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Top Chef Blog – Episode 2

December 9, 2010

Top Chef is without a doubt my favorite culinary TV show. I’ve been watching it religiously since Season 1 and am thoroughly enjoying the current season, Top Chef All-Stars. In their eight season, the show decided to bring back former chef-testants who almost won and fan favorites, pitting them against each other in culinary battle. With some of the most popular chefs (Fabio, Richard) and controversial ones (Tiffani F., Marcel), this season certainly looks like it will be the best yet!

So, given that I like this show, for the duration of the season I will post my commentary. There will be SPOILERS. So, if you haven’t seen it, then don’t read on.

Recap: Episode two was really exciting and I think offered up some fun challenges. First up was the quickfire, where the chefs had to make a brown bag midnight snack for kids that were sleeping over in a museum. Joe Jonas, teenage hearthrob, was the guest judge…interesting choice. Spike and Tiffani F. tied for the lead and they decided (or almost scripted!) that the kids would decide. Spike’s team made chips (potato + carrot) with marshmallow dip. Tiffani F.’s team made a conglomeration of rice krispies cereal, marshmallow, and chocolate. Both sounded pretty good, but in the end, Tiffani overwhelmingly was the kid’s favorite.

Commentary: The big goal in this challenge was not only to make a dish that the kids loved, but also to make something that was healthy, in my opinion. I really hated Dale L.’s concept/dish which was “make the kids crazy by giving them tons of sugar.” Bad idea, dude. Given that kids are very particular in their food, it is important to get something that satisfies the need for universal deliciousness with healthy fruits and vegetables. Going the sweet route seems to be the easy option, but perhaps more likely to get you the win. Going savory is more of a challenge, but it’s easier to be healthier. Overall a cool challenge.

What Would You Do? I’m no where near the caliber of these chefs, so my suggestions don’t sound as fancy. The first thing that came to my mind, however, was a mango, cucumber, and apple salad dressed in lime juice, salt, and a little chile. There is a traditional Mexican street snack that serves mango, cucumber, and jicama – cut like matchsticks so they can be eaten like fries. It’s portable, it’s healthy, and it’s quite delicious. It offers sweetness from fruit, but it very refreshing. It may be too simple for the judges, but I think it could work. I would eat it, or at least parts of it, if I was a kid.

Recap: The elimination challenge kept the Spike and Tiffani F. teams in tact. Since Tiffani won, she had an advantage, choosing between the T-Rex (carnivore) diet or the brontosaurus (herbivore) diet. With T-Rex, you could use any meats (bacon, beef, etc.) and animal by products (dairy, cheese). With brontosaurus, you could use fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, citrus, and grains. Tiffani chose T-Rex, assuming they would also have access to fresh herbs and citrus (she was wrong). They had to make breakfast at 7:30 am for the kids and their parents. In the end, team brontasaurus won, with Richard, Marcel, and Angelo winning top dish for their banana parfait with caramelized plums and tandoori maple syrup (cool!). The drama came when team T-Rex was up for elimination and Jennifer Carroll had a heated exchange with the judges. She later became the second chef eliminated on Top Chef All Stars.

Commentary: The challenge went well. It seemed once the chefs split into groups of two, they remained focused and executed their dishes well. I would have preferred to be on the herbivore team as there is more variety of produce and things you can do. Even though the dishes that team brontosaurus put forth aren’t necessarily all breakfast, I would definitely eat them! Everything looked nice, refreshing, and healthy. As far as the winning dish, how could Richard, Marcel, and Angelo not win?! They were all #2 in their season, and I pretty much think Richard Blais is a culinary god. So, I was not surprised that they won.

