City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 10: Brought to you by the letter (deep)V

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

Psssst…..spoiler alert.

As we jump back into the stew room, immediately following Fabio’s departure, Blais looks like someone just ran over his puppy. Broken hearted over the loss of his bromance, Richard vents, “I wish he would have consulted with me. I run a burger restaurant!”

That is probably very true, but you can’t fix everyone’s dishes for them Richard. But that is sweet of you.

Back at the bar, Dale and Richard form a season 4 alliance. Side note – I love that every time we see the chefs at the bar, Dale is ALWAYS one of the only ones drinking a real cocktail instead of coffee.


The chefs walk into the Top Chef kitchen and, after an awkward spoken word version of the theme song from Padma, up pop the characters from Sesame Street! The guest judges for the Quickfire challenge are Sesame Street all-stars Elmo, Cookie Monster, and….that purple guy? WTF? Was Grover booked or something? (Purple guy’s name is Telly, and I don’t remember him from my childhood at all. Sorry Telly fans, but you know that he is B-team at best.)

The chefs are positively giddy over the sesame street thing, none more so than Antonia and Richard, whose kids are raging Elmo fans. Richard: “In my house, Elmo is like Elvis. If I mess this up, it will be devastating.”

For the Quickfire challenge, the chefs have 45 minutes to prepare…what else? …COOOOOKIIIEEESS! The winner gets $5K, and the respect of children everywhere.

Elmo (jokingly) suggests that the chefs use zucchini or carrots in their cookie. In a move of obvious pandering to Elmo, Richard decides to actually listen to him and use zucchini. No matter what happens, that exchange with the bright red puppet just made him a rock star to his little girl.

Many of the chefs are just trying to get by in this challenge. Dale isn’t really a “cookie guy”, Angelo hasn’t made cookies in 25 years (which means that he was 10 years old….hmmm…not buying that), and Mike claims that he has never even made a cookie before – something that Dale balks at, considering how many cookies Mike has eaten.

The chefs also take the opportunity to snipe one another constantly during the challenge. Antonia scoffs at Dale because he isn’t actually baking his cookies, calling him a “cookie cheater” and Mike I calls Richard out for not really making cookies at all: “Richard Blais is making whipped cream and freezing them and calling them ice cream cookies. Is there ever going to be a challenge where he doesn’t use liquid nitrogen?”

I can’t really argue with that logic, since that trick comes out EVERY WEEK.

The puppets come out from behind the table to taste the cookies. And by “taste”, I mean that Cookie Monster demolishes them in his mouth and showers the table in crumbs, but everyone gets a chuckle. I can only assume that the puppeteers sneak cookies under the table.

Now, maybe I missed something here…when Padma explains to purple whats-his-face that cinnamon and cardamom grow in the same part of the world, Elmo awkwardly replies with “TMI.” Was there some innuendo in there that I just didn’t notice?

Blais’ additional Daddy bonus points: getting Elmo to give Riley a personal shout out. There is just so much cute happening here I can barely contain myself.

Mike’s almond and dried cherry cookie w/ rose petal powdered sugar impresses purple guy, to which he replies, “Yeah, I’m a little fast sometimes.” Shouldn’t THIS be where Elmo chimes in with TMI?

Unfortunately, no matter how much Richard wanted to win this one for his daughter, Cookie Monster – as well as every other chef in the room – frowned on the fact that he didn’t actually make a cookie, even though Elmo could taste the zucchini.

The favorites were Dale’s pretzel and potato chip shortbread cookie with salted caramel chocolate ganache and Antonia’s dark chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips, caramel glaze, and sprinkles.

That brings the $5K down to Dale and Antonia. Let’s take a quick flashback to Antonia whining about Dale not actually baking his cookies….ahhh! It makes sense now. That is because she is a sore loser.

Dale wins the Quickfire and picks up $5,000.

Elimination Challenge

And this week’s mega sponsor is….Target! (Or “Tarjay” to those of us that don’t want to feel poor when we shop there. Because if you make it sound French, it is obviously a step up from Wal-Mart….)

All of that Target sponsorship money buys the chefs a late night lock-in at one of their stores, and apparently, the right to feature Kevin Gillespie in 47 commercials during the episode.

Starting at midnight, the chefs will have 3 hours to scramble around and get EVERYTHING that they will need to cook a meal for 100 target employees. They aren’t even allowed to bring their own knives, which I’m sure irked more than a few of them. A chef’s knife collection is sacred, and last time I checked, Target doesn’’t exactly carry top of the line cutlery.

