Your comment about Dale's pad thai noodle literally made me laugh so hard that I was crying. Seriously!
This episode was loads of fun for us. Not so much fun for its victims.
Big trouble in Little China for our exhausted warriors tonight, many of whom seemed to stagger blindly into the meat grinder of a busy dim-sum restaurant kitchen already looking like injured animals, seeking only to be put out of their misery. Like a late '70s Dee Dee Ramone, (who wrote the classic tune referenced above), they moved like sleepwalkers towards an unarticulated but ever more desperate need for oblivion. And when the end came, when the judges' cruel gazes settled finally on Casey, the survivors looked surprised -- and even a bit disappointed. They're tired and cranky, these survivors. They've been pushed hard. And it showed. And as in so many situations where people find themselves in moments of extremis, circumstances brought out the best, the worst -- and the most insane of behaviors. The episode began on a giddy note. Who among us was not thrilled and delighted to see Tom Colicchio step up and challenge the young 'uns to a head-to-head Quickfire Challenge? Who did not delight in his ballsy and unexpected demonstration of how, exactly, the old school motherf---ing professionals do it? Let me tell you friends: the magic of editing can do a lot. But it can't dummy up moves like that. Fast. SO fast. Focused. Smart. And demonstrating the kind of brisk, sharp, economy of movement you only get after years and years of working at places with only the very highest standards. In eight and a half minutes of cooking, Tom showed the contestants, the audience, and any doubters, all the qualities that separate the big kids from the grown-ups. Qualities, by the way, in which nearly every contestant was lacking during the hideous, all-time Chinese clusterf--- that followed.
To be charitable, it was clear that no one -- even before the Elimination Challenge -- was at the top of their game. The strange but very talented Angelo, after having been told specifically to avoid doing a tartare or a raw dish, broke right out of the starting gate and blundered into a crudo like a doped but lame thoroughbred. Jamie's single clam sat forlornly at the bottom of a bowl like a dried turd. Frankly, I think they should have put her out of her misery and sent her home right there. Even the mighty Dale managed only to unravel a lonely strand of tragic "pad thai" noodle that the judges examined as if it were a prolapsed intestine.
Your comment about Dale's pad thai noodle literally made me laugh so hard that I was crying. Seriously!
As a respite from my own high drama I finally got around to catching up on reading Top Chef blogs. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I laughed, I cried, I made a copy to cheer me up whenever life is working me over. I commend Casey for being classy on the way out. Jamie... whatever, I mean tell me why you're here again? Fabio was fabulous. We also had a pet turtle and I haven't been able to bring myself to try it. As for the other cheftestants, You have my sympathy. Just remember, no pain, no gain so keep your heads down and think fast. One last thing is that I truly enjoyed watching Tom cook. My husband often asks what qualifies the judges and Tom gave him a reason. Now Padma...anyway, PLEASE keep your blog coming.
Soft? Or the opposite? I suspect if Casey weren't so pretty, this blog post might have ended differently. Ah, Tony, Tony. We're on to you, but we love ya anyway.
Thank you for making the show funnier than ever - without your blog, I wouldn't stay up for the episode...looking forward to seeing you at judges table all the time.
Now this is blogging. This is why the InterWebs were created, truly, to add value to the experience of Bravo reality-based programming by someone who can combine the Ramones with cartilaginous. Love. Love. Love this entry. I will also take a moment to agree with the commenter who pointed out stranger things have happened than sub-par chefs (aka Jamie) making it further than common sense and karmic justice would seem to allow.
you're going soft, tony.
casey left nobly? she f***ing BLAMED antonia... and you're kissing her butt? what the hell? you said yourself that choosing to make chicken feet was a stupid move since there's no way she could have prepared them properly. yet she thinks antonia should have been able to do so AND make her own dish? so she chooses an impossible dish and was small enough to dis antonia too?
uh, casey? buh-bye.
p.s. reminiscent of her ugliness during and after the whole carla incident on their season........ in both instances, casey's idea was the problem, yet she didn't hesitate to trash the other person.
Tony B. Rocks! We would love, absolutely LOVE to see you cook like Tom did Tony. You are certainly the MOST entertaining chef and gifted writer to graze our tv cable since Julia Child. I love your breakdown -- I think you put more into the libretto than the producers do on Bravo.
Nevertheless, it seems like Angelo's nose twitching (coke?) may have played him out this epi. Also, why oh why is Jamie untouchable? She should have been out a long time ago, and letting Casey go instead of her had to be a strange decision for a strange night.
More guest apprearances please! & oh, BTW, my family and I had the most bizarre experience at the Veau d'Or after going at your rec.
