Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

TC All-Stars go Italian,Worst Cooks play ball and American Idol auditions in Austin

The return of Top Chef All-Stars this week came with some foodie flair as the Quickfire challenge was all about presentation.

The Fashion Show's Issac Mizrahi was the guest judge for this round and he seemed to fall in love with the black ice cream with mint that Richard whipped up. It didn't look that pretty to me but these things are subjective,folks.

The Elimination challenge tasked the chefs to prepare a traditional three course Italian dinner,to be served to the owners and staff of Rao's along with the judges and return special guest judge Lorraine Bracco. Everyone was split into teams of three and had one course to work on.

All of the ladies wound up with the first course which was the antipasti,while the boys had the pasta,aka primi,and then the meat or secundi amongst themselves. Since a few of the contenders here are of Italian descent(Fabio,Antonia and Mikey I),they felt the most pressure to put out great food for this round.

Fabio was in the secundi section,along with Angelo and Richard, and his chicken cacciatore was considered to be the best dish served in that course.

It was served with a side of polenta(which is more popular in Italian cooking than I realized) and the whole plate wowed everyone at the table. That landed Fabio in the winner's circle but he wasn't able to claim victory.

The rest of the Top Dish crew was the entire antipasti course,who got things off to a great start. Carla's minestrone soup with homemade focaccia bread was well liked but not loved. One of the Rao's gentlemen said it was nice but more like Wisconsin style than authentic Italian.

Tiffany earned a little more love with her polenta terrine with sausage and peppers. Polenta on any plate seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

However, her dish was tasty but not quite all the way there for some of the diners at the table. It was good enough to get her high marks yet in the end,there was one who stood above the rest.

Antonia finally won the day,with a plate of steamed mussels that had fennel,white wine and garlic,plus a nice hunk of ciabatta bread to sop up the juices. Her simple yet satisfying opener was the perfect Italian family style offering that all assembled were looking for.

Unfortunately amongst her fellow chefs,Antonia's win was greeted with sour grapes. Both Mikey and Fabio whined about how uncomplicated her dish was(which is why it won,fellas!),not to mention that Mikey just stared at her open mouthed in the stew room for a while before congratulating Antonia,so not cool.

Also,Fabio had the nerve to bitch in an aside bit about Antonia's food being more French than Italian. Uh,Fabio,Judge Tom happens to be Italian and during the meal,he talked about how the mussels brought back memories of his grandfather digging them up and cooking them very much the way Antonia did,so yeah,shutting up right now would be good,okay?

As for Mikey,he had enough troubles with his rigatoni. Despite being told that using dry pasta would be fine,he made fresh which is trickier to cook correctly. The whole pasta course was a hot mess,putting everyone in a sad mood until the secundi cheered them up.

Sent home was Tre,for his vegetable risotto that had too much topping and a stiff texture to the rice. Tre explained that he was taught to make risotto this way but the main flavor of the dish is in it's creaminess,so it would seem. He took his loss well but I do wish he had stayed around a little longer.

Next week, Jimmy Fallon stops by and while there are plenty of laughs,the food frenzy continues to grow. Stay tuned and hungry!

For their Skill Drill this week, The Worst Cooks In America were given a recipe to follow on their own but the instructions were arranged out of order. Each team had to work together to figure out how to make all of the components right.

The teamwork was pretty good on both sides but major mistakes were made. Kat cut up the apples for the applesauce way too big for Chef Anne's team and it was surprising to see just many recruits on Robert Irvine's crew had no idea what veal was:

Chef Anne and Irvine then did a duo demo to help their recruits get ready for the Main Dish challenge. They had to make appetizers for a "Game Day" party to be hosted by NY Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins.

The first set of apps would be potato pancakes with original toppings made by each person and then later they were given special recipes to make as a second offering. It was a good challenge,especially since those mini pancakes were much harder than they looked to pull off:

American Idol headed to Austin and the show started off with a so-called "apology" for Steven Tyler's slip of a certain F word last week. That didn't seem to be more than a cheek in tongue attempt to keep interest in his wacky antics alive and the ratings up,in my opinion. That's fine with me,Steven Tyler is certainly giving Paula Abdul a run for her money in the crazy Idol judge department.

Meanwhile,it was difficult to find a truly bad singer this round. There were a handful of oddball contenders that included a chicken clucking gal with a major Seacrest crush(she had a good singing voice,alas)and one person who showed up in an armadillo outfit. The best of the worst to be heard,however,was Rodolfo Ochoa who blew the roof off in a very bad way:


JOAN & MELISSA-JOAN KNOWS BEST?: Yes,I shamefully confess to having watched the first two episodes of this shamelessly over the top mother/daughter act(in replays,at least-give me some credit there!).

As much as I know that most of these showbiz shenanigans are somewhat staged for the camera,there is some of Joan's actual bias and annoying actions slipping in there. Melissa may love her mother but it's only a matter of time before she starts threatening Joan with "Shady Pines,Ma!":

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