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We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing By Marisa M. Kashino

While prepping for the elimination challenge—to create “the restaurant of your dreams”—on last night’s Top Chef: All-Stars finale, Richard Blais said he was planning to make Cap’n Crunch ice cream for his dessert course. As someone who could happily eat both ice cream and cereal at every meal, I was instantly salivating. But then Richard changed his mind, deciding instead to make fois gras ice cream. That’s right. He decided to swap out Cap’n Crunch for fattened goose liver. He might as well have reached through the screen and punched me in the face. And yet . . . I was still rooting for him. How could you not? He’s won more challenges than any other competitor on the show and somehow he’s not a jerk. In fact, he seems like an incredibly nice guy.

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Posted at 04:48 PM/ET, 03/31/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Marisa M. Kashino

The tension between the three remaining contestants was palpable on last night’s Top Chef: All-Stars. Mike strutted around the chefs’ Atlantis suite, saying things like, “Hey Richard, Wolfgang called to ask how the goulash is coming,” causing us to worry that Richard may finally snap. For most of the hour, Richard appeared to be somewhere between puking and crying. Though he avoided doing either, he did continually remind us that he—and not Mike, damn it!—has won the most Top Chef challenges of any contestant in the show’s history. Someone needs to give that poor guy a drink. Or a Xanax.

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Posted at 01:01 PM/ET, 03/24/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Marisa M. Kashino

On last night’s Top Chef: All Stars, there was a kitchen fire that derailed the Elimination Challenge and required real live firemen to put it out. And somehow, the episode was still one of the most boring of the season.

The five remaining chefs arrived in the Bahamas for the finals. For the Quickfire Challenge, they cooked against the chefs who won each of their seasons. Carla was clearly off her game early on. She undercooked the rice with her lamb dish and lost to returning chef Hosea.

The contestants were told they’d be cooking for Bahamian royalty for the Elimination Challenge. They got to work planning upscale fare to fit the occasion. Richard quipped that he had been preparing so hard for the finals he was willing to hunt down a goat if he had to. We wished he would, just to liven things up a little. Turned out the chefs would be cooking for the King of Junkanoo—a festival sort of like Mardi Gras—and not for actual royalty. Oh yeah, and they wouldn’t be working in a palace, but a small, divey restaurant with apparently faulty kitchen equipment. Basically, then, the challenge was to cook a meal in a regular restaurant for regular diners. Yawn.

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Posted at 12:59 PM/ET, 03/10/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We need your opinion on the unusual outcome of last night's episode of Top Chef: All Stars. Caution: Spoilers ahead! By Marisa M. Kashino

We started to get a little suspicious about where last night’s episode of Top Chef: All-Stars was headed when, seated around the dining table with family members of all the contestants, the judges apparently couldn’t find anything to critique about anyone’s dish. Gail loved Carla’s grits. Tom raved that Tiffany had done the impossible and prepared okra that he actually enjoyed. Mike teared up when presenting the gnocchi he made using his grandma’s recipe. It was a love fest all around. And sure enough, when it was elimination time, the judges decided they just couldn’t bear to send anyone home. All five remaining chefs are now headed to the Bahamas for the final round.

But come on, this is a competition. If all you have to do is bring your mom to dinner to keep yourself from going home, what’s the fun in that? We found the whole thing pretty lame. What do you think? Should the judges have sent someone packing? Let us know in our poll. And tell us in the comments which contestant the chefs should have sent packing.

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Posted at 10:26 AM/ET, 03/03/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Marisa M. Kashino

Last night’s Top Chef: All Stars featured a kitchen scandal and fried mayonnaise.
Paula Deen, queen of all things fatty, judged the Quickfire Challenge, which was—shocking!—to create a deep-fried dish. Paula listed some things she likes to deep fry, including “balls of butter.” Richard did her one better and crisped up balls of mayonnaise in duck fat. Paula loved the fried mayo but not as much as she adored Mike’s winning dish: fried “chicken oysters”—the piece of meat that connects a chicken’s thighs to its body—served in oyster shells. Richard accused Mike of stealing the idea from his notebook, which apparently included a sketch of the exact dish. Carla proclaimed Mike had broken “chef law.” Mike, showing no remorse, pocketed $5,000 for the win and thanked Richard for the idea.

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Posted at 01:11 PM/ET, 02/24/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Kate Nerenberg

Last night's episode of Top Chef: All Stars was just downright weird. The Quickfire Challenge featured the toughest of critics, a trio of Muppets, including Cookie Monster and Elmo. Maybe because a bunch of the contestants have kids? Could Sesame Street have paid to get itself on there? Can't you only get on Top Chef these days if you pay a boat load of money? The better question is how much Target paid to sponsor the Elimination Challenge—the chefs had to cook for 100 people at a super Target in the middle of the night, and they could use only what they found in the store, including peelers, knives, and fresh produce. Did you know Target has fresh produce? And meat! And fish! So there was that sponsorship, plus a massive $25,000 for the winner. It was as much a culinary challenge as a fitness test, as the chefs huffed and puffed their way around the store, pushing carts filled to the brim with tools, folding tables, and induction burners.

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Posted at 01:10 PM/ET, 02/24/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Kate Nerenberg

Last night's episode of Top Chef: All Stars included a pretty random Quickfire Challenge: cook an unusual fondue, and the contestants were each other's judges. A bit of a snore, really. They went on to an equally arbitrary—but far more entertaining—Elimination Challenge: catering Jimmy Fallon's birthday party. The chefs went on the comedian's late-night show for a cellphone shootout, snapping pictures of Fallon's favorite foods, which include Philly cheesesteaks, chicken pot pie, and pulled-pork sandwiches. The chef who was sent packing talked to us about Anthony Bourdain, chefs' fashion (hint: the phrase "camel toe" was used), and the real reason chefs sign up for the show.

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Posted at 08:28 AM/ET, 02/10/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Kate Nerenberg

The Top Chef: All Stars crew is down to nine contestants, and even though Marcel and his cocky attitude went home last week, the group is starting to wear on each other: This week's episode opens with Antonia saying that Mike Isabella is high on her list of people she'd vote off. They all lighten up when it comes to tackling the Quickfire—Padma and designer Isaac Mizrahi will judge their plates based on aesthetics alone—and watching Fabio drop lemon "acid rain" on tuna people and Angelo painting on the table like a mad man.  

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Posted at 08:24 AM/ET, 02/10/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Ann Mah

This week’s Top Chef: All Stars was a tale of two pop-up restaurants, as the chefs divided into teams and opened their own eateries. One team's Mediterranean-style spot, Etch, was plagued with problems from the very start, with poor communication and bickering leading to disastrous food. 

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Posted at 07:08 AM/ET, 01/21/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
We talk to the latest chef who was sent packing. By Kate Nerenberg

On last night's episode of Top Chef All Stars, two chefs were sent home. Their dishes—made from fish they caught earlier in the day and served in a casual beach-party setting—didn't please the judges. We snagged an interview with both of them, who talked to us about judges table, the evolution of Top Chef, who to watch for going forward, and what's next for them. 

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Posted at 10:54 AM/ET, 01/13/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()