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard of a Super Target, Padma reassures them: “You don’t need to worry about ingredients. Target has an expanded store with a varied selection of fresh produce and groceries.” Judging by Mike’s “Oh really?” nod, that was news to him.

Once inside Target, all hell breaks loose. Chefs are sprinting everywhere, grabbing blenders, tables, and crock-pots. I’m with Dale when he says, “I’m exhausted when I leave a Target, let alone cooking and running around in a Target.”

This challenge is pretty insane if you ask me. Three hours to cook for 100 people is a tall order when they have a full professional kitchen at their disposal, but to have to assemble a cooking station before you even think about recipes is ridiculous.

We also get a glimpse into a new budding bromance! Mike I. and Angelo have stars in their eyes as they team up to shop together. Give those two a registry gun STAT! Mike even throws around pet names like “sweetie” as he makes Angelo do all of his bidding.

Carla is a hot mess. She keeps her caterer cap on for way too long, worrying about table linens and placemats when…oops! I have to actually shop for food!

I really don’t understand why so many of the chefs – and not to sound sexist, but it was mostly the lady chefs….and Angelo –were preoccupied with making their cooking station pretty. No one cares or remembers what your table looks like. I don’t remember anyone at Judge’s Table saying, “Yeah, her soup was crap, but did you see how well her fake flowers coordinated with the tablecloth??”

Back to Carla. Everyone else is already cooking and she is looking for linens. She has wastes over half of her time shopping. Hot. Freakin’. Mess.

The chefs have to adjust their dishes to deal with these absurd circumstances and sub-par equipment. Almost everyone is making a soup of some sort, with a few exceptions.

Dale draws his inspiration from his college days in his dorm room, when he was broke and drunk (and stoned), so he makes a grilled cheese with steak – cooked with an iron – and tomato soup. I love the throwback use of the iron, but you are telling me that Target doesn’t stock a grill press?

Time for a personal tangent.

I love Dale’s approach on this, because I can totally identify with it. Starting from when I was in college, I was notorious for coming home wasted from a bar and cooking some ungodly combination of things I find in my fridge at 3 AM. Seriously, you take me out for a big night on the town and throw me in a room with a George Foreman grill, some horseradish, a can of Vienna sausage, and some pita chips and I’ll cook the best $#%^ that you’ve ever eaten. Or, at least that is what I think at 3 AM.

I’d like to say that I grew out of that in college, but that would be a lie. The difference is that now I just have much higher quality random ingredients in my fridge.

Ok, Carla. WTF? After wasting an hour and half bouncing around Target like a pinball, you spend 30 more minutes setting up your table? Leaving herself with only an hour to cook, Carla realizes that she doesn’t have a protein to go with her curried apple soup. Expecting to cook a properly developed soup for a hundred people in one hour is insane.

Back in the lover’s corner, Angelo asks Mike to taste his potato soup, which Mike says is “a little thick” and “missing something”. Angelo hears “It needs salt”, which is not what Mike said. Angelo decides to add more salt and bacon to his soup. Even without the obvious editing, I could immediately tell that this was a mistake. It screams “overkill”. First, the longer that the soup cooks, the more that the flavors develop, so it is going to get saltier over time. Secondly, bacon is salty! Why add salt AND bacon?

As Thomas O’Brien, Target’s head designer and the most unnecessary addition to this episode, sets up all of the pretty tables, a horde of red shirted Target employees descend on the frantic chefs.

This week’s guest judges are Anthony Bourdain, rando designer guy, and Ming Tsai, Chef/Owner of Blue Ginger.

Breakdown of the soup…I mean, food:

Richard – Pork tenderloin with green chilies, apples, braised pork ribs, and corn pancakes.

Dale – Rib eye grilled cheese sandwich and spicy tomato soup.

Carla – Curry apply soup with tomato ginger jam and cucumber apple slaw.

Antonia – Parmesan eggs on garlic crostini with almond, tomato, and apple salad.

Mike – Spicy coconut soup with mushrooms, scallions, and lime.

Angelo – Baked potato soup with bacon, sour cream, potato skins, scallions, and cheddar cheese

Tiffany – Jambalaya with chicken, sausage, and shrimp with a summer salad.

The flavors in Richard’s arepas impressed the judges, though Bourdain mentioned that his dish was “butt ugly.” Dale’s dorm room grilled cheese was also a favorite. Ming was impressed by Dale’s brilliance in using an iron, and Bourdain, never passing up an excuse to make a weed reference, cites it as “stoner food” and wonders if they should give Dale a urine test. Sure thing Tony, right after you take yours.

