom had news for the chef on arrival at the Russian Tea Room day 2. He split them into two groups to take the kitchen in shifts since it’s so small. The group not in the kitchen will be dining with the judges and critiquing the other group’s food. The winner of this challenge would receive $10,000. He deliberately did not tell them about a nasty twist that is ahead to not ruin the surprise of it.

The first team cooked for their 2 hours, but it was not quite enough for Stephen or for Richard. Richard was shown on camera actually adding something after the time had expired, although he was so concentrated he probably did not hear the timer go off. The first cooking team then stayed in the kitchen while the second team was eating and critiquing. A TV monitor had somehow magically appeared in the kitchen so that the first team could hear and see all the commentary about their dishes. I say that is dirty pool to do that without prior warning. The teams then switched and the second team had their moments of truth. The first team ate with the judges and critiqued their dishes.

The winners’ group as assessed by the judges was Angelo, Spike and Jamie. Richard was in it but was disqualified for being over the time limit. Angelo won the $10,000. The losers’ group was Fabio, Stephen and Elia. Elia failed to test her approach of cooking fish with steam and served it raw when she wanted it medium without actually testing its doneness. Fabio took his lumps from Gail (overdressed and overdone) and Bourdain (brown, wet a visual turnoff). He fought back with Bourdain over being ridiculed when he did not deserve that. Fabio in the kitchen had to listen to Bourdain on camera say how much he hated Fabio’s dish 11 times, but the other judges must not have rated him quite that badly. It looked to me that Stephen deserved elimination the most, due both to the ineptness of his dumpling but the low overall quality of every item, but the judges decided that the chef most worthy of that was Elia.

I have to say that Jennifer Carroll surprised me with the aggressiveness of her comments. She was proclaiming herself the greatest thing since sliced bread and, although I was very impressed by her early performance in TC6, she has earned no bragging rights yet in TC8. I expected tell-it-like-it-is commentary from Anthony Bourdain, but he outdid even Toby Young in negative comments. The competitors are in for a difficult season from his critiques.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2010, 10:52:07 AM »
TC8, ep. 2

Fireworks happen on this episode and Anthony Bourdain was not even judging! The Quickfire involved teen heartthrob Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. The task was to create a dish for 150 children who would be spending the night at the American Museum of Natural history on the annual sleepover in that museum. Chefs had 45 minutes to create something that could be served without utensils in a brown paper bag (actually a blue or red bag to signify something). Those 17 creations were:

Stephen – Snickerdoodles white chocolate coconut ganache, apricot, mint
Tiffani – Rice Krispy treat Snowball w/ malted milk, graham crackers
Marcel – Not Shown
Casey – chocolate and bacon lasagna w/ apple juice, candy
Dale L. – sweet tart nuggets and Caveman boulders w/ chocolate sauce
Tre – cracker, cranberry and cherry jam, apple, smoked bacon
Antonia – white chocolate and cherry muffin, cinnamon, allspice
Dale T. – corn cake w/ dried cherry and whipped maple topping
Richard – whole bread spiced apple w/ whipped honey and Crunchy Chocolate
Spike – homemade potato and carrot chips, mascarpone and marshmallow dip
Carla – Not shown
Fabio – apple and white chocolate, caramel, blueberries
Jaime – Mini cheddar biscuits w/ homemade cinnamon apple sauce
Jennifer – bacon ginger taffy w/ honey grilled peaches
Mike I. – chocolate coconut corn bar, coconut horchata chaser
Angelo – fried dough, white pepper, Old Bay spice, cheddar cheese
Tiffany – coconut rice pudding w/ grapefruit sauce

The losers’ group was Tiffany, Mike I. (chocolate not strong enough) and Stephen (mint not strong enough). The winners’ group was Tiffani and Spike. Rather than having Joe Jonas decide, Padma announced that the kids would decide. It would be a Rice Krispies snowball (called a “Sugar Bomb” by Stephen) versus homemade potato chips with a marshmallow dip, essentially a choice between super-sweet and above-average salty. What do you think kids chose? Tiffany has the final word as she watches out-of-control behavior by the kids: “these children are going ballistic on sugar. We did that.”

In order to make enough portions of their dish in the Top Chef Kitchen quickly, Tiffani and Spike chose teams, with Fabio being left over and allowed to choose the team he would be one (he chose Team Spike). All the women except Carla were on Team Tiffani and all the men except Dale L. and Tre were on Team Spike. The vote was no contest as you would expect. Sweet beat salty badly. That gave Tiffani immunity for the Elimination Challenge and another advantage to be revealed. Tom Colicchio came strolling in as the chefs were preparing to leave the museum. Some of the chefs sensed that a twist was about to happen. They were right, as Tom announced that the chefs would be sleeping in the Hall of North American Mammals and cooking breakfast in the morning using whatever they could find in the Museum’s kitchen. Many of the men went for a flashlight tour of the museum. As Marcel put it, when will you ever get this opportunity again?

The teams would stay intact and compete as Team T-Rex versus Team Brontosaurus. The stated limits of available ingredients were Meat, Fish, Eggs and Dairy for Team T-Rex and absolutely nothing else and Fruits, Vegetables and Grains for Team Brontosaurus. Tiffani was given the advantage of picking Team T-Rex or Team Brontosaurus and she chose Team T-Rex. Teams had to start cooking Breakfast for the kids and their adult supervisors and some museum staff in the Museum kitchen with 1.5 hours to cook and 1 hour to set up before breakfast began. Cooking began and Jaime sliced her finger and left to get stitches. She did not return until the end of setup, so her partner Jennifer was doing it all for their dish. Many of her teammates were highly critical of Jaime for taking too much time away for a very minor injury. Team T-Rex discovered that they had no spices, no herbs and no flour, after which they concluded they had “bought a pig in a poke.”

The menu and assigned people for Team T-Rex were:
Tiffany and Antonia – 3 frittatas (Bacon and Cheddar, Ham and Cheese, Chevre)
Casey and Tre – wild coho salmon w/ shrimp and smoked bacon sauce
Jen and Jaime – hard-boiled eggs and braised bacon (aka cooked pork belly)
Tiffani and Dale L. – steak and eggs w/ Hollandaise sauce

The menu and assigned people for Team Brontosaurus were:
Dale and Mike – polenta (originally intended to be cake, but that failed), stewed peppers, salsa verde
Marcel, Richard and Angelo – banana parfait w/ seasonal fruits and tandoori maple
Spike and Carla – V9 gazpacho w/ fruits and vegetables
Fabio and Stephen – potato gnocchi w/ leeks, spinach, mushrooms

The judges (with Katie Lee Joel, host from season 1 substituting for Anthony Bourdain) listened to some comments from the children, but paid more attention to the chaperones and staff comments. They returned to the Top Chef kitchen for caucusing at Judges’ Table. They had decided that Team Brontosaurus was the winner. The best dish in their opinion was Marcel, Richard and Angelo. Team Brontosaurus as requested sent Team T-Rex in for the harder discussions aimed at the losing team.

During those discussions, it became clear that the judges did not like the frittatas, hated Tre's smoked bacon sauce and thought the eggs were way under-seasoned. Only the beef and the salmon escaped without negative comments. It appeared that the eliminee would be Tiffany, Antonia, Tre or Jennifer or maybe Jaime as she could be criticized for contributing essentially nothing. Jennifer on that point said that she got the work done with the assistance of others and that Jaime was not really needed. That got Jaime off the hook, although I would have used it as the reason to get rid of her. Jennifer was really upset on multiple points. First, as a knowledgeable individual she stated that Tyrannosaurus Rex was an omnivore, not just a carnivore, so their team should have been allowed a wider range of ingredients. Second, she was bitter about the judges’ classification of her in the losers’ group. She insisted that her eggs were just fine and had no seasoning problem.

I noticed that the judges had not properly questioned either Tiffany or Antonia to be able to identify which of those two was the worst performer. This meant that they could be ruled out of elimination, so it was Jennifer versus Tre. Tom stated that the judges would not penalize Jennifer for making strong statements that challenged the competence of the judging. However, what he did not say was that her differences with the judges likely indicated a major palate problem. Jennifer was asked to “pack her knives and go” and she was furious, complaining that the judges were not making the correct decision about her dish.

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2010, 01:51:48 AM »
I'm so happy that Jennifer will be back, she is an All-Star for me. I wish Stefan Richter was also coming back. I still believe he should have won his season.

Indeed I was happy to see Jennifer and so disappointed she got eliminated 2nd . She deserved something better. Also it would be more interesting to see Stefan instead of Fabio or Jamie from TC5. Now my favourite to win is Richard Blais, he should have won in his season.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2010, 09:46:29 PM »
I'm with you on Richard Blais being my favorite. He was beaten in his season (TC4) fair and square with Stephanie winning the last 3 elimination challenges. He is not only the best chef competing, but he is my Fan Favorite. However, at this point that gives him only about a 25% chance of winning given the stiff competition.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 10:08:47 AM »
TC8, ep.3

The Guest Judge was David Chang, owner/chef of the Momofuku chain of restaurants plus his flagship Ma Peche. The Quickfire was a team challenge with four teams of 4 competing in a mise-en-place relay race, then to cook the best dish in 15 or less minutes from the ingredients in their mise-en-place. The reward was $5000 for each member of the winning team, but no immunity. The mise-en-place was simultaneously peel artichokes, crush 400 cloves of garlic and debone a lamb roast. When these were completed for the first team, a 15 minute clock would start its countdown, the time within which all teams must finish the mise-en-place plus create and cook their dish. This was a highly sophisticated challenge. The biggest differentiator between the team was their approach to the garlic. Spike went with peeling them, placing them on a cutting board and using a second board to smash them open. Another team had Antonia attempting to peel each one separately. The mass quantity approach created about a 5minute minute advantage with the other 2 teams in between.

The teams were:
Green – Angelo, Tiffany, Mike I., Fabio
White – Antonia, Dale L. Jaime, Casey
Red – Dale T., Tiffani, Carla, Marcel
Blue – Spike, Richard, Stephen, Tre

The dishes created were:
White - Lamb carpaccio (raw), artichoke chips, artichoke salad, garlic oil
Blue – crispy lamb chop, artichoke 3 ways, aioli, garlic, lime juice, fish oil
Red – lamb carpaccio, capers, garlic, Reggiano (cheese), salad w/ artichoke
Green – cooked lamb w/ garlic, Tandoori spices, spiced yoghurt, slivers of artichoke, dill salad

The judging by David Chang rated in the losers’ group Red for poor persimmon and parsley flavors and Green for allowing thyme and dill to blow out the yoghurt flavor. The winners’ group was White for a new way to serve raw lamb and Blue for the bold flavors of their crispy lamb chop. The winners were the Blue team, Richard (who took charge), Spike, Fabio and Stephen. They won the $5000 each.