I was really upset with Jennifer Carroll. Her attitude, and Fabio’s attitude last week are both completely uncalled for. I understand the pressure all these chefs face, but you are a professional and should act like one. I believe in standing up for yourself, but there is also a time to be humble and accept criticism. That being said, I do not think Jen should have been eliminated. The only criticism of her dish from the judges was that the eggs were under seasoned. However, one team served raw frittatas and the Casey/Tre team served an overly salty sauce that had over reduced. If I had those three dishes up and had to choose one for elimination, the frittata is out! That is something that could make someone sick. Under seasoned eggs, although never a good thing, was not the dish that should have sent her home.

Some closing points:

1. Watch out for Dale L. Besides the quickfire, he is cooking really smart and the judges are enjoying his food. Not sure if Dale has too many fans, but he is certainly flying under the radar.

2. Angelo has won 2 elimination challenges in a row. Season 7 cheftestants should be happy.

3. I wish Bryan Voltaggio was on the show. That would have made things really interesting.

4. Fabio continues to be the most animated character in the history of Top Chef. He will win fan favorite…again…in a landslide.

What did you guys think of the show? Enjoying it? Let’s have some discussion!



(Photo Credits: Bravo TV)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. stephanie permalink
    December 9, 2010 12:12 PM

    Vivek I love your idea for quickfire but the challenge had no silverware so that wont work.
    Second the judges said that Jens dish was somewhat inedible. Not tender very smokey and bland.
    Antonio team had inconsistency but they weren’t raw. They were probably over exagerating. The salmon and sauce was salty but not inedible. Watch the behind scene footage from judges

  2. December 9, 2010 2:08 PM

    Jen’s behavior was absolutely appalling! I couldn’t believe she acted so immaturely. I’m not sure her eggs should have gotten her sent home, but honestly, I’m glad she’s gone because I don’t want to have to watch her have another meltdown like that!

    • December 10, 2010 2:45 PM

      This is quickly becoming a drama filled season! Wouldn’t expect anything less from Bravo

  3. December 9, 2010 4:59 PM

    I have never seen Top Chef but I’m sure I would love it. Unfortunately, I don’t get Bravo!

    • December 10, 2010 2:46 PM

      Heather!! You have to find it – maybe on hulu or megavideo. Must watch for any foodie

  4. December 10, 2010 2:09 PM

    I am almost certain Jen was drunk. And I’m disappointed because she makes good food.

    Dale Talde makes me laugh, but so does Fabio. And I still love Carla. This show will get tougher and tougher every week.

    • December 10, 2010 2:48 PM

      Yeah, I think you’re right. Really wish we could have seen more of her. We love Carla – Nashville native!! HOOTIE

  5. suneel permalink
    December 10, 2010 2:45 PM

    agree about jen and fabio. i think she may have been faded.

    i’m hoping richard wins.

    • December 10, 2010 2:48 PM

      Richard Blais is amazing. Jen was super faded

  6. December 11, 2010 9:11 AM

    just saw the episode with amber…kinda sad jen got voted off but she was being a little snooty.

    then again she does work for eric ripert….

  7. Vncntdl permalink
    December 13, 2010 10:25 AM

    Hello. While I think it would have been a real challenge for the chefs to have made a healthy snack item, this was NOT something they were asked to consider. Therefore, I hardly think Dale L’s concept/dish should be singled out for criticism because he chose to go the “crack for children” route. This is what MOST of the chefs did, including Tiffani who won (and she won precisely because kids preferred sugar to Spike’s healthier/more unusual option). I also find it odd, but charming, that you would think that the other contestants from Season 7 would be happy with Angelo’s two wins. To the contrary, I imagine people like Ed are probably gnashing their teeth.
    I, on the other hand, am happy that Angelo has a chance to redeem himself after falling ill at the last hurdle in season seven. I fear though that fatigue will set in for Angelo (since he had a week-and-a-half break from season 7 to season 8).
    I’m predicting a showdown between Richard, Tiffani and Angelo or Casey. (Jen was in my original top 3 but she’s out. I also thought Jaime might have a shot at the finals, but doubt this will be so now that the other chefs have turned on her.)


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