Carla can’t even keep a straight face as she serves her soup to the judges. Not surprisingly, they say that it is screaming for protein and felt more like gravy than a soup that could stand on its own. Antonia’s gamble of cooking 100 over easy eggs under these conditions pays off, and Bourdain compliments her ballsiness. Mike, in a slip that I’ll chalk up to exhaustion, introduces his dish has having “fresh coconut milk”, which Padma absolutely POUNCES on.

Padma: “You found fresh coconut HERE?”

Mike: “No, I found coconut milk.”

Padma: “Yeah, then it’s not fresh coconut milk.”

While this exchange was entertaining for me, I’m sure some irate executive at the Target home office screamed out at his television “SHUT THE $%#$ UP MRS. RUSHDIE! You don’t have to sound so surprised that we might actually carry coconut!”

Tiffany’s jambalaya had soggy and rubbery chicken, and was just “OK”, according to Tom.

I was going to save this for my notes at the end of the post, but I felt this line needed to be properly addressed. Was I the only one that rolled my eyes when Angelo said this: “I feel pretty good about the dish, you know. My biggest concern at this point in time is that they understand the flavors.”

Understand the flavors?! Dude, you made baked potato soup. And in a super unique move, you added cheese, bacon, sour cream, and scallions. If the judges have ever eaten at an Applebee’s, they are familiar with those flavors. Good thing you did serve up a maverick dish like PB&J, or you would have really thrown their palates for a loop.

I honestly can’t stand how that guy feels the need to talk up his dishes to make them sound like more than they are.

With a little pat on the butt from Mike, Angelo serves up his soup. Well, the judges clearly understand the flavors, because it is one that they cook with every day: SALT.

Judge’s Table

All of the chefs are completely cracked out. It is past dawn and they have been up all night. It doesn’t look like the most fun stew room that I’ve ever seen.

The favorites this week are Dale, Richard, and Antonia. Not surprisingly, two of the three dishes didn’t include soup, and Dale’s tomato soup played second fiddle to his ironed steak and cheese sandwich. Pulling a twofer, Dale’s stoner food wins him $25K. That is $30K in prizes for Dale in this episode alone. Who said potheads are underachievers?

The bottom three aren’t surprising: Carla, Tiffany, and Angelo. Of course, Carla knew exactly why she was there. Angelo, AGAIN with the overcomplicating of his food, describes his soup as “obviously, a deconstruction of a baked potato.”

IT WAS POTATO SOUP! Get over yourself.

In addition to being overly salty, the judges also piled on that the soup was too rich and that Angelo was too heavy handed with the scallions. Tiffany gets skewered for her reliance on Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, and the judges suggest that she should have let the flavors develop naturally rather than using a prepackaged spice.

Tiffany also treats us to a first class breakdown, which I will again chalk up to exhaustion. Regardless of how tired she was, it was still painful to watch. When asked for any parting thoughts before a decision is made, Tiffany launches into a disjointed tear-filled ramble about how she is from Beaumont, Texas, something about dreaming big, and how honored she is to be there. Poor thing.

Some folks on the Twittersphere seemed shocked by this, but Angelo’s deconstructed salt lick ended his time on Top Chef All-Stars. The other chefs are stunned, none more so than Mike. I saw that one coming a mile away.

Angelo said it best: “How could you get past salt?”

Please pack your deep-v and go.

Notes and quotes:

Where was Angelo’s fashion sense this episode? Dude was sporting shorts and knee high black socks. The only things missing were flip-flops and a fanny pack.

“I’m from Beaumont, I’m from Beaumont.” – Dale (In his best Tiffany voice)

“Beaumont cried again!” – Carla

“It looked like cow chips!” – Elmo, on Antonia’s cookies

The irony that Angelo went home for taking another chef’s advice on his food was not lost on me. Karma is a BEE-OTCH!


P.S. – For those asking about my current progress in the Top Chef recap game, I stopped keeping score for the last few weeks because I was being beaten so badly. Honestly, it was embarrassing. But I promise, sometime when it isn’t 4 AM, I’ll update the scores and let you know…

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog


- Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast

58 comments Add your comment

[...] Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 10: Brought to you by the letter (deep)V [...]


February 17th, 2011
6:41 am

Great eppy…now can’t wait for next week…six whole days to a new Top Chef with PAULA!!!!!! Just love that woman…even love her cookwear…best stuff I’ve ever…ever…EVER…had from Wal-Mart.

[...] the rest here: Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 10: Brought to you by the letter … Uncategorized 100-people, atlanta, challenge, kessler, kessler-discuss, pretty-insane, [...]


