Sunday, January 30, 2011

TC News and Information 1.31.11 - Insiders' Edition

First off, if you haven’t already read this first-hand account of dining at both RW teams’ restaurants from blogger The Good Life Gourmet, check it out right now. She ultimately voted for Team Etch, but struggled with her decision, as did her tablemates.

And if you hated the name “Etch,” did you know that at one point Marcel wanted to call his team’s restaurant “Marcel”? So says Collichio in the Bravo’s extended judges table clip.

I’ve read comments elsewhere about how difficult the outdoor Restaurant Wars shoot could have been had the weather not cooperated. But when Gail Simmons mentioned in her EW blog that RW would take place where she was married, I did some googling. The Foundry has a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces – and indoor spaces that look like they’re outdoors (see photo below), plus tents available for rent. The Foundry’s website touts its availability for weddings, film, video, and photo shoots, parties and special events, and seminars. So methinks the cheftestants were never going to be cooking in the rain. More to the point, Padma and the diners would not be eating in the rain. If you’re curiosity is piqued about Gail’s wedding (complete with eco-friendly foodie touches), you can find photos via Martha Stewart here.

Meanwhile, Dale Talde of Team Bodega apologizes to the RW servers on his blog and shares this: “I've been getting a lot of questions about why I picked the team the way I did. It is really simple. I was positive that picking Marcel as the team leader would drown what ever team he picked. In speaking with Marcel after in the stew room, I asked him why he picked Angelo first. His response was that he wanted to keep Angelo off my team, and to me that is just a really weird way to go about picking your first chef. When I picked Fabio, it was like picking Micheal Jordan 3rd overall of the draft. Steal of the draft. Getting Richie was Blake Griffin, obvious number 1, Tre was Dwigth Howard, solid in the post, and Carla is Phil Jackson, Zen master."

Fabio Viviani of Team Bodega is now blogging the All-Stars, and his RW recap is a hoot. Fabio's take on Dale selecting Marcel to lead the opposing team: “Tiffany, Angelo, Mike, Antonia are GREAT chefs, as Marcel is…… but Dale just handed a 600Hp Lamborghini in the hands of a teenager !! He will kill himself eventually.” On other matters of strategy: “Our food is playful, simple and easy to plate….Their food is complex, hard to pla[te] and too technical.” On the other team’s food: “I tried Antonia dish, although the sauce is little salty the Gnudi of ricotta are really good, Mike Isabella has a winner dish, i love octopus and pork belly is great….. I actually liked most of their dishes, beside awful eggs pickled in salt and sugar, really ?? and Marcel stoner dessert— I found their food decent…” Fabio’s assessment of his own performance: “Dana Cowin editor of Food & Wine Magazine is there, the judges are there too and I’m taking care the floor like a Mamma Bear would take care of his little newborn Cub. . . . We WON !!!! Fabio take the Princess-Service-Front-Of-The-House Home as I’m producing also a kick ass dessert as well, all the rest of the dishes are complimented the whole time at Judges Table !! Richard Blais get the prize, the glory and 10K …. am I happy for him ?? Yes…. am I disappointed that I wasn’t the one that won ?? Yes…. No one ever want to do the front of the house and no one ever want to do dessert in RESTAURANT WARS…. I’ve done both in an excellent way, maybe this time I should’ve get a little prize…”

You can hear more from the inimitable Fabio on WGN’s Nick Digilio weekly podcast with the “Maestro” here. Fabio is certainly fired up for this week’s Italian challenge! And if you want to learn how to make gnocchi (what else?) from Viviani, here’s a Ustream video of a class he recently offered at one of his restaurants.

Tre Wilcox describes Marcel as someone who proved to be a sore loser whenever he didn't win, in this video with Good Morning Texas, where he also talks about his new restaurant, Marquee, set to open in March.

Eli Kirshtein weighs in about RW on his Bravo blog: “Amongst Top Chef contestants there has long been a dispute about which you are actually cooking for. Some will say that it is the guests who are being fed during the challenges; others will say it is the judges. I know what a lot of you will say, but they are not even close to the same thing. If I had a dime for every time I heard a chef who was on the bottom or even went home say that all of the guests said theirs was the favorite, while the eventual winners was repulsive, I would be rich man. Unfortunately there is a major disconnect between these two camps often times. A chef on the show has done a transcending job when they appease both groups, but it is rare, much rarer than the edit of the show might tell you. . . . It seemed one of the biggest advantages was the wit and tact that the whole team at Bodega had. I think the best restaurant [w]on this day.”

Tiffany Derry, Marcel’s teammate and RW FOH, shares the news that she has a new gig as Executive Chef of the upcoming Private Social restaurant in Dallas with Open Table and offers assessments of some of her fellow All-Stars: “Angelo was made to look like he was a saboteur, but he really was trying to help. Marcel is okay outside of kitchen, but in charge in the kitchen? Not so much. . . . I personally was impressed with Dale Talde. He cooked with soul and his imagination surprised me.”

Marcel himself, of course, made the media rounds after being PYKAG’d, taking issue in many of them with the way he was portrayed, as in this interview with the Chicago Tribune – where he says he is not allowed to talk about the editing, but kind of goes on to do so. More here from The Feast, where Marcel says he’s looking to open a new restaurant in Greater LA within the next year and has already secured the funds to do so. “It'll be modern global cuisine, casual, 60 seats, totally affordable yet elegant dishes. Shared plates primarily, reinvented classics. I'm scouting locations now.”

As for that disparity between “off-screen Marcel” and “in-the-kitchen-on-Top-Chef Marcel”? See what Mike Isabella, Carla Hall, and Richard Blais have to say in this Bravo bonus clip.

Recently auf’d All-Star Casey Thompson blogs about the RW episode here: “Put up a “pop-up” restaurant in 3 hours. COME ON! Then, I like this touch, they bring in an “expert” chef that has been doing these sort of “pop-up” restaurants for years now. Please, everybody, quiet now…listen to this chef tell you how he has been doing this and how it should work. Never mind how he probably planned this “pop-up” restaurant for 6 months before launching the concept.” And her take on the outcome: “The lesson to take away from this week’s chefs…the food doen’t have to be over the top but it must be on point. Finally, we have lowered the bar. Thank you Restaurant Wars for showing all of us the way it should be done or more importanly, the way our guests really want to eat.”

Season 4’s Ryan Scott, who’s commenting on the All-Stars for Yum Sugar, agrees: “I love, love, love team Bodega's concept of simple comfort food, starting with a bag of potato chips. I'm telling you, this is what it's all about. Last week I featured mac and cheese Spring rolls on my catering truck, along with peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. Needless to say, they sold out entirely. It's all about the comfort foods, guys. This is the way it has been for a while and will always be. . . . Which brings me to my next question: Oxtail, monkfish, octopus, and crudo?? What the *&$% are you guys thinking? . . . Back to simplicity, I have to disagree with Antonia that "elevated" food outdoes tuna in a can. It's strictly about execution. And the Bodega team seems to really carry the innovation in this challenge.”

