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Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars reunion and Masters premiere previews

Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars reunion and Masters premiere previews

top_chef_logoTonight’s Top Chef doubleheader brings us the “controversial” Top Chef All-Stars reunion episode at 10 p.m. (ET) followed by the premiere of Top Chef Masters season 3 at 11 p.m.

As for the All-Stars reunion, the previews (below) are making it out to be pretty escandalo — but I’m sure it’s a lot of hype (though it will be nice to see all of them one last time). They will, however, be grilling Jamie about her lack of participation and penchant for cutting herself and hiding under tables during the season.
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Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 16: Finale Extravaganza! (Now with video!)

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 16: Finale Extravaganza! (Now with video!)

top_chef_logo_lgUnless you live under a rock, you were fully aware that the Top Chef All-Stars finale was last night — and if you were a loyal fan, you were watching it live.

We were lucky enough to have Joe Yonan from the Washington Post (better known as @WaPoFoodLive) as our special guest for this podcast. He dished up all of the hot, behind-the-scenes Top Chef gossip from the D.C. season and snarky commentary on last night’s finale.

As for the episode: the little amuse bouche challenge with the 15 chopped chef’testants was a great twist to the episode — Blais and Jersey Mike having to blind-taste their offerings to determine who’d be on their teams for the finale’s “Restaurant Wars” challenge. Funny how Mike said he didn’t want Jamie on his team and then he picked her! What did I say about karma a few weeks ago, kids?

The rest of the episode was a definite nail-biter. Bias aside, Jersey Mike was putting out some stellar-looking dishes! I was getting scared. Blais, on the other hand, was showing a lot of restraint. Too much, though? Was he true enough to himself in his dishes? It seemed they were toe-to-toe in their courses — Mike having two great courses and the same for Blais.
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Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: La finale est arrivé!

Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: La finale est arrivé!

top_chef_logo_lg The two remaining chef’testants are hitting the ground running during the Top Chef: All-Stars finale tonight! I’d say there are two distinct groups of fans who will be watching tonight’s final showdown: Those who desperately want Blais to win and those who desperately want Jersey Mike to not win. Of course, there will be some centrists as well.

Right after Blais and Mike learn that they’ve made it to the real finale, Tom gives the gents their final quest: “We want you to create for us the restaurant of your dreams.” I’m taking it as this will be a Restaurant Wars-style showdown. After learning that 15 of the chopped chefs will be returning to act as sous chefs for the challenge, Blais and Mike are deliberating over who they want on their team. Little do they know, it won’t be as cut and dry as picking out their team like they did during kickball games in middle school gym class.

Back in the kitchen, Padma charges the 15 returning chefs to create an amuse bouche for Blais and Mike, who will then have to choose their sous chefs based solely on a blind taste test of those offerings. I’m sure by now finalists have a decent idea of the other chefs’ cooking styles so that they might be able to match the dish to the chef.

Preview video highlights:
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Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 15: The pre-finale finale

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 15: The pre-finale finale

top_chef_logo_lgThree chefs remained at the beginning last night’s episode of Top Chef All-Stars and

The Quickfire was an interesting twist on Top Chef challenge twists: each chef choose the other’s challenge (i.e.: one-pot meal, canned food, etc.), then chose the second round of twists which were revealed halfway through the challenge (cook with one arm, use no utensils, etc.). Was anyone else as confused as I was? Anyway, they all ended up finishing on time, Carla made a guest appearance, they were judged by Wolfgang Puck and then Jersey Mike won the challenge.

As for the Elimination, the chefs had to each cook the requested last meal of a famous chef/guest judge, and the lineup included: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein. Since Mike won the Quickfire, he got to choose who Blais and Antonia would be cooking for. Mike chose Bernstein for himself, who wanted fried chicken and biscuits; Blais got Puck, who wanted goulash, spaetzle, and apple shtrooodulll; and Antonia had to cook Morimoto’s requested meal of miso soup, pickled mushrooms and sashimi.
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Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Keep it simple, stupid

Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Keep it simple, stupid

top_chef_logo_lg It’s the second to last episode of Top Chef: All-Stars tonight!

For the Quickfire, the remaining chefs have a pretty easy challenge: prepare a one-pot meal. But, as we’ve seen in the past, there’s the potential to over-think a dish and it turn out to be a mucky mess.

In the Elimination Challenge, it looks like the chefs will be paired with some big names in the culinary world: Wolfgang Puck, Morimoto and Michelle Bernstein (if I remember correctly), and they have to prepare a meal indicative of those chefs’ styles. Mike says he’s going to go out on a limb and trying something new for him for this challenge. Um, Mike, have you not seen many other chefs do this so close to the finale in past seasons and fail miserably?

Preview video highlights:
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Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 14: Caribbean conch fight

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 14: Caribbean conch fight

top_chef_logo_lgOnly four chefs remain on Top Chef All-Stars and they’re definitely starting to get “in the juice” (whatever that means).

I’m a day late on this post and recording the podcast, as I’ve been in the Caribbean myself (well, close enough) this week and was without access to the Bravo channel. But, not wanting to let down our readers/listeners, I’ve come into work just to throw this together and to make sure you all can rest a little easier this weekend knowing that we didn’t skip out on you this week.

