This episode was written either for or by my almost-five-year-old boy. Cookies. Elmo. Grilled Cheese. Target. All we needed was Star Wars and M&Ms and it would be his jackpot.
It was also Dale’s jackpot. Not only did he rock both challenges, but he has made his way back into the favorites for the Finals. I must admit that I didn’t see the Quickfire success from Dale once he was loading up the potato chips in the food processor, but it was clear when he was searing his grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron that he was light years beyond the soup follies of the other chefs.
I mean, it was like everyone was possessed by the spirit of Jamie for this challenge!
I really liked this episode. I am beginning to think that Top Chef may be starting their own Amazing Race-like streak of quality and Emmy wins. This All-Star season has really delivered. Stellar challenges and compelling guests, coupled with a great cast consisting of some expected chefs making it to the end and some unexpected ones.
I thought Blais would be at the end, and Antonia doesn’t surprise me one bit either. However, did anyone really expect Carla, Dale, Mike and Tiffany to outlast Angelo, Marcel, Jen and Tiffani? And yet, is anyone really surprised that Carla, Dale, Mike and Tiffany have done so well? That’s why this season has been so very good.
This Dale-dominated episode had two full sections of awesome. First, the chefs filtered into the kitchen to some strange behavior from Padma. She started saying, “On our way/Everything’s…A-ok.” And as both a watcher of Sesame Street as a kid, and as a watcher of Sesame Street as a dad, I must say that I had to instantly say that Padma mixed up the verses. And then I had to add, “Friendly neighbors there, that’s where we meet.” And then join with Padma, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street!”
Out popped Elmo, Telly and Cookie Monster. The Sesame Street friends are to be the judges of a Quickfire Challenge to make…of course…cookies. Inspired. Antonia said that Elmo is her daughter’s best friend, and Blais called him Elvis in the Blais house. Yep, that sounds familiar. My son sleeps with not one, but two stuffed Elmos. The puppets were fabulous, and I am amazed that the chefs were able to concentrate long enough to actually make the cookies. More on the prep and some of the jokes later. My favorite part – Angelo’s face as Cookie Monster tore into his cookies. It was as if the poor guy had never, ever seen Cookie’s act before. It reminded me of my favorite Cookie Monster/celebrity moment on Sesame Street with Faith Hill. Oh, he ate it!?!?
After that insanity, the chefs were sent off to a super duper kablooper sized Target store. Brilliant challenge. In the middle of the night, chefs are required to use whatever they can find in the store to prepare a workstation and prepare a meal for 100 Target employees. Except time was limited as usual, and the store was gigantic. Blais talks about how sweaty he got just going up and down the aisles. Chefs pushed multiple carts at a time. And one got way too caught up on the non-food portion of the challenge.
While the others were cooking, Carla was too caught up in her own mind and was still shopping for things like tablecloths. In fact, the women lived a stereotype and all had very pretty stations, while the men had some basic setups. However, Carla managed to waste half of her cooking time giving herself a station that looked like it was worth 25 grand. Meanwhile, she was supposed to be cooking for that record-sized cash prize for a Top Chef challenge.
In the end, the chefs seemed overwhelmed by the challenge and too many of them resorted to making soup. Blais had a bit of the over-thinking Blais that lost in Chicago seep in as he rightfully realized that pancakes at 3 am is a good idea. However, he added a big ole pork chop to the mix as well. It was good, but it was just a bit too much for what was really, as Bourdain said, a stoner challenge. Who else is really eating a meal at 3 am anyway?