The Elimination Challenge provided an opportunity for the same teams to each go to a different cutting edge restaurant in New York City to enjoy the cuisine and recreate the style of its chef in a meal. The restaurants were:

David Chang’s Ma Peche – Green team
David Burke’s Townhouse – White team
Michael White’s Medea – Blue team
Wiley Dufresne’s wd50 – Red team (note – Marcel was in 7th heaven on the chance to be in Wiley’s kitchen and cook molecular gastronomy food)

This challenge pitted each of the chefs on a team against each other, with one judged in the winners’ group and one judged in the losers’ group. The judges were Kate Krader, restaurant editor at Food & wine magazine, Tom, Padma, Anthony Bourdain and the chef from each restaurant for the chefs cooking in that restaurant only. The judges shuttled between restaurants by taxi on a predetermined schedule. Their results would send 2 chef home, a rare double elimination. Here were the ingredients in the dishes created and prepared:

Tre – grilled swordfish, mushroom pannacotta, basil oil, braised artichoke
Stephen – coho salmon, black mission figs, broccoli rabini, fennel pollen
Spike – seared branzino caponata w/ spicy prosciutto vinaigrette
Richard – crudo of Spanish mackerel, braised veal shank, fennel mustarda

Fabio - roasted lamb, w/ hoisin BBQ plum sauce, corn tomato salad, lemongrass chevre, ricotta
Angelo – turmeric marinated fish, white chocolate, salmon roe, chorizo, dill, cilantro
Tiffany – crudo of summer flounder, pickled radish, peach puree
Mike I. – warm sockeye salmon, eggplant, marinated tomato, poached peach

Dale L. - roasted veal loin, peanuts, popcorn, French toast, corn, thyme caramel
Casey - coconut halibut “scallop”, ginger-carrot emulsion
Jaime – smoked tomato and onion soup, Heirloom tomato salad
Antonia – pea puree, carrot puree, seared scallop, pickled carrot

Tiffani – broken heirloom melons, tomato, powdered ham, taleggio
Marcel – Vadouran lamb, tzatziki, pickled red onion, anti flatbread
Carla – shrimp, grits and okra w/ poached shrimp
Dale T. – sunny side up egg dumpling, w/ braised pork bellies, milk ramen w/ beef, pork,

The comments from the judges while dining were:
Tre- simple, delicious
Stephen – “head shop” taste, too much on the plate
Spike – the word caponata did not apply
Richard- beautiful and flavorful
Fabio – heavy, got lost in the forest (Bourdain vs. Fabio, round 2), too much on the plate
Angelo – creative, risk-taking, flavorful, innovative
Tiffani – tasty
Mike I. – like it particularly eggplant, solid
Dale L. – Veal w/ heavy sweetness
Casey – brilliant idea, beautifully cooked
Jaime – too simple, not creative
Antonia – assertive seasoning
Tiffani – lost control and put too much on the plate
Marcel – restrained, bland (so Marcel did not rise to the occasion cooking for his idol)
Carla – well prepared but safe, liquid nitrogen use not effective
Dale T. – loved it, broth excellent

Stephen commented that Italian food was right up his alley, since that is the cuisine he knew the best. Marcel noted that he has been accused of plagiarizing Wiley Dufresne’s dishes. Carla tried to use liquid nitrogen for the first time. Wiley stated that the philosophy of his restaurant is “playing with something familiar.”

The winners’ group was these chefs, with judging summary comments included:
Antonia – pea and carrot purees excellent
Angelo – white chocolate use was genius, exciting
Tre – fish perfectly done
Dale T. – used egg artfully, but with restraint
I found it surprising that Antonia was in this group instead of Casey based on the earlier judges’ dining comments. Dale T. was the winner.

The losers’ group was these chefs:
Stephen – put too much on the plate; expertise on Italian muffled by not cooking much recently
Tiffani – tried to do too much (as Marcel had observed, used every cutting edge technique she knew)
Fabio – Asian approach using peanut and oils overdone; heavy-handed
Dale L. – worked for kitsch w/ peanuts, popcorn and French toast, but putting veal on a breakfast plate is a sin; this “circus” was not good

There were chefs who were second place finishers in regular Top Chef seasons in this group, so a really good chef would be eliminated no matter what. Based on the judges’ comments, I projected that Fabio and Tiffani would be eliminated. However, as frequently happens, the editing of the episode attempted to misdirect the viewers. The actual eliminees were Stephen and Dale L. Stephen admitted that he was not up to the par of the other chefs due to a lot of time out of the kitchen ( I believe his real expertise is wines and front of the House). Dale stated “this is fair.” However, I think the producers may have intervened so that the Fabio versus Anthony Bourdain battle stays on camera for future episodes.

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2010, 11:41:15 AM »
For me this episode was a little boring. Too many chefs and too many dishes. I prefer it when at this stage they present dishes as a team. Also on Fabio, I agree that they are probably keeping him to continue the feud, his dish was not even visually good.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2010, 12:27:52 PM »
TC8, ep.4

The Guest Judge is Tony Mantuano, owner/chef of Spiaggia in Chicago and a first-round winner in Top Chef Masters 2. He introduced the “holiday stuffing” challenge that one of the chefs stated was too easy. That chef was right, as Padma threw in this twist, that no knives or other kitchen implements (other than stoves, pans, bowls etc.) could be used. This was designed to test the creativity and inventiveness of the chef in working under difficult conditions. The prize made it worthwhile, as the winner would receive immunity in the elimination challenge plus $20,000 cash.  There was a nice product placement for Swanson’s Broth, which funded that prize.

Here are the dishes prepared and presented:

Angelo – not shown
Antonia – not shown
Carla – Thai inspired Vegetable Stuffing w/ black quinoa salad
Casey – mushrooms and crispy chicken livers, miso, mushroom dashi
Dale T. – Spanish influenced stuffing w/ crab, oysters, chili lemon aioli, grapes, olives
Fabio – polenta bread, vegetables, smoked bacon, grated Parmesan cheese
Jaime – stuffing crepinette w/ bacon, lemon oil, broth
Marcel – whole squab stuffed w/ raisins, broth, chevre, currants, Ras al Hanout gravy
Mike I. – not shown
Richard – pressure-cooked onion, red onion, pine nuts, cherries, nitrogen fried fennel
Spike – stuffed quail w/ raisins, herbs, port wine, apricot glaze
Tiffani – soy maple stuffing w/ quail, grilled mushrooms, quartered grapes
Tiffany – not shown
Tre – Southwestern stuffing w/ bacon, cheddar, bell pepper, chili powder

Tony rated the losing dishes as Carla’s (?), Tiffani (too sweet) and Casey (looked like a plated appetizer, not a stuffing). The best dishes were Marcel’s (great taste) and Tre (spicy but well-balanced). Tre was judged the winner.

A random draw created and Orange Team of 7 and a Yellow team of 7, meant to illustrate the colors of high-tech tennis balls. Teams were to cook at the National Tennis Center, site of the US Open tennis championship every September. They had 15 minutes to plan and then 30 minutes at Whole Foods to shop for ingredients. Angelo found when he went to use them that his mackerel had turned slimy. Carla cut her finger, but bandaged it up and kept on working, as if to demonstrate to Jaime how to suck it up. Spike “butchered the shrimp.”

The structure of this Culinary Tennis competition was to use the scoring of a single tennis game (love, 15, 30, 40) to have a team get to 4 wins first (which wins the game if you are playing tennis by modified rules). This meant a minimum of 4 points and a maximum of 7.

Teams had to decide the order in which they were going to present their players. Yellow used a lot of strategy in advance, but when the moment to decide which dish to present arrived, all their strategy seemed to be out the window and they looked totally disorganized. Orange had no strategy.

In the first  match, Orange used Fabio’s dish and Yellow after some delay sent with Casey’s (although Jaime’s was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb as “just some heated beans,” she had no guts and refused to put her dish up at all in this competition). Dishes:
Fabio – whole grain gnocchi w/ pork loin ragout, zucchini, caramelized fennel
Casey – grilled pork tenderloin salad, sugar snap peas, vinaigrette
Point to Fabio, Orange 15 Yellow Love

In the second match, Orange used Dale’s and Yellow finally put up Tiffani’s. Dishes:
Dale T. – edamame dumpling, spicy carrot froth, crispy soy nuts
Tiffani – Sashimi of black bass, avocado, ponzu vinaigrette
Point to Tiffani, Orange 15 Yellow 15

In the third match, Orange went with Marcel’s and Yellow with Angelo’s. Dishes
Marcel – cauliflower couscous, pomegranate sauce, golden raisins, yellowfin tuna
Angelo – tuna, yuzu gelee, red onion,
Point to Angelo, Orange 15 Yellow 30

In the fourth match Orange put up Antonia and Yellow Tiffany. Dishes:
Antonia – Divers Sea scallop, Indian lentil puree, mint dandelion greens, cilantro, chives
Tiffany – Spiced tuna w/ fennel, peppercorns, coriander seeds, lentil salad
Point to Antonia, Orange 30 Yellow 30

In the fifth match, Orange played their star Richard and Yellow countered with Spike, but Angelo and others appeared to be modifying his dish as it was plated:
Richard – “Thai bouleh” w/ lamb, herbs, yoghurt
Spike - tarragon tomato soup, olive oil, poached shrimp, tomatoes, pineapple, dill
Point to Richard, Orange 40 Yellow 30

The last match (as it turned out) was between Carla and Tre (Jaime wouldn’t present) with immunity, so he had nothing to lose:
Carla – African Groundnut soup, baked sweet potato, adzuki beans, peanuts
Tre – Coho salmon, parsnip puree, olive oil sauce w/ citrus, tomatoes and olives
Point to Carla, Orange won

Casey was livid at this point because Tre’s immunity meant that one of the other 3 Yellow losers (herself, Spike, Tiffany) would be eliminated. Her major wrath was focused on Jaime, who would have had to present if it went to a 7th point but avoided it by not presented for any of the first 6th. That meant that weak and undeserving Jaime would make it to the next episode for sure.

The judges called in the 4 Orange winners and awarded the individual win to Carla’s dish. Next they called in the 4 Yellow losing dishes and raked them over the coals. Their comments were:
Casey – up against a very tough competitor, this was a decent dish that just happened to lose
Tiffany – salad overdressed and with dish had no finish
Tre- salad overcooked; the judges’ least favorite dish
Spike – he complained that too many cooks spoiled the broth of his “soup”; the judges did not buy that, as he had the option of not presenting due to tampering and forcing Jaime to.

It was not clear whether it would be Tiffany or Spike eliminated, but Casey looked pretty safe. Spike got the ax.


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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2011, 10:39:09 PM »
I'm sorry, but I personally feel that the judges were right in sending Dale L. home over Fabio

and I also don't believe that strings were pulled to keep Fabio alive

I mean, popcorn, peanut butter, and french toast???? along with all the other crazy ingredients that were in there?  REALLY??

It's sort of like Eli's circus abomination from Season 6 v.2

and Steven was an overall weaker chef than the other three, with a weaker dish too

I believe that it was a totally fair decision

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2011, 12:02:32 PM »
TC8, ep.5

This show marches on at a fast pace. For the Quickfire, a master chef was coming in to set a time standard that the competing chefs would be required to use to make a dish. That master chef proved to be none other than Tom Colicchio, which put fear into the hearts of the competitors. The clock was running throughout Tom's creation of a fish, clam juice, zucchini and tomato dish and it stopped at 8 minutes 37 seconds. That was the time that the chefs were then given. Dishes created were:

Angelo – yuzu branzino crudo w/ jalapeno + cilantro
Antonia – ahi tuna, tarragon, tomato salad
Carla – shrimp, mango, cilantro, mint
Casey – spice-rub filet basted w/ brown butter, fresh tomato relish
Dale T. – pad thai w/ egg noodles
Fabio – clams, fish, tomato broth, thyme garlic
Jaime – clam amuse bouche w/ bacon, tomato, cream
Marcel - black sea bass w/ basil broth, bok choy, chili oil
Mike I. – pan-roasted branzino, black olives, caper stew
Richard – foie gras roasted w/ aromatics, corn, coriander, port
Tiffani – New England clam chowder w/ celery + cream
Tiffany - pan seared bass w/ tomato relish, olives, capers
Tre – grilled beef tenderloin, seared foie gras w/ mushrooms, brandy sauce

The Losers’ group was Angelo (did a raw dish when asked not to), Dale T. (his egg noodles did not function) and Jaime (only 2 clams opened, the rest having failed to open). The Winners’ group was Marcel, Richard and Mike I. Mike was the winner of the Prius and immunity.

Elimination Challenge
This was a test of speed and efficiency in the kitchen. The chefs were to feed lots of food to lots of people quickly in a Chinese dim sum restaurant, Grand Harmony in NYC’s Chinatown. They would create pork, seafood, dumplings and pastry dishes, frequently served steamed. Richard’s framing dim sum as “Chinese tapas” strikes me as pretty close to the mark. The chefs purchased their ingredients in 45 minutes at a Chinatown market, with no signs in English and few staff able to speak English. They next had 3.5 hours to prep before the orders began. The choices of dishes presented a variety of complications for the chefs. Casey and Carla volunteered to be Front-of-House runners delivering food to each table, which meant that they would depend on others to do finish cooking and plating of their food. Mike I. was the Expeditor since he was immune. The general tone of the kitchen was pure chaos, with many chefs struggling to get acceptable quality and all unable to keep up with the volume/timing requirements. Richard summarized that “many were not ready and many were out of control.” One of the diners caustically referred to the food as “Caucasian dim sum.” Tom went to the kitchen to exhort the chefs to work harder and faster. One chef stated that it was humiliating to leave diners hungry.