So . . . we finally get a new episode Wednesday, filmed at Rao’s. Do you think Fabio will take it? What about Antonia or Mikey? Will Blais do a twist on gnocchi? Will Tre finally come out of the shadows? And what of Carla, Dale, Angelo and Tiffany?

P.S. Yigit Pura of Top Chef: Just Desserts says he'll make a live cameo appearance on Bravo tonight . . .

Friday, January 28, 2011

TC News and Information 1.28.11 - Vacation Edition

Top Chef All-Stars took a holiday this week (sigh). So how about catching up on the recent getaways of some of our TC faves?

Auf'd All-Star Jennifer Carroll traveled to the Caribbean with her boss, Bravo vlogger and frequent TC guest judge Eric Ripert, for the third annual Picnic in the Caymans, based at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, which houses his restaurant, Blue. Ripert's buddy, Tony Bourdain, who sometimes judges All-Stars (glad he'll be back next week), also made an appearance, as did TC Masters contestant and All-Stars dim sum judge Susur Lee. Bourdain claims Tom spends more time in hair and make-up than Padma. What do you think? More about the Cayman event here.

TC Masters contestant Jonathan Waxman headed to Hawaii for the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour. Cooking with Iron Chef Michael Symon, you can bet pork was involved - in fact, a "reserve" pig. Waxman and Symon also spent some time answering questions from culinary students. Here's video of the $250 per person dinner Waxman and Symon whipped up on the Big Island.

In a chillier but nonetheless prestigious setting, Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio and Season 3 contestant Brian Malarkey cooked at Chef Dance, er, Sundance. From Utah, MVolt also shared his thoughts about whether Marcel is really an a**h*le or just plays one on TV.

Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard appears this weekend at Bon Appetit's Master Chef Classic in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Her "Snowshoe Excursion and Luncheon" is sold out. She'll also be up against Jose Garces and Joey Campanaro in the food festival's "Master Chef Challenge," where the competitors will be given 20 minutes to create a dish from a surprise ingredient.

If you're not lucky enough to be in one of those exotic locales but find yourself traveling through Chicago, Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless has a new outpost in O'Hare's Terminal 1, with another on the way for Terminal 3.

Stay warm, all. And Minx, good luck digging out the Ion.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

National Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day, and to celebrate, here are some Top Chef-inspired recipes for chocolate-y yumminess.

Heather Hurlbert's Dark Chocolate Mousse Torte with Chocolate Grand Marnier Sauce

Morgan Wilson's Dark Chocolate Soufflé Cupcake

Danielle Keene's Chocolate Pudding Cake with Pistachio Ice Cream


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Top Chef Tonight...

...but you can watch re-runs pretty much all day, and at 10pm, they'll be repeating "We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat," followed by "Restaurant Wars: One Night Only."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef All Stars Episode 7

David Dust on the QF host: "On this week’s episode, the Cheftestants meet at Le Bernardin instead of in the Top Chef kitchen. They are greeted by a haggard-looking Padma – who appears as if she spent the last 20 years drinking and smoking too much in Third World countries while getting very little sleep. Oh. Wait. Never mind – that’s Anthony Bourdain, not Padma."

My Monkey Could Do That on Marcel's maybe-allergy: "Marcel, apparently, used to be allergic to fish, but because he’s so damn awesome he just ignored the pain and now he’s not allergic to them anymore. That’s too bad. It would have been interesting to see him try to butcher the fish with swollen hands."

Jordan Baker on Super-Size Me: "There’s a chinois issue between Marcel and Mike – Mike asks Marcel where they are and Marcel says 'back there' and won’t be any more specific and won’t share the one he’s already brought out once Mike can’t find them. . .it’s really immature and tiresome. They could've cut this and saved a chunk of the 15 minutes they tacked onto the episode."

Monkeys As Critics on clueless: "Things start out exactly how one might expect. Dale’s team comes together instantly, picking a fun concept (Bodega) and running with it. Meanwhile, Marcel is shocked, absolutely shocked, when his team completely ignores him. Really, Marcel? Is he completely unaware of how much his teammates seem to dislike him?"

Serious Eats on Fabioisms: "What would an episode of Top Chef All Stars be without a memorable cooking metaphor from Fabio? 'Dale picked a good team that can run a marathon,' he said. 'But Marcel picked a team of sprinters. Cooking is a marathon. Marcel, you are going DOWN.' More importantly, Fabio's neck completely disappeared as he was talking. That's how you know he REALLY means business."

Speakeasy on restaurant themes: "Right away, Dale proposes a bodega theme, people agree and the team starts tossing out ideas. Meanwhile, Marcel can’t get past the concept thing before he’s throwing his weight around, cycling between condescension and passive aggression ('Focus!' 'How many times do I have to tell you…' 'No one is listening to me!')."

Cliffieland on restaurant names: "Meanwhile, Marcel's team is a general mess, with Biz Marcel wanting to call the place Medi (as in, "the food will make you want to run to the medicine cabinet"). The rest of the team ignores him. He does not take this well and starts a diss war which will rival the Tupac/Biggie throwdowns of yore."

Max the Girl on Blais' early career: "Yup, Professor Blais, gastrobiologist to the stars, was once the fish fry guy for McDonald’s. One can only hope that the fast food chain is constructing an advertising campaign around him as we speak. “McDonald’s: Where sophisticated palates are born.” He can be their Jared."

Grub Street on flashbacks: "Ludo Lefebvre stood waiting for the chefs back in their own kitchen, where Padma explained that Lefebvre had just finished a pop-up restaurant. Obviously none of the chefs could tell this was a very blatant clue that this week's challenge was Restaurant Wars. However, once she announced it, Fabio exploded with glee (let us all remember the line, "We could serve monkey ass and empty clam shells and still win") and we were treated to some flashbacks that mostly served to remind us just how much nicer the picture is in HD."

Buddy TV on Tom's visit: "They will be cooking at The Foundry, with 5 hours to prep. It's a pretty cool outdoor cooking. Of course, Tom has to come bug them in the middle. Marcel blows him off, not without justification. Tom wonders about whether non-bodega food fits in the bodega theme. Tom also announces the little news that only one person will win, and the prize is $10,000. No pressure there."

Fabio Viviani (yes, that Fabio Viviani) on losing one's cool in the kitchen: "Dale gets all pissy and trash talk to my server: MISTAKE. No one talk shit when I’m around, we smile, be nice and move on, a pissed off server cause the Chef is a dick will only hurt the customer overall experience, so Dale please shut the hell up and give me those freaking eggs !! Next time you act like a Nazi when I’m around in the kitchen i will take you with me to Lake Michigan and use you as a water board…. clear ?? Love you Brother !!"

Minxeats on the results: "Team Loser is brought out for another browbeating. Bourdain tells them that prison breaks are organized with more efficiency and teamwork than Etch. Eventually the Black Hammer comes down on Marcel, whom we knew was the loser of this episode from pretty much the first ten minutes."