February 17th, 2011
7:22 am

THANK YOU for pointing out Angelo’s incessant, pretentious crap about “flavors”. Dude got on my nerves – rather creepy. And who else would welcome working with Marcel because he’s “passionate about food”?
PS Nitrogen is to Blais what foam was to ubertool Marcel. Enough.


February 17th, 2011
7:36 am

BYE Angelo…not gonna miss you. Bet’cha Spike was somewhere watching and cheering when he saw what Angelo did to his “decontructed baked potato” soup based on Mike’s critique! I kind of enjoyed it…lol. And I so dig Richard and specially since he a hometown boy I’m rooting for him…but put the nitro down dude and get back to cooking! You are good at it!


February 17th, 2011
7:42 am

“Mrs. Rushdie” – OMG I laughed too hard at 7:30am …

I really enjoyed the Sesame Street characters. I DO remember Telly but I don’t remember him as “Telly”. I remember him as “random other Muppet that’s on the Street” (ps, my fave was Oscar the Grouch, btw).

I was worried for Ms. Hootie Hoo during Judges Table. I thought she’d really sang her last Hoo. But – as it is, Sweetie (SWEETIE!!!! Said in my Kim from RHOA voice) got das boot. Dude can cook, but dude also rides my nerves – and evidently Mike I’s heart-strings. ;) (kidding)


February 17th, 2011
7:45 am

This episode was almost tailored made for Richard and I’m surprise Dale took this on both the quickfire and the elimination challenge. Tiffany’s crying at the judge’s table is a new one for me. She was generally calm and collective in her season. She’s safe for now, but it’s only a matter of time before she’s packing her knives too.

Mary Sullivan

February 17th, 2011
8:11 am

I was REALLY disappointed with this episode of Top Chef!!! Angelo was one of the best and most creative Chefs of the program and he was let go — probably because Anthony Bourdain insisted on it!!! — but if you watch the show again — it was Mike who sabbataged Angelo by telling him that his soup needed more seasoning — probably SALT!!! Giving Dale $25,000 for making a grilled cheese sandwich with an iron — makes a TOTAL MOCKERY of Top Chefs all over the country — that might have been a fun thing to do in College after a 6 pack of beer but not on a contest to prove who is the TOP ADULT CHEF in America today!!!! I’m sure Target had a panini sandwich maker that he could have used???!!! With Angelo gone — I may never watch this program again — since he was one of my favorites!!! — Carla doesn’t have a professional bone in her body — she acts like a complete idiot most of the time — but everyone loves that kind of behavior I guess??? — even though I wouldn’t think that is Top Chef kind of behavior???!!! — I’ve been in Thomas Keller’s kitchen in Nappa — and there are NO Carla’s in sight!!! From one disappointed viewer!!!!


February 17th, 2011
8:23 am

I believe that Mike knowingly sabotaged Angelo’s deconstructed potato goo, as he had a guilty look just after he said it, and again when Angelo announced he was the one leaving. Mike is a pig, and needs to go next. My question is, does a COOKie have to be cooked to be a cookie? Just wondering.


February 17th, 2011
8:31 am

Well Top Chef as officially turned into the Paula Dean or Meet the Neely’s cook shows. Whatever happened to TOP CHEF. This season has not been about Top Chefs, but instead just ordinary chefs doing simple dishes for whatever reason and winning. I enjoyed the elegant and artistic meals that once was the Top Chef showcase. It is now the food network.


February 17th, 2011
9:03 am

Melody, you are right, and I think the show has totally caved to sponsor ads (money). After the Paula Deen (butter) challenge they will probably have the McDonald’s/Burger King/KFC/Taco Bell fast food challenge. The only two episodes with good competition were restaurant wars and the Italian dinner. The rest is forgettable, including the two kid oriented challenges, the designer challenge, the fishing trip, and two exhausting all-nighters. Padma looks tired all the time (motherhood?), and Anthony Bourdain’s smartaleck comments are pretty lame. He needs to stick to his show, No Reservations.


February 17th, 2011
9:20 am

@Mary S – If you watch the show closely, Mike I. didn’t tell Angelo to add more salt – as Jon points out above, he indicated it was too thick and needed “something” – it was Angelo’s decision to add the extra salt and bacon. Sadly, while I really disliked Angelo in his original season; over time and careful editing, I’ve grown to appreciate him and his style (or lack there of). Whether intended or not, he’s actually pretty comical….pretentious yet comical.

