Top Chef All-Stars Recap: Fondue and Fallons

Fidel Gastro recapsthe latest edition of Top Chef: All-Stars.

To add a little levity to the seriousness that has been Top Chef: All Stars, the producers put together a more casual episode.  Starting with a guest-judgeless Quickfire and everybody’s 2nd favorite pot to gather ‘round, the cheftestants play judge and jury to a fondue challenge, where Padma instructs them not to make a chocolate sauce.

Blais, whose cockiness is all of a sudden more than just his rooster-like hairstyle, decides to pull an Angelo and does exactly what he’s told not to do.  Tiffany does the same, and Blais calls the effort “pedestrian.”  I’m pulling for this guy (especially after tonight’s elimination), but he’s all of a sudden acting like a dick.  The rest of the chefs get a little more creative, especially Dale, who makes a pho version of fondue, and the Black Hammer, who makes a fromage blanc and crème fraiche fondue served with smoked salmon on toast.  Both of these get the most votes, along with Angelo, who makes a fondue that requires instructions on how to eat it (at least he didn’t paint “FONDOO” on the table this time around), but it’s Dale who takes another win, this time netting a trip to Napa and making this competition his to lose.  The bores of the bunch were Fabio, Tiffany, and Isabella, who is accused by Antonia of being a one-trick pony that would be lost without Moroccan spices.  Registering in the deadband between winner and loser is Blais, who claims that a guest judge would have given his fondue pot the win.  At some point between this week and last, I guess he woke up and realized that he was all of a sudden (or has always been) better than the rest of the cheftestants.  Like I said, he’s being a dick.

Next, the cheftestants head to the Jimmy Fallon show to play cell phone shootout, taking pictures of Jimmy’s favorite foods so they can poison, er, cook for him.  All of the dishes are straightforward save for beef tongue, giving the chefs plenty of opportunity to fuck them up.  After Carla nearly has a heart attack over chicken pot pie, they’re kicked off the set and sent to Whole Foods/Colicchio & Sons for the shopping/cooking.  Carla continues to freak throughout the cooking, annoying the rest of the competitors, but yielding results in the dining room and showing that there is a direct correlation between her gangly flailing and the success of her dishes.  Hootie!  The rest of the cheftestants overthought things a bit, and the dishes that should have been a lay-up were all executed poorly.  Hell, Fabio couldn’t even pronounce the word “burger.”  The rest of the service was dick jokes, Fallon ego-stroking, and the ever growing Top Chef theme of stoner references (if it keeps up, Chef Levin should try out for the show.  He’d kill it).

At Judges’ Table, the top dishes were Angelo’s pulled pork, Antonia’s (actually Blais’) beef tongue, and Carla’s chicken pot pie, which was the best received, giving her a guest spot on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and a trip to Tokyo.  Blais wound up in the middle, but he’s still convinced that he’s the best there is.  I’m still baffled by all this shit-talk, but we’ll see how things play out.  The worst dishes were Tiffany’s chicken & dumpings, Dale’s cheesesteak, and Fabio’s “boorgor.”  Tiffany made a soup that lacked the comfort of “chicken and dumps,” Dale oversalted his cheesesteak (insulting me and the rest of Philadelphia) and Fabio, not a cooker of burgers, made something more akin to meatloaf.  Typically, the salt police make the arrest, and I thought that Dale was a goner, but Fabio’s dry burger and curdled cheese sauce was the most insulting, and the Italian turtle lover was sent packing.  Right now, my money’s on Carla, so let’s hope she continues to act like a human-sized chicken for the benefit of her food.  Hootie-hoo!