TC News and Information 1.25.11

Top Chef Masters 3 begins filming next week! So says Curtis Stone, recently announced replacement TCM host for Kelly Choi, in this interview with Slashfood. Eater speculates Top Chef Masters 3 will be filmed in LA once again. I dunno. If Bravo is really looking to change things up, a change of location might be in order. Of course, the Masters don't have to sleep in "bunky beds" or be quarantined after they're auf'd. So we'll have to watch what happens.

When Curtis Stone was asked whether he's glad he's hosting rather than competing in Top Chef Masters, he said: "I've just been going through all of the challenges and I'm so glad that I'm not going to have to do them myself -- they're tough challenges. But these guys are brilliant chefs. And as much as it's difficult -- you'll see them stand there shaking their head because they're angry at the challenge -- but they'll still go make great food. I think my role is to sort of empathize with the chefs since I appreciate the technical skill. Food writers just can't."

While it's not surprising the Top Chef Masters 3 cast is already in place, here's an update on that casting call for Top Chef 9 and Just Desserts 2:  Hopefuls can email the Magical Elves directly. Methinks Padma's gonna have some quiet time with her new kidlet before we see her on the Bravo airwaves anytime soon after Top Chef All-Stars concludes.

Last week's Restaurant Wars introduced viewers across the country to the concept of pop-ups. TC: Just Desserts' Zac Young of Flex Mussels is doing a two-week donut pop-up in NYC's Grand Central Station featuring "salted cajeta (goat's milk caramel), raspberry, spiced chocolate, cinnamon sugar, and two more changing options." Don't you wish your commute included donuts like these?

Just Desserts' finalist Danielle Keene has a new gig at L.A. Creamery, where she will be rolling out ice creams like "Hot Chocolate flavored with chili powder, cinnamon, vanilla bean and cocoa nibs, Milk Chocolate Chai flavored with black tea and seven spices, Sassafras flavored with sassafras bark, Honeycomb ice cream layered with handmade honeycomb seafoam candy, Roasted Banana made with fresh bananas roasted with brown sugar and butter until caramelized, then blended in a lightly flavored rum base, and a non-dairy Chocolate Sorbet made with bittersweet chocolate, sugar and water."

Got a hankering for a more back-to-basics dessert that even Sylvia Weinstock would love? Just Desserts' Erika Davis and her "Ultimate Cookie Dough Company" website are now up and running, with cookie dough you can receive in the mail and bake yourself: Oatmeal Walnut Raisins, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Peanut Butter Cookie, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut, and Thousand Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookie. I'm thinking that if a tub of any of them arrived in my mailbox, I'd probably sit down and demolish them with a spoon before they ever hit the oven :) You can read more about Erika's Culinary Wonders USA and her scholarship efforts here.

Congrats to Top Chef: Just Desserts for being nominated for a GLAAD award in the "Outstanding Reality Program" category!

Need a red-carpet fix? Here's video of Fabio Viviani and his business partner at the Tasty Awards.

Meanwhile, there is no new episode of Top Chef All-Stars this week, so adjust your DVRs and expectations accordingly.

If you need some comfort food of the savory variety to get you through a chilly week without a new episode, how about a nice gooey grilled cheese from Dale Levitski's Chicago restaurant, Sprout?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

TC News and Information 1.22.11 - Casting Call and Real-Life Bodega Pop-Up

Think you've got what it takes to compete in Top Chef or TC: Just Desserts? Casting is underway. Click here for details.

And Dale Talde is looking to bring his Restaurant Wars winning team's Bodega pop-up back for more than "One Night Only." More here.


Jamie's gone. Marcel's gone. People seem to be happy about both of those eliminations. Who else is getting on your nerves enough to wish them to leave next?

Top Recipe - Top Chef All Stars Episode 7

Click here to watch Rick Moonen prepare Richard Blais' Chicken Fried Codfish.

Click here for the printable version of Blais' "canned tuna" recipe.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Virtual Top Chef

There's a new game in town! According to the press release: Bravo is teaming up with Bunchball, the leader in gamification, to give fans a chance to help their favorite “chef’testant” be crowned "Virtual Top Chef" by joining the competition at The "Virtual Top Chef" game features all 18 chef'testants from the current "Top Chef All-Stars" season. Fans begin by choosing their favorite chef'testant, then earn points and trophies by completing actions and activities on The chef’testant whose team has the most points come season’s end will be honored with the "Virtual Top Chef title." Additionally, all players will be automatically entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win $5,000. Fans are not only awarded points and compete for rankings, but the more they play, the more they increase their chances to win.

The competition focuses on strategy and team dynamics – such as joining popular teams to be with more fans or recruiting friends to other teams, and fans can switch “chef” teams at any time. This constant movement across teams can change the standings at any time, often in dramatic fashion, to keep fans coming back to the contest.

Competition Details:
  • There are 18 total teams: each chef'testant from the current season of "Top Chef All-Stars" leads a team.
  • Fans earn points through various actions and activities on; including watching videos, reading blogs, playing games, viewing photos, sharing to social networks, and more.
  • Top earning team members are highlighted on the team page, although fans can switch teams at any time making the contest's outcome impossible to predict.
  • Fans will earn trophies for completing certain challenges. Trophies will be displayed on the player’s profile page on All players are entered into a sweepstakes for $5,000- the more points a player earns the more chances they have to win.
On April 6, 2011, after the conclusion of the eighth season, the winning team of the competition will be announced and the "Virtual Top Chef" will be crowned, as well as the winner of the $5,000 cash award.

All Top Chef Interview with Marcel Vigneron

Top Chef All Stars contestant, Marcel Vigneron talks about his life as a chef. A highlight: The new show "Marcel's Quantum Kitchen" premieres March 7th on the Syfy network.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Marcel.

Bravo Exit Interview - Marcel Vigneron

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Restaurant Wars Trivia Answers

We have some very astute readers indeed, including Jeni, Fire and Ice, and Teddy. Thanks for playing! And thanks to Troll for commenting. Here are the answers. If you disagree, you know where to find the comment box :)

Trivia Game Part 1

1. Which All-Star(s) have already appeared in two-Restaurant Wars? Stephen “This is not Top Sommelier” Asprinio. He competed in Season 1, focusing on wine service and front-of-house, to the chagrin of his teammates. And returned as a guest in Season 3 to help the winning team from the Quickfire select wine.

2. Which All-Star(s) have already failed to win two Restaurant Wars episodes? Tre Wilcox, who appeared in Season 3, the Restaurant Wars “do-over” season. No one won the first RW installment, and Tre was eliminated in the second.

