I love Top Chef. And I looooove Carla Hall. So, when I found out my favorite alarmingly tall, curly-haired, crazy lady Carla Hall would be back on television, reprising her role on Top Chef All Stars, the title that slipped out her hands oh so quickly, I was over the damn moon. I love Carla for many reasons – her “hootie-hoo’s” in the kitchen, her goofy smile, contagious laugh, and the fact that she believes one should always cook with love. “If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing you should be making is a reservation.” So true Carla, so true.
Well, after the premiere episode of Top Chef: All Stars last week, I was so happy. Not only was Carla back in my (t.v.) life, but Richard Blais made a Chicago style hot dog with mustard ice cream. And anyone who watches Top Chef, knows how much”Blais” loves liquid nitrogen. So, I figured after last week’s pheNOMenal episode, this week’s had to be good. Oh, I was wrong – it was great. So whether you watched it or not, let me tell you about it here.
With the opening credits still running, the contestants walk into the Top Chef All Stars kitchen to be greeted by the lovely Padma (please pack your knives and GO!) aaaaand -drumroll please – JOE JONAS. And here’s where the jokes start rolling. I almost spit out my drank when Dale Talde exclaimed, “I had no idea who Joe Jonas was. I thought he might be a pastry chef.” My man, Blais, referred to Jonas as a “pop icon,” concerned about his question-mark palate, Blais figured Jonas is used to eating filet mignon cheese doodles. Yum!
As a self-proclaimed fan of the show, Jonas is set to introduce the quickfire challenge. Their goal? To create a midnight snack for 200-some kiddie’s who will be having a sleepover at NY’s American Natural History Museum. “You’ve got thirty seconds…” Joe says to the chef’s, who reply with nervous laughter. Nice joke, Jo Bro, so clever.
As the chef’s start whipping up their sugary delights (in Chicago Dale’s case, “a caveman boulder, which will be like a little ten year old rave” and Crazy Dale’s “corn cake with ‘nyquil’ “), we get a rare peek into the childhood of some of our beloved chef’s. Marcel is so happy to be cooking for kids (reaaaally?), Stephen grew up in a healthy household (so he’s making snickerdoodles?) Blais liked to eat cereal with heavy cream (“because it’s delicious) and Spike grew up making homemade potato chips for his family.
The end result was a tie between Spike’s carrot chips, potato chips and marshmallow dip and Tiffany’s (redhead) chocolatey moon pie’s, which consisted of rice krispie treats, moon pie’s and some more melted chocolate. Since Jonas can’t decide, Padma exclaims the kids (uh oh) are going to have to decide at the sleepover. Tiffany and Spike will have to make enough of their dish for each kid but of course they can’t do it alone – so they split up into teams! Poor Fabio is picked last, but always remains optimistic, “I choose to be with Spike team because I want to piss off Spike.” It’s basically the spice girls and their bodyguard (every girl but carla + chicago dale) versus all the cool guys with their babysitter carla (all the guys except chicago dale + my girl carla).
As the chef’s get cookin’, it’s obvious they’re not too pleased, especially Dale. For him, it’s like “asking me to cook dinner without buying the groceries. it’s like trying to make chicken soup with chicken sh*t. it ain’t gonna work.” Great imagery, Dale! Jamie isn’t happy either – having to help someone else when there’s nothing in it for her? Oh, the horror! “I don’t care,” she says, along with a typical Jamie whimper. Chicago Dale isn’t happy at all about having to cook for kids, “they’re called brats for a reason!” Of course this isn’t usually how events unwind after a quickfire challenge, but heeello – it’s top chef. And you’ve all been on this show before! You should know this!
Eventually, the teams head over to the museum, the kids arrive and the campaigning begins! “It’s a dirty business feeding kids – these kids are horrific!” Spike yells, as he googly-eyes shakes hands and smiles with all the kids. “IT’S CHIPS WITH MARSHMELLOW DIPPPP” The 200 plus screaming kids were crazy, and soon very jacked up with sugar. In the sea of kids and desperate chef’s, we again find Jamie. “I don’t campaign to them…” (shocker), “I have no interest in having kids.” (I had to laugh). “Ever.”
Finally, Joe and Padma show up and the kids go INSANE. Screaming girls, screaming boys, screaming chef’s! Joe asked the kids to “scream” loudly for their favorite dish, the blue team (tiffany’s chocolate goodness) or the red team (spike’s chips/dip). It was clear the kids loved the chocolate. For Spike, it was a moment for the books, as he proclaimed it took him back to the “schoolyard”, a very embarassing time for him.