Overall, the episode took another step towards pure entertainment versus a contest of chefly skills. While the seasame street gang was cute; how’s a group of muppets supposed to truly judge who has the best cookie? And then the Target challenge – we’ve grown accustom to the whole obvious product placement – but comeon! why not start calling it – Target’s Top Chef – or the Glad Cling Free Wrap Quick Fire Challenge. I fail to see how dashing around Target at 1am to get irons, folding tables and electric skillets has anything to do with the creative cooking skills of the cheftestants.

So much for ethos – it’s purely about advertising dollars and entertainment

Carla Roqs

February 17th, 2011
9:26 am

what gives John? i was blocked out last week. you are an off the chain reviewer and you are allowed to get away with more than anyone else at AJC– i love it!!! anyway–onward. i love that Carla won last week. sorry, mary sullivan, but she is not on top chef (twice) because of her hair styles. she is just very down to earth, and maybe, just maybe, not very organized at all. but i love her and she roqs!! disappointed with her this week though. i am a ga peach away from home, so i love richard b– the day they send him home i will stop watching top chef. and everyone– get over it, “all stars” is gimmicky and anything goes– come on– unbaked cookies, a jonas brother, izaac the designer and then this ridiculous tarjay challenge– for real bravo, i mean seriously, for real?? i was totally over angelo– and what the hay did he have on? i’m just sayin’. dale, antonia and richard b and/or carla– the top three will come out of those four. mike is on his way out, they are simply keeping him around due to his arrogance and the fact that he ticks everyone else off. he will receive his karma just as angelo did.

Carla Roqs

February 17th, 2011
9:34 am

@ mary sullivan, carla is not on the show (twice) because of her hairstyles. she is down to earth and just maybe, not very organized. i love her to death, rejoice when she wins, but i was a little disappointed this week, come on girl, get it together! mike did not sabotage angelo– and i agree, what the hay did he have on?? arghhhhhhhhh!! long black socks??? ga peach away from home, so loving richard b. mike will be gone soon, they are just keeping him around for his controversy. top three will be some combination of: antonia, richard, carla and or dale. and folks? get over it– all stars is gimmicky– come on: a jonas brother, izaaaaac the dezigner, unbaked cookies, no panini maker??? for real bravo, i mean im just sayin’– for real??

Jon Watson

February 17th, 2011
9:44 am

@KA & @Mary S – I don’t know that I agree with you on Mike’s intentions with Angelo’s soup. I think that he probably tasted it too early in the process, and that it did need “something”, and that Angelo just went overboard. I think that all of the soup-making chefs felt under the gun to develop flavors in their soups in a short period of time, and Angelo over compensated. Plus, Mike had just finished telling us how he and Angelo will be friends for the rest of their lives, and I don’t think that Mike is devious enough to talk out of both sides of his mouth like that. He is a little more simple-minded than that.

@TMSalt – I agree that things have gotten more gimmicky as the years have gone on, but the chefs had to do ridiculous challenges under absurd circumstances in Season 1. I think that they have just started running out of ideas, so they keep getting more extreme. Plus, at the end of the day, it is still television, and entertainment pays the bills…

And I personally had no problem with Dale winning with a grilled cheese/tomato soup combo. Done well, that dish can be amazing. There is nothing wrong with simple food when it is done well. In fact, this is making me want to go to go have Bocado’s version for lunch right now…


February 17th, 2011
9:47 am

Once again, it’s not about the food. It’s about who the producers want in the final three. Carla was clearly the worse chef in this episode. She did everything wrong. First, in the beginning she didn’t check out what ingredients were at the store but rather what tableclothes were available. When she decided to make a soup, she didn’t have enough time to make the soup right. Finally, she didn’t add anything to make the soup taste good. Angelo added too much salt, that was his only sin.

However, what was really disappointing about this episode was the lack of creativity by the contestants: four soups, grilled cheese sandwiches, and soft boiled eggs. Target’s CEO must be furious over the lack of use of the produce and meats available at that store. In fact, the producers didn’t let the viewers see what was available for the chefs to use.Target clearly wanted and in no subtle fashion paid for the country to know that it has a grocery store within its stores and got Martha Stewart instead. Speaking of which, did they show what Thomas O’Brien did? If he was to set up the tables, then why was Carla running around the store doing his job for such a long time?

