TOP CHEF ALL-STARS RECAP: Can You Tell Me How To Get To CHEF-same Street?

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We’re into Episode 10 of Top Chef All-Stars, entitled “Lock Down”, which starts exactly how you’d expect something called “Lock Down” to start – with Sesame Street characters popping up and giving Tiffany a heart attack:

“Oh thank God – for a second there, I thought it was three actual monsters.”

I love that the Quickfire starts with Padma whimsically rhyming her sentences, and Dale’s like “Is Padma speaking in tongues? What could POSSIBLY be going on here??” Do the contestanchefsts still not realize that when Padma does something unusual (or anything), she’s about to introduce a challenge? “I think she just went insane and Bravo’s filming it and I guess there’s no Quickfire today” – Every Chef.

Tell them about our Quickfire, COOKIE MONSTER! (I’ll bet they have to bake monsters):

The chefs have to bake cookies for guest judges Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Telly (we all know how much Telly loves cookies), and the chefs are ecstatic; Richard says that in his household, “Elmo’s like Elvis,” because neither of them are allowed to be filmed from the waist down. Elvismo even gives Richard’s daughter a personalized “love” message, though Dad’s euphoria is short-lived:

The chefs all agree that Cookie Monster is “the expert,” and if they mean “expert” at crushing cookies into crumbs and never swallowing them because he doesn’t have a throat, then they are right (I’ll never forget the Usual Suspects moment I had when I first realized this — I was seventeen.) No one gives a crap about Telly’s opinion, though, because no one ever gives a crap about Telly. Poor Telly.

“Why’s the whiskey bottle still full if he poured himself a glass, N00b?” – Probably some commenter on Fark.

Dale can’t resist ripping on Mike Isabella again, saying “It’s pretty amazing that someone who eats so many cookies would be uncomfortable serving cookies.” Bam! You can’t be the reality show villain if you’re completely right.

2 Chefs Who “Needed Some Help”: Richard & Angelo

Top 2: Dale & Antonia

Antonia’s cookies tasted great even though Elmo said they “look like cow chips” (ZINGING-Me Elmo!), but Dale takes the Quickfire for his Pretzel and Potato Chip Shortbread Cookie with Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache. Congratulations, Dale – keep not noticing that everyone else is drinking coffee and pour yourself a celebratory SmartDrink:

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs will have three hours to take over a Target Superstore, using only the appliances, tools, and food they find in the store to cook for 100 Target employees at 3 a.m. (the Employee of the Month winner was rewarded by not having to set her alarm for 2:30 to eat 9 soups in the middle of the night). You know what this show hasn’t had in a while? A bunch of way over the top store-sprinting:

All the chefs except Carla hurry up to assemble cooking stations and grab ingredients, and the cooking portion is just full of exciting controversies. Angelo asks Michael “Where’s my can opener?” Riveting stuff.

Antonia makes fun of the other chefs for all deciding to make soup — and she’s right, because they don’t have a lot of time to develop flavors (this episode was sponsored by Target, the phrase “Develop Flavors”, and the number 5) — but right after her insult, we see Antonia cracking 100 eggs into plastic cups:

Angelo asks Mike to taste his soup, and Mike says it could use more salt. Angelo adds a bunch more salt and bacon to the soup. Remember last week when Mike said that unlike Richard, he’d never help another chef because he wouldn’t want to be beaten by his own suggestion, and we all joked that no one would ever ask Mike for advice because they’d instantly lose? Just file that one away in your memory manila folders.

This week’s guest judges are Season-Mainstay Anthony Bourdain:

This dude from Target:

And Chef Ming Tsai, who brings the house down by joking that Dale’s “ironed grilled cheese sandwich” is an attempt to become the next “IRON Chef.” I like that guy.

Dale’s Ironed Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Ribeye and rice-cookered Tomato Soup is a huge hit with the judges; Bourdain calls it “perfect stoner food,” keeping his streak of consecutive episodes mentioning “perfect stoner food” alive at 2,317 (look out, Cal Ripken Jr!)

The judges and Target employees who are being prodded by offscreen imperial guards to keep them awake are generally happy with the chefs’ offerings, but Carla’s dish appears to be missing a component and Angelo’s soup was “inedibly salty.” Could we possibly be witnessing the end for Angelo, who apparently went to Mr. Businessman School when we weren’t paying attention?

The Judges pack up and head back to Judges Table. Bourdain’s like, “I’m fine as long as Colicchio’s not driving!” Haha! You all travel in four separate limos and never make eye contact outside this show.

THE TOP THREE: Dale, Antonia, Richard

Antonia ends up in the Top group for a third straight week with her Parmesan Cream Eggs, and Richard has still only been in the bottom group once, earning a Top spot for his Pork Tenderloin. Dale pulls the double-win, however, as his grilled cheese sandwich earns him his third Elimination Challenge win of the season, along with a $25,000 prize furnished, of course, by Big Lots.

Dale’s sandwich did look good, but I’m highly suspect of his college backstory: “I was always broke and partying too much, so I ironed grilled cheese sandwiches and cooked tomato soup in a rice cooker.” I know that whenever I’m super hungover, the only thing I feel like doing is simmering a nice soup in a rice cooker while manually ironing sandwiches – no energy to pick up that delivery phone. Whatever, no Elmo in this challenge to call your bluff, so well done.

THE BOTTOM THREE: Carla, Angelo, Tiffany

Carla’s soupĀ  “lacked a protein,” Angelo’s soup was way too salty, and Tiffany’s jambalaya spinoff was bland and uninspired. Angelo’s dish receives by far the harshest criticism of the three, but would they really eliminate Angelo when Tiffany’s been so mediocre all season?

The chefs’ reactions are dramatically different:

The chefs return to the waiting room and Tiffany can’t stop crying. Angelo and Mike take this as an opportunity to offer basic thoughtless courtesy high five each other:

What a bag of d*cks! And not the literal one that Angelo’s son is gonna awkwardly discover someday.

In the end, the judges and producers decide that Angelo’s mistake was too great to give him the benefit of the doubt, and he’s sent packing. So yes, the ONE time someone listened to Mike Isabella’s ONE suggestion, that person instantly lost.

Angelo’s elimination is probably the correct decision based solely on this week, but it still shocks the other chefs:

Well, except Antonia, who’s still like “Target.”

Oh well, I did expect Angelo to go farther, but when he said “my palate may have been fatigued,” thatĀ  pre-emptively removed any sympathy I might’ve felt from his elimination. With another Finals-favorite gone, the remaining chefs stack up something like this:

1) Richard (still think Carla has a better shot to win it all, just with the way things are shaping up, but Richard’s a lock for the Finals)
2) Carla
3) Dale
4) Antonia
5) Mike
6) Tiffany

NEXT WEEK ON TOP CHEF: Carla resumes being the only Muppet on the show:

Top Chef episode thoughts? Angelo elimination reactions? Updated predictions? Stuff we missed? Leave ‘em in the comments.

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