There are 17 chefs left standing as we head into the second week of Top Chef All-Stars, but soon one of the cheftestants will be as gone as the dinosaurs.
We begin tonight’s episode with the cheftestants filing into the Top Chef kitchen, only to face… Joe Jonas? Of course. Joe looks awkward. It would appear that only Spike and Antonia have any clue who this guy is.
It turns out that this week’s Quickfire Challenge is to make a midnight snack for a passel of kids at the American Museum of Natural History’s “Night at the Museum” (in which not one diorama comes to life). The goal of the Challenge is to somehow please both Joe Jonas and a bunch of undiscerning children. And it has to fit into a brown paper bag.
Let the cooking insanity commence! With only 45 minutes, everybody scrambles for ingredients. Particularly sugar. Which is difficult, because Butterscotch Dale has stolen it all.
The cheftestants muse on their creations throughout the process — some of the gems:
- Mike has blocked out all memory of his mom’s packed lunches from childhood. That’s fair, if his packed lunches were anything like mine.
- Marcel is greatly moved by the thought of cooking for kids.
- Other Dale is not so moved and indicates a preference of cooking for dogs.
- Spike has been making chips since he was a kid.
- Tiffani recalls that she was a total jerk when she had to cook for kids before and thinks it might be better to change that.
- Richard shares memories of being a fat kid.
- Stephen talks about healthy food and makes snickerdoodles. Because that’s healthy.
- Butterscotch Dale ponders the addition of NyQuil to his recipe.
- Mike’s not happy with his cookie thing. This causes him to swear a lot.
What is the outcome of all of this?
Antonia has made a white chocolate and cherry muffin; Richard has white bread (seriously?) with apples, honey and chocolate; Spike has funky potato and carrot chips with mascarpone, marshmallow and lime dip (huh?); Tre has crackers with cranberry, cherry and bacon jam; Casey has chocolate and bacon lasagna (again, seriously?); Other Dale has gone the sugar! route with sweet tart nuggets and candy boulders in chocolate sauce; Jamie has made cheddar biscuits with applesauce; Butterscotch Dale has a corn cake with cherries and maple; Fabio covered some apples with chocolate and other sweet things; Tiffani made a Rice Krispie treat snowball; Stephen has a snickerdoodle sandwich; Angelo made fried dough with cheese and spices; Jen has a bacon-ginger taffy (what are they thinking???) and peaches; and Mike has a chocolate-coconut corn bar.
Basically, there is not one thing (except for maybe the snowball) that I would have put in my mouth as a child. Chefs are weird.
Joe Jonas seems to agree. He doesn’t like Tiffany’s (too messy), Mike’s (not enough chocolate) or Stephen’s (not enough mint) creations. He does, however like Spike’s chips and Tiffani’s snowballs.
Since it’s a tie between Spike and Tiffani, they have to let the kids decide. Because kids have good taste (but not really).
Before heading the museum, Spike and Tiffani have to pick teams, gym-class style. Tiffani mostly picks girls (along with Other Dale and Tre), while Spike mostly picks boys (and Carla). Nobody picks Fabio.
Everything gets made and stuffed into pretty blue and red bags. Then the children descend like a plague of locusts, intent on eating everything in sight. Although, as it turns out, they don’t like the weird chips and just get way wired on Tiffani’s sugar delights.
The sugar highs rise to heights of dizzying madness, only to spill over into sheer lunacy at the appearance of Joe Jonas (the kids definitely know who he is). A thoughtful polling of the kids — consisting of a scream-o-meter — crowns Tiffani the champion of the Quickfire.
Alas, their joy is short-lived, because Tom shows up to induce universal sadness in the cheftestants. It turns out that their Elimination Challenge will begin right away. Despite the whole middle-of-the-night, Museum thing. Tom announces that they will all be joining the sleepover, a proclamation not met with much happiness (except from immunity-blessed Tiffani, who thinks it’ll be fun).
The cheftestants will have to have breakfast ready for everyone at 7:30 that morning. And, to make things vaguely educational and museum-y, they have to either cook “Tyrannosaurus-style” (all animal products) or “Brontosaurus-style” (all veggies and fruits). Thinking it will be easier, Tiffani uses her Quickfire “advantage” to go T-Rex.
