Videogum

Top Chef: All-Stars S01E05: Forget It, Tom, It’s Top Chef Town

There was no recap of the episode from two weeks ago because some of us, could have been any of us, really, were not around to watch it much less write about it. Did anything happen, or were they cool about it and held off any big changes until we all got back? Just kidding. Spike was eliminated. Spike, please pack your hats and go. Otherwise it was kind of a throwaway episode, right? An episode thematically built around the US Open two days before Christmas? C’mon son. I will say that there was one very hilarious moment right at the beginning of the episode when Richard Blais explained that after the challenge and Spike’s elimination everyone was just totally wiped out and so they went to the bar to relax, and then you see them at the bar and everyone is drinking…cups of coffee? Cool bar! After a day like that you just GOTTA knock back a couple. Mugs. Of coffee. Brewskies! I call cups of coffee brewskies. Because they are brewed! Get it?! Anyway, goodbye, Spike, I’ve got no problem with saying goodbye to you, although at this point the fact that Jamie is still around is clearly an inside joke between the producers. Each week, one of them suggests not eliminating Jamie, just as a goof, and the whole room cracks the fuck up.

But now we are back. In the thick of it! This week’s Quickfire Challenge pits the chefs against a world-famous chef. Ooh, who could it be? It is Chef Tom! LOL. Good one. Everyone seriously shits their aprons, though. “Can I get a new apron? This one is filled with my shit.” Every single chef says that exact quote. Tom prepares a delicious looking black sea bass dish with clam juice and zucchini and tomatoes in 8:37. YOU THE TOM NOW DAWG. That is the time everyone has to make something delicious and “complicated.” Eek! 2011! Tom Chef going HARD.

Scramble scramble scramble. Cook cook cook. Sweat sweat sweat. Blais (BLAIS!) admits that he has trouble making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in 9 minutes. Well, sure. What with all the liquid nitrogen and the centrifuges. Those machines take time to warm up! Dale insists that if he had a wok he could “crush” Tom’s time. Really? CRUSH his time? Dale’s famous 30-second wok stew. Yuck. Meanwhile, Jamie says something really weird and unnecessary about having dated people that were “fast,” as if that has anything to do with this. Go back to the hospital, Jamie.

Angelo knows that Tom said they should avoid making raw dishes but he is going to make a raw dish because he thought some “cool technique” would compensate for that and put him “on” the winners’ circle. Oh boy. Lots of problems with everything he just said so let’s just move on.

The losing dishes are Jamie for her clam amuse-bouche with bacon, tomato & cream, and Angelo for his yuzu branzino crudo with jalapeno & cilantro. Get under the losers’ pie, Angelo, as they all say. Oh, also Dale for this:

I don’t know, that is hilarious. I kind of think Dale wins. TEAM DALE.

The best non-Dale dishes are Blais for his foie gras roasted with aromatics, corn, fresh coriander & port, Marcel for his black sea bass with dashi broth, bok choy & chili oil, and Mike Isabella for his pan-roasted branzino with black olive & caper stew. Mike Isabella wins. He gets immunity and a Toyota Prius! Something tells me that Mike Isabella is sexist about ecology. I know that doesn’t even make sense, but if there was a way to be weirdly cocky and misogynistic when it came to recycling, Mike Isabella would be that.

Elimination Challenge: the chefs will work as one team to create a dim sum lunch for “hundreds of regulars” at a Chinatown restaurant. That sounds really hard! And also kind of racist. Regulars. We all know what THAT means. Meanwhile, Marcel explains to the viewing audience what Chinatown is all about: “everything is Chinese and all the people are Chinese and you can get cheap massages.” You know what, fair enough. Kind of a lazy description but not entirely inaccurate. The only thing he forgot to mention is that rich water barons are routinely shooting their daughter-lovers in the street.

Before they can shop shop shop and cook cook cook, they have to plan plan plan. Jamie is making scallops. OH LORD YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS. Once they’ve got their menu worked out, Angelo says “OK, I think we have a plan. Let’s go upstairs.” Haha. You know, just a normal human interaction between a bunch of human beings, but especially one human being who is definitely a human being. NOT a replicant. Why would you even think he was a replicant? Here look into this for a second.

Upstairs, everyone is hanging out except for Dale. It looks like a lot of fun.

