As a big Amazing Race fan, I know I was surprised when Top Chef broke the Race’s streak last year for Emmy wins. It was deserving, but still surprising. Well, the Race better bring the goods in a couple of weeks because Top Chef: All-Stars is having a great run. This week’s episode was a whole lot of fun. We had references to 70s sex parties, we had Jimmy Fallon, we had great big doses of Carla at her most endearing, and we had the creation of a new food. The Booorger.
I must admit – I don’t watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I am old. Not only can I not make it to his time slot, but I am sure the humor will be lost on this child of the 1980s. I used to stay up late every night to watch Late Night with David Letterman, and later on, Conan O’Brien. But now, if I tried, I’d be asleep on the couch with the lights on every night.
However, I think I might be missing something because Fallon was very likable last night. The show seems to have picked up the goofy mantle from Dave and Conan, and he appeared to be geniunely a nice guy. And a fan of the show, as you can tell by him telling Carla that he could “feel the love” in her cooking. Only a fan of the show would know that is Carla’s intention with everything she cooks.
I thought it was a fun challenge having the chefs randomly assigned a main ingredient and then cook it for Fallon, his family and some of his creative staff at his birthday lunch. It was a lunch which would have been a lot of fun to attend. Fallon also clearly had a very hard time being a judge and criticizing the chefs. Although, it seems from Tiffany’s comments in the Stew Room that this was one of those “times for nitpicking.” She means they were all good, and the judges had to find a flaw somewhere to eliminate a chef. Not sure if that was true, but we only saw an edited summary of Judges Table, they of course experience the full judgement.
What this episode produced – besides a lot of fun – is a real change in our endgame expectations. Despite a fairly subpar performance this week from Blais – not bad, but middle of the pack for each one – he is still the clear favorite. However, I think we should all start giving Carla some respect. I wrote her off as a crazy person early in her season, and fully expected her to get booted each week, all the way to the Finals. This season, while I was happy to see her return, I again did not give her much of a chance to win. Not against that lineup. And here she is – three Elimination Challenge wins under her belt – in the Top Seven. I think, finally, Carla must be considered one of the frontrunners to go the Finals with Blais and Antonia.
Angelo’s quiet presence this season – it really has been – continues with another good week. I’d put him in my Top Four. Dale’s recent slump drops him down into the group with Tiffany and Mike. Any one of them is talented enough to make a late episode run, but I would have to say that they are the most likely boots in the upcoming episodes.
Quickfire Challenge – The chefs enter the room and find Padma by herself with eight fondue pots. It’s a fondue challenge! Fabio describes fondue thusly – a pot of boiling something, you cook it in, or you just flavor it with it, and you eat it out of a stick. Blais pictures bell bottoms, heels and naked people. Or perhaps he’s just seen too many 70s porn movies. The chefs are informed that they will be judging each other’s fondue dish. Blais is rightfully worried that as the frontrunner he has no chance to win this challenge.
There were some really good ideas by the chefs, and some delicious looking fondues. And that is a rarely written sentence! Blais took Padma’s warning about not doing a tired old 70s-era bananas and chocolate and decided to make…bananas and chocolate. Awesome. Tiffany’s little fritter/donuts looked really delicious, if a tad unwieldy. And I would totally dig into Mike’s lamb, and Dale’s Phooooondue.