Jon Watson

February 17th, 2011
9:57 am

@KMB – I think that the focus on Carla’s issues were a product of A: misleading editing and B: entertainment value. Regardless of who wins, it is funny to watch her scramble around. But, as is always the case, it comes down to the food. When multiple judges make comments like “I couldn’t eat more than one spoonfull”, it would make sense to me that it would be the dish to go home. Carla’s soup was two dimensional, but at least it was edible. Also…have you every actually shopped at a Super Target for groceries? It isn’t exactly a Whole Foods or even a Publix. They have like 5 isles of food, and most of it is pre-packaged/processed. Pickens are slim…if they don’t carry salmon, think about what else they didn’t have. I’d say the Target execs should be grateful that Bravo didn’t spend too much time focusing on the food selection.


February 17th, 2011
10:02 am

Jon, you totally make my Thursday mornings with your recaps!


February 17th, 2011
10:20 am

“Also…have you every actually shopped at a Super Target for groceries? It isn’t exactly a Whole Foods or even a Publix. They have like 5 isles of food, and most of it is pre-packaged/processed. Pickens are slim…if they don’t carry salmon, think about what else they didn’t have. I’d say the Target execs should be grateful that Bravo didn’t spend too much time focusing on the food selection.”

Precisely, it’s a cooking contest. Let them cook. Don’t place them in an envirnoment that precludes them from showing off what they can do. The conditions that the producers are placing upon the contestants are running the show. Give them unusual ingredients to use, give them cuisines that they are not used to cooking, give them anything but cooking in a department store. What next? Cooking on the steel skeleton of the new World Trade Center at the 9/11 site?


February 17th, 2011
10:33 am

Per the Top Chef blog for yesterday’s episode, Carla really did exactly what they showed. It was not an editing trick.


February 17th, 2011
10:35 am

One last comment. If the pickings were so slim for good ingredients, then why was using packaged dry spices criticized by the judges. If fresh herbs and spices were not available, what else could Tiffany use?

Voice of Reason

February 17th, 2011
10:39 am

I was also wondering while Dale felt the need to impress himself and obviously others by using and iron on the sandwiches considering this past xmas I got a completely kick @ss panini grill from Target. It makes pretty grill lines….. :) but I guess that would have taken away from his ’stoner’ theme.

Voice of Reason

February 17th, 2011
10:45 am

@ John Watson

Oh, and I think the TMI comment from Elmo was him suggesting LITERALLY too much information…. in that no one cares about where the cinnamon and that other stuff comes from.

Voice of Reason

February 17th, 2011
10:46 am

@ kmb

She could have used loose spices….. trusted her own techniques instead.

Voice of Reason

February 17th, 2011
10:49 am

@ TMSalt – In reference to your question ” how’s a group of muppets supposed to truly judge who has the best cookie? ”

Well… everyone else in the world seemed to figure out that the muppet-handlers where the ones that were tasting the cookies.

Oh yeah… and there’s no Santa Claus either. You all caught up now?

Jon Watson

February 17th, 2011
11:02 am

@KMB – I’m not arguing that the circumstances in which they were placed wasn’t absurd. But sometimes that IS the challenge (remember previous challenges where they have had to cook with only food from a vending machine, or that a microwave is their only heating element?). Having to cook in a Target is downright silly…but, Top Chef does silly sometimes.

Regarding Carla, what I meant by “misleading editing” wasn’t that she didn’t really freak out and waste a lot of time. I merely meant that the amount of focus that she received was leading the audience to think that she was going to be eliminated over it. I’m sure she really did run around like a chicken with her head cut off.

It wasn’t just that she used dried spices, it was that she used a pre-packaged spice mix. Even the Target’s have a spice rack, and Tom suggested that she should have let the flavors develop naturally or just used some cayanne for heat, rather than using Tony Cachere’s. While the pickens are slim, Target still carries some fresh herbs/spices. She was penelized for taking a shortcut. As Boudain said, her choice highlighted the difficulty of the challenge instead of hiding it. It tasted like she had to take a shortcut.


February 17th, 2011
11:03 am

Jon, you are correct that Mike didn’t tell Angelo to add salt, but Mike winced after he turned away and heard Angelo say he was adding salt. If Mike was such a good friend, he should have said something right then before Angelo added the salt. And Mike looked guilty as he!! when Angelo came in and said he was leaving. IMHO Mike is only out for Mike.


February 17th, 2011
11:06 am

Jon -love the recaps. In our house, he is ahead by ten because he has Dale and crushed me last night. We also give points for good quotes or good TV. Dale got two extra points last night for noting the irony that Mike I says he doesn’t make cookies but eats alot of them. Oh, and we went to Flip last weekend, yes Richard makes a REALLY good “booger”.


February 17th, 2011
11:08 am

Ok. It was just last week that Jimmy Fallon called out Blais for not using liquid nitrogen. This time he used it and still gets called out on it. Sometimes it’s hard to win.

