Pop Culture

Two chefs leave the kitchen on 'Top Chef All-Stars'

Liane Bonin of HitFix.com writes: Since we can now watch 3-D television in our homes, I can only hope that someday someone can create taste-o-vision. (I’m perfectly happy to skip smell-o-vision, as one viewing of “Hoarders” with that sense intact is probably enough to put you off your feed for all eternity.) While it’s easy enough to condemn bad dancing or design or even crummy cake decorating, we have to take the judges’ words at face value on “Top Chef,” and after last week’s episode, I’m not entirely sure I want to jump on the Crazy Jen bandwagon.

Yes, she acted like a total nutbag, but was her dish truly as lousy as Tom and Gail made it out to be? Yes, Tom Colicchio has won the James Beard Award, so it’s not like he can’t tell fine dining from something whipped up out of a Rachael Ray cookbook, but Jen does work for Eric Ripert, and the man doesn’t hire crap chefs. I find it hard to believe she’d send out something that tasted like old, wet bacon-flavored sock and then stubbornly go to the mat for it. And for all the judges’ nattering about how personality and attitude aren’t taken into consideration in cutting a chef, all I say to that is, come on. Taste-o-vision would solve this once and for all, just saying.

David Chang, owner of the Momofuku restaurants, judges the Quickfire Challenge, which Padma describes as a mise-en-place race. I thought that meant David Chang would be walking around, admiring the placement of everyone’s little ramekins of seasonings, but it’s really a speed challenge. Really know how to make something fun sound as exciting as a root canal, “Top Chef.”  

I love that Antonia and Jamie are on the same team. Maybe Antonia can cut herself and wrap the wound in duct tape, just to show us how it’s done. But what really kills me is that Antonia doesn’t know how to peel more than one garlic clove at a time. I’m not a professional chef and even I know that you smash ‘em. I have lost all respect for Antonia, honestly. That’s just a special level of dumb.

Despite Antonia being simple-minded, her team finishes their mise-en-place second, right after Fabio’s team, leaving the other two teams in a panic. But they shouldn’t have minded, because the two teams first to finish are deemed the ones with the suckiest dishes by David Chang. There’s a lesson to be learned about speed versus quality or haste makes bad tastes or something like that, but the losers are too bummed out about not getting five grand each that they aren’t really taking this as an educational opportunity. Richard (with Tre, Spike and Stephen) wins the challenge, as their lamb dish looks a little weird but spectacular, which is a good summation of everything Richard cooks. He is absolutely the one to beat this season.  

For the elimination challenge, each of the four teams will be having dinner at a different amazing New York restaurant -- Ma Peche, Townhouse, Marea or wd-50 – and from that experience, each chef must create a dish that would fit onto that restaurant’s menu. And, oh yeah, it’s a double elimination.

Read the full recap at HitFix.com.