Dale explains that he is not here to make friends shoot the shit with people. Oh, what are you here for then, Dale? To be the best chef you can possibly be? To change the way we think about food? Or to sit alone in your bedroom staring at photos of your girlfriend?

Definitely understand why he didn’t want to hang out with everybody. Those photos weren’t going to stare at themselves and awkwardly arrange themselves in the lid of his knife case. AND NOW: shop shop shop. Cook cook cook. The Chinese grocery store is so…CHINESE. Best exchange of the night:

Angelo: We need to get to the oil aisle.
Dale: We are IN the oil aisle.

Fabio tells some nonsense story about having a pet turtle that he keeps on a leash and how it’s just mean that the Chinese grocery store sells turtle meat. Relax, Fabio. I’m not saying that it’s turtle soup all the time in the Delahaye household (although P does make delicious turtle soup) but the last person to be raising some kind of moral stink about the butchering and cooking of animals is an Italian chef. Meanwhile, Casey collects art about butchery? Weird. I bet her house is a lot of fun to be in. Not super terrifying at all. Oh, and Angelo tells this story that I think he thinks is charming about his father making him as a child go through a bag of rice and pick out all the bad grains of rice and how if there was a black grain remaining in the bag his “ass was grass.” Yikes. I’m not sure what the age limit is on calling a social services intervention, but surely Angelo would do better in a foster home even at the age of 608.ZXL.

The dim sum lunch is, as expected, an absolute nightmare. There is no food! People are fighting in the aisles! It is seriously some warzone shit. This guy knows what I’m talking about. Why isn’t anyone in the kitchen hustling? Jamie thinks everyone feels shitty for how things are going. Speak for yourself, Jamie. You feel shitty. Because you are shitty. Tom comes downstairs and yells at everyone. I don’t know. It seems kind of staged, but I’m sure it was just a very normal reaction on Tom’s part. Mike Isabella gets on the phone from the upstairs service kitchen and shouts “FIRE EVERYTHING!” which is hilarious. He should be in Battleship: The Movie. Why not? That movie’s going to stink. Put Mike Isabella in that movie! The judges are joined by guest judge Susur Lee. Everyone likes some food and doesn’t like some other food, kind of like with all the meals. Also, look at this RACIST:

Not cool, man.

Back at Judges’ Table the losers get yelled at for the terrible service in addition to their terrible food. These losers are: Antonia for her shrimp toast with pickled scallions & mushrooms (although this dish was mostly fine and it’s more her dish with Jamie–ugh, Jamie), Jamie for her scallop dumplings with water chestnuts & chinese chives, Jamie & Antonia for their long beans with chinese sausage, Casey for her chinese chicken feet & scallion pancake, Carla for her vegetable summer roll with lemongrass dipping sauce, and Tre for his orange ginger desert with fresh water chestnuts, toasted pine nuts & thai basil. That’s a lot of losers! Jamie is not surprised that she is on the bottom. I bet! I bet she is very used to it at this point! Antonia cries. Pull it together Antonia. There’s no crying in cookball. The losers are sent back to the Stew Room to think about what they’ve done while the winners are brought in to win. The winners are Fabio for his soy honey glazed spicy pork rib, Dale for his sweet sticky rice with chinese bacon wrapped in a banana leaf, Angelo for his shrimp & pork spring roll, Dale & Angelo for their cheung fun with xo shrimp, and Tiffany for her spicy pork with vegetables on a steam bun. Dale wins!

Being on Team Dale doesn’t always pay off, but today it pays off, so there you go. He says that winning this challenge feels like robbing a bank. I have no idea what that means. Is that good or bad? Does that mean it was easy or hard? TEAM DALE!

The losers are marched back out like a bunch of losers. Everyone spit on them as they go past! Casey is eliminated. Outrage! It should have been Jamie! Just kidding. I mean, not kidding insofar as it DEFINITELY should have been Jamie, and even Jamie knows it, but it’s not like I care if Casey goes home, back to Ponytail Estates. It’s not like Jamie’s going to win. The executioner is just dulling his blade against the throats of other contestants so that it makes a delightfully awful sound when it cuts through Jamie’s. See you in hell, Jamie! SEE YOU IN HELL, CASEY!

Next week: Montauk! Fishing! Double elimination! Marcel getting his ass beat (fingers crossed)!