3. Which All Star(s) were PYKAG’d in the RW episode of their respective seasons? Tre Wilcox and Dale Talde

4. Match these Restaurant Wars restaurant names with their respective seasons.

Sabor: Season 1 - Lee Anne Wong, Miguel Morales, Stephen Asprinio

Sahana: Season 5 - Radhika Dusai, Carla Hall, Jamie Lauren, Jeff McInnis

Sunset Lounge: Season 5 - Leah Cohen, Fabio Viviani, Hosea Rosenberg, Stefan Richter

The Garage: Season 3 - Dale Levitski, Howie Kleinberg, Hung Huynh, Sara Mair

Twenty One 21: Season 7 - Amanda Baumgarten, Kelly Liken, Kenny Gilbert, Kevin Sbraga

Warehouse Kitchen: Season 4 – Antonia LoFaso, Richard Blais, Stephanie Izard, Nikki Cascone

5. In which season was the “décor” (ahem) pictured at the top of this post what one Restaurant Wars team came up with? Season 2

6. In which season was the requirement that chefs be responsible for decorating their restaurant spaces finally discontinued? Season 6

Trivia Game Part 2

1. Which of these cheftestants made it to Restaurant Wars in their respective seasons?

* = made it to RW
** = eliminated in the episode just prior to RW

*Alex Reznik
*Amanda Baumgarten
**Andrea Beaman
**Andrew D’Ambrosi
**Ariane Duarte
**Betty Fraser
*Cliff Crooks
*Howie Kleinberg
*Laurine Wickett
*Leah Cohen
*Michael Midgley
*Miguel Morales
Nikki Cascone – Nikki was eliminated 2 episodes prior to Restaurant Wars in Season 4, but chosen to return for RW. Midway through the challenge, each team's executive chef was allowed to select one additional assisting chef from the last four that were eliminated from the show; Antonia chose Nikki and Dale chose Jennifer Biesty.
*Radhika Dusai
*Robin Leventhal
*Sara Mair
**Sara Nguyen

2. Which contestants who took on front of house duties were named winners of Restaurant Wars in their respective seasons? Dave Martin (Season 1), and Stephanie Izard (Season 4)

3. How many times has a tartare or crudo appeared on a Restaurant Wars menu?
Tuna Tartare (American Workshop – Season 1)
Tuna Tartare with Egg Vinaigrette, Nicoise Olive Purée and Herb Salad (Hung Huynh - Quatre/The Garage – Season 3)
Arctic Char Tartare (Mike Isabella - Mission – Season 6)
Crudo of Black Bass and Yellowtail Snapper with Meyer Lemon-Caper Relish (Tiffany Derry – EVOO – Season 7)

4. Match the Restaurant Wars dessert to the season/team/chef:

a. Baklava Cigars with Fig and Minted Frozen Yogurts: Carla – Sahana – Season 5

b. Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Chocolate Ice Cream: Richard Blais – Warehouse Kitchen – Season 4

c. Butterscotch Miso Scallops: Dale Talde made these in Season 5 for Restaurant Wars, and they got him sent home, but they were made as one of the two required alternatives for the second course (the other was Braised Short Ribs with Pickled Red Cabbage and Apple Basil Salad), not as a dessert.

d. Chocolate Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuiles: Bryan Voltaggio – REVolt – Season 6

e. Frozen Mango Lollipops with Dark Chocolate and Mint: Stefan Richter – Sunset Lounge – Season 5

f. Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Sweet Potato Purée and Concord Grape Sauce: Stephanie Izard – Warehouse Kitchen – Season 4

g. Halo-halo with Cantaloupe, Coconut, Kiwi, Avocado and Candied Nuts: Dale Talde – Mai Buddha – Season 4

h. Mango Lemongrass and Sake Sorbet: Restaurant April – Season 3

i. Oreo Lemon Pie: Elia Aboumrad – M.E.C. – Season 2

j. Pear Pithivier: Robin Leventhal – REVolt – Season 6

k. Watermelon “gnocchi”: Sam Talbot – Lalalina – Season 2

5. What Restaurant Wars dish pictured at the top of this post (I was referring to the bottom one in the montage) was roundly reviled by the judges? (Hint: It was from Season 2.)   Sam Talbot’s Watermelon "Gnocchi" with Cabrales and Asiago Cream

ATC Love to Chef Marcel Vigneron

In an episode full of discontentment and strife between members of Team Etch, it was pretty apparent from the beginning that Chef Marcel had created his last foam for the competition. His teammates appeared not to have any respect for him, did not take any of his advice during prep and service, and his inability to hold things together - coupled with a mushy entree and a dessert that the judges all hated - was his demise.

Chef Marcel - we know you're a terrific cook, with mad skillz and a ton of confidence. It was surprising to see you go so early in the competition, and we'll miss the color and tension you brought to the show. Can't wait for your Sy Fy series to start!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Vigneron and his competition. If you have anything negative to say,  please do so here.

Congratulations, Chef Richard Blais

Chef Blais was a rock for his team, "Bodega," helping each member, as Carla put it, "elevate their dish." He worried that it wasn't enough, and that his team would lose, and worst of all, that he might be going home, despite Fabio's reassurances otherwise.

Fabio was right. After seven weeks of competition, "the Professor," Richard Blais finally won an Elimination Challenge. Not only that, he gets to take home a cool $10,000. Like there was any doubt. We had faith in you, Chef, even when you didn't. Congratulations. Now go and win this thing.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Blais and his competition. If you have anything negative to say,  please do so here.

Reaction to Top Chef All Stars Episode 7

Changing things up a bit, the cheftestants start their day at Le Bernadin, Eric Ripert's three-star restaurant, rather than the zero-stars Top Chef Kitchen. Instead of being greeted by Padma, the group is welcomed by the lovely and vivacious Anthony Bourdain. Tony tells them that they are going to meet Justo Thomas, the man who butchers all the fish for Le Bernadin. During an average day, Thomas butchers 700 to 1,000 pounds of fish, and after the chefs see how quickly and efficiently he works, they understand how he can achieve such a feat.

The Quickfire Challenge was for the cheftestants to butcher one cod and one fluke in 10 minutes. After some frantic knife work, Dale, Richard, Marcel, and Mike were judged by Justo Thomas to be the best. While the others stewed in the front of the restaurant, the four winners were left in the kitchen to battle it out for immunity. They would have 45 minutes to make a delicious dish from the fish leftovers. Tony and Justo Thomas tasted all the dishes, but Dale's fluke back fin sashimi with cucumber and fluke liver sauce along with a bacon dashi with salt roasted cod collar gave him the win. This meant immunity in the next challenge.

Back at the Top Chef Kitchen, Padma finally arrives with Ludo Lefebvre, former Top Chef Masters contestant and practitioner of the new trend: pop up restaurants. Padma explains that this week will be restaurant wars, and the two teams will set up their restaurants in the pop-up tradition. Since Dale had immunity, he was named captain of one of the teams and he could name the captain of the other team. Dale didn't want to work with Marcel, so he made him the other captain. The teams worked out as follows:

Capt. Dale, Richard, Tre, Fabio, and Carla
Capt. Marcel, Angelo, Mike, Antonia, and Tiffany.