Carola Von H.

February 17th, 2011
11:16 am

Yeah, “inedible” is the kiss of death. Angelo had to go. Found the Muppet section deeply stupid. Also creepy. What’s next– cooking for clowns? As for the Target cuisine, couldn’t figure out why someone didn’t do a fancy version of stove top Mac N’ Cheese.

Carla Roqs

February 17th, 2011
11:30 am

@ jon-(sorry for earlier)- loving the interactive comments with ours, you ‘roq’, too. @voice of reason–love the satire. to both of you, totally missed elmo’s tmi comment. will catch it the 2nd or 3rd time i watch the episode. @ jon– are you going to recap Chopped All-Stars? i hope you do.


February 17th, 2011
11:31 am

Dale probably has more experience using the iron to grill his sandwiches than using a panini grill. Can’t deny the fact that it helped him win too, so who is to criticize? I agree that if you put these people in a limited environment, you shouldn’t criticize their use of spice packets when spices aren’t available. But don’t call it “fresh” when it isn’t – Padma slapped him down where he deserved to be. I’m sure it was a slip but I also get tired of people explaining their dish in 45 paragraphs, when “baked potato soup” would do. Seems as if people are finished eating it by the time they get done explaining what’s in there.


February 17th, 2011
12:06 pm

@ mark I was thinking exactly the same thing. Blais tries not using liquid nitrogen and Jimmy Fallon is disappointed. Blais uses it and gets called out for using it too much. I’m still rooting for this ATL chef!


February 17th, 2011
12:13 pm

I cannot wait to see what happens next week when Blais accuses Mike of stealing his dish. Antonia weighs in on the preview saying, “you don’t steal another chefs dish”. I think the Dark Blais will come out and there will be a throw down.


February 17th, 2011
12:15 pm

Also, Mike, in passing did tell Angelo it was too salty. Afterward, Angelo adds a bottle of water to try to cut it.


February 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

@Jon keep doing what you do….. You are right on the money. To everyone else stop hating on Carla she is a talented chef, and wouild not have been winning if she wasn’t. Didn’t watch this episode but I live for Super Target. Yes they do have a varieity of stuff and it just where you at. They have the organic Archar Farms, selll beff, lamb, Stutton and Dodge Steaks, have all kinds of staples, and herbs just like any store. I like this episode becasue you had to think out the box. Yes we know they can cook in the kitchen, but what about other avenues. The Top Chef producers could script it and make them do over for the sake of Target placment but that would not be fair. When you think about Target you should not only think panni presses. Target has electric skillets, panni presses, grills, charcoal, out door camping stoves, etc. The object was to think outside the box, but hey sponsorship also pays for the show. You have to go beyond the exterior.

When it rains, it pours...

February 17th, 2011
1:05 pm

Dale offers up a salt lick last week.

Angelo offers up a salt lick this week.

Who’s your bet for offering up next week’s salt lick?


February 17th, 2011
1:11 pm

So it’s okay when Dale over-salts his food, but not when Angelo does it? WTF That is some jacked-up judging right there!
Oh and color me not impressed with Dale’s ironed grilled cheese sandwiches. What a joke. I can’t stand him, or Mike Isabella.


February 17th, 2011
1:17 pm

I’m in agreement that this season has definitely been more gimicky than past seasons with less emphasis being placed on great food, but I’d imagine that, in part, was the price to pay to get so many of these chefs to return. A common refrain from competitors throughout all the seasons has been how taxing physically the competition is as well as how difficult it is to be away from their families for so long. In addition, many of the “All Star” level competitors have parlayed their exposure from their original season into more lucrative and demanding professional careers. It’s hard to imagine Top Chef didn’t at least approach Kevin Gillespie about returning, but he’s now way too invested in Woodfire Grill to have accepted in all likelihood (though I am speculating).

My bet is that the producers had to up the prize levels to entice at least some of these folks back. The easiest way to do that is to join with a corporate sponsor who will provide the prize money in exchange for the exposure. If Target wants to provide $25,000 in exchange for a bunch of exposure, you darn well better believe the producers will think of a challenge to make it happen. Back in the earlier seasons with more “pure” cooking challenges, the prize was frequently like a signed cookbook from the guest judge. Now they’re getting weeklong trips, cars, and loads of cash. So if corporate pandering is what it took to let us see some of these folks compete again, I’ll handle the gimicks of the season.