Casey had problems with her chicken feet because she had to take off 4 nails on each of many chicken feet. She planned to have it finished in a wok, but Antonia did not do that. There were multiple joint dishes, with Dale and Angelo teaming up and Antonia and Jaime as well. Dale had an advantage since he had grown up in a Filipino restaurant environment that was similar in speed requirements. Fabio wanted to grill his meat but there is on grill and the oven did not go above 300 degrees. He predicts he is screwed.

Angelo – Viet spring roll w/ shrimp + pork
Angelo + Dale – cheung fun w/ xo shrimp
Antonia – shrimp toast w/ pickled scallions + mushrooms
Antonia and Jaime – long beans w/ Chinese sausage
Carla – vegetable summer roll w/ vegetable dipping sauce
Casey and Antonia – chicken feet w/ scallion pancake
Dale T. – sweet sticky rice Chinese bacon wrapped in banana leaf
Fabio – soy honey-glazed spicy pork rib
Jaime – scallop dumplings w/ water chestnuts + Chinese chives
Marcel – boneless chicken wing w/ scallion mayonnaise
Mike I. – pork + prawn steamed dumpling w/ spicy soy sauce
Richard – not shown; why not?
Tiffani - Chinese cabbage w/ cilantro; sesame salad w/ crispy curry chicken;
Tiffany – spicy pork w/ vegetables on steamed buns
Tre – orange ginger dessert w/ freshwater chestnut, toasted pine nuts, Thai basil

The Guest Judge was Susur Lee, proprietor of several restaurants and finalist in Top Chef Masters 2. He is very knowledgeable on Asian food. Judges comments while dining:

Fabio’s short ribs – very good
Angelo’s spring roll- both Gail and Susur rate it excellent
Tiffany’s dish – Susur like the vinaigrette; Gail thought only sesame came through
Marcel’s wings – Tom found them bland
Carla’s summer roll – beautifully wrapped per Padma but of no other value per Susur
Antonia and Jaime’s long beans – greasy and overcooked
Dale T. sticky rice – excellent
Tre’s orange dessert – must be served much colder to be effective
Casey’s chicken feet – must be deep fried or unsuccessful
Mike’s dumpling – soy taste too prominent
Jaime’s scallop dumplings – Tom said didn’t work; Susur said insufficient scallop

Judges’ Table started with this Losers’ group of 5:
Casey – bad judgment to not do chicken feet correctly
Antonia – long beans overcooked and excess oil but her shrimp toast was wonderful
Carla – her food was bland; her rice noodles were overcooked
Jaime – her own scallops dumplings poor and her joint long beans overcooked  and excess oil
Tre – his dessert a poor choice for the conditions

It is interesting that the two Front-of-House people were there along with their colleagues who were finishing/plating for them.

The Winners’ group was:
Dale T.

The individual winner was Dale.

The judges circled back to determine the eliminated person. Tom summarized this:
Carla – bland dish (a major crime most episodes but not this episode)
Antonia – overcooked long beans but saved by good shrimp toast
Tre – bad concept
Casey – chicken feet not deep fried as they must be for good flavor
Jaime – multiple sins

It was going to be either Jaime or Casey. Casey got the ax and Jaime once again used up one more of her 9 lives. She is so useless that it is truly amazing she has found one other chef each episode to do worse than her.

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2011, 08:09:10 AM »
Episode 6

Finally Jamie is out! :yess:

Although I didn't like the fact that there was no quickfire challenge.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 08:13:29 AM »
Yay! I'm finally starting to get caught up! I'm enjoying this season, and it is fast paced!  :yess:
The choices we make dictate the life we lead.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2011, 09:00:10 AM »
TC8, ep.6

The chefs were forced to wake up early and get to the Top Chef kitchen. There they found a sign “Gone Fishin” and a map to Montauk Point Lighthouse on the eastern end of Long Island. When they arrived there, two fishing boats were ready to take them out to sea. First, there was a knife draw to determine these teams:

Team 1 – Dale T., Carla, Tre
Team 2 – Mike I., Angelo, Tiffany
Team 3 – Antonia, Jaime, Tiffani
Team 4 – Richard, Marcel, Fabio

It looked to me that the strongest team would be Team 4. Padma announced that there was no Quickfire this episode. The Elimination Challenge was a team competition to catch as many fish as they could for 5 hours, then shop at a market for fresh ingredients in 30 minutes with $150 and finally cook for 2 hours for a beach party on the sand back on Governor’s Island at Water Taxi Beach. The resulting dishes would be served to 200 invited guests. Guest Judge was Kerry Heffernan, executive chef at South Gate restaurant and touted by Tom as a seafood expert.

Catching fish was subject to the whims of chance. One boat was doing much better than the other, but by the end there was an array of striped bass, bluefish and porgies to show for the efforts of the fishermen. Dale caught the largest fish, a striped bass, and proclaimed that his father would be proud of him.

Each team took a unique approach on how to split up the workload. Team 4 decided on just one dish with 7 major components. Team 3 opted for Antonia doing her own dish by herself and Jaime and Tiffani working together on dishes to a small extent. Team 1 had completely individual dishes. Team 2 all worked together for one dish, but Tiffany also had her own dish.

Here are the dishes for each team or individual:

Team 1 Carla – bluefish lettuce wrap w/ pickled watermelon, pumpernickel croutons
Team 1 Dale – fish tacos w/ bass, corn, avocado relish, crème fraiche, radishes, cabbage
Team 1 Tre – striped sea bass w/ Gazpacho salad, tomato, avocado

Team 2 Angelo/Mike/Tiffany – striped bass w/ corn puree, tomato, Aleppo spice rub, watermelon
Team 2 Tiffany – pickled bluefish, spicy watermelon rind, tomato confit, radishes, potato, dill

Team 3 Antonia – open-faced porgy po’boy, Old Bay mayo, cabbage slaw
Team 3 Jaime – striped bass w/watermelon salad, fresh dill, shaved radishes, cucumber water
Team 3 Tiffani – sautéed bluefish, tomato, roasted corn, zucchini ribbon salad

Team 4 Richard/Marcel/Fabio – sea bass, succotash, corn puree, Concord gastrique, jamon air

Comments by the judges while sampling the cuisine were:
Team 4 – beans mushy
Dale – tacos wonderful
Carla – fish
Tiffany – mashed potatoes heavy
Tre- took a big risk with sautée but it worked
Jaime – did not season her fish properly; “water on water”
Tiffani – lack of acidity and scales; left on forced bloodline to remain on, with nasty flavor impact, lacked elegance and finishing
Antonia and Tiffani – got credit for having the courage to use porgies (or was that all they caught?)

The Winners’ Group was Team 1 and Team 2. At Judges’ Table, they were told this:
Dale- perfectly cooked fish
Carla – brilliant
The individual winner was Carla. She won a 6 night trip to Amsterdam with $5K airfare provided by Hilton Hotels.

The Losers’ Group was Team 3 and Team 4. Richard, Marcel and Fabio were criticized for only doing one dish. Also, they had too much going on on the plate and their food was too heavy. The judges questioned what Fabio’s role on the creation of the dish had been, as he appeared to confine himself to chopping vegetables and following the lead of Richard and Marcel. Richard did a gastrique which was disliked. Marcel did one of his incessant foams, which really pissed off the judges as there was no need for one here. Tom declared Antonia’s dish to be the best of all presented, so she was definitely off the hook even though she was criticized for not providing any help to Jaime or Tiffani. Jaime had wanted to do something very light and her dish was criticized for being bland (the greatest sin of all), watery and insubstantial. Tiffani had only porgies to work with; her choice to leave the skin on and the bloodline in was lambasted.

My conclusion from the tone of the judges’ comments was that it would be Jaime and Tiffani leaving. That proved correct. Making a dish bland and insubstantial is viewed by the judges as the equivalent of not trying very hard; they reward risk even when it results in a failed dish and they punish nonentities severely. Tiffani had multiple bad choices in how she prepared and cooked her porgies.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2011, 03:19:21 PM »
I loved the challenge of catching their own fish for dinner. It was fun for the chefs and a good bonding experience, even if it turns out to be short lived. Was this the best challenge ever, even if it wasn't  a quickfire? For me, YES!

I never liked Tiffany or Jamie so their departure is fine with me.  :tup:

Thanks for the recap apskip, as always it is excellent!
The choices we make dictate the life we lead.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2011, 04:00:09 PM »
There is news from BRAVO of 3 series for later in 2011:

"Rocco's Dinner Party," where chefs compete to throw the ultimate dinner party for Rocco DiSpirito and his celebrity friends, will premiere later this year.

The network announced casting will begin on the ninth season of "Top Chef".

"Top Chef Masters" will return for a third season later this year with Curtis Stone as host.

For me, the news about TCM 3 is the mos important as I loved TCM1 and liked TCM 2. I also consider it a no-brainer that there will be TC9.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2011, 10:20:22 AM »
TC8, ep. 7

This episode began with 10 chefs remaining. Mike made a gratuitous remark about how Marcel is essentially obnoxious and disliked. Anthony Bourdain escorted those chefs to the kitchen of Le Bernardin seafood restaurant (run by Eric Ripert) to watch seafood prep chef Josef Thomas at work. From 7am to noon every morning he cleans, guts and prepares 700 to 1000 pounds of fish. When he is on vacation, it takes 3 sous chefs to do his work. He can reportedly prep one fluke and one cod in 8 minutes, so the TC8 chefs are given 10 minutes to do that in part one of a Quickfire to quality standards judged by Josef. The outcome of that was as follows:

OK – Angelo, Dale, Marcel, Richard
Marginal - Mike
Cut Himself so did not finish - Fabio
Did Not Finish – Carla
Inadequate Quality – Antonia, Tiffany (in spite of being the only chef from a seafood restaurant), Tre

Richard said that he had been the seafood chef at a restaurant earlier in his career. It was McDonald’s and his job was preparation of the Filet O’ Fish.

The second part of the Quickfire involved the top 4 of those judged OK and it was to be judged by Ludo Ludovic, one of the 6 chefs on both Top Chef Masters 1 and TCM2 and chef/owner of Ludobites. It was to take their own leftovers (tails, heads, belly, cheeks, back fins, liver) and make a good dish out of that in 45 minutes. During that time Mike tried to take some of Marcel’s equipment and leftovers because he wanted a shortcut and Marcel resisted that. The dishes developed were:

Richard – schnitzel of cod belly, ragout, braised collar, fried skin, potato salad
Mike – pan-roasted belly, confit cheek, charred collar, tomato sauce
Dale – fluke back fin sashimi in cucumber fluke liver sauce; also bacon dashi w/ salt-roasted collar
Marcel – cod mousseline, yuzu chili oil, fluke broth

Ludo and Anthony had positive comments about each dish:
Richard – great flavors
Mike – beautiful, light, vibrant
Dale – great and able to use the liver
Marcel – delicious and texturally interesting

They awarded the prize, immunity for the Elimination Challenge, to Dale.

Elimination Challenge   
The chefs returned to the Top Chef kitchen and Padma told them that they had 24 hours to get a pop-up restaurant running and its success would be judged by the diners. The individual winner would win $10,000. So, who will those diners be? Nothing is stated explicitly, but there will be some big clues later. Dale got to choose the team captain for the other team, so he chose Marcel because he did not want him on his team. Marcel then got picks 1, 3, 5 and 7 for his team and Dale picks 2, 4, 6 and 8. The teams were:
Marcel – Angelo, Mike, Antonia, Tiffany
Dale – Richard, Tre, Fabio, Carla

Dale stated that getting Fabio was like stealing a top draft pick, as his skill in the Front of the House could be decisive for Bodega, the name of his restaurant. Tiffany was Front of the House for Marcel’s restaurant, named Etch with a Mediterranean inspired theme. /there were supposed to be 50 diners, who would eat in one restaurant followed by the other. The judges’ scores would count just like any other diner. Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine was a diner and the preponderance of young good-looking females made it likely that many of the diners were from Food & Wine, although the telecast did not indicate that.