Non-cooking related note: Since when did we go back to “Brontosaurus?” Could’ve sworn it was “Apatosaurus” these days…
The cheftestants go to bed down under the watchful eyes of the bison. Stephen freaks out because it’s not as nice as his loft. Tre is concerned because he likes to sleep naked. But their worries are deferred for the moment while everyone decides on tomorrow’s food. And then a bunch of the guys go wander around with flashlights instead of sleeping.
And then, seconds later, it’s morning and the cheftestants rush the kitchen. Team Brontosaurus is pleased to find absolutely everything they want in the kitchen. Team T-Rex is less pleased when they realize that they only have animal products and no grains or spices to mix in.
Totally disregarding their target audience, Team Brontosaurus gets to work on their gazpacho and gnocchi dishes. There’s also something from Butterscotch Dale involving corn flour, because he apparently cooks nothing else.
Team T-Rex more or less figures out what they want to do, which is hampered by Jamie slicing her finger open and needing stitches. Everyone else takes this opportunity to explain how they are superhumans who would keep cooking throughout anything short of decapitation.
7:30 brings about a lovely outdoor buffet and a lot of sleep-deprived people. Jamie returns as well, with two stitches that do nothing to impress the others. Also unimpressed? The kids. They just want bacon and eggs. Because they’re kids.
Forget the kids though — it’s all about the judges now. Due to the unexplained absence of Anthony Bourdain, Katie Lee and her blank stare step in to critique the food.
Team Brontosaurus has made:
- Corn grits with stewed peppers and salsa verde (Butterscotch Dale and Mike)
- Banana Parfait with fruit and maple (Marcel, Richard and Angelo)
- Gazpacho (Carla and Spike)
- Gnocchi with veggies (Fabio and Stephen)
Just what every kid wants for breakfast! Or not… The food isn’t a big hit (except the banana parfait), but some lady definitely wants to eat Fabio for breakfast.
Team T-Rex, meanwhile, offers:
- Frittatas with various cheeses and meats (Antonia and Tiffany)
- Salmon with shrimp and bacon sauce (Casey and Tre)
- Bacon and hard-boiled eggs (Jen and kind-of Jamie)
- Steak and eggs (Tiffani and Other Dale)
Even though everyone gets in the meat line (bacon and eggs people!), the results seem mixed.
Back in the Storage Closet of Doom, everybody complains about the challenge. There is more complaining when Team Brontosaurus gets called out for their praising. Team T-Rex gripes about how cooking for the audience instead of the judges always ends badly.
The judges, meanwhile, launch into rapturous praise about the veggie-laden breakfast. Although they loved the gnocchi, it’s the banana parfait that wins.
Time for Team T-Rex to stare down the disappointed faces. Tiffani (and everyone else) expresses her irritation that the winning “prize” was a vague “meat or veggie” choice. The judges righteously defend it as obvious. Which it wasn’t. But the judges know all, so whatever.
The brutal lashing commences with the result that everything sucked. Jamie’s absence is also questioned, and Jen (to her infinite credit with me but not with the judges) refused to throw the stitched one under the bus. But Antonia is more than happy to do so.
The general level of pissy-ness rises as time passes. And then Jen decides to take the pissy ball and run with it. After fighting and fighting and fighting and fighting and… Jen and the others are summarily sent away.
The judges, who may be morons, are surprised at the level of irritation from the cheftestants. They all claim to be OK with Jen’s outburst. The judges may also be liars, because…
It’s time for results. The judges actually liked Tiffani and Dale’s steak and eggs, so they’re fine. Antonia and Tiffany’s frittatas were a problem, but they’re OK. Same for Casey and Tre’s too-salty salmon. Jen and Jamie’s bacon and eggs, on the other hand, are doomed.
For the vague reason that Jamie contributed neither to the success nor the failure of the dish, it’s Jen who’s out.
Lesson to learn here? Never fight with the judges. They do take it personally. And, considering that this is the second person who stood up for herself and then went home, Fabio is screwed.
(Image courtesy of Bravo)
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