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Top Chef All Stars Recap: Night at the Museum


Hootie-hoo, Chef-heads…let’s do this thing!  Ever wonder how they pick the order of the chefs in the opening credits?  I mean they’ve clearly left the best for last with Carla, but outside of that…thoughts?

We plunge right into the Quickfire where the well-respected, legendary guest judge is…Joe Jonas?  At least they picked the hot one.  The chef’s have to create a “midnight snack” for the kids at the Museum of Natural History’s “Night at the Museum” event…Joe gets to pick the winner.  Richard thinks that it’s going to be difficult to come up with something that kids will love that Joe also will, since he has the refined palate of a pop-star.  Don’t most pop-stars subsist on coke and Red Bull?  The chefs have 45 minutes and Dale T. has stolen the sugar and not put it back in the pantry.  Everyone is annoyed, but more importantly Tiffany is annoyed and I love her, so I’m annoyed too.

Tiffany then promptly winds up in the bottom because her rice pudding was too messy.  Mike also gets dinged for his take on milk and cookies, since his chocolate wasn’t strong enough, and Stephen also takes a fall for not having enough mint flavor in his snickerdoodle sandwich.  Spike and Tiffani wind up in a tie at the top of the quickfire…Spike for his chips and dip and Tiffani for her rice krispy treat snowball.  Padma emotionlessly intones that they’ll be going to the museum that night and let the kids decide the winner.  The chefs react with appropriate horror, and are then informed that since the two top dogs will have to make 150 snacks they’ll be split up into teams to help them.  Team Tiffani winds up being all the women (except Carla) with Dale L. and Tre, while Carla is left with all the swinging…egos.  Stay strong, Hootie.  The chefs head to the museum with their wares and are greeted by a horde of locusts disguised as children.  Ultimately, after much screaming, Tiffani crushes Spike which is kind of…duh.  I mean, chocolate versus raisins: it’s a no-brainer for me and I’m 30.

As the chefs are filing out of the museum Colicchio meets them and tells them that the elimination challenge starts…<drum-roll please>…now!   In a short side-bar, if anyone’s getting an edit this week it’s Fabio…I’m just not sure if it’s a loser or a winner.  Part of this is because I never know what he’s saying.  Tom tells the chefs that they’re joining the sleep-over, and that they have to create a breakfast for the kids and their parents the following morning.  Service starts at 7:30 am…since I’m assuming the time is now midnight or later, Bravo is really cranking up the drama by giving them a sleepless night already.  The chefs will cook in the same teams as before (strength, Hootie!), and one team gets to model their dish after a tyrannosaurus’ diet (ie, carnivore) and the other after a brontosaurus’ (ie, herbivore).  Since she won, Tiffani gets to pick which one her team will cook, and she goes for the t-rex.  Oh, and they have to use the pantry that the museum provides and nothing else.  The Top Chef producers are not f*cking around.

At 4 AM the chefs get released into the museum kitchen: Team Brontosaurus is thrilled with their selection of fruits, vegetables and grains.  Team Tyrannosaurus is…feeling cheated.  As Tiffani puts it, “not an omnivore…meat only.”  As the teams prep in the kitchen, Jamie slices her thumb and leaves to get stitches.  This is greeted with general derision, because this is Top Chef and people who can’t cook through pain deserve to be punched in the neck (or so the cheftestants think).  It’s a race to see who tells the judges that she’s weak if this team goes down!

Service!  Katie Lee Joel is the guest judge…oh, that HAD to have been awkward at hair and make-up, right?  I’d love too see her and Padma take a swing at each other, and leave Gail in charge of the entire Top Chef series.  Team Brontosaurus is up first and they get almost universally high marks.  What sounds best to me is Spike and Carla’s gazpacho…it’s screaming “just add vodka!”  Team Tyrannosaurus is up and it’s pretty clear that they won’t be taking a trip to the winner’s circle.  Tre and Casey’s salmon is salty.  Jen and Jamie’s bacon and eggs are chewy (you know Jamie will be whining about how she wasn’t there when Judge’s Table comes around).  Antonia and Tiffany’s frittatas are undercooked.  Dale and Tiffani’s steak and eggs are the only thing to get high marks, which means there’s a really good chance we’ll be saying good-bye to another female chef tonight.  I hope Jen and Tiffany are safe.

Judge’s Table!  Team Brontosaurus gets called in as the winner’s, which is no surprise if you watched the first hour of this episode.  The win goes to Angelo, Marcel and Richard’s banana parfait which I must begrudgingly admit looked delicious.  Team Tyrannosaurus heads into Judge’s Table and Jen is flat out contentious.  She’s as contentious as any chef I’ve ever seen on this show, full on disagreeing with the judge’s and telling them that if they wanted another plate they should have had the wherewithal to ask for one.  It’s gets very awkward very quickly, as her team starts to look away and avoid eye contact.  I think she’s really close to threatening to kick Padma’s ass.  However, once they clear the room, the judges all basically laugh it off; Tom outright states that he wasn’t bothered by her talking back.  He’s only interested in the food.

I kind of doubt the judges will axe Tre again so soon, and they’ll probably give Jamie a pass for an injury.  Dale and Tiffani are safe, and they liked how Casey’s salmon was cooked which leaves Jen, Antonia and Tiffany facing the gun.  Antonia and Tiffany have not been given much screen-time so that doesn’t bode well for Jen.  Sure enough, Jen takes the fall, which messes up a LOT of the online prognosticating I’ve seen.  She goes out seeming…well, a little deluded about how her dish was.  And seriously pissed…I hope they stepped up security on the judges, because Jen’s good with a knife.

And some final points:

– We really need a guy to go home next week.  Mike.  Stephen.  For the love, Angelo.  Step it up, ladies!

– “Basically I’m making crack for little kids.”

– “It’ll be like a little 10-year old rave.”  Dale provided the soundbites this week.

– This week in Carla: not much to report, other than she remains awesome.

– Double elimination next week!  I usually hate those, but this cast is in some real need of thinning.