Fabio introduced himself to the Bodega waiters and gave them guidance on the menu, including asking him for clarification of anything they desired. Tiffany did an inferior job of the same task. Both of them were also providing a dessert for their team which would be plated by others. Marcel put a foam on his menu. Hadn’t he learned that foams in every meal makes him look ridiculous? Apparently not!

Orders were placed and one of the first dishes from Etch was rare when medium rare was requested. All the judges observed Fabio’s special gifts in action as Front of House for Bodega. Tiffany was annoying the judges with her high-pitched nervous laugh (it annoyed me great deal all the time, so I understand).

The Bodega menu for first courses was:

Dale – bag of potato chips w/ fried herbs
Richard – raw tuna belly, fried chicken, chilis, lime
Dale – maple roast bacon, egg, cheese w/ homemade focaccia

The Bodega entrees were:
Tre – chicken, grits, Corona lime sauce, cheddar cheese
Richard – chicken fried codfish, Brussels kraut

The Bodega dessert menu was:
Fabio – amaretto cake, capuccino mousse, candied lemon peel
Carla – blueberry pie w/ dry milk ice cream

Etch first courses were:
Angelo – crudo of fluke, grapes, pink peppercorns, lemon zest
Tiffany – frisee and shaved asparagus salad w/ egg puree, chorizo
Marcel –roasted monkfish, kalamata olives, pepperonata. parsley

Etch entrees were:
Mike – braised pork belly + octopus, cannellini beans
Antonia – ricotta gnudi, braised oxtail ragout, arugula, lemon zest
Mike – slow-cooked lamb chop, cauliflower puree, turmeric, honey

Etch dessert was:
Marcel – Duo of Peaches, sweet peach, unripened peach, w/ coconut foam + powder

There was a lot of conflict in the Etch kitchen. Marcel thought he was in control, but Mike and Antonia were not listening to him; they were uncooperative and doing their own thing. Angelo was nominally supporting Marcel, but his one attempt to promote peace and harmony failed. Presumably he wanted one of his teammates to hang themselves. When it was over, Marcel thought Etch might have won, but Antonia was sure they had lost.

Team Marcel got called in to Judges’ Table first and notified that they had been chosen by only 17 or 76 votes tabulated. Tom asked why the poor performance. Marcel tried to explain it by “last-minute issues.” Tom was not buying that. He wanted to know who had failed to provide the plan to execute complicated food. At that moment you knew who was going to be eliminated, as there is only one person with that responsibility on a team. Antonia was told her dish was far too salty. Tom asked: “Why foam? Why now?” to Marcel. The desserts of Marcel and Tiffany were criticized as having poor taste. Tiffany’s asparagus flavors were bad as she had allowed all of it to leach out into the cooking liquid. Angelo was told his pink peppercorns were not really Mediterranean and his flavors were overwhelming. Mike, Marcel and Antonio then attacked each other for bad performance. Angelo said they were acting like children, which was true. Team Marcel was excused temporarily and Team Dale was summoned.

They knew that they had won. The only question was which individual had won. The obvious choice was Dale because as the equivalent of Executive Chef he had the responsibility for the total effort. Richard made the argument that he had served as technical advisor, helping each of his teammates. Specific comments about these chefs were:
Tre- flavors great, food delicious
Fabio – service top-notch; dessert outstanding
Dale – egg dish was a treat
Whoever had done the potato chips (multiple of them) – deserving of major credit

Team Marcel was called back in and here were the comments:
Overall management of the team – unbelievably bad (Marcel’s fault); every team member appeared to be out for themselves and there was no cohesion
Antonia – too salty
Marcel – dessert terrible
Mike – lamb and pork dishes barely acceptable (he’s off the hook)
Angelo – kept his head down and failed to help anyone else
Tiffany – poor FOH performance; asparagus had no flavor

With Antonia, Mike and Angelo off the hook, it came down to a decision on whether Marcel’s sins had been bigger than Tiffany’s. She did badly but he did worse, as his team had no leadership. Marcel was eliminated. He was philosophic about his elimination. He
did not think he had done anything wrong except choose the wrong teammates. He stated that he was the most misunderstood chef in the annals of Top Chef.

I was unhappy with the latitude Antonia and Mike took to not follow the guidance of their team captain. Both of them are marginal anyway (along with Tiffany and Carla), so I don’t expect them to last much longer. The contenders for the season at this point are Richard, Angelo, Dale and Fabio. Tre has been along for the ride and if he does not step up and distinguish himself positively he will also be out soon.


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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2011, 04:27:55 PM »
I'd have to agree with your assessment of which chefs are in it for the long haul and which ones are cannon fodder

In trouble:
Tiffany- very invisible the enitre season and has been scraping along the bottom
Tre- the only thing I can remember about him is that incessent laughter, plus he mentioned his family- the "kiss of death" in reality shows
Mike- all I've gotten from him this season is that he's funny and stubborn, very lackluster performance compared to S6
Antonia- started off kind of strong, but has definitely petered off recently.  What is it now, three bottom group appearances in a row?

Middle of the pack:
Carla- she's been relatively strong throughout the comp., but the only times she's really shown is when she wins
Fabio- very rocky start, but has seemed to find his groove recently, he's still a little inconsistant for me at the moment tho

Dale, Angelo, and Richard- all have performed spectacularly throughout, and none were really in danger of being eliminated, at least so far

I've also heard a rumor that the F4 is all-male, not saying it's true, but it is more likely with the editing bias that's taking place

Offline lostinTARland

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2011, 01:06:12 PM »
Food Network Canada is behind, episode 4 is set to air tomorrow.

Having said that, it ticks me off that Jamie is still there and Chefs like Jenn and Dale are gone. She is either the cagiest (is that a word?) competitor there or she has a gold horseshoe lodged somewhere in her body.

She did not impress me in her original season and I am less impressed with her in this season

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2011, 12:14:43 PM »
9 chefs remain as we start this episode. The Guest Judge for the Quickfire only is Isaac Mizrahi, famous fashion designer. The task was to create in 30 minutes a visually stunning dish that would not be tasted. Only presentation counted. The chefs grumbled about that as they furiously worked on their concepts. Here were the dishes they presented:

Angelo - pineapple skins,  curry salted egg, dill, the misspelled word "crocadile" painted on the table
Antonia - yucca potatoes,lentils, nuts, seeds
Carla - borscht w/ sandwich, lattice of cucumbers
Dale T. - beet puree, cantaloupe, maple syrup meringue, avocado, mango
Fabio - tuna w/ sidewalk of caramel mushrooms umbrellas, lemon juice
Mike I. - carrot puree, roasted eggplant, egg yolk
Richard - black chocolate ice cream w/ menthol crystals, herbal salad, mint ice cream dots
Tiffany - almond gazpacho, grapes, dirt made of rye bread
Tre - smoked salmon, beets, curry noodles, food colors

The losers' group was Angelo (superfluous writing on the table), Dale (looks like everything left over from making a dish) and Tre (too simplistic). The winners' group was Richard, Carla and Fabio. Richard won immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

Elimination Challenge
This was to create an Italian feast to be served to the leadership of Rao's Restaurant plus a manager of another branch, a bartender and Lorraine Bracco, award-winning actress, owner of Bracco Wines and consummate Italian foodie. Knives were drawn to assign one of the 3 courses of an Italian feast, each of which comes with advice from one of the principals:

Antipasti (appetizer) - chef Dion                                             Antonia, Carla, Tiffany
Primi (first main course, usually pasta) - Frankie Junior  Dale, Mike, Tre
Secondi (second main course) - Frankie Senior               Richard, Angelo, Fabio

Teams had 30 minutes to shop and 2 hours to prep, then the courses were staggered for final cooking at Rao's restaurant. Antonia noted that Tre was heading for trouble on risotto because he had not coated the rice properly. Tre had won a risotto competition in TC3 with Anthony Bourdain as Guest Judge and wanted to try a different approach. Tiffany burned her polenta but somehow made it come out all right.

Here were the dishes presented:

Antonia - mussels w/ fennel, white wine, garlic and parsley ciabatta
Carla - minestrone soup, basil oil tomato, homemade focaccia
Tiffany - polenta terrine w/ Italian sausage, roasted peppers, herbs, tomato/mozzarella salad
Dale - fresh pasta, pancetta, Brussels sprouts, chanterelle mushrooms, pecorino romano
Mike - spicy calamari, fresh rigatoni, tomato sauce
Tre - grilled vegetable risotto, marinated tomato, fresh basil
Angelo - sauteed pork chop, cherry peppers, green olives, pancetta
Fabio - pollo alla cacciatore, polenta el pecorino
Richard - fresh pancetta cutlet, broccolini, pickles, cherry tomatoes

Comments by the diners and later only the judges at Judges Table were:
Antipasti - polenta with sausage very good, soup with parmesan authentic
Primi - nothing good, with Anthony Bourdain asking how 3 professional chefs could **** up pasta so badly
Secondi - Richard's very good, Fabio's chicken cacciatore very Italian

The winners' group was Antonia, Carla, Tiffany and Fabio (who was supremely confident because Italian food is his expertise. However, it is also Antonia's and she won with what Fabio rightly called a French dish, pissed that he did not win this challenge. The losers' group was all of the Primi group - Dale, Mike, Tre. Anthony Bourdain was vociferous in his criticism of all 3 dishes. Mike's pasta was undercooked with too much egg. Dale's pasta was crumbly, sauce insufficient and the pancetta bland (Lorraine Bracco asked how this was possible). Tre had used a different approach than when he had won a risotto competition in TC3 with Bourdain the guest judge, but this risotto was not cooked right and tom stated that "you blew the rice away with garnish." It looked to me that the biggest sinner was Tre and he and Dale had also been on the bottom for the Quickfire.

It was saynonara to Tre. He is a solid chef but not highly skilled with Italian cuisine.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2011, 09:38:15 AM »
TC8, ep. 8

The Quickfire was judged by a special guest judge, the chefs themselves (no doubt an economy move by the producers), who were asked to rank order the dishes of every other chef. It was to create a unique fondue using a variety of ingredients already in the Top Chef Kitchen. Immunity will no longer be applicable for any of the remaining episodes, but there was a prize of a 3 night trip to Napa Valley, including a special tour of the Terlato Family Vineyards. The fondues presented were:

Angelo – walnuts, endive, goat cheese fondue w/ beet juice shooter
Antonia – smoked salmon on toast, fromage blanc, crème fraiche
Carla – beef tenderloin + shrimp w/ coconut lime curry sauce
Dale – rare beef pho, peppers, onions, charred ginger, bread, lime, sriracha, broth
Fabio – blini (Russian buckwheat pancakes) w/ caviar, fromage blanc
Mike – spiced lamb kabob w/ feta cheese fondue, mint, chili
Richard – chocolate w/ bananas, ras el Hanout, amaretto, in liquid nitrogen
Tiffany – apple fritters w/ ricotta cheese and chocolate
The losers’ group was Fabio, Tiffany and Mike. The winners’ group was Carla, Dale and Angelo. Dale won the prize.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were asked to go to Rockefeller Center NBC Studios, where they arrived for a taping of the Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon. The challenge was called the cell phone shootout, involving a screen with flashing images of Jimmy’s favorite foods and the chef using a cell phone camera to take a screenshot of what would become the dish he or she would have to make for Jimmy’s birthday party (his 36th birthday was on 9/19/10 when this episode was probably taped). The assignments which resulted of quite mundane food types were:

Angelo – pulled pork
Antonia – beef tongue
Carla – chicken potpie
Dale – Philadelphia cheese steak
Fabio – hamburger with French fries
Mike – peppers and onions
Richard – ramen noodles
Tiffany – chicken and dumplings

The chefs generally accepted this challenge as translating into embellishing the basic items with special flavors by adding ingredients to the basics. They had 45 minutes to shop in what looked to me like a large deli rather than Whole Foods. The Night Show announcer Steve Huggins told the chefs that Jimmy does not like mushrooms, eggplant or mayonnaise, not a huge list of ingredients to avoid. After a night’s rest, the chefs had 2 hours to prep at Colicchio & Sons, where the celebratory meal was being served. The dishes presented were:

Angelo – pulled pork in a sauce of coffee, dill and cilantro, chipotle rub, dill slaw
Antonia – beef tongue on pumpernickel rye w/ onions, pickles, dill slaw
Carla – chicken potpie w/ pea salt, carrots, herbs
Dale – Philly cheese steak on pretzel roll w/ cheddar cheese sauce, peppers, onions
Fabio – hamburger w/ melted cheddar cheese on the side and French fries
Mike - sausage, peppers, onions, garlic, fennel, paprika
Richard – ramen noodles w/ seared pork belly, duck legs, duck egg
Tiffany – clear soup with broad flat noodles, poblano peppers, red peppers, cilantro

Diners were:
Judges Tom, Gail, Padma and Anthony Bourdain, plus Jimmy Fallon
Fallon Family – his wife, parents, sister, mother-in-law     
Late Night staffers – announcer Steve Higgins,

Comments while dining included:
Fabio – cheese on the side very strange
Dale – way too salty

At some point, it was announced that the winner was going to have a cooking segment on the Late Night show. Later, it was expanded to include a 6 night trip to
Tokyo with accommodations at the Tokyo Hilton and airfare worth $5,000.

