TOP CHEF RECAP: New York’s DINE-est

|

This is a Recap of Top Chef All-Stars (Season 8), Episode 3, entitled “New York’s Finest”, originally airing December 15th, 2010. Shockingly, they do not have to cook any dishes based on New York Police Precincts – that’ll be next week, in the episode “Seriously Though We Mean Cops”.

Quickfire time! First, Padma picks the teams by saying “You walked in here in a random order, and that’s how we’re gonna split these teams up.” What?? Where’s the 4-minute montage of people opening up Russian nesting dolls to find skeleton keys that open cobwebbed treasure chests that contain the names of U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and the teams are based on which vegetable those secretaries subsidized the most during their tenure? Top Chef, I don’t even know you anymore.

The chefs get the chance to rave about their teammates, and Fabio is pumped, even though “Angelo wears his pants a little too tight for me, but he’s a great chef.” A dude from Italy thinks someone else wears his pants too tight? Fabio just won the Calling Kettle Black Relay…

Spike says he’s excited to team with Richard and Tre, adding “Stephen? He’s just Stephen – he’ll be able to open a bottle of wine for us.” Zing! But truezing! Spike really is so much more likable this time around — letting his head-pores breathe has done wonders.

And for good measure, Tre says the obligatory “They’re not playing around, you have to bring your A Game.” Just one week, can someone please be like, “The Judges are in fact playing around this week — I can see Tom from here making angels in that ball pit — so I’m gonna give them my B-game and conserve energy.”

Onto the Quickfire…

This week’s Quickfire Challenge is the Annual Top Chef Mise en Place Relay Swanson Broth, where each team of 4 will simultaneously prep lamb, garlic, and artichokes, then whichever team finishes first will start a 15 minute clock and every team has to produce a dish before that clock is up. Again, pretty interesting twist — the Top Chef focus groups have spoken, and they want more twists, no Whole Foods Shopping montages, and WAY more Rubix Cube looking progress graphics:

Despite his early struggles this season, Fabio slaughters the garlic:

I know I’ve made a lot of Nickelodeon references the last few weeks but seriously, Bravo definitely bought that cup from Double Dare’s Super Sloppy Yard Sale.

Two teams finish quickly, leaving the other two with almost no cooking time and forcing them to present their lamb more creatively:

This week’s guest judge is Momofuku restaurateur David Chang, who Casey refers to as “A badass.” Didn’t someone also use the exact term “badass” to describe Chang in the finale last season? It’s like how Joe DiMaggio always had to be introduced as “The Greatest Living Ballplayer,” even though Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Hank Aaron were all living. What a D, huh? Let’s spend the rest of the Recap talking about this.

The Red Team Loses!

The Blue Team Wins!

Sure enough, Richard decides to “take the lead” on his team’s dish, and his Crispy Lamb With Artichoke 3 Ways leads them to victory, topping the other teams’ “Prepped Lamb On Big Pile Of Garlic And Artichokes.” Is anyone stopping Blais this season? Cause he is really RICHARDING through these challenges.

For the Elimination Challenge, the 4 teams of chefs (enjoy the nice even 16 while you have it, Top Chef!) will be randomly assigned to four very different upscale New York restaurants, and they’ll have to sample the chef’s food then create their own dish that the chef would be “proud” to put on the menu (or at least proud enough to turn into a Schwan’s frozen dinner, which is basically a Michelin Star). Two chefs will be sent home, because it’s a New Friggin’ Yawk Double Elimination Cold Enough For Ya?

They draw knives, and Angelo’s team gets paired with David Chang’s Má Pêche, a Vietnamese/French venture. The Bravo sound guy then cuts off Padma, saying “Hang on a sec, the mics are picking up something weird…ah, it’s the sound of Angelo’s crotch making a cartoony ‘boyoyoyoing!’ noise. Carry on.”

Angelo declares, “For me, David Chang’s an idol.” No sh*t – we knew that about you before we knew you. Just, promise not to embarrass us in front of Mr. Chang…

Dammit, Angelo, we can’t take you anywhere Asian!

Marcel’s team draws Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50, and Marcel raves, “What a privilege it is to get to dine at Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant.” Not really, Marcel – you can just go there. You can literally walk in there any day during dinnertime and exchange currency for food — it’s not the secret sex party from Eyes Wide Shut.

Also, how clearly does Wylie Dufresne want to be a full-time component of Top Chef? Too bad his looks aren’t what we in the biz call “Non-Vagabondy”…

(That photo courtesy Re-Using Joke From Masters Recap No One Read Ltd.)

