Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can Do Cooking on Top Chef All Stars

I am beginning to think I am ahead of my time, or am definitely on the pulse of at least the trend toward the resurgence of canned goods. Over the last couple of weeks I have seen canned goods thrown into TWO celeb-reality chef shows.  First it was Chopped All Stars with canned haggis and yesterday one of the options on Top Chef All Stars in the quickfire challenge was to create something out of canned goods. Mike assigned that challenge to Antonia.  I have to admit her task was a little bit more daunting as she couldn't use any fresh ingredients. She still came up with a Curry Soup with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage, that looked yummy.
Photo Courtesy of BravoTV

Richard was charged with turning hot dogs into something worthy of fine cuisine, and Mike had to make something in one pot.  Half way through the challenge, Padma threw in another twist.  The chef-testants would assign that "punishment" to each other as well.  Richard could only work with one hand; Mike couldn't use any utensils, and they brought back Carla so they could tie her to Antonia.   Mike's tough pork and beans won the quickfire!
The elimination challenge was assigned by the quickfire winner.  The task... prepare a last supper for either Michele Bernstein, Masahura Morimoto and Spago's Wolfgang Puck.  Mike gave Antonia, Morimoto.  Good strategy.  Richard could have nailed it.  So he gave the Italian girl from L.A. the task of creating a memorable final meal for a veritable Japanese Iron Chef Master! Mike settled on making fried chicken and biscuits for Michele Bernstein.  Thus leaving Richard with Wolfgang Puck.  All the Master chefs chose a meal that reminded them of home and was near and dear to their heart.  The chef-testants had a lot to live up to.

Let's cut to the chase.  Antonia delivered perfect rice, which is no small feat.  Sushi chefs have to master their rice making skills for two years before they move on to anything else.  Unfortunately her miso soup was too salty.  She is a bit heavy handed on the sodium.  I've heard her criticized for this before.  

Mike sous vide his chicken which is in essence simmering it (why) then fried it and his biscuit was an empanada with a egg yolk inside.  Yuck. I'd rather have KFC.

Richard recreated the flavors of Wolfgang Puck's mother and well as adding his own Blais spin to it, without ruining the integrity or expectation of traditional Beef Goulash and Apple Streudel. In the end Richard was safe and onto the finale. Whew!

Mike and Antonia had one last chance to make one bite of whatever in 45 minutes to secure the second spot. Mike made a surf and turf..Lobster over Beef Tartare with Black Olive and Chimichurri Sauce and Antonia made Seared Grouper over a Coconut Lobster Broth .  I hate some of these judges, they are so pretentious.  I was surprised that it came to a 3 to 4 split favoring Mike.  I mean, I never understood the appeal of chopped up uncooked proteins, basically it wasn't cooked and shouldn't win.  Why don't you chew on a raw hamburger... YUM.

I do wish that Antonia won, aside from the fact that she deserved it... but also because I think Richard could easily beat her.

Richard Blais Top Chef???
My vote goes to Richard for the Top Chef All Stars win.  I've been rooting for him all along, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  He deserves it the most.   I think he got robbed in his season finale.   You can see how much this competition means to him, how much he hungers for that title. I think he is someone who is a little insecure and craves validation, even though it is obvious he is an amazing and creative chef.

I saw the promo for the final episode and read the Bravo TV blog and I'm really concerned that Mike is going to take this from him. Richard is a perfectionist.  It seems to me he tends to overthink things and second guesses himself, which can at times lead to your own demise.  Bravo described it as heart-wrenching and Richard winning wouldn't be heart-wrenching, Mike on the other hand.....  Either way he seems like the nicest, sweetest guy and he has a wonderful family - so he has plenty of more important things in his life than a Top Chef title... but I'm sure it would be nice.

Next week they bring back some "chopped" chefs to help... including this hottie!!!  They should have just kept him for his commentary alone.

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