The winners’ group was Carla, Antonia and Angelo (almost the same as for the Quickfire). The losers’ group was Tiffany, Fabio and Dale. Here were the comments at Judges’ Table about their dishes:

Tiffany’s chicken potpie – not dumplings but broad flat noodles in soup
Fabio – hamburger had no juiciness; cheese sauce on the side absurd
Dale – too much salt destroyed this sandwich
I told my wife I thought it could be any of these 3 eliminated. Perhaps because he was also on the bottom for the Quickfire, Fabio was eliminated although Tiffany was also on the bottom of the Quickfire.

Offline tory

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2011, 09:53:29 AM »
 :'( :'( :'( i can;t belive fabio went home over dale.....
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Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2011, 09:58:02 AM »
:'( :'( :'( i can;t belive fabio went home over dale.....

I don't like it either. Although I would have prefered Tiffany to go home, atleast Dale has presented some good dishes and he is more fun to watch.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2011, 10:59:31 AM »
Fabio is the best Front of House individual on Top Chef All-Stars (TC8). However, he was only 4th in TC5 and I felt that was fair. He has frequently been in the bottom half of performance for the TC8 culinary tasks, although whenever FOH skills are required he has shined. Do not confuse a sparkling personality (which he has) with being an all-around Top Chef.  Fabio is limited in the types of food he likes to cook (witness his inability to do a simple burger) if the cuisine is not Italian, where he is an expert.

Dale was not a top performer in TC4, where he finished 6th. However, in TC8 he has been consistently near the top. In the Quickfire of episode 8 he won the 3 night trip to Napa Valley. I expected that he would get the nod to stay in over both Fabio and Tiffany, both of whom had been on the bottom in the Quickfire as well as the Elimination Challenge. So, why was Fabio eliminated instead of Tiffany? I cannot tell you because I didn't get to eat the food. However, I recommend that you read the blogs (when posted, usually several days after the episode) that Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain do on as they give a lot of insight into why decisions were made.

Offline TexasLady

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2011, 11:45:24 AM »
I was surprised as well. Seems to me that a salty sandwich would be the deciding factor since it was inedible.  :duno:
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Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2011, 12:03:26 PM »
I was surprised as well. Seems to me that a salty sandwich would be the deciding factor since it was inedible.  :duno:

I read Tom Collichio's blog as apskip suggested and he says that Dale's sandwich was not inedible, but the salt was becoming more intense after a few bites. He also says that Fabio lost because he didn't deliver a burger like the one they were all expecting, all beef and juicy.
It's obvious from his blog that Fabio lost also because he was not considered a good all- around chef.

But still I liked him and I wish he hadn't lost.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2011, 12:41:02 PM »
I hold a grudge against Collichio since Stefan's TC days so I don't pay a lot of attention to his opinion.   :lol:  However, I should remember that the show is edited and we don't see or hear everything. They made such a big deal over the salt that it seemed like the sandwich could only be tasted and the third bite was one bite too many. I'll have to go read the blogs.  :tup:
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Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2011, 08:37:13 AM »
awww i creid when fabio left.. him and his "bourguar" were so darn cute to hear!

Seems like carla is  on a great streak! Along with antonio.

 From the editing  it seems that the guys  just are a step behind on whe at they do but still are able to stay out of the bottom  like Micke  angelo dave and blaze.

 I think it's a great season.
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2011, 09:24:22 AM »
I had some trouble with the above post, but I think it really means the following male chefs:

Richard (Blais is his last name)

Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #29 on: February 11, 2011, 10:15:25 AM »
thank u apskip yes those are who i meant.
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Offline IloveJesus

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2011, 11:49:53 AM »
Blais has always been my favorite. I always enjoyed when came back to make an appearance as a guest judge or help out. He just has the coolest ideas. He seems a little sensitive but I think he is getting over that. I think the Colichio does over act a bit. The only judges that I really trust what they say are the guest judges. It seems like the other judges just mimic their reactions sometimes.

As for Fabio, I am glad he is gone. I don't think he is a very good chef. He has a great tv personality but that doesn't keep you on the show. The women seem much more dedicated and full of ideas right now. I would like Blais to win but I have a feeling that he will choke like he did when he originally aired. I don't think he is the best at cooking seafood in the group.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 10:42:48 AM by IloveJesus »

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2011, 10:26:17 PM »
It seems like a good time for my assessment of who will go how far in this competition. I think Mike Isabella has been living on borrowed time, so I expect him to be next out next at 7th place. Richard, Antonia, Angelo and Dale have been cooking really well, so they are my picks for the Final 4. So who does that leave?

I see Tiffany and Carla as leaving soon after Mike to finish #6 and #5. Neither is consistent enough to stay in despite the multiple wins that Carla has received.

I think it's Richard for the win, Angelo #2, Antonia #3 and Dale #4.

What do you think?

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #32 on: February 13, 2011, 01:14:59 AM »
I agree with apskip that the next one to go is Mike or maybe Tifany, she has not been doing very well.
Richard and Angelo in the last episodes they have been mostly in the middle but I think they are the most likely winners (I'm not very objective since they are my favourites). Antonia is also doing well and she will go further.
The big questions for me is Carla and Dale. They have a lot of ups and down. They both have won some challenges but they are not consistent. Dale has been in the bottom for two consecutive episodes, a third might be fatal, especially if Mike presents a decent dish.

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2011, 08:58:16 AM »
TC8, ep. 9

7 chefs remain as this episode started with a Cookie Quickfire involving as Guest Judges Cookie Monster, Elmo and Telly from Sesame Street. The chefs made these cookies:

Angelo – chocolate chip Belgian hazelnut cookie w/ chocolate banana milkshake
Antonia – chocolate chip cookie w/ white chocolate chips, fresh caramel glaze, sprinkles
Carla – chocolate chunk chip cookie w/ cinnamon
Dale T. – pretzel potato chip shortbread cookie w/ salted caramel chocolate ganache
Mike I. – chocolate + dried cherry cookie w/ rose petal powdered sugar
Richard – ice cream cookie w/ chocolate chips, zucchini, mint (Note – Carla accused Richard of following in the footsteps of Marcel with his incessant use of liquid nitrogen)
Tiffany - shortbread cookie w/ lemon zest, thyme, rosemary, coconut milk

The losers’ group was Richard and Angelo. The winners’ group was Dale and Antonia. Dale won the prize of $5000 provided by Buitoni.

Elimination Challenge

The Target Elimination Challenge involved arriving at midnight to a huge Target store at an unidentified location that had fresh produce as well as kitchen equipment run on electricity that could be used to make a 3am meal for 100 Target employees and the judges (Anthony Bourdain, Ming Tsai, and Target home designer Thomas O’Brien joining tom and Padma). In checking Target fresh produce stores, I discovered that the 2 Brooklyn stores were not the ones used, although it could have been one of two in Queens or one of two in Brooklyn or in Jersey City or Long Island. The chefs had 3 hours to collect ingredients, find equipment and get cooking. Carla was worried about tablecloths and baloney like that instead of getting started cooking and you will see what impact that had. Most of the other chefs also featured soups and appreciated that optimal flavor development mandated maximum cooking time. Dale demonstrated creativity by using a clothes iron to finish the outside of his sandwiches. Mike was working with Angelo on gathering supplies and gave Angelo his assessment that his soup was too salty, but Angelo apparently did not have the time or the energy to fix it. Here are the dishes prepared:

Angelo – baked potato soup w/ bacon, sour cream, potato skins, cheddar cheese
Antonia – parmesan eggs on garlic crostini, almond, tomato/apple salad
Carla – curry apple soup w/ tomato ginger jam, cucumber/apple slaw
Dale T. – rib-eye grilled cheese sandwich w/ spicy tomato soup
Mike I. – spicy coconut soup w/ mushrooms, scallions, lime
Richard – pork tenderloin w/ green chilies, apple, pork rib, corn pancakes
Tiffany – jambalaya w/ chicken, sausage, shrimp, summer salad

There were a variety of comments made by the judges during the sampling of each dish:
Angelo – way too salty
Antonia – egg very tasty
Carla – it’s missing something; some believe it is protein (which Carla wanted but did not have the time to go find); insufficient flavor development
Dale – use of an iron innovative and paves the way for Dale to become an “Iron Chef”
Mike – spicy worked, good flavors
Richard – delicious
Tiffany – chicken is soggy; spices are off

Padma observed that there were several soups (4 of 7 by my count). The chefs and judges returned to Top Chef headquarters in Brooklyn by 620am for the start of Judges Table. The winners’ group was Dale, Richard and Antonia, two of them repeating similar outcomes from the Quickfire. Dale won $25,000, the largest prize ever for any Top Chef challenge.

The losers’ group was Angelo, Carla and Tiffany. Summary of comments about them was:

Angelo – too salty and scallions bad (Anthony); too rich (Padma)
Carla – flavor did not develop properly (Tom); lack of protein was a negative (Anthony, Ming)
Tiffany – too aggressive on seasoning, use of prepared spice mix a poor decision when natural spices were available (Anthony and Tom)

The final outcome could have eliminated any of these three. I think Angelo’s clearly not tasting his final product was viewed as an inexcusable rookie mistake and that overcame bad judgment by Carla and by Tiffany in their dishes. Also, Angelo was in the bottom of the Quickfire. His post-elimination remarks to the camera included the fact that he was tired and worn out from the competition. He did not say that working from midnight to 3am was a factor, but some chefs fared better than others in fighting fatigue.

Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2011, 12:58:42 PM »
Looks like Dale is picking up momentum!

Tiffany is barely getting by

Carla flew by the seat of her pants with  that last challenge

Middle of the pack are Mike and Richard

Top Antonia and Dale

 I thought it was cute that they had the Sesame Street puppets but who actually were the real tasters?  and was that a fair comp?  At this stage of the game i hope they all  get a fair taste-review for thier dishes. puppets ust dont seem fair. :lol3:
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Offline Dånooky

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2011, 04:26:32 PM »
Probably off Topic, but I recently saw an ad for a new show on SyFy called "Marcel's Quantum Kitchen" featuring our eponymous Top Chef.

EDIT: nvm, I already saw the other topic
The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #36 on: February 19, 2011, 09:49:48 AM »

 I thought it was cute that they had the Sesame Street puppets but who actually were the real tasters?  and was that a fair comp?  At this stage of the game i hope they all  get a fair taste-review for thier dishes. puppets ust dont seem fair. :lol3:

The Muppets are operated by Muppeteers. These humans were the ones eating and rating the cookies. I cannot find anything on Telly, but Elmo is handled by KEVIN CLASH and COOKIE MONSTER by MARTY ROBINSON.

Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #37 on: February 19, 2011, 10:51:47 AM »
I was being sarcastic.. I know the puppets are operated by humans.  Just thought it was odd setup for taste testing.
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Offline KitKat

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #38 on: February 19, 2011, 06:50:05 PM »
I was being sarcastic.. I know the puppets are operated by humans.  Just thought it was odd setup for taste testing.

Ugot, I know you actually did think the muppets were tasting the food  :lol3:
delightful just delightful

Offline ugot2bekidinmeny

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2011, 01:07:22 PM »
troublemaker! :lol3:

I was being sarcastic.. I know the puppets are operated by humans.  Just thought it was odd setup for taste testing.

Ugot, I know you actually did think the muppets were tasting the food  :lol3:
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Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #40 on: February 24, 2011, 06:51:33 PM »
TC8, ep. 10

This episode began with Paula Deen, proponent of Southern cooking with lots of frying, arrived as Guest Judge. She presented a Quickfire with $5000 prize to create thee best fried dish in 30 minutes. Frying is uncommon in haute cuisine, so these chefs were not typically not familiar with it, but they created with gusto. the dishes presented to Paula and Padma were these:
Antonia - fried avocado, shrimp + jalapeno, grilled corn, tomato, fried herbs
Carla- catfish w/ dijon mustard, hushpuppies, cole slaw w/ mayo, hot sauce, mint
Dale- fried steak wrapped egg yolk omelet w/ parsley tips, chives
Mike- fried chicken oysters w/ mustard gravy, oyster liquor
Richard- fried bacon w/ fried bacon, tomato, cucumber  
Tiffany- fried chiken wings and pickles, honey mustard sauce w/ cilantro + cumin salad
The losers group was Dale and Carla. Dale's flavors were way off. Carla's hushpuppies were "like spitballs." The winners' group was Richard and Mike with Antonia the winner if she had not been disqualified for failing to do a second plate for Padma. There was great controversy between Richard and Mike, as Mike had plagiarized Richard's recipe from having scanned his recipe book that morning. Antonia summarized that chefs do not steal other chefs' recipes or concepts even if what they were doing is "legal." Mike was legal but unethical. None of this might have mattered except that Mike won the $5,000 from Buitoni.
Paula was joined by John Besh, winner of a James Beard Foundation Southeast award, who was replacing Anthony Bourdain. This challenge was to cook small plates of one Gulf Coast seafood dish for 300 people for the Greater New Orleans Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund benefit. Sous chef help was provided as 6 previously eliminated chefs were offered along with a specific protein:
Mike picked shrimp and Tiffani
Richard picked Fabio and the protein snapper came along with him
Tiffany picked white shrimp and Marcel (the chef nobody incluing her wanted) came with it
Carla picked Tre and grouper
Antonia picked crabs and got Spike
Dale picked amberjack and got Angelo
They had 15 minutes to plan, $200 and 30 minutes to buy at Restaurant Depot, 45 minutes and $500 to buy at Whole Foods, 2.5 hours to prep in thr top chef kitchen and 30 minutes to setup at the site. The dishes created were:
Antonia- blue crabcake, corn, jalapeno + andouille relish w/ crab broth
Carla-fried grouper w/ ham hock collard greens, chow-chow pico
Dale- blckened amberjack stew w/ andouille sausage + potatoes, ham, bell peppers, onions, Creole mustard crouton
Mike- grit-crusted Gulf shrimp , sour cream and chive potatoes, w/ pork + lobster sauce
Richard- crispy Gulf snapper w/ pulled pork, citrus grits
Tiffany- honey glazed shrimp, grits w/ jalapeno + cheese,shellfish sauce
Eminent guests also eating the dishes were Jonathon Waxman (Top Chef Masters 1 and 2), Carmen Gonzalez (TCM2) and David Burke (TCM2).
The comments by the judges while sampling were:
Mike- "nail on the head", wonderful, great flavors
Richard- it works, light great spices
Carla - too much hot sauce, too salty, "I didn't care for it"
Tiffany- Paula like heads on for sucking; "you don't taste the shrimp" due to the glaze, not a fan of honey glaze, overcooked
Dale-undecooked potato, mustard flavor overwhelming
Antonia - very delicate, great sauce, really like it
Those comments made it obvious that the winners' group would be Antonia, Richard and Mike and the losers' group would be Dale, Carla and Tiffany. My guess was that Carla's time was up. At Judges' Table John admired Antonia's use of a small amount of andouille sausage and Paula termed Mike's coating the shrimp with grits as "genius" and loved the potatoes too. So did he win twice? No, as the editors keep trying to have the judges comments in balance so the outcome is unpredictable. Richard was selected as the winner and he got a 6 night trip to Barbados with $5000 of airfare incuded. he sated that he would invite Fabio to join his family on that trip.
The losers' group was as I expected. Here were the judges' comments:
Carla- beautiful fish doused in hot sauce and mustard, "none of the others made sense together",
Dale- did not get the potatoes right in that batch, mustard on crouton part of major flavor competition but amberjack flavor was lost in the shuffle
Tiffany- did not cook shrimp, which were overcooked and mealy, way too sweet due to too much glaze; off the record, Marcel failed to cut the glaze
Dale was the chef eliminated. H and Carla both were in the bottom group for the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenge.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 01:14:40 PM by apskip »

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #41 on: February 25, 2011, 03:05:24 AM »
I can't believe that Mike is still in the game. He should have been eliminated a long time ago. In this episode he gave me a really bad impression, first by using Richard's idea in the quickfire and then relying on Tiffani in the elimination challenge (at least that's what I thought).

On another note, do you think the producers have decided that another woman has to win Top Chef?
We are down to top five and there are 3 women and 2 men and from those Mike & Tiffany should have been eliminated long ago and Carla is anything but consistent. So in my opinion the two contenters seem to be Antonia and Richard (strangely enough both fron season 4). 
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 12:28:18 PM by kikisak »

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2011, 12:17:24 PM »
I agree wholeheatedly with Kikisak on Richard and Antonia finishing 1/2 or 2/1 becuase they are thee best and most consistent chefs. Carla was very lucky to survive the last two episodes and Kikisak is right about Mike Isabella. He does not belong in the Final 5. Neither does Tiffany.

Kikisak, I recommend that you change the spelling of your first reference to "relying on Tiffani". It was /season 1 chef Tiffani Faison that I am certain you mean, not season 7's Tiffany, who has no reason to help Mike.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 01:16:26 PM by apskip »

Offline kiki

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2011, 12:29:55 PM »
Thank you for the observation apskip. Ofcourse I meant Tiffani from season 1, I just hadn't noticed the slight variation in the spelling of the name.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2011, 01:12:31 PM »
TC8, ep. 11
The 5 remaining chefs were asked to board the Miss Freedom ferry for an off-hours trip to Ellis Island, bringing their knives and minor equipment with them. They found a message indicarting that they were to take anything from the Miss Freedom snackbar as soon as a whistle sounded and "cook" until they arrived at Ellis Island and a second whistle sounded.  The only heating equipment was a small microwave oven. Their creations were:
Richard - hot dog and beef jerky sandwich w/ jalapeno, pork rinds, lettuce, apple
Tiffany - nachos w/ cheese, lettuce, tomato, banana pepper, sour cream; popcorn w/ candied mangos + pineapples
Mike - bread soup w/ cheddar cheese, sour cream, green chili, pork rinds
Carla - orange + papaya salad w/ carrot and rosemary juice
Antonia- grilled cheese w/ apples, raisin bread
The Guest Judge waiting on Ellis Island was Dan Barber, a proponent of using farm-fresh ingredients, quite a difference from what was happening in this Quickfire. He said that Tiffany's dish was "a throwaway" and Mike's could have "sunk a ship". He had better grades for Richard (tasty and creative), Antonia (smart grilling technique) and Carla (refreshing and innovative). Carla was the winner.
Padma then announced that the final Elimination Challenge in New York City was about to start. The chefs were greeted by close relatives, each of whom had a special book on their family history created by a genealogist from Ellis Island. Those relatives were:
Antonia - her mother
Carla - her husband (whom met through
Mike - his mother (and the culinary heritage of his grandmother)
Richard - his wife (who he said was an athlete and is highly competitve)
Tiffany - her mother
I was ironic that Antonia, who had no respect whatever for Mike, discovered that they both have Antonacci ancestors way back, making them nth degree cousins. The challenge was to create food that reflects their ancestry. Their basic choices of types of food style were:
Antonia - Italian, risotto
Carla - Southern (originally as slaves), chowder
Mike - Italian, gnocchi
Richard - Irish/English, meat and potatoes
Tiffany - Southern, using okra (risky as Tom is known to hate it)
The winner would get a Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV plus a guaranteed spot in the final 4. The chefs shopped for 30 minutes. They had 3 hours to cook. The meal was served to their relatives plus Gail, Tom, Padma and Dan. Where is Anthony Bourdain when you need him? The meals created the next day were:
Antonia - risotto w/ braised veal, rapini leaf (broccoli rabe to the layperson) + fava beans
Carla- braised pork shoulder, grits, corn in a broth, cheddar cheese biscuits
Mike- potato gnocchi w/ braised pork shank ragout, burratta cheese
Richard- short ribs, potatoes, fried bone marrow, corn puree and pickled glassworts (sea beans)
Tiffany- braised short ribs w/ mustard greens, stewed okra, oxtail marmalade
Comments while eating were:
about Mike - we've had a lot of problems with gnocchi on Top Chef, but this is great
about Antonia - packed with flavor
about Tiffany - Tom liked okra for first time, Padma called it "a crunchy nugget"
about Richard - "ALL right"
about Carla - shoulder of pork a great choice, passing the biscuits very family style
Carla's husband asked if there was ever a Top Chef season when nobody was eliminated at this stage, allowing 5 chefs to move on to the semifinals. The answer was no, but the mood was that every chef had done an exceptional job and that no elimination as the right thing to do. I predicted at this point that that was exactly what would happen. After all, Top Chef does not like to embarrass chefs around their loved ones.
The Judges Table discussion was very positive. HIghlights were:
Carla - broth and cheddar biscuits exceptional; Tom found the corn a little tough
Richard - Dan cited the power of roasted potatoes, tom said the flavors worked together
Antonia - Padma said risotto is tricky but this was excellent; Tom said that her self-confidence was self-evident
Tiffany - had converted Tom to liking excellently prepared okra  
Mike - gnocchi great, flavors rich, great balance
So, who won? It was Antonia that would drive away in the Highlander and secure the first place in the Bahamas. Next, Mike was given the Bahamas trip. Then Richard was given his pass. This left Tiffany and Carla, who had recently been at the bottom of elimination challenges. But Padma had good and appropriate news: both were also going to the Bahamas. It was a deserved feel-good ending to one of the great meals in the history of Top Chef.  
« Last Edit: March 11, 2011, 02:59:40 PM by apskip »

Offline apskip

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #45 on: March 11, 2011, 02:58:51 PM »
TC8, EP. 12

The 5 remaining chefs arrived in Nassau, the Bahamas for some new challenges. This episode was scheduled for 4 months after the prior one, so the chefs were effectively restarting their competition. The Quickfire was unique in that there were 5 competitions for $10,000 each. The chefs arrived to see the winners of their Top Chef season waiting for them and no doubt assumed they were there to serve as their sous chefs. However, in a twist the competition was TC8 chef against their season winner in each contest:
Antonia vs. Season 4 Stephanie
Carla vs. Season 5 Hosea
Mike Isabella vs. Season 6 Mike Voltaggio
Richard vs. Season 4 Stephanie (same dish as against Antonia)
Tiffany vs. Season 7 Kevin
The Quickfire Judges were Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi. This was outdoors and the only kitchen equipment available was fryers and flat-tops. The dishes based on ingredients that were specifcally selected for each pairing were:
Antonia - roasted veal, leeks, almond puree w/ sauteed mushrooms, raisins
Stephanie - veal scallopini w/ tapenade, poached egg
Carla - jollof rice, harissa lamb w/ peppers, onions, lime
Hosea - braised lamb in red chili broth w/ olives, mint, goat cheese + rosemary polenta
Mike I. - cashew dusted spiced duck breast w/ duck legs + mushroom jus
Mike V. - duck breast w/ duck leg in bacon vinaigrette, burnt leek and coffee pesto
Richard - seared veal loin + braised veal cap w/ raisins, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, mushrooms
Stephanie - see above
Tiffany - pork stew w/ potatoes, peppers, citrus, allspice
Kevin - barbecued pork w/ cilantro, celery, shaved onions, citrus salad
Comments during tasting and the result of each pairing were:
Antonia vs. Stephanie -   $10K to Stephanie
Carla vs. Hosea -       $10K to Hosea
Mike I. vs. Mike V. - $10K to Mike I.
Richard vs. Stephanie - $10K to Richard
Tiffany vs. Kevin - $10k to Tiffany
I found the wins by Mike I. and Tiffany unexpected. The food put up by Hosea, both Mikes, Richard, Tiffany and Kevin was really good. The food by Carla had undercooked rice and by Antonia was medioce at best.
The Elimination Challenge started in a designated Top Chef - Bahamas kitchen, probably in their hotel, the Atlantis. They were to cook for Bahamas royalty. Anyone who knows much about the Bahamas, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly British Commonwealth), knows it is independent but ruled by a Governor-General, who would not be royalty. Its only ties to royalty would be weak ones to Queen Elizabeth II. I doubted that she would be participating in a Top Chef episode, so I expected it would be for the holder of an honorary royal title. The producers apparently thought that the King of Junkanoo was a hereditary title, but they founnd otherwise when meeting him. Chefs prepped for 2.5 hours a menu developed with available ingredients. The prepped items were then taken to the Twin Brothers Seafood and Steakhouse where a Mardi Gras type celebration with about 45 people was in progress outside. The chefs were introduced to the King of Junkanoo, Percy Francis. They then had 1 hour to cook for him, the celebrators and the judges..
On entering the kitchen both Tiffany and Antonia attempted to get the fryer up to temperature. The fryer oil immediately started smoking and one bin caught fire. The chefs were evacuated without their food, the fire department was called and their chemical sprays promptly ruined all the food. I ask you if you think that Top Chef producers and Tom Colicchio were in cahoots to pose another deliberate obstacle. I  think it's possible, but nobody who knows would ever admit it. The chefs had to return to prep again, with a major delay. That caused Antonia to rethink her dish totally and Richard quite a bit. Chefs were exhausted and that undoubtedly led to atypical mistakes. The final dishes were:
Antonia - crispy shrimp + grits w/ cilantro, pickled vegetables
Carla - fried pork medallions w/ sweet potato puree, apple sauce, apple chip
Mike I. - sous vide chicken, mushrooms, yams, lobster sauce, lobster hash
Richard - roasted lamb loin + malted braised leg wrapped in turnip canneloni w/ pickled turnip, mustard
Tiffany - roasted spiced pork tenderloin, dirty rice, curried slaw, tomato jam
Comments on the dishes included:
Antonia - shrimp overcooked, meat had no flavor
Carla - apple chips too sweet, meat raw
Mike I. - lobster nicely cooked, chicken meat dry, Gail disliked sauce, Eric said "it came together"
Richard - lamb, mustard , turnip simple but it worked; Eric said delicate but not pungent
Tiffany - wanted to see something more sophisticated; grape tomato jam excellent
Carla discovered toward the end of cooking time that her pork was undercooked. She tried hard to fix it, but her plates for the judges were variable.The Judges' Table comments while sampling each meal included:
about Antonia - meat in the grits was a huge mistake; no sauce for her cannelloni; shrimp overcooked
about Carla - Gail's pork was raw; Tom's was undercooked; Eric's was perfect; this variability was unacceptable
about Mike I. - sauce was the star; chicken breast meat dry 
about Richard - lambs nicely cooked; turnip too soft
about Tiffany - not exciting, middle of the road
"The King" finished his meal and commentary with "it's better in the Bahamas," a deserved product placement.

The judges were generally underwhelmed and disappointed by the food. They could make no allowances for the cicumstances, as the progress of TC8 required elimiinating somone. The better dishes were by the men. Mike was judged the winner and Richard was pronounced safe. The 3 women were the Losers' Group. Comments specifically directed to them were:
Carla - pork was undercooked or raw
Antonia - see above; serious technical mistake       
Tiffany - nicely seasoned but wrong sauce

Carla was judged to have made the most serious mistakes and was eliminated.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2011, 06:28:06 AM »
Some may wonder why Richard and Mike I. seem to be winning everything after an early season run by Antonia. There is a good reason. During a 4 month break in filming (September to January), Blais was working on a file of all the recipes he knew and Isabella was working hard to perfect his culinary skills. They simply want to win $200,000 more than the remaining women do.

I am going to predict that Tiffany is next out, that Richard finishes #1, Mike I. #2 and Antonia a distant #3. We will know on the April 6 finale, before Top Chef Masters 3 debuts late that evening.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2011, 07:44:22 AM »
apskip I agree with your prediction. The final battle will be between Richard and Mike, unless of course Richard chokes up like the last time.
This last episode  I thought it was really bad, almost boring, maybe because the fire ruined its flow.
Let's hope that the next one will be better, but it is almost as if the previous episode with the chefs going back to their routes was the culmination of the season.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2011, 10:12:05 AM »
TC8, Ep. 13

This episode began at the Atlantis Hotel where the chefs were asked to pair up and provide a consistent plating of 100 identical dishes for lunch at the Bahamian Club. Mike chose Richard, which left Antonia with Tiffany. The Guest Judge was Lorena Garcia of the new NBC series "America's Next Best Restaurant' (blatant product placement since NBC owns BRAVO). There were 100 numbered plates for each team and Padma picked two from one chef pairing and Lorena two frm the other. The winning team would get a $5000 prize from ?latta Wines.
Antonia and Tiffany made beef tenderloin salad with cilantro, mint basil, and a chimichurri (Yum!) sauce . Tififfany had to begin plating amost immediately, as it was composed of 4 separate components that had to be assembled on each plate. Mike and Richard made fresh pasta, difficult to do in the one hour allotted, pork Bolognese with fresh macaroni and pecorino cheese. The women chose a simpler task and they were judged to have more consistent results. If the criterion were taste or originality, then the result may have been different. Mike and Richard were both quite upset by their loss of momentum.
The Elimination Challenge was to cook a dinner including conch on a remote island for celebration of the Nassau Yacht Club 80th annivsersary, for all Bahamian guests except for Tom, Padma, Gail and Lorena as Judges. The chefs had 3.5 hours to create the meal, cooked on wood-burning stoves. Once they arrived on the island they found beatiful fresh grouper, other seafood and spiny lobster as well as a variety of fresh produce. However, in the crate marked "conch" there was only snorkels. Each chef had to dive down to 8 to 10 feet to collect conch shells. Once onshore the hard work of extracting the conch meat began. Small hammers were provided, as that is what the local fisherman use. It was mentioned that Antonia had caught 10 conch to get the meat for what looked like about 15 plates. A staff of waiters arrived on the island and it was interesting that they alternated their shirts off-camera from black to white.
The dishes created by the chefs were:
Antonia - seared red snapper with conch tartare and lobster broth
Mike - banana-wrapped steamed grouper w/ braised pineapple and warm conch vinaigrette, vegetables on top
Richard - sweet potato linguine with conch and spiny lobster
Tiffany - cold conch ceviche over warm (but limited by serving delay) conch + coconut chowder, w/ sweet potatoes 
Thr judges stated that all chefs did a good job, but who did best and worst?Tom found Antonia's fih overcooked; Padm found the dish too conventional. Lorena said Richard's lobster was undercooked. Gail was blown away by Mike's savory pineapple flavors; Tom liked the smokiness of the banana leaf. Gail commented on the unevenness of Tiffany's hot and cold components' temperature; Tom found it too sweet and felt the flavors didn't come together. Best turned out to be Mike, whose savory pinneapple was pronounced by Gail to be spectacular and whose flavors came together in a very positive way. Richard and Antonia had good dishes that kept them in the competition. The choice of cold over warm by Tiffany was criticized by the judges.
In the final analysis, Tiffany was the one to go home. That left Mike, Richard and Antonia to compete for the title and money.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2011, 12:17:05 PM »
It's obvious from the last episodes that Mike is on fire, he won the last 3 elimination challenges. Also he arrived in Bahamas very well prepared, he obviously practiced a lot in the meantime.
I was surprised to hear that neither Antonia nor Tiffany had ever cooked a conch, unlike Mike and Richard who had tried it.
They knew they were going to the Bahamas so why didn't try to learn anything about conch that is very common there? And that was their downfall at the end.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #50 on: March 24, 2011, 10:15:24 AM »
TOP CHEF 8, Ep. 15

The Quickfire opened with the introduction of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck as its Judge. Each chef would assign a dish to one of their competitors and Mike got first choice as a result of winning the prior Elimination Challenge. He gave Canned and Dry Goods (nothing fresh) to Antonia. Antonia gave a hot dog to Richard. Richard had 5 choices left and gave “One Pot” to Mike, which Antonia said was not smart. Mike was cooking pork in a pressure cooker and had a lot of time to needle Antonia. It was due to finish at about 45 minutes of 60 allowed minutes cooking time. However, before 45 minutes was reached Padma came with the expected twist. The chefs were to get a handicap, with them selected in reverse order. Those were:

Antonia for Richard – cooking with one hand
Richard for Mike – finishing cooking with no knives or utensils
Mike for Antonia – the double apron with Carla on the right side and Antonia on the left

The finished dishes were:
Antonia – curry coconut soup w/ shrimp, andouille sausage, peanuts, fish sauce
Richard – curry wurst of hot dog w/homemade roti bread, curry ketchup, mayo, mint 
Mike – pork shoulder w/ black beans, chili paste, ginger, cabbage salad

Wolfgang Puck’s comments were:
Richard’s curry wurst had too much ketchup flavor
Antonia’s soup was delicious but over-salted
Mike’s pork was undercooked but its balance was good
He gave the win worth $5000 cash from Chilada Wines to Mike. Richard appeared psyched out. Padma made a statement about competing for the $200,000 grand prize and Wolfgang tongue-in-cheek volunteered that he would be interested in being part of that.

Padma showed the 3 chefs a sealed envelope and said there would be more on it the next day and where they were to show up.

On arrival, the chefs found Michelle Bernstein, Wolfgang Puck and Iron Chef Morimoto waiting for them. Will they act as sous chefs? No, instead they have simple dishes that they wish to have as their last meals based on their memories of favorite meals their mothers cooked for them. The chefs need to make their versions of those meals. It was unstated that those meals need to be excellent to impress this set of judges. The assignments are:
Mike – picked Michelle Bernstein, who gave him fried chicken, biscuits and gravy
Richard - picked Wolfgang Puck,  who gave him gulasch, spaetzle and apple strudel
Antonia – was left with Morimoto (but she was pleased), who gave her miso soup, fish, rice which would need to be done perfectly

The cooking and serving was done at the Cloister and Ocean Club. The 3 special Guest Judges were augmented by food photographer Melanie Dunea (photographer for a book of “Last Meals of 50 Chefs” and by Tom, Padma and Gail. Note the odd number of total judges, which may be why Melanie was added, something I would not usually think would be needed. The chefs had 3 hours to cook. As this began, Richard stated “I have won more challenges than anyone in the history of Top Chef, but I blew the big one (finale of TC4).” Antonia said she had completed 31 challenges (I think one less than Richard)Antonia). She found her original hamachi fish rancid, so she was forced to switch to tuna.

The dishes from the chefs were:
Antonia – tuna sashimi, pickled daikon, mushrooms, eggplant, miso soup, perfect rice
Mike – fried chicken w/ egg puree, biscuits from a novel approach of egg yolk inside empanada
, mustard gravy
Richard – beef gulasch, spaetzle, frozen sour cream, tarragon cream, apple strudel   

Judges’ summary comments for each meal were:
Mike – creative but maybe too much so (losing “the way mothers cooked”); elegant “biscuit” fabulous; batter on white meat dry
Antonia – miso has too much salt, tuna has too much pepper, rice excellent
Richard – simple, ingredients, great balance, great gulasch, strudel outstanding, not hot enough,onions undercooked

Additional  comments by the guest judges who provided the challenges were:
Michelle – fried chicken over-juicy and too crispy, breading falling apart, egg yolk in empanada novel and it was superb
Wolfgang – flavors right on, spaetzle a little tough
Morimoto – miso soup too salty (a continuing problem of Antonia’s)

It was obvious that Richard had won this episode and that either Antonia or Mike should be going home. I felt it would be Mike staying to face off against Richard in the finale.  However, Padma had another twist for Antonia and Mike. She pulled out that little envelope and read its contents. It was a special 45 minute challenge to create 7 identical one-bites that would wow each of the 7 judges. Back to the kitchen for Antonia and Mike!

Antonia’s dish was spicy coconut curry broth w/ a piece of grouper. 
Mike’s dish was beef and lobster tail w/ black olive, caramel sauce,

Here is where the odd number of judges came in handy, as a poll was taken of each judge. The votes for Antonia were Morimoto, Padma and Gail.  The votes for Richard were Michelle, Melanie and Tom. I expect that Tom, who voted 6th may have voted strategically like they do it on Hell’s Kitchen to set up a thrilling tie-breaking vote and that honor appropriately went to Wolfgang Puck. After the suspense of a commercial break, Padma brought the 2 chefs back in to announce that the vote was 3 to 4 and Mike had won. Antonia had to pack her knives. 

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #51 on: March 24, 2011, 12:56:57 PM »
I can't believe that Mike is going to the final. At the beginning of this season he was average and one of the first to be kicked out, as I believed. He has obviously been very well prepared for the finals, but I still do not like him and I will be dissapointed if he ends up winning.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #52 on: March 25, 2011, 03:04:38 PM »

As stated earlier in this thread, Mike made the best use of the 4 months off between NYC episodes and Bahamas episodes. He is the best prepared chef, but that does not mean he will outcook Richard. The chances are that he will not do that.

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #53 on: March 31, 2011, 10:53:43 AM »
TOP CHEF 8, Ep. 16, Finale

It’s down to Richard versus Mike and I believe this is an even-steven contest. Richard did well early in TC8 and Mike used his 4 months before the final 4 episodes in the Bahamas to perfect his techniques. Both really want it. Richard is into his usual self-doubt mode, while Mike is unrelentingly positive. Both would use $200,000 to open new restaurants.

All of the other TC8 contestants are available for the determination of who the sous chefs for each chef will be. Mike wanted Jennifer Carroll and not Jaime. Richard wanted Angelo and Dale Talde. Neither of them wanted Marcel in their kitchen creating havoc.  15 of 16 of them (Dale Levitsky was missing) were asked to create an amuse bouche, which was to be blind tasted by Richard and Mike, who used those results to “pick” their sous chefs. Richard got to pick first because of his elimination challenge win in the final episode and his plate picks resulted in Spike, Angelo and Antonia as his sous chefs. He had a strong team. Mike picked the plates of Tiffani, Jaime and Carla. I considered this to be a less strong team due to Jaime.  

Tom revealed that the challenge was to cook the best 4 course meal their lives (he actually said restaurant of their dreams, which is a bit absurd since they happen to accept the décor and wait staff). The chefs had to assign staff, develop a menu and cook outstanding food. Both were ready and motivated. They had one hour to plan with their sous chefs. Richard listened to ideas from his sous chefs and went mostly with his own ideas, but allowed his sous chefs the latitude to improve on them. Mike refused to consider any ideas from his sous chefs, as he knew precisely what he wanted to do and did not want to be distracted (as Carla was in the AR5 finale) by alternatives. The next day the teams would cook for 5 hours for 70 guests plus the judges. Richard assigned Spike to do Dessert and act as Front of House manager, Angelo to do the first course and Antonia to do vegetables.  Mike had Jaime as cold prep, Carla on desserts and FOH and Tiffani on Fish. The ability of the head chef to manage his team of sous chefs was a key test of this challenge.

Mike chose the Seafire Steakhouse at the Atlantis for its casual style and named it Restaurant Iz. Richard chose the Martinique Café at the Atlantis for its elegance and probable superior staff and named his restaurant Tongue n’ Cheek for whimsy.

Richard original wanted to do Captain Crunch ice cream, but later refocused on foie gras ice cream.

The actual menu was:

Amuse Bouche
Richard - Raw Oyster w/ Creme Fraiche w/ lemon horseradish ice cream pearls, Salsa Verde
Mike –there wasn’t one and it was not required

Course 1
Richard - Raw Hamachi w/ Fried Veal Sweetbreads, Asian Pear, Pickled Radish, and Garlic Mayonnaise
Mike - Spiced Beets w/ Mozzarella, Truffle,  Chocolate Vinaigrette

Course 2
Richard -Pork Belly, Black Cod Cutlet, Bone Marrow, Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Kumquat
Mike – Halibut w/ Kumquat Marmalade, Cauliflower Puree, Pancetta Crumbs

Course 3 (main)
Richard -Beef Short Rib w/ Mushrooms, Red Cabbage Marmalade, and Celery Root Horseradish Puree
Mike - Braised Pork Shoulder w/ Pepperoni Sauce, Roasted Cabbage, Turnips

Course 4 (dessert)
Richard – Cornbread with Foie Gras Ice Cream and Whipped Mango
Mike – Rosemary Caramel Custard w/ Pine Nuts Citrus, Cherry, Apple

The judges were split into two groups, who would eat the first seating at one restaurant and then switch with the other group for the second seating. One group of judges was Tom, Gail, Art Smith and Curtis Stone (to allow a plug for top Chef masters 3 starting telecasts in one week in the same time slot after an initial one hour later one time only April 6). The second group was Padma, Hubert Keller, Lydia Bastianich, Alfred Portale and Bill Terlato. This was a heavyweight judging group, but the thoughts of Curtis, Lydia, Alfred and Bill were to be conveyed at Judges’ Table through Hubert.

As the judges were eating Richard’s meal, Spike was hovering a bit to obtain feedback by listening in on the conversations from that table. Richard found that spying to be highly valuable intelligence to help him decide on any adjustments for the second seating and to provide information on how he was doing. In addition, the used plates from the judges were observed for any indications of things they did not like. Richard discovered that Hubert and Lydia did not like his foie gras ice cream, so he immediately went to work with Angelo to make adjustments to it. No other dishes were affected by this feedback. Mike made no changes for the second seating.

Comments from the judges were:
Steamed fish cooked perfectly
Pepperoni sauce incredible
Chocolate vinaigrette risky but it worked
Short Rib perfectly cooked and well glazed
Bubbles around the edges of Mike’s dessert
Hamachi superb
Black Cod superb

At Judges’ Table, Tom stated that he had just eaten the best food of any finale in the history of Top Chef and thanked Richard and Mike for their outstanding performance. Gail praised Mike for the subtlety and finesse of his food. Tom commented that steaming fish is difficult and risky, but Mike had pulled it off. I think it was Gail who mentioned that the pepperoni sauce was perfection.

Tom addressed the difference in the foie gras ice cream for the group of 5 judges (including Padma and Hubert) versus the group of 4 judges (including Tom and Gail). He stated that the group of 5 picked Mike for the Dessert course win, but his group of 4 picked Richard.  Richard and Mike were then sent off to the Atlantis equivalent of the “stew room” while the judges made the final decision. Mike asked Richard to give him some money if Richard won and Richard agreed to do so. In a few minutes, they were joined my Mike’s wife and other relatives and Richard’s uncle (since his wife was late in her pregnancy).

This was the way it came down:
Amuse bouche course - not relevant because not required
Course 1 – won by Richard’s hamachi
Course 2 – won by Richard’s Black Cod
Course 3 – won by Mike’s Pork
Course 4 – seemed to be split, although it was treated as if Mike had won it

So even ignoring the split vote on the Dessert course, that is Richard 2 to Mike 1. I expected Richard to win.

Richard and Mike were called back with their relatives and all the other Top Chef 8 All-Stars contestants present. Tom stated that both were winners and had very successful culinary careers ahead of them no matter who won. Padma announced that Richard was Top Chef. Richard was ebullient and Mike was clearly disappointed, as he had cooked his heart out. Mike said that his team had worked hard for him, especially Jaime who turned around his viewpoint on her.

Both Richard and Mike significantly enhanced their careers by the way they cooked on Top Chef All-Stars.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 02:11:19 PM by apskip »

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Re: Top Chef All-Stars
« Reply #54 on: April 07, 2011, 05:39:00 PM »
Top Chef 8 Reunion
This was another of the Andy Cohen-led Q&A with the TC8 judges and contestants. I am in the camp which considers Andy reasonably good at this task. Andy congratulated Richard and a discussion of “what happened after finale” occurred. Richard’s wife gave birth and his new daughter was one month old (meaning birth in February or March) when this reunion was filmed. Mike was disappointed Richard was eligible for TC8.

Mike caught some flack from Andy about his feelings about finishing second and whether he indeed received the money Richard promised (he hasn’t yet, but Mike said that he does not need any more investment in his restaurant).

Antonia’s ongoing feud with Mike was highlighted and it did not let up after they discovered they might be cousins. Antonia considered many of Mike’s actions gross. Mike responded that Antonia talked way too much.

Angelo was exposed wearing tight pants to stimulate interest from the ladies in the TC8 audience, but he did not make it to the final fan favorite decision between Carla and Fabio (Carla won, reversing what happened in TC5).

Jaime was highlighted wimping out at a number of tasks (most notably the National Tennis Center when she could not be found to be placed into her team’s lineup with her probably inferior chick pea dish). She also disappeared from the earlier action when Casey needed her assistance and her 2 stitches were viewed at trivial by her teammates and Casey was sent home as a result.

Tre nominated Marcel for the “most obnoxious chef in TC8” award, which I guess is the antithesis of the Fan Favorite award. I have always been a Marcel supporter in TC2, but his behavior in TC8 was obnoxious and it also shows up on Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen. 

Richard highlighted Jen Carroll at the beginning of the competition as the chef he feared most. However, she went down with her ship with a dish the judges found inferior despite Jen’s protestations that it was OK.   

Tiffani was allowed to admit that she had attitude problems in TC1 and that it would have been bad for her career if she had won that. Antonia stated that there should be no children’s menus, but Tiffani took major exception to that. From a cost standpoint, I think there ought to be Kid’s Menus with low pricing.

Bromances were speculated between Fabio and Richard and between Mike and Angelo.

The “Black Hammer” was Antonia, who repeatedly in both TC4 and TC8 saw individuals on her team be eliminated as well as most of her roommates.

Padma trying to calm the kids at the museum was told that she could consider it “on-the-job training for the next 10 years.”

Richard vs. Mike in the TC8 finale was a final difficult decisions for the judges. Mike was exasperated by his loss despite his belief that he had slightly outcooked Richard.

Tom stated that these were his 3 favorite dishes of TC8:
Carla’s Chicken Potpie
Richard’s Hamachi Sweetbreads
Mike’s Fish in banana leaf on the beach

The show ended with a lengthy debate between Elia (one eliminated and still seething at that) and Tom. This revolved around using grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef. Elia maintains that grass-fed is superior and why it's very clear that any corn-fed beef should be used in his Las Vegas steakhouse. Elia asked him point-blank if he should have used grass-fed and he responded with an emphatic “NO.” She also accused for selling out by doing commercials for DIET COKE, to which Tom responded that he drinks it daily, so it’s appropriate.