Those preview videos sure have been fooling me, because I swore that the 100-dish “consistency” challenge was supposed to be the Elimination Challenge. Anyway, the chefs had to pair up and make 100 dishes that all looked and tasted the same. After hating on and smack talkin’ the girls, Team Blais-Isabella were the ones with egg on their faces when they lost the challenge. It’s called karma, boys, and she’s a bitch.
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Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Ghosts of Top Chef’s past

Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Ghosts of Top Chef’s past

top_chef_logo_lg It’s Round 1 of the finale on Top Chef: All-Stars tonight and the 5 remaining chefs are in the beautiful and picturesque (and tourist-ridden) island of Nassau in The Bahamas!

For the Quickfire, the chefs must compete in a cook-off against the champion from their season. Stephanie Izard, winner of season 4, has to go up against both Antonia and Blais, so she has her work cut out for her. Meanwhile, Carla is paired with Hosea, Jersey Mike is going up against Angry Brother (a.k.a.: Michael Voltaggio), and Tiffany must compete against Kevin Sbraga. Lucky for them, it looks like the loser of the Quickfire won’t be going home.

As for the Elimination Challenge, the chefs must cook for the kind and queen of The Bahamas. Wait, The Bahamas has a monarchy? Or is it one of those deals like we see with the Royal Family in England, where they really don’t do anything but ride around in carriages and get snapped by the paparazzi?

Preview video highlights:

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 12: Kissin’ Cousins

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 12: Kissin’ Cousins

top_chef_logo_lg During last night’s episode Top Chef All-Stars we learned a lot about the five remaining chefs, their genealogy and how to whip up a junk food treat whilst on a moving vessel.

The Quickfire Challenge was to make a dish using snack food found in the Ellis Island Ferry’s snack bar. And who better to judge this challenge than the Exec Chef of Blue Hill Farm in New York, Dan Barber? You know, the guy who is all about utilizing fresh, local food? Yeah, doesn’t make sense. Which is why Carla’s “rosemary-infused” orange salad thing won. Yes, it looked a heckuva lot more appetizing than Mike’s vomit soup, but c’mon, it was just a peeled orange with carrot juice and canned papaya. Blais’ hot dog bahn mi was so much more innovative! If anyone else had judged this challenge, I bet Richie would’ve won.

When they got to Ellis Island, they were greeted by either their spouse or their mother. The chefs were then given a rundown on their family tree and genealogy, and asked to create a dish based on their heritage. Apparently, Mike and Antonia are distant cousins, their family trees both branching from the same area in Italy. That explains so much, like their unspoken passion for one another. (Okay, I’m just making stuff up now for my own amusement.)

Now, while this was a cool idea for a challenge, they barely focused on the food and mainly showed the chefs talking about their families. While this let us more into their personal lives, it made it hard for us as the viewers to judge the dishes, as we didn’t get to see as much going on backstage in the kitchen as we usually do. There was definitely more drama and tears at the dinner table than in the back of house this week — heartfelt drama and bittersweet tears, that is.
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Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Snack attack!

Tonight’s Top Chef All-Stars preview: Snack attack!

top_chef_logo_lg On tonight’s episode of Top Chef: All-Stars, The five remaining chef’testants find themselves on a boat (again) for their Quickfire Challenge and must cook for family members for the Elimination. I have to say that I’m excited about tonight’s challenges, as A. they’re utilizing their surroundings in NYC, and B. we get to learn a little more about the chefs’ backgrounds.

The Quickfire tonight takes place on the Ellis Island Ferry and is reminiscent of the snack machine and quickie mart challenges of seasons past, as the chefs have to create a dish using only the food items available to them in the snack bar. Also, they’re unsure of their time limit– starting and stopping when the ferry horn blows — and have no countdown clock to refer to.

When they arrive at Ellis Island, they’re greeted by family members and are asked to create a dish based on their family heritage. I’m hoping that Blais has a mad scientist in his family tree, thus explaining his frequent use of molecular gastronomy.

Preview video highlights:
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Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 11: Engulfed in deceit

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 11: Engulfed in deceit

top_chef_logo_lgThere was a whole lot of shadiness going on in last night’s episode Top Chef All-Stars. Apparently, Jersey Mike is even more devious than we’d expected and will stop at nothing to claw his way to the top. Needless to say, I was not amused with his recipe-stealing antics last night. Instead of “Jersey Mike”, we should start calling him “Judas Mike”.

I digress.

Paula Deen started out this episode preaching about the joys of deep-frying and challenging the chefs to create their own deep-fried masterpieces. Again, we saw Blais using liquid nitro. Not a “gimmick” you say, Blais? C’mon, we know you’ve got so many more tricks up your sleeve you could be using instead!

Anyway, Judas took the win with Blais’ his fried chicken oysters in oyster gravy dish. Antonia’s fried avocado and shrimp “salad” would have won, but she had a brain fart and forgot to plate up two portions. I was just surprised that no one did anything with copious amounts of butter.
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