Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

TAR's taste test turmoil, The Walking Dead pauses to mourn and Top Chef All-Stars savory restart

Top Chef All-Stars has finally arrived,with plenty of seasoned players from past seasons ready to do battle. Promises of extra cash rewards and a huge payday for the winner were made by Padma,which naturally whetted everyone's competitive appetites. For their first Quickfire challenges,members of each particular season had to team up and make a dish that represented the city they competed in.

Team Chicago(Richard,Dale T,Spike and Antonia) won that round and received immunity. They whipped up a pork and sausage take on the hot dog with mustard ice cream,thanks to Richard's set of molecular gastronomy tricks.

The Elimination challenge was a solo outing,with each chef tasked to make the dish that took them out of the running during his or her season and improve upon it. The winner would be given ten grand,a very sweet incentive there.

The food was served at the Russian Tea Room,with one set of chefs joining the judges to critique the plates of their fellow competitors and the others watching them on a TV in the kitchen. Joining the regular panel of judges for this season was Anthony Bourdain,an awesome choice. He pulls no punches and says what he thinks,which is always good for a show like this.

For most of these chefs,this was a chance to redeem their culinary honor and quite a few of them succeeded. Spike had been sent home for using frozen scallops rather poorly but his addition of lime dressing with a heart of palm salad won him some major kudos and a spot in the winner's circle. Richard was called forth to join him but since he was still plating as time ran out,he was told that his dish was disqualified.

Angelo took the win and the ten grand,for the glazed pork belly with homemade ramen noodles and watermelon that divebombed on him last time. With his loss being the most recent,Angelo was extra elated at this opening victory.

For the folks in the Bottom Three,their biggest problems with their dish was due directly to their ego. Fabio took major offense at Bourdain's assessment of his casrecci with crawfish as an "inside out animal" in appearance. He actually had the nerve to complain at Bourdain during the judging,saying he wanted "helpful" criticism,not mockery.

To begin with,Fabio,it's clear that your ego is writing checks that your culinary skills can't cash,ok? Not to mention that Anthony Bourdain is not here to hold your hand but to let you know how good or bad your food was. This isn't your first time at the rodeo,buddy,so man up!

At least Stephen had the sense to be a little humble about his triple of food failures. Elia was beyond clueless as to why her red snapper wasn't even cooked all the way through. She really seemed shocked that the fish was raw and admitted that she didn't test any of them during cooking.

Elia also made the mistake of saying to the judges"Don't eliminate me,I have more to show you." Guess what,hon-no one wanted to see anything from you. Elia disappointed me in Season Two when she decided to join Ilan's gang of Marcel haters so it was fine with me to see her be the first to pack her knives and go.

Top Chef All Stars has gotten off to a great start and I look forward to watching more of this foodie showdown. Next week, sugar hoarding becomes an issue for a kid's food challenge and that battle should be bittersweet,indeed.

The folks on The Walking Dead took a real beating from the zombie campfire massacre last episode and spent most of this one clearing up the physical and emotional debris from that horror show. While Rick and Shayne debated on what to do next,Andrea had to find a way to make peace with her sister Amy,a casualty of the gruesome assault.

As Amy slowly returned to the world in undead form,Andrea got a chance to say goodbye and do the best she could for Amy under those circumstances. Too bad the Emmys are over already because this scene was one of the most touching bits of acting that I've seen this year:

This first season of The Walking Dead is nearly done and the wait for the next batch of episodes will be hard to endure. Well,we might as well enjoy what we do have before us and with finding that lone CDC scientist working on a possible cure,this debut run should cap off with a hell of a bang:

The Final Four teams on The Amazing Race landed in Hong Kong for this leg and had the traditional offbeat eating challenge. Everyone had to look over a buffet table of Chinese food and pick out the artificially made dishes from the real ones.

Any actual food they touched had to be consumed,which lead to a run for the bathroom for a couple of contenders. Claire from the Home Shopping team got nauseous first but managed to finish the Roadblock and move on. The next one to be taken ill was Vicki,whose partner Nick was being a total jerk about the whole thing. His bad attitude started when they caught a late ferry to the Roadblock and kept getting worse and worse.

He was completely unsupportive when Vicki got sick and then during the Detour,totally gave up on her and insisted that they take the penalty and not finish. Since this was a non elimination leg,they are still in the game but with a Speed Bump and a long wait to be checked in at the next Pit Stop ahead of them,this team's days are seriously numbered. As much as it pains me to quote Vanilla Ice,Vicki needs to drop that zero and get with a hero,stat!:


TABATHA'S SALON TAKEOVER: Season Three of this tough talking hair diva's mission of no mercy for wayward beauty parlors starts up next Monday and yes,it should be a hair as well as hell raising experience:

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