Tag Archives: Bahamas

Is Top Chef: All-Stars the Worst Series Ever?

10 Mar

Pack up your knives: Not even Padma can save this series from sucking.

The Bahamas, Eric Ripert, the promise of Padma in a bikini: What could bad about the finale of Top Chef: All-Stars? Well, everything. Last night’s show was the most boring episode to date.

Things began with a head-to-head Quickfire against the Top Chef who won that cheftestant’s particular season. Tom hand-selected a meat for each group, and everyone had something to prove. The competition was fierce, but not exciting. Each loser-turned-All-Star won the face-off, except Antonia and Carla, that is. The biggest upset was that Mike beat out Michael Voltaggio in Battle Duck.

Duck, duck, and we were on to the next challenge, cooking for Bahamian royalty. The chefs were escorted by the police, landing smack-dab in the middle of a festival with elaborate costumes and dancing. But it wasn’t a typical king they’d be cooking for, it was the king of the Junkanoo festival! And the kitchen they were shown wasn’t in a palace, but a collection of fryers, microwaves, and a flat top. Tiffany was confident her dish would work anyway, but the other cheftestants were scared.

The chefs pulled a Tim Gunn and attempted to make it work, but when a fryer caught fire everything changed. Rather than worrying about their own safety, they put towels over the food and didn’t leave until a fire truck arrived. The damage was done. All of their food ended up in containment and they were back to square one.

The chefs no longer had to make it work; now they could change up their dishes. Antonia moved to the more pedestrian dish of shrimp and grits, but when she went to plate it she knew she’d made a bad move.

Jersey Mike Isabella shocked everyone, again, with his winning surf-and-turf-like dish: sous-vide chicken, mushrooms, yams, lobster sauce, and lobster hash.

Carla’s last-minute change from pork medallions to a whole fried loin resulted in raw meat. Her unevenly cooked medallion with sweet potato puree, applesauce, and an apple chip – coupled with her uncooked rice in the Quickfire — sent her packing.

Finales are supposed to be entertaining: Last night’s was not. Everyone was dripping sweat and looked awful; getting through the episode proved torturous. No memorable quotes to report, no exciting food, and nothing particularly Top Chef-worthy, let alone of All-Star caliber fit for a king.

Even Richard, the favorite, said, “Honestly, I hate everything I do”. Um, those ain’t no fightin’ words. This show needs an injection of tiger blood stat, or we are out.


Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post

Top Chef: All-Stars, Week 12: Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Muddled Dishes…

3 Mar

Last night’s episode of Top Chef: All-Starsmarked the end of the New York challenges. Why not leave New York the same way so many came in? We’re talking Ellis Island. For the Quickfire Challenge, the cheftestants had to make a dish from ingredients in a ferry’s snack bar. Time limit: the ferry ride from Manhattan to Ellis Island, foghorn to foghorn.

The guest judge was Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill. That’s right, the man known for local and organic would be tasting creations based on processed snack-bar food. Richard had these military MRE bags to cook his hot dogs and turned them into banh mi, complete with beef jerky, jalapenos (from the nacho station!), pork rinds, lettuce, and apple. Damn, that guy is clever. He mocked Carla for slicing oranges and Antonia for switching the bread and cheese from two pre-packaged sandwiches and then ― wait for it ― toasting it. Too bad life, like Top Chef, just isn’t fair. Carla’s sliced oranges won the challenge for their carrot and rosemary juice. We’re just glad it wasn’t Mike‘s disgusting hot-dog-bun-and-sour-cream soup that he said he wouldn’t even feed to his cat.

The Elimination Challenge yanked on every heartstring, as the cheftestants created a dish based on their ancestry. Cue Ellis Island in the background, a leather-bound book with each chef’s family history compiled by a genealogist, and a visit from the tired cheftestants’ families. Add your own waterworks, and voila. (Sshhh, don’t tell, but we heard it made SFoodie’s favorite punk domestic, Sean Timberlake, cry.)

Richard found out that his family is from Worcestershire, and he loves Worcestershire sauce. His conclusion: It’s in his DNA. He, the molecular gastronomist and pork fiend, also found out he has chemists and meat-market workers in his blood.

Antonia and Mike discovered they might be related, which, according to them, explains their karma. They went from archnemeses to Mike saying, “Me and my cousin being in the finals, how cool is that?”

The judges’ table dinner was awkward, since no one seemed to want to say anything bad about the food in the presence of the cheftestants’ families. Tiffany used okra to embrace her Southern heritage, even though she knew Tom hates okra. Luckily, she made him an okra convert. Richard was nervous to serve his ultracompetitive wife (she shot Tom “the look” when he said Richard’s dish was alright…)

In fact, there wasn’t really a black-sheep dish in the flock. The only tears were Mike’s, after he explained he hadn’t cooked his grandmother’s gnocchi and gravy since she died.

Antonia’s risotto was the winner ― she has a place in the finale, which will be in the Bahamas! Her new-found cousin Mike made it as well. Richard was given more wordage problems from the judges. Padma’s monotone voice said, “Richard, please pack your knives,” and then after what felt like a million beats she added, “You are going to the Bahamas!”

The other girls, Tiffany and Carla, are also in the finale. So who went home? No one. Letdown? Ya mon!


Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post