For this version of restaurant wars, the customers would judge the winning restaurant and the judges would pick the winner and loser. The two teams set about planning the name of the restaurant and the menu. Dale's group comes up with the name Bodega, and quickly devise dishes which would be upscale versions of things you might find in a NY corner store. Marcel's team meanwhile are against his idea to call the restaurant Medi, as in Mediterranean, and cannot come to terms on a menu. The bickering is a bad omen.

Twenty-four hours later, the two teams are setting up in an outdoor space at The Foundry. They have five hours to prep and the winner of the challenge takes home $10,000. Once again, Dale's team works quietly and efficiently while Marcel's team is fighting and completely disorganized. Marcel's obsession with technique slows down the prepping process and, even when he has good suggestions, the group members have no respect for him and ignore his comments.

At long last (this is an unnecessarily super-sized episode), the two restaurants open and Marcel's restaurant has now been given the sketchy name of Etch. Dana Cowin of Food & Wine Magazine arrives with a party to judge both restaurants. It's clear from the get-go that the bad vibes in Marcel's kitchen are spilling over to the food because many people are complaining and sending food back. Tiffany, who is working the front of the house, is doing her best to schmooze the diners. Meanwhile, Padma and Tom are over at Bodega with guest judges Tony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre where they are enjoying everything. Fabio, working the front, is putting on his best Old World hospitality.

When the judges arrive at Etch, Tiffany is still schmoozing the customers, her cackling laugh soaring over the din. When she finally gets around to serving the judges, they are unimpressed with everything put in front of them. The dessert is the ultimate transgression, which Tony dubs, "A perfect storm of f___ing awfulness!"

Back at judges' table, Marcel's team is trotted out as clearly the worst. Only 17 out of 76 diners liked the food, and the total meltdown of the chefs in front of the judges proves how discordant the evening was on all levels. The judges send the grumpy group back to the stew room so they can bring out the winning team. Nothing but praise is heaped on the Bodega team and Richard is ultimately named the winner for his raw tuna belly and fried chicken skin with chilies and lime and chicken-fried codfish with brussels kraut and ginger beer.

Team Etch is then brought back to announce the loser. Although everyone performed poorly, Marcel is the one who is asked to pack his knives and go.

How did this round of restaurant wars stack up to previous seasons? Was Richard's dish really the best? Was it time for Marcel to go? Let us know what you think below.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top Chef All Stars Episode Six Previews!

Top Chef All-Stars RESTAURANT WARS Wednesday 1/19 @ 10/9c - Anthony Bourdain sets the stage in this week's Quickfire as the Chef'testants face off in a fish fillet contest in one of the best seafood restaurants in the world - Le Bernardin. Then, the All-Stars take on the fan-favorite "Restaurant Wars" elimination challenge when they must open "one night only" pop-up restaurants under the stars in NYC. But who will learn from their past mistakes and who will get tripped up by this pressure-filled, infamous challenge & get sent packing?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Restaurant Wars Trivia! - Part 2

The only Restaurant Wars individual winners who went on to win their seasons are Stephanie Izard and Michael Voltaggio, who, of course, aren’t appearing on All-Stars because they've already won. But here’s some food for thought, er, trivia:

1. Which of these cheftestants made it to Restaurant Wars in their respective seasons?

Alex Reznik
Amanda Baumgartner
Andrea Beaman
Andrew D’Ambrosi
Ariane Duarte
Betty Fraser
Cliff Crooks
Howie Kleinberg
Laurine Wickett
Leah Cohen
Michael Midgley
Miguel Morales
Nikki Cascone
Radhika Dusai
Robin Leventhal
Sara Mair
Sara Nguyen

2. Which contestants who took on front of house duties were named winners of Restaurant Wars in their respective seasons?

3. How many times has a tartare or crudo appeared on a Restaurant Wars menu? As I said in my first Restaurant Week trivia post, this is a friendly contest, so you can just mention chef/team/dish descriptions on this one.

4. Match the Restaurant Wars dessert to the season/team/chef:

a. Baklava Cigars with Fig and Minted Frozen Yogurts
b. Banana Scallops with Banana Guacamole and Chocolate Ice Cream
c. Butterscotch Miso Scallops
d. Chocolate Ganache with Spearmint Ice Cream and Chocolate Tuilles
e. Frozen Mango Lollipops with Dark Chocolate and Mint
f. Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Sweet Potato Purée and Concord Grape Sauce
g. Halo-halo with Cantaloupe, Coconut, Kiwi, Avocado and Candied Nuts
h. Mango Lemongrass and Sake Sorbet
i. Oreo Lemon Pie
j. Pear Pithivier
k. Watermelon “gnocchi”

5. What Restaurant Wars dish pictured at the top of this post was roundly reviled by the judges? (Hint: It was from Season 2.)

Stay tuned for more, and have fun!

Recap Roundup - Top Chef All-Stars Episode 6

Monkeys as Critics on the Challenge: "This week it’s a team fishing challenge, which seems a bit extreme to me. After all, the chefs are at the mercy of whatever the ocean coughs up for them, which could be Coke cans and dirty diapers depending on the way the tide runs. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean the chefs are going to face increasingly random challenges, like gourmet roadkill or gussying up the contents of the 'American Idol' judges’ refrigerators. There are simply limits to what a talented chef can do, especially since I’m guessing Steven Tyler doesn’t actually eat."

Jordan Baker on respecting the fish: "Tom savages Tiffani for leaving the bloodline in the fish. It’s an interesting scene – Kerry starts it off by saying that there were some problems with her butchering and Tom tells him to stop being charitable. It’s particularly notable since many people – myself included – have always seen Tiffani as kind of a favorite of Tom’s. But the minute she dishonors the bluefish, he turns on her."

MinxEats, posting as Fabio, on fishing: "Meanwhile, the feesh a-scare Ongeelo. He do no' like-a da shark. I theenk maybe eef we see shark, we throw Marcel overboard."

Serious Eats on Technique: "After a few hours on the boat, things started getting a little homoerotic on team Richard/Fabio/Marcel. Desperate to catch some fish, the guys started coming up with some..."interesting" techniques. Richard said, he was 'sitting in Marcel's lap... holding his rod.' I wonder if he was helping him fish, too!"

Guest Blogger Chef Jen Biesty for Yum Sugar on dying: "I would have loved to take on this challenge, I'm such an ocean person. If you asked me how I would like to die, I'd say eaten by sharks, I know that sounds crazy but I'm totally serious, that's how I would go given the choice."

Speakeasy on Marcel: "'What. Ever!' he says, making passive-aggressive tweens everywhere proud. He’s tipsy, gesturing and slurring and evoking (suburban) street toughness, like a would-be tough guy of some ’90s-era rap-rock outfit. Dale eyes him coldly, and says that only anger management lessons keep him from giving Marcel a Homer Simpson-style throttle then and there."

Food and More on whining: "The chefs scramble onto Water Taxi Beach to begin prep work, and Jamie 'Debbie Downer' Lauren seems to have finally gotten on the other chefs’ last nerve. She can’t stop complaining about everything, from the sand, to the heat, to the cucumber water dripping on her."

Max the Girl on understanding Fabio: "Fabio says something in response and—for the life of me—I need help diagramming his sentence:

'I love him to death, but this guy’s going to get a
a. nut
b. knife
c. gnat
attack if he doesn’t
a. pace
b. peace
c. please
himself up a little bit.'

My best guess: 'I love him to death, but this guy’s going to get a nut attack if he doesn’t peace himself up a little bit.' Which actually makes more sense than Marcel’s rant from the beginning of the show."

Grub Street on clueless: "Meanwhile, once service began, diners all rushed with glee to Carla while Padma was awed by how close Queens was. It's almost like it's the same city, isn't it, Padma? Don’t you come across the river every day for the Quickfires?"

Buddy TV on impending doom: "The Sun sets and everyone completely freaks out. This makes sense since the diners quickly descend upon the food stations. The judges arrive too and immediately get drinks. Guess they're not confident in the food. But they try anyway. Also, introductions are in order for Kerry Heffernan, the guest judge. He's a chef and Tom's fishing buddy."

MamaPop on judgement: "Predictably, Blais, Fabio and Marcel get major dings for preparing just one dish. It needed to be perfect, and instead it was kind of overkill, and was so restaurant-fancy with the foams and doo-dahs that it didn’t really fit on the menu of a beach party. Tom digs for the 'trust issues' between Blais and Fabio that were made so much of in the earlier editing but the guys all clam up and refuse to do any bus-throwing. Not even a little toy Matchbox bus! Boo! No fun!"

Cliffieland on Carla's win: "This, of course, offends Marcel who realizes he's on the losing end of things. Because everyone must at all times be sensitive to the feelings of the man who hasn't taken off the Wolverine costume he wore for Halloween in 2002."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Restaurant Wars Trivia!

Hooray for Restaurant Wars! Isn’t that our collective response when we finally reach this episode each season?

In anticipation of the All-Stars episode of Restaurant Wars this Wednesday, I descended into the Top Chef Crack Monkey Basement to remind myself of RWs gone by. As an avid viewer of the 7 prior seasons that have aired over the past 5 years, I was surprised by some of the things I was reminded of in my archaeological dig.

I know we have some very astute readers with long memories, so let’s try a trivia game.

1. Which All-Star(s) have already appeared in two-Restaurant Wars?

2. Which All-Star(s) have already failed to win two Restaurant Wars episodes?

3. Which All Star(s) were PYKAG’d in the RW episode of their respective seasons?

4. Match these Restaurant Wars restaurant names with their respective seasons. If you don’t recall whether it was Season 1, 2, etc., just refer to cheftestants’ names – this is a friendly contest.

Sunset Lounge
The Garage
Twenty One
Warehouse Kitchen

5. In which season was the “décor” (ahem) pictured at the top of this post what one Restaurant Wars team came up with?

6. In which season was the requirement that chefs be responsible for decorating their restaurant spaces finally discontinued?

Have fun!

TC News and Information 1.17.11

At this weekend's Tasty Awards, Top Chef won for Best Food Program, and TC judge Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations was named Best Food Travel Series. All-Star Fabio Viviani, Season 1's Candice Kumai, and frequent TC guest judge Hubert Keller were in attendance. For more info and a slideshow of the event, click here.

Congratulations to D.C.’s new Secretary of Love and Relationships, Carla Hall! Following in the footsteps of Dr. Ruth, Carla’s involvement is part of a February promotion billed as a "28-Day Stimulus Plan for Love & Relationships," designed to "boost business for hotels, restaurants and attractions with date night deals and discounts while encouraging locals and visitors to rekindle their romances in the nation's capital,” according to this. You can find video of Carla's swearing-in ceremony uploaded by her husband here, and a shorter version here.

Last week's All-Stars winner, Dale Talde, is also feelin' the love, in his blog post dedicated to his fisherman dad and the fish he caught for the episode, which he named Diesel.

Meanwhile, Jamie Lauren has done some complaining in her post-exit interviews about the edit she got (here, here, and here), and in this interview, Marcel Vigneron sounds off about the edit he's been getting.

If you saw Eric Ripert's Bravo video blog about last week's episode, you know he offered Jamie a stage at his restaurant at Le Bernadin. Well, it appears she said yes. She tweeted: "@ericripert I would love to take you up on that amazing offer, from an amazing chef, at an amazing restaurant..let's do it!" And followed up with: "ps: any chance you can you throw in 1st class airfare and a room at the plaza?

The Herald Sun reports that Curtis Stone will make $1 million per season as newly named host of Top Chef Masters.

In this interview, Season 3's Howie Kleinberg talks about the new Bulldog Burger he plans to open next to his current restaurant, Bulldog BBQ. About the venture he says, "I originally started crafting the menu for it as part of a contest for a reality show, but the more I worked with it, I wanted to open the restaurant." Hmmm, wonder if that reality show would be America's Next Great Restaurant, on which Curtis Stone will appear as a judge.

Season 3's Camille Becerra was apparently just hours from opening her new restaurant, APL, when she backed out, according to this item.

Meanwhile, Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard will participate in Chicago's Couchon 555 March 20, according to this piece, which says she'll be one of the competitors breaking down and preparing a 150-175 pound heritage breed hog. The winner will go on to compete against Couchon 555 winners from other cities June 19 at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival.

Stephanie will also be competing January 28 at the Beaver Creek Master Chef Classic sponsored by Bon Appetit, where she'll have 20 minutes to create a dish based on a surprise ingredient.

Season 6's Eli Kirshtein will appear at the St. Louis Food & Wine Experience January 28-30.

Finally, judge Tom Colicchio participated in the $250-a-plate headline event of the Food & Wine magazine-sponsored Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, and this attendee calls him out for serving food ill-suited to the beach. The LA Times gives Colicchio slightly better marks after recent trips to three of his NYC restaurants in anticipation of Restaurant Wars.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Blogger's Eye View

© Nelle Somerville, Stone Hill Farm. Used with permission.

Nelle Somerville of Stone Hill Farm saw Richard Blais demo this decadent grilled cheese with pimento cheese, mustard caviar, and yes, lardo, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Her full report is here – don’t miss her video of the final touches to the dish.

The buzz is big for Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle's recently opened second restaurant, Kin Shop, and today a couple of very talented photographer/bloggers have been kind enough to let us share their photos and a glimpse into what Kin Shop is all about. Alice Gao of Lingered Upon takes us inside with this photo montage below. Check out this post for more of her lovely photos of Harold’s restaurant.
© Alice Gao, Lingered Upon. Used with permission.

This Fried Pork and Crispy Oyster Salad is just one of Harold’s dishes Tina Wong of The Wandering Eater sampled. You’ll find many more of her drool-worthy Kin Shop pics here.
© 2011 Tina Wong; The Wandering Eater. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Top Recipe - Top Chef All Stars Episode 6

Check out Rick Moonen preparing Carla Hall's winning lettuce wrap recipe here.