As the chef’s clean up, Tom walks in and informs them their elimination challenge starts NOW. “You’ll be joining the sleepover,” he tells them, as Spike shakes his head in the background. The teams (blue/red) will have to make breakfast for the kids and their family at 7:30 am. Tiffany, since she won the quickfire officially, had to choose between T-Rex (they are in the natural history museum) and Brontosaurus. Team T-Rex will only have access to meat and meat by-products (dairy, eggs) and team Bronto will only have access to fruits, vegetables, etc. Tiffany chooses T-Rex which means the cool kids and their babysitter Carla are Team Bronto. The clock now reveals its 2:10 am at this point – and the menu planning kicks off!
Everyone heads to the Hall of Mammals, where there are top chef sleepwear and individual sleeping bags/cots set up for their short 45-minute nap they’ll have before they have to wake up at 3:45/4 am to start cooking. How great does that sound?! After stripping down and Trey exclaiming he likes to sleep naked (uh oh), the chef’s get to planning. The biggest problem for both teams is that they don’t know exactly what they’ll have access to in the museum pantry, making it difficult to plan a specific menu. As Casey calls it, each team has a “wishlist” of what they’d like to see happen in the morning.
As most everyone heads to sleep, some of my favorites (Fabio, Spike, Dale, Marcel etc) decide to wander off in the museum with a flashlight, because really – when are you going to have this opportunity again? They stumble upon a brain exhibit and it is here, where Spike really shines. “Our brains are going to be working full force, I understand that now. The other team is going to have a sleeping brain. It’s the brain that sleeps, it’s the brain that picks meat over vegetables, it’s the brain that’s going to lose.”
45-ish minutes later and the chef’s are up and cooking. How they found that energy to RUN towards the pantry is beyond me. Here comes the surprise – big shocker for Team T-Rex when they discover they have alot less meat/meat byproducts than they originally had planned. Chicago Dale is shocked they don’t even have access to flour, whereas Team Fruits/Veggies look like “sunshine, puppies and rainbows.” Uh oh.
Each Team has broken down further into teams of two for an individual breakfast dish to serve. The girl’s team is slightly aghast when Jamie, as she’s cutting some sort of meat, slices her thumb open and has to leave, as soon as the medic informed her she needed stitches. The girls, on 45 minutes of sleep, are not super-pleased, considering this IS top chef. You cut your finger? No problem, go get some duct tape! So that leaves Jen Carrol (Jamie’s teammate) by herself to create a play on bacon and eggs, but she’s not worried – Jamie needs to take care of “herself”, so Jen will just work twice as hard. Atta girl!
Over on team Bronto side, the sunshine, puppies and rainbows are hard at work as Fabio and Stephen work on some potato gnocchi (for breakfast? really?), Dale works on some polenta with onions and peppers, Blais, Marcel and Angelo concoct a banana parfait and Spike and Carla (woo hoo) work on a gazpacho.
As the sun and 7 am soon appear, the chef’s are ready for business (sort of). In preparation, Marcel gets pissed that Angelo tells Carla to cut the plums in half, because Angelo thinks the size of the plums isn’t fitting with the portion plate. Oh Angelo, watch out – Marcel is going to CUT you for even touching his food. “Really dude? You don’t fuck with someone’s mise en place” Watch your back, son.
Team T-Rex is suffering a tad, considering there was oven trouble (shocker) with Tiffani and Antonia’s three different mini fritatta’s and Casey didn’t even taste Trey’s sauce for their salmon. Jen made due without Jamie, creating a dish of braised bacon with a hard boiled egg on top. Tiffany and Dale made simplicity shine with scrambled eggs and a hollandaise sauce. Jamie shows up right before showtime, saying she got two stitches. Trey winces, as does all of America. Two stitches, seriously? And you didn’t think to duct tape your wound?!
The kids pile in, mostly lining up for Team T-Rex, hoping for some good ol’ fashioned eggs and bacon! Carla warns that the kids are “very receptive” of her team’s dishes, but stands strong to the fact they are all “very, very solid dishes.” The judges show up, with a new guest judge, Katie Lee, from season 1. Spike smiles knowingly at her, as they line up for Team Bronto. Looks like someone’s got a crush, Spike! (And I don’t just mean me with you!)
The Judges – Katie, Tom, Padma and GAIL (love her!) break up into teams of two and join the kids for breakfast, to find out the good stuff of course. The biggest hits? Banana parfait (“it looks like a painting”) and Fabio/Stephen’s gnocchi (fabio’s grandma’s recipe – as he made very clear to the kids and their families, running around, refilling plates, kissing old women on the cheeks – such an entertainer!)
Now for the good stuff. Team Jen/Jamie (although I’d hardly call it a team effort), according to Tom and most of the guests, underseasoned their hard boiled eggs and should’ve strayed from braising the bacon. The kids were not a fan, opting more for “crunchy bacon, yum!” Although Casey’s salmon was cooked well, Trey’s sauce was way too salty for the judges’ palate and some of the fritatta’s were undercooked (Katie Lee’s was runny as Tom’s was cooked well).
Elimination Time, baby. Now, seeing as I’ve typed on for almost 2,000 words (sorry, guys) I’m going to start bullet pointing at this mark, and let me tell you, if you haven’t read any of this blog yet, make sure to read this part. This elimination was CRAAAAZAAAAY. Gotta love it! But let me ask first, do you think they get cruunk before going into judges table? Maybe that would explain the madness that went down …
-” I don’t cook for other people anymore, I learned my lesson. Do you want to win or do you want to make the 150 people happy that you’re never going to see again?” – Wise words of Jen Carrol as the chef’s are in elimination room. Chicago Dale finds that selfish
Team Bronto is first one in, meaning, obviously, they won and all those girls know it!
-“It all happened very organically” – Marcel’s explanation. The judges loved the gnocchi – Fabio is estatic – but, “here comes the bus” blames Spike for some of the cooking of the gnocchi, as they were supposed to be cooked delicately, but under time pressure, Spike cooked them in a sort of “tsunami”.
-Banana parfait was the winning dish – hats off to Blais, Angelo and the ever so giggly, Marcel who, wins the quote of elimination time. “If there was always one person who won the challenge, it probably would’ve gone to me, because I’ve had the most components on the plate. It’s always a good feeling being on the top, but I dont know … it could’ve just been me.” God speed, Marcel.
Time to send in your fellow chef’s, Team T-REXXXX.
-Tiffany starts off, proclaiming they assumed they would’ve been able to cook with everything and meat. Tom corrects her, as he should. “The challenge was about adaptability”, Gail says – and we see Jen Carrol start to smirk.
-After the judges explain the fritatta’s were undercooked and the salmon sauce was too salty, the kicker finally arrives – “Jen, you seem pissed off.” OOOOHHH. She’s pissed all right. “I don’t feel like I deserve to be here, I don’t feel we deserve to be here.” (Like the judges haven’t heard that before). Gail then asks if Jen tasted the dishes of Team Bronto. “I tasted every single one of the dishes from the other team, I thought we were better. That’s all I’m going to say.”
– Tom questions why they served everything on one plate, rather than having different plates at different stations. Now, I missed this exact quote but I know Jen snapped saying something along the lines of, “You’re the judges. If you wanted another plate, why didn’t you just ask for a different plate?” OH SHIT, GIRL. Tom then snaps back and again talks about her under-seasoned hard boiled egg. “No, no, no it was not underseasoned. I tasted it, it was not. I will fight to the death with this – there’s no doubt in my mind that egg was under-seasoned.” Nice Jen, I guess we’ll never know!
– Deliberation Time. Jen tells the other chef’s that no, she wasn’t this forward/outspoken in her previous season, “Welcome to Jen All stars”
-The chef’s are called back in and Tom briefs them, “If anyone expects an easy ride here, you’re kidding yourselves.” Dale/Tiffany are safe. And despite the undercooked frittata’s and the way too salty salmon sauce, it’s JEN that is sent home. While they admire her defense of her dish, it’s not going to make the dish any better. DID NOT see that coming. My money was on the salty salmon sauce.
Jen shakes the hand of all the judges, bows to her fellow chef’s and exits in what seems a graceful manner. Then the expletives come out. All the audience hears is, “F*7cking b$ull*sht, not even close, not even f-ing close.” Nice background music. As Jen packs her knives, she makes one final plea. “I am a great chef and a great person. The judges got it wrong.”
Well, those judges sure aren’t playing around, thats for damn sure. And so, this concludes my ridiculously long, sometimes satirical, sometimes whiny, and very weirdly detailed, carla-obsessed recap of Top Chef All Stars episode 2. Do I expect my future blog posts to be this long? Hell no, I hardly know what I’m doing. And my blog name/title/whole page will probably change tomorrow. I just haaaad to write about this episode.
Till next time!