~ Ms. Ali
Tiffany and Jamie axed in the next event. Jamie for falling asleep on her parsley sprig. Tiffany for undercooking hailbut en croute caused by her blinding crush on Tom Colicchio. The judges will faun over Angelo's sauce, even though he won't make one. Tre will slide by with Richard due to their jointly-baked french garlic bread au toaster oven. Marcel will articulate incoherently. Where have all the good chefs gone?
I, like many viewers, truly believe that Jamie should have left at least 2 episodes ago - but alas! - that was not the case. However, Casey should have known better than to cook chicken feet...I mean really?! Chicken feet? I am no chef but I definitely know when to NOT insult people with food that I know nothing about. But I do give her props for being ballsy.
I absolutely agree with all the sentiments Bourdain has expressed and I wish he had been there to give his opinion during judges' table.
Watching Top Chef All-Stars is not complete w/o reading your blog. Thoroughly enjoy the spot-on observations and comments, e.g, Casey's choice of chicken feet as, what d'you say? bad, but nobly audacious -- oh, Casey!!! And putting chicken feet on the same level as durian souffle and balut over-easy... oh, I cannot stop laughing!!!
My head didn't stop spinning until I read your blog this morning. Thanks for the perspective because -- wait for it -- I was scared, also I had the best laugh I've had in a long time. Thank goodness Fabio was allowed to have show and tell with his pet turtle. That kind of put me in a zen moment. Love your blog dude.
My head was spinning on my shoulders after watching this episode. Thanks for the great blog. Today I have a perspective and a damn good one.
It never ceases to amaze me how Jamie can skate from episode to episode while rarely ever cooking anything significant (and sometimes not cooking anything at all like in the tennis challenge), while left and right chefs are getting shown the door for taking risks and failing.
Given the choice, I'll give credit to the cook who tries something gutsy like chicken feet and fails over someone who makes green beans in sauce and can't even do that right.
I would also like to echo the sentiment admiring Casey's showing of grace in defeat, as contrasted to someone like Jen from a couple of weeks ago. I cannot say that in a similar circumstance, I would have been as composed as she.
Best. Blog. Ever! I'm still laughing. I almost peed myself when you threw out durian souffle and balut over-easy. Love your books! Can't seem to get enough snarkiness! Please keep blogging the show!
The worst thing about Jamie (besides the fact that she is a mediocre cook) is her complete apathy about the whole competition! She stands there with her arms crossed and a vacuous expression on her face and refuses to go out of her way to help anyone. I was hoping beyond hope that she would be eliminated this week, but when I saw the disastrous chicken feet Casey made, I knew she would get a free pass for one more week. Completely unfair, in my opinion! I honestly don't know why she bothered coming back on the show. She looks like she could give a d*mn.
Dim Sum drama aside, I'm surprised none of the bloggers had any commentary about Fabio's little "princess". An absolute comedic high note in an otherwise painful show to watch. Tony, he shares your occasional issues with the thought of killing small animals for the sake of cuisine.
Yes, but... Casey went down more gracefully than did prior contestants. She has clearly watched enough sports in her life to have learned some useful cliches. I will point out, however, that she complains that she got sent home because she left things in Antonia's hands. Not so! She wanted to stir-fry the chicken feet instead of deep frying them. Thus, they never puffed up or got tender. The dish was conceptually flawed.
Right on Tony! Chicken feet are an acquired taste for sure, and although I was also curious when Casey made the decision to go that route, then my better judgment kicked in. Unless cooked atop an empty oil drum in a back alley by an old woman under an orange tent... go eff yourself. Haha!
Hard to pick which is funnier - your blog or the stunned looks on Jaime and Casey's faces. I agree it would have been excellent if we had been spared yet another awful "scallop" dish to endure. But Casey, while disagreeing with the judges' decision, maintained her dignity and class with aplomb. Well said, sir.
Brilliant Bourdain blog as always! The perfect palate cleanser after the episode. However, there is no smoking in Hong Kong tea houses any longer (maybe some of the very dodgy ones in Mongkok) and it isn't quite the scrum described. The volume level is always at an ear bleeding high, though.
As to the ep, Jamie should have the self-respect to pack up her own damn knives.
Mr. Bourdain, doesn't it offend you that Chefs are being judged on things that have nothing to do with cooking? Why did chefs have to be in the dining room? That's ridiculous. I'm sick of the talented women getting sent home because they're put at a disadvantage by design, and I'm sick of Jaime sliding by. Casey and Jen both stepped up and did more than should have been required and got sent home for their trouble. If that's the way it's going to go, stop putting them in positions where they aren't on an even playing field. I had such high hopes for this season, but we will still have no idea who prepares the best food at the end of it. How about putting them in an ideal situation and seeing what they produce? That's the show I thought I was tuning in to. This challenge seemed designed to hand a win to Dale. What a surprise that the guy who makes dim sum for a living won. He shouldn't even have been considered for the win.