Find a printable recipe here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Jamie Lauren

All Star chef Jamie Lauren talks about her experience on the Bravo Show.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here to learn more about Jamie's restaurant, Beechwood.

Thank you Chef Jamie!

Bravo Exit Interview - Jamie Lauren

Bravo Exit Interview - Tiffani Faison

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TC News and Information 1.13.11 - Top Chef Masters News!

Host Kelly Choi will be replaced by Curtis Stone when Top Chef Masters returns for a third season “later this year.” Eater’s got the full press release from Bravo and notes: “Stone is no stranger to TV, having done a bunch of cooking shows in Australia before coming stateside and doing things like competing on The Celebrity Apprentice 3 and hosting two seasons of TLC's now canceled Take Home Chef. He'll also be one of the judges on NBC's upcoming America's Next Great Restaurant which premieres in March.”

Stone's facebook page also says he'll be on NBC's Today Show tomorrow, and we're betting he might have a wee bit to say about his Masters gig.

TV Guide quotes Bravo President Frances Berwick as saying: "[Curtis] really feels he has the charm to really carry a Bravo show. . . . We wanted to change the show up a bit. This is going into season 3 so it felt like the right time to try something different. We love Kelly. Watch this space for what else we might do with her."

Top Chef has also been renewed for a ninth season (no surprise), and has apparently not yet been cast. (Methinks we are in for a hiatus after All Stars until the next edition from any of the TC franchises.)

So what do you think of Curtis Stone replacing Kelly Choi? And how would you like to see Masters "changed up"?

All Top Chef Interview with Tiffani Faison

Top Chef All Star, Tiffani Faison talks about her experience on the Bravo show.

A highlight: Tiffany plans to open a new restaurant in the Boston area very soon. Stay tuned to ATC for updates.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Tiffani!

ATC Love to Chef Tiffani Faison

In this week's fishing challenge, Chef Tiffani caught bluefish and had the smart idea to smoke it, bluefish being oily and ideal for the technique. But she also wanted to serve a bit of crispy skin, which unfortunately meant she would have to include the strongly-flavored "bloodline" of the fish. The judges were not pleased with this decision and sent her packing, along with her team-mate Jamie.

Tiffani did very well in Season 1, and she has grown a lot since then. We felt fairly certain that she would go far in this All-Stars season so we are very sorry to see her leave so early. Best wishes to you, Chef, from us at All Top Chef!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Faison and her competition. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

ATC Love to Chef Jamie Lauren

Chef Jamie Lauren was very focused on her dish in this challenge. She was probably too intent, however, on making a cucumber water component which ended up being her downfall. The judges felt her dish was bland overall.

Although All Top Chef wishes Chef Lauren well in the future, I can't help but think that her heart just wasn't in this particular competition.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Lauren and her competition. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

Congratulations, Chef Carla Hall!

A hearty congrats to Chef Carla Hall for her second Elimination Challenge win this season! She wisely chose to remove the bloodline from her bluefish before smoking it and creating her version of a New York classic: smoked fish on a bagel. The judges loved it, calling it "brilliant," and the dining public loved it as well.

Carla is such a strong competitor, in her own gentle and quiet way, and we wouldn't be surprised at all to see her in the final three...or even the winner of the whole shebang.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Hall and her competition. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef All Stars Episode 6

This week, nothing happened. And yet, there was a double elimination.

No Quickfire Challenge; instead, the recheftestants went fishing at Montauk. The fish caught would be cooked and served the next day to 200 guests. But first - teams:

Jamie, Tiffani, Antonia
Dale, Carla, Tre
Blais, Fabio, Marcel
Mike, Angelo, Tiffany

Team Blais/Fab/Marcel decided to make one very complicated dish, strategizing that the judges wouldn't be able to eliminate one or two of the three. Note they were playing not to win, but simply not to lose. The other teams did two or three dishes, taking responsibility where required.

After the judges - including Tom's "fishing buddy" Kerry Heffernan of South Gate Restaurant - tasted each dish, they decided that teams Dale/Carla/Tre and Mike/Angelo/Tiffany had their favorite offerings. For a few minutes it looked like Dale would win yet again with his fish taco, but instead that fiendishly clever Carla won with her salute to NY smoked fish and bagel crouton lettuce wrap.

The other six recheftestants were on the bottom, natch. While the home audience was no doubt rooting for Jamie's offing (she created a watered-down, bland dish), for a few minutes it looked like Fabio might be sent home for contributing nothing to his team's dish other than "knife cuts." But Jamie indeed was sent packing, as was Tiffani for her heavy-handed smoked bluefish that unfortunately contained the nasty-tasting bloodline.

So what did you think about this episode? Was it time for Jamie to hit the road? Or did you think someone else deserved to go? Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TC News and Information 1.12.11

Casey Thompson talks to Feast about those butchery aspirations that led her to attempt the chicken feet that got her booted last episode: “Butchery is kind of my thing. I think it's important that chefs grind their own meat, butcher their own cuts, and know where their products are coming from. So, my ultimate goal is to open a butcher shop/restaurant that features local ingredients so that small farmers can feature their products. That's my next big thing. I hope to open them up all over the nation, actually. It will be a chain retail shop but will feature good products from farms in the area.”

As to that shot of Dale Talde wiping off his shoes in the dim sum restaurant last week? “It was because I had just spilled a bunch of hot liquid all over myself,” he says here. "Less-Angry Dale" has more to say about being less angry and his hopes to open his own restaurant featuring some of his favorite Filipino comfort foods here, plus: “I’d be biased but for me, this is the best season of Top Chef. There will be more twists and turns and shocks.”

One of my favorite TC episodes of all time had to be in Season 6 when Kevin Gillespie won the pork battle and his prize was to appear at Charlie Palmer's annual Pigs and Pinot charity fundraiser - a poetic win, and darn, but that event sounded tasty. Tickets go on sale January 21 for this year's Pigs and Pinot, which will be held in Healdsburg, CA, March 18-19 and feature Michael and Bryan Voltaggio.

However she ends up faring on All-Stars, Tiffani Faison is plugging away in the wake of the abrupt closing of her Boston restaurant Rocca. In this new video interview, you can see some of the food she prepared there, and hear a few of her insights on filming this season.

For you hard-core Anthony Bourdain-o-philes out there, Boston was also the location for Tony's shoot this week for No Reservations. Having become more involved in his NR facebook page, etc. (or installed someone closer to his inner circle to manage it), one result is that Tony and crew attempted to livestream a portion of their Boston visit via facebook and The endeavor, which turned into a bit of a clusterf*$k, has now been moved to one 50-minute continuous vimeo here.

If you lack the time or patience to wade through the whole thing, a couple of highlights: Bourdain says his next book will be a novel, "about violent New Yorkers doing terrible things to each other in the Caribbean" (36:14) and his full comments offering advice to food bloggers - more fully weighted toward the importance of, you know, loving food than previously misquoted by "anti-feline" sources (21:14). Make up your own mind about Tony's Mister Rogers sweater (which embarrasses his wife), and what's with that Guy Fieri-looking hair?

