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Top Chef: All-Stars – Ep 8 – Was It How You Felt After the Risotto?


Meanwhile, the Quickfire. Then again, the less said the better. There was no eating. Isaac Mizrahi joined Padma to judge solely on aesthetics. Why? No idea. Except for him to shameless plug his copy machine inspired line. Seriously. That’s what he said. That’s like making clothes on Project Runway that the models don’t get to wear. Why? Or have the American Idols recite poetry.

So, we are down to eight chefs, and with Blais’ win in the Quickfire, he remains the frontrunner. Dale’s poor performance this week probably knocks him down a notch or two. I still see Blais, Antonia, Angelo and Dale making the Final Four, but less confident about the last two. By the way, eight remain this season and three of them are from S4 Chicago. Two from DC, two from NYC and Mike from Vegas. Once again, Chicago was the best season.

Quickfire- Dumb. Make the dish look pretty for Isaac. Meh. I want to judge chefs on not caring to make the food taste good. I mean, seriously, they could have taken anything and thrown it together to make it look good. Peanut butter and pork chops? Why not. Cool Whip, with pesto sauce and chicken livers made into a diorama of puppies? Go for it.

As it turns out with a ridiculous challenge came ridiculous ideas. Mike, you care to respond? “Antonia has like a tree with gravel on a plate, Tre has like different colored dots on his plate like he’s playing connect the dots, Angelo has a bag of salt with an egg in it and he’s painting the table.”

Yep. Fabio thinks Angelo’s looks like a bag full of vomit, and The Artist Formerly Known as Spenny chose to write on his table. Incorrectly spelling crocodile, by the way, in an attempt to make crocodile skin. Antonia used seeds to make homage to The Giving Tree – one of the saddest children’s books you’ll ever read. Tre just decided to make a series of dots and dashes. Perhaps it was a Morse Code clue of how to incorrectly make risotto! Blais made ugly black ice cream to match Isaac’s ugly black clothes. Mike was inspired by Padma’s outfit – something Bourdain called a Superfriend costume in his blog.

My favorite one was Carla – Borscht and Sandwich with a lattice of cucumber. It looked really pretty and well constructed. And was the only one that looked fashionable.

Tre – Smoked Salmon, Beets, Curry Noodles, Food Coloring

Fabio – Tuna with a sidewalk of Caramel, Mushroom Umbrellas and lemon Juice Fabio wrote on the plate the following – “Style for me is not wear a cool dress or won pieces of the newest collection of a great designer…my life is the way I’m living my life every day.” Ok. And he basically made little tuna people.

Dale – Beet Puree, Cantaloupe, Maple Syrup Meringue, Avocado and Mango

Mike – Carrot Puree, Roasted Eggplant and Egg Yolk.

Blais – Black Sundae – Black Chocolate Ice Cream, Menthol Crystals, Herbal Salad, Mint Ice Cream Dots

Antonia – Yuca Potato, Lentils, Nuts, and Seeds

Tiffany – Almond Gazpacho, Grapes, Dirt Made of Rye Bread

Angelo – Pineapple Skin, Curry Salted Egg and Dill

Worst – Angelo, Tre and Dale. Winners – Fabio, Carla and Blais. I expected Carla to get the win, but Blais does instead. Moving on.

Elimination Challenge – Make a dish inspired by Rao’s menu and history. Random draw puts all the ladies together for the Antipasti (Starter) dish, Mike/Tre/Dale for the Primi (Pasta) course, and Blais/Angelo/Fabio for the Secondi (Meat) course. Judging the meal will be Tom, Padma and Bourdain, along with Sopranos’ actress (Dr. Melfi) Lorraine Bracco (I once interviewed her!), and various staff members and owners of Rao’s.

Antipasti
Carla – Minestrone Soup with Basil Oil, Tomatoes and Homemade Focaccia Bourdain liked the old and new, Co-Owner Dude (couldn’t catch the name) wasn’t a fan and thought it was soup worthy of Wisconsin. Sounds like a shot at the Packers! No cheese. Dr. Melfi tells him not to talk to her anymore.

Antonia – Mussels with Fennel, White Wine, Garlic and Parsley Ciabatta Bourdain says it was confident and understood the family theme. Chef Dino liked the flavors. Melfi and Tom raved, with Tom having memories of his dad conjured up.

Tiffany – Polenta Terrine with Italian Sausage, Roasted Peppers and Kale Tom mocks her for calling it Italian sausage. Frankie Senior likes sausage with polenta. Nicky Vest blesses Tiffany’s hands in Greek.

Primi
Mike – Spicy Calamari, Fresh Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce Frankie Jr. informs the table that he warned Mike that dried pasta was sufficient. As it turns out, Mike’s homemade rigatoni did not cook. Bourdain laments that three culinary professionals messed up the pasta course. He didn’t say “messed.” He thought they were all worthy of the steam table “at your worst enemy’s wedding.” Why would you be at your worst enemy’s wedding?

Dale – Fresh Pasta Pancetta, Brussels Sprouts, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Pecorino Romano It really didn’t look that good. And it didn’t have enough sauce. Bourdain thinks it was worthy of “some poor bastard in the Witness Protection Program is eating this right now.” Maybe this guy? Dr. Melfi said that if her boyfriend gave her this “he wouldn’t be getting laid tonight!”

Tre – Grilled Vegetable Risotto, Marinated Tomatoes and Fresh Basil. Junior again pulls the “I told you so” card, as he says Tre was gung ho from the start to make risotto. Bourdain says that it was overshadowed by the garnish, while the rice needed to be the star.

Secondi
Fabio – Pollo alla Cacciatora, Polenta al Pecorino Or in English, chicken cacciatore and polenta. Senior loves the polenta and the old world feel of the dish. Tom really felt it and that it was authentic Southern Italian cuisine. Remember – that wasn’t the challenge. Bourdain loved it as it “swept away any stink of the last…and he now feels good about the world.”

Angelo – Sautéed Pork Chop, Cherry Peppers, Green Olives, Tomatoes, and Pancetta – Some liked it, others thought it was too garnished.

Blais – Fresh Pancetta Cutlet, Broccolini, Pickled Cherry Tomatoes Tom thought it was great, Melfi liked the crispy bread crumbs, and Junior remarked that the ingredients must speak for themselves.


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