February 17th, 2011
2:23 pm

I love to cook and only shop at Target for groceries when I’m in there for something else and need a couple of things. So I can imagine there were a few chefs walking around wondering just what to do…But I thought it was interesting as a home cook to see what they used given the situation. Anyone know how Dale made that soup that won him 25k? Was it from scratched or what was the base..what did he add? I remember him getting canned tomatos… I like the challenges. I loved the vending machine one from first season. I remember some amazing stuff being produced. And some of the chefs rocked the target challenge. I don’t know what happened to Angelo. It was entirely his fault…his soup, his palet..and his confidence. I don’t know if he was just so tired…and wow what was he wearing? Love that Blais was able to rock out a great dish…no nitro…boy can COOK! I mean Carla clearly gave them plenty of random footage to use and at one point she made me really nervous. Lucky she squeeked through. I did her…but was just painful this week. Oh, have to add…Antonia was robbed.


February 17th, 2011
2:25 pm

dang ment to say dig her…ok, go ahead and jump me for the unappropriate typo there…

Carla Roqs

February 17th, 2011
2:27 pm

@kitch-ken– ditto

steve brown

February 17th, 2011
3:00 pm

The sooner Blais goes, the less embarrassing it will be for Atlanta. First he goes over the time limit but feigns that he didn’t know. Now he doesn’t make a cookie in a cookie challenge and wishes he could have helped his departing friend with his extensive burger expertise. Yeah how to make a $5 item sell for $13.


February 17th, 2011
3:45 pm

I can’t wait to see Paula Deen, what a great chef, ans she doesn’t measure anything just plop in a stick of butter, now thats eating! Once again everyone has something to say about Blais using his special techniques but he hasn’t used them in two weeks so I don’t understand why everyone is gripping. Besides it doens’t matter if the food is good! I like Tiffany but am starting to get annoyed by her and her crying so she is prob next to go. As long as Blais, Carla, and Antonia are in the end i will be happy!


February 17th, 2011
3:48 pm

oh and @ Jon “Please pack your deep-v and go” that is hillarious I laughed out loud!

Jon Watson

February 17th, 2011
3:57 pm

@Steve Brown – Man, you really don’t like Blais do you? You have commented 4 times on my posts since I started recapping, and they have all been about Blais and your dislike for him or his restaurant. Of course, you didn’t seem to miss an opportunity to rip on Kevin G. during his season either. Did these guys wrong you in another life?

Aside from going over the time limit at the beginning of the season – something that few people seem as concerned about as you are – and taking too much creative license with the definition of a cookie, I’d say that Richard has represented our city extremely well this season. He is a clear favorite among the judges and the chefs themselves. In fact, in multiple episodes the chefs openly admit that he is the one to beat. They were all terrified to go up against him in the tennis challenge. They wouldn’t feel that way if he wasn’t a serious chef with real talent, regardless of whether or not his burgers at Flip are pricey.


February 17th, 2011
4:20 pm

@Voice of Reason – Thank you for clearing things up regarding the puppeteers doing the judging of the cookie quickfire (err – I mean the Swanson Broth Quickfire)

We now all know that puppeteers are FAR more qualified to judge a good cookie! Sorry the point flew well over your head.

We’ll see if Santa is good to you next year!


February 17th, 2011
4:47 pm

@kitch-ken – Kevin G. did an interview after this episode’s contestants were announced and said that he was invited to participate, but since he was so busy at Woodfire (and also was then looking to open a BBQ place) he was unwilling to participate.

That said, I have to give props to our boy Blais. He has consistently shown that being a “good guy” and helping the other contestants where he could is an attribute to be proud of, even when you are a chef. He represents the ATL VERY well. @Steve Brown – can you say the same?

Go Blais…


February 17th, 2011
4:55 pm

I AGREE! Blais has been the best representative of our town…Atlanta Housewives anyone? Richard inspires fear in his other cheftestants…why? Cause he is awesome..and even better..he will offer advice and help to anyone who wants it..even though he is against them. For the most part he has shown southern class through the show…even though he not a true southerner…and I’m sorry but I’ll say it again cause I so excited…CAN’T WAIT to see Paula next week!


February 17th, 2011
5:00 pm

Dale seems to have one more gear than the others . I would put Richard in the two spot . I don’t know what happened with his salty , salty , salty philly cheese steak on a salty pretzel roll . Past that he seems to be the most consistent in a good way . Last night didn’t do much for me . I really love some of the shows & other just leave me meh . I don’t know why they asks the chefs if they have anything to say at the judges table . I’m waiting for a chef to threaten to hurt them self if they are asked to pack their knives . ” If you vote me off my blood is on your hands Tom . Was my protein really that under seasoned ?” Just seems really unnecessary .