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Top Chef: All-Stars – Ep 11 – Breaking the Chef Code


Besides learning about various new foods, and discovering new chefs, sometimes on Top Chef we learn of new concepts. Tonight, we learned about the Chef Code. Not the Hobo Code, it’s the Chef Code. That means that you shouldn’t steal another chef’s recipe. Which seems kind of logical, if not at all possible to enforce. If you consider that so many dishes have been made by tons of chefs, it is hard to really prove that you swiped a recipe or idea from another.

Unless of course, they just showed you a notebook full of ideas mere moments before you competed against them in a televised cooking competition. But no one would be so brazen as to actually cheat off another chef on Top Chef.

Oh wait, Mike just did that. He really did. Blais fills up notebooks during the competition with ideas, and he showed Mike the notebooks before the Quickfire (or so the editing implies). And Mike proceeded to actually make one of those ideas in the Quickfire. Now, this is not against the rules, and it is possible that Mike has heard of this before, but there is no denying that Blais’ book planted the thought in his mind.

He should not have made this dish, and if he was going to, he should have said something to Blais first. Instead, he denied even doing anything remotely wrong, but as Shakespeare wrote, “methinks he doth protest too much.” Mike looked like a man with a guilty conscience the rest of the episode. If you notice, he can’t even make eye contact with the camera in his confessionals.

Now, as for the Elimination Challenge. I like the idea, cooking for a charity event for New Orleans and the Gulf to help the Greater New Orleans Foundation to help the local fisherman and merchants recover from both Katrina and the BP oil spill. Local legend John Besh guest judges the challenge, and hosts the event. Also, six eliminated chefs return and are paired with Gulf seafood. And I am pissed that the lovely Casey is not one of them. Grrrr.

Mike and his pants, which are on fire, gets to pick first and takes SF Tiff and her brown shrimp. Blais takes Fabio, of course, and snapper. Carla selects Tre and his red grouper, and so it seems, the color of his skin. Really. Tiffany struggles between her desire for the white shrimp and her aversion for the White Shrimp, er, Marcel. She gives in and takes him. Antonia and Spike renew their love-hate relationship and takes him “and his crabs.” Lastly, Angelo and Dale are pared up with the giant amberjack.

Items of note during prep – Spike suggests to Antonia that they make a crab cake, and SF Tiff suggests breading the shrimp in grits. That’s some good sous chef work. Carla is stunned that Tre isn’t familiar with Southern cooking and wants to take away his NAACP card because he doesn’t know what chow chow is and used canned collard greens. Marcel nags Tiffany about using shrimp heads in her sauce. Shrimp heads, shrimp heads, roly-poly shrimp heads. Carla and Dale appear to be slipping deeper and deeper into the weeds, while Blais has decided to go offbeat again by pairing pork with his fish.

The sheer magnitude of this elimination challenge was overwhelming, you can see the stress on each of them. Even Fabio and Blais bickered like an old married couple, appropriate since Blais reminds Fabio of his ex-wife. Marcel makes a second batch of honey glaze for Tiffany, badly. To his defense, he made it properly except he didn’t know she diluted it with water. Dale knows his dish isn’t working and even has to stop the line for a moment.

As it turns out, a clear division took place with three chefs doing a good job, and three really not doing so well. And proving that one bad day ruins you on this show, Dale went from a double victory last week to another sixth place finish as he got the boot. With Dale and Angelo going out in back-to-back weeks, it opens up the season a bit. Blais and Antonia are the front-runners, and at least one of Carla, Tiffany and Mike will be cooking in that Final Challenge. And for the first time this season, I must say that I am rooting against one of them. I’d like Mike and his wandering eye go home next, and in fact, would like any of the other four to win.


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