A shout-out to Karen at Cats Working, who must be an even more ardent Bourdain follower than I am. You'll find some serious Bourdain esoterica over at her place, including a link to this hysterical imagining of "No Reservations: Narnia" by a talented writer who has Tony's voice down pat.

So . . . which two will go home on tonight's All-Stars?

Top Chef All Stars Episode Six Previews

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef All Stars Episode 5

Speakeasy on the Quickfire: "The week’s quick fire is about speed, Padma says in a little intro as the chefs wait to see who they’re competing against. In comes Tom, who proceeds to make a dish as fast as he can, and set a time for them to beat. People’s mouths fall open as Tom slices, dices, and sears and yet remains super-organized. He’s searing a fish within six minutes, taking it off the flame by seven and a half minutes, and has plated a sea bass with tomato, clams and zucchini just sixty seconds later. The time to beat: 8:37."

Monkeys as Critics on rules are rules: "Even though the chefs are specifically instructed not to make a raw dish, Angelo does a crudo because he thinks it’s going to be so good, the judges will toss out the rules just for him. Angelo, Angelo, Angelo. This is not how this show works, but nice try."

Creative Loafing on the Quickfire winner: " Ultimately, Jersey Mike’s dish sucked least of all, winning him a Toyota Prius (which he will promptly sell) and immunity. If he ends up making it to the finale, let alone wins, it is further proof that Armageddon is upon us."

Cliffieland on gloating: "Mike Isabella is getting another tattoo. '8:37' The time it took him to win a car. Though I imagine he'll tell people that's the size of his 'dangle.'"

David Dust on fat heads: "did you ever notice when they interview Mike on camera his head takes up your ENTIRE television screen? Look for it next time. Actually, you won't be able to miss it - trust me."

My Monkey Could Do That on undergarment chatter: "Meanwhile the drunk people are talking about bras, with Tiffani saying “I’m a 36 DD, if I didn’t wear bras, you’d have gotten hurt in the Quickfire today.” Hee. Antonia starts screaming about getting jalapeno in her eye, and goes to wash it out. Tiffani hands her a bra to wipe her eye with, and the guys pretty much run out of the room."

Eater on Dale's odd photo album: "Dale has no time for funny business and hanging out. He heads upstairs because he's not there to make friends but to look at pictures of his girlfriend. I am totally on board with that, but it's kind of really intense to keep the pictures of your lady friend in your KNIFE CASE? I know you are a chef, but knife cases are already a little creepy, and pictures of your girlfriend in there look like the sort of thing that later ends up as evidence."

Carol Blymire on shopping: "The next day, they shop at an Asian supermarket. Fabio sees live turtles in a tank, and we cut to footage of him walking his pet turtle on a leash at home in California. Fabio just lost 649,000 cool and sexy points. Casey buys a ton of chicken feet -- which is a ballsy move in my book. Tre buys something, but I'm not paying attention to what that is because I'd really just like him to take off his shirt. Uh, I mean, tell me about his dish."

Minxeats on taking one for the team: "Meanwhile, Antonia is working on her own dish of shrimp toast, plus assisting Jamie in a dish of long beans with Chinese sausage. Why she chooses to stretch herself in this way is a bit baffling, considering that Tre is making a single lame-ass dessert and doesn't seem to be doing anything else to help the rest of the team."

Jordan Baker on the scene in the dining room: "Mayhem breaks loose in the dining room because not enough food is coming around. People start grabbing food off the carts. Gail worries about revolt. Antonia thinks she doesn’t have time to finish Casey’s dish. The diners complain in subtitles about being fed 'Caucasian Dim Sum.'"

Gail Simmons for PopWatch on nicknames: "Tiffany’s char siu bao was also delicious and quite classic in its flavor. I’ve been eating char siu bao all my life. In fact, growing up, my nickname was Char Siu Bao. It was one of my mother’s favorite foods when she was a kid, and it became a term of endearment. She calls me Char Siu all the time. I was destined for this job, I guess!"

EW on Angelo's childhood: "Let's discuss Angelo's memory of picking grains of rice with his father. What started out as some sort of emotional reverie turned into a weird confession about their strange father-son relationship. "My job was to sort through every single granule of rice and pick out all the bad ones," he said. "And I'll tell you, if there was a black one in there, my ass was grass." It didn't help that his dad was proud of him only after he went on TV. Angelo has layers like an onion, I tells ya."

AfterEllen on the scolding: "Tom has had enough. He calls the food “slow sum” and goes down to check/raise holy hell. Man, this is the cooking equivalent of dad stopping the car and coming back into the backseat as he promised. Tom scolds them appropriately, possibly not hard enough."

Fork in the Road on next week's episode: "[N]ext week's episode involves Montauk and deep-sea fishing, so there's a chance that Jamie will be eaten by a giant squid, or better yet, finally be sent home for her myriad crimes against seafood and the viewing public."

Monday, January 10, 2011

TC News and Information 1.09.11

"Top Chef "and TC judge Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" have been nominated for Producers Guild of America awards (in separate categories).

Bravo grand fromage Andy Cohen gets a lengthy write-up in the New York Times.

Congrats to Season 4's Nikki Cascone on the birth of her son, and on her newly opened NYC restaurant, Octavia's Porch. Nikki talks about her "global Jewish" Lower East Side restaurant here.

For those of you who've been thinking Mike Isabella looks pudgier on All-Stars than he did back in Season 6, here's what he has to say.

Richard Blais was working the Bravo stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You can see him demonstrate how to make "popcorn-sicles" in this video.

Blais is also cooking a James Bond-themed Valentine’s Day dinner for the Nashville Film Festival. Tickets are, um, $2,500 per couple or $8,000 a table.

Or you could attend this January 11 dinner in Denver prepared by Hosea Rosenberg for a mere $75 per person.

Staying in and cooking at home during the lean, chilly winter months? Chicagoan Dale Levitski offers suggestions on that topic and more in this new interview.

And you still have until January 31 to enter a fish taco recipe in the Wild Alaska fish taco competition, which Top Chef Masters contestant Susan Feniger talks about in this podcast.

Casey Thompson may have been PYKAG'd last week, but her restaurant, Brownstone, made Eater's "Heat Map" of 9 top Dallas restaurants to eat at "right now." You can also read Casey's own take on the episode that led to her departure on her blog.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top Recipe - Top Chef All Stars Episode 5

Check out a video of Top Chef Masters' Rick Moonen preparing Dale Talde's Elimination Challenge winning Sweet Rice with Chinese Bacon here.

A printable version of the recipe can be found here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Casey Thompson

Top Chef All-Stars contestant, Casey Thompson talks about her experience on the Bravo Show.

A highlight: Casey's best friends from the cast are Dale Levitski and Jamie Lauren.

Click here for more about Casey's Fort Worth restaurant, Brownstone.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Casey!

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