Thursday, February 17, 2011
TC All-Stars try to stay on Target;Worst Cooks share some sweetness and Idol's group sing gimmick
Top Chef All-Stars had a set of very special guest judges for the Quickfire challenge this week,namely three of the Muppet stars from Sesame Street. Telly,Elmo and Cookie Monster requested a batch of,what else,cookies with Elmo asking for zucchini or carrots to be added.
While a few of the chefs endeavored to please Elmo,most went along with Cookie Monster's desire for chocolate chip based(I'm with CM on this one)treats. The extra sweetness to this round was a cash prize of $5000,that Dale won rather unexpectedly.
He appeared to be the least inclined to make such basic goodies but his potato chip & pretzel shortbread cookies frosted with a salted caramel chocolate ganache turned out to be a real hit with the monster crowd.
The Elimination challenge took everyone to a Target store,where they had to make a meal for 100 employees using only what was on the shelves and in stock(they weren't even allowed to bring their own knives).
The chefs had from midnight to three in the a.m. to make their food and set up service stations. Once again,a cash prize was offered,this time being twenty five grand. Quite the incentive there,wouldn't you say?
A lot of people decided to play it safe and made soups,but not Antonia. She choose the bold route with Parmesan eggs on garlic crostini and an apple almond salad on the side. Eggs are tricky to cook under normal circumstances,so pulling this dish off as well as she did was impressive.
Next to her in the winner's circle was Richard,for his pork tenderloin with green chillies and apples,plus braised pork ribs and corn pancakes.
While the plate may have looked "butt ugly",even Anthony Bourdain agreed that it tasted delicious.
However,it was back-to-back victory night for Dale,earning him a total of thirty grand or, as he put it,"rent for a year."
His rib eye grilled cheese sandwiches were cooked with an actual iron,inspired by his college days,and the spicy tomato soup that went with it was an out and out delight.
I wouldn't mind Dale winning this round so much if he didn't constantly snark about his fellow contenders behind their back in the video asides. Bourdain truly hit the nail on the head when he slyly complimented Dale for his combination of "goofy and devious." I was really hoping that Antonia would win this one;she's proven herself to be quite the culinary contender here.
Onward to the Bottom Three,where Carla's curry apple soup lead the way to dining disaster. She got extremely frazzled while scouting the Target aisles(they can be a bit daunting,in my opinion,even when you're not tired)and started cooking about a half hour behind everyone else.
Her curry was crying out for some sort of protein to boost it but since she wasted so much time in gathering her items,Carla just went with what she had. Not one of her better choices,alas.
Tiffany joined her,thanks to a less than stellar jambalaya. The chicken,sausage and shrimp in it were cooked well enough but she had a heavy hand when it came to stirring in some dried spices,the kind that her mom liked to use.
Those artificial spices muted the natural flavors of the dish and dragged it down to a level of mealtime mediocrity.
When all was said and done,it was Angelo's time to go home. His baked potato soup wasn't too bad of an idea but in a moment of doubt,he added too much salt and bacon which totally botched the whole dish.
Angelo pleaded "palate fatigue" when asked by the judges if he realized the salty mess his soup was in. That didn't fly with anyone on the panel. Hey,at least he got a second shot at the brass ring,something that many TC contenders can't claim there.
Next week, Paula Deen stops by and so does a few of the former TCAS competitors to lend a hand to the remaining chefs-or will they do more harm than good? Talk about your sizzling suspense,folks!
On Worst Cooks In America,each chef had two recruits left to choose from to represent them in the finale. For their last Main Dish challenge,each recruit had to cook a special meal for the judges and the person who nominated them for the show.
Both chefs had their crew learn how to make a dessert that required flambeing. Chef Anne taught her fellas,Joshie and Carlos,crepes with chocolate chip mascarpone filling and a flambe cherry sauce.
Each guy did well but Chef Anne went with Joshie over Carlos,mainly due to Carlos' plate being under seasoned. Joshie is a tad high strung so the odds of him flaking out are strong but you never know,folks:
Robert Irvine showed his gals Georg and Kelsey how to whip up a vanilla brioche bread pudding with peach sauce. While both ladies managed to pull their big dinners off,Georg was the one chosen to go to the finale.
Too bad for Kelsey but on the bright side,her husband doesn't have to worry about getting food poisoning for supper again.
The big finale will have the last two standing make a three course meal for a panel of experienced restaurant folk in order to win the big prize. Hard to say who will do their mentor proud the best,but this should be a lively battle of culinary wits worth watching:
American Idol is the midst of the Hollywood rounds,with the group sing challenge being the major gauntlet thrown down last night. As usual,there was plenty of drama-people either not finding a group to join or being kicked out at the last minute,former lovers doing a little infighting and panic attacks galore.
One of the girl groups dared to ask Steven Tyler to come on stage with them as they serenaded him with "Some Kind of Wonderful." Naturally,this season's resident horndog couldn't resist such open adoration and while the ladies won a few bonus points for bravado,only one was sent through to the next round.
Fortunately for her,the other girls took their loss well and promised to root for their friend. Nice to see a bit of harmonious support amongst the competitive craziness:
THE AMAZING RACE-UNFINISHED BUSINESS: A fresh new season of TAR begins this Sunday with the return of many fan favorite teams that almost made it to the finish line to try their luck again.
There's a lot of people to root for but my ultimate faves are Jet and Cord(Team Cowboy),Flight Time and Big Easy(Team Globetrotters)and Kent and Vyxsin(Team Goth). With any luck,they'll all be in the Final Three-here's hoping!:
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