Some chefs get stuck with David Burke’s Townhouse, and Burke keeps presenting them with crazy, ornate plates of inedible decorations with three atoms of crab on top of, like, bedazzled basketball halves. They describe his menu as “playful” and “whimsical,” much in the same way that all super highbrow things are uniquely capable of the lamest possible forms of humor (see: Paul Tompkins’ bit about jazz music.)

Wouldn’t it be funny if David Burke was just completely f*cking with everyone and his regular menu is actually like burgers and fries? “The Top Chef people are coming in — let’s glue some macaroni to a snow globe and call it steak!”

The Quickfire-winning Blue Team draws Michael White’s Marea, an upscale Italian place that allows Stephen to show off his vast array of reasons I’d kill myself if I ever had to hang out with him. Tre feels the same way, and when Stephen keeps telling him “try this, try this, I eat here all the time,” Tre basically tells him he sucks. Tre just won Top Thaaaank You.

The judges take turns cabbing between restaurants (NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ CITY – The City That Never Sleeps On Cab Using!) and critiquing the dishes with the host chefs. During the Marea visit, Michael White notes “Texture is very important to me, whether it’s in a pasta, uh…in the south of Italy they’re putting breadcrumbs on things.” What a dork. Hearing great chefs talk is like hearing great actors talk – it makes me not want to hear them talk. I’ve been to Italy twice too, but you don’t see me mentioning it in my Top Chef blog posts. EVER.

At Má Pêche, David Chang — whose restaurants I really, really love — matches White’s dorkiness when he says to Tom “This is also a crudo you might see at Daniel [Danielle?]…” and Tom adds “Yeah, and a lot of restaurants,” and they both laugh. CLOL! (Chef LOL!) Surprised Bravo didn’t have to bleep that, it was so harsh.

In general, the host chefs are mostly positive about everyone’s food, and the dining segments finish with minimal fanfare:

The Top 4: Dale, Angelo, Antonia, Tre

Padma announces “The winner of this Challenge will get a six-night trip to New Zealand.” Whoa, where’d that come from? If the chefs had known about that beforehand, they could’ve recorded so many time-filling testimonials about how their kids have been dying to go to New Zealand ever since the first Lord of the Rings.

Dale Talde wins the challenge for his Sunny Side Up Egg Dumpling, Braised Pork Belly, Milk Ramen with Bacon, Beef and Pork (whattdya mean “did I obviously just Control-V that from the Bravo website,” I remember everything in this show verbatim.) Dale is praised by Anthony for daring to make eggs for Wylie because he’s such a big eggophile. Dale’s like, “Yeah, I assumed he f*cked eggs.”

The Bottom 4: Stephen, Tiffani, Fabio, Dale L

Stephen was certainly the favorite to get voted off coming into this episode, and that became even more apparent after Bourdain said his food “tasted like a head shop.” Like nothing Bourdain has ever said, I don’t entirely grasp this critique; some would argue that pot tastes delicious, though if you’re arguing that the food tasted like glass and metal instruments for smoking said pot, then it’d clearly be terrible, but also huh?

Whatever, Stephen was walking dead from Day One, and whatever gets him off the show is fine by me. “I’m addicted to fashion!” Well, hopefully you OD on it. Nah, I don’t really mean that, yer a good kid! Just not at the many aspects of the show that you are on.

Fabio continues to struggle, and as much as I hate to say it, he probably has no business still being on this show. He’s clearly one of the biggest personalities in the show’s history, and he’s super likable, and I’m sure he does very specific things really well, but he’s clearly not equipped with the broadness of talents that this show demands. He says that him having to cook Asian food is like “telling an Asian grandma to make pasta to please me.” Not really, Fabio, cause you’re a chef on a competition that makes you do a bunch of really hard things. Anyway, everyone likes him, so I’m glad he’s still on, but he has no chance.

Dale L’s veal dish was too sweet, and having two Dales is really confusing everyone, so he’s voted off this week. The Bravo website goes insane:

The losers then return to the waiting room and this exchange occurs:

Stephen: “I’m gone.”

[Pause]

Dale L: “Me too.”

Everyone: “Awwwwww!”

Stephen leaves with one final Stephening, saying “I think the fatal flaw was all those aromatics together came off as, perfumey.” Ugggggh. Bye.

Top Chef All-Stars Episode 3 thoughts? Stuff we missed? Predictions about who’s next to go? Leave ‘em all in the COOKments.

Follow Me On Twitter.

Follow BWE On Twitter.