Having lived a year in China, I almost peed in my pants when reading your comments. And Hong Kong is tame compared to Guangzhou. Also, I never saw the chicken feet trimmed at all. They sat on trays with toenails in all their glory. Anyway, your comments are spot on and hilarous! And good for you for not being too pc to write them!
You know what's crazy?? I agree with all the Jamie comments, but does anyone remember that Lisa (TC Chicago) was in the bottom of almost EVERY challenge and ended up in the top three of the finale?? That was the absolute WORST to watch!!!! Hope it doesn't happen with Jamie too....
Great blog. Love you are part of this show now. Keep on keepin' on with your bad self. Absolutely Fabulous!! You are so spot on and honesty is the best policy especially when it comes to food! You da man!
Another great blog! Your writing is sooo entertaining. I'm going to Amazon right now and buy your books. I hope that you keep blogging for BRAVO...you're the best!
BALUT! Damn you Bourdain, for making me google image search that! On the other hand, your description of a Hong Kong Tea house makes me want to get on plane now.
And a great point on Casey's departure--its so much better to go home for something bold like chicken feet than something safe and uninspired (i.e. scallop dumpling made with store-bought wrapper!!).
Tony love the blog, I live in Chicago and we do have the Chinese room of 250 and the room is perfect on the second floor. Yers it is a described. Love it.
OMG, I couldn't stop laughing and really lost it when you said, "durian souffle or balut over easy." Your descriptions of everything were really spot on! Keep on writing. We need the entertainment.
Funny and right on! Mr. B is back in the saddle. Thanks for the language it fills my head and makes me laugh.
Well, Tony, I hope you aren't tipping your pitches (do you know the outcome of this season??), but you again wax poetic about Antonia's good nature and Dale's awareness that he robbed the bank. Antonia and Dale were always favorites of mine - great cooks, passionate, hearts-on-their-sleeves human beings. They are arrogant only in the sense that they want to do right by their diners, and they get sorely p.o.'ed at those not trying as hard.
I was a little sorry to see Casey go, but honestly, what was she thinking? I knew that I didn't have the slightest idea of how to cook chicken feet, and I suspected that she didn't either. Maybe Angelo or Dale could have tackled them, but I didn't see Angelo's manipulative little fingers in that particular bag of goodies.
My experience with dim sum houses is very limited, but I have always thought that the idea was to make almost "amuse bouche" type food - lots of little things that can be prepared in mass numbers, rather than massive sizes per serving.
The cooks I always admire most are those who can turn on a dime and face adversity with a rewired gameplan. Fabio seems to have trouble with that, and so I was relieved for him to see his ribs come out so well. Tre, not so good. I recall Stefan putting his desserts in a pan of ice in the refrigerator to cool them down; perhaps Tre could have tried this. And Jamie's dumpling (it's Top Chef! Not Top Scallops!) - good grief.
It was fabulous to see Tom cook! I was also very pleased that the cheftestants were blown away by his expertise. A lot of the great chefs have lost some of their chops by owning rather than running a restaurant, and so it was nice to see Tom still with his cooking wits about him.
Your blogs are spot on - thanks!
GREAT blog. Bourdain is a fantastic addition to this show and his blogs are the best. Thank you! Also, so sick of Jamie and Tony is right: just put her out of her misery.
Reading your synopsis is better than watching the episode, if not certainly a necessary accompaniment. But, unlike the playbill they hand you, you provide an insider's look at the true gritty depths of the kitchen and the experience that was unseen to the naked viewer. I'll never tire of your writing.
As painful as this episode was to watch your blog was rapaciously hysterical. I teared up watching the disasterous dim sun fiascos, but I laughed til I cried reading your blog. And spot on with evaluations just as tou were with Steven and Dale. They, as did Casey, left with self-effacing grace and I will miss all three of them. Onward and Up(hopefully)-ward to the next episode... Keep up the great writing.
I applaud your ability to talk about dim sum and Whitey Bulger in the same post. Well done, sir! Thanks for your always entertaining recaps.
"They drink gallons of tea until tweaked out on caffeine like meth heads at the end of a three day jag."
This is why I love reading Anthony Bourdain's blog.
As usual great blog but once again no show for the real show. Whats up with that? Also once again Jamie did a lousy job and stayed. I felt bad about Casey but she did take too many risks and it didn't pay off. Maybe the women should be more like the men, selfish and never volunterring for anything that doesn't directly benefit them.
This was pitiful! WTH were they doing? This was the time to put their heads down & work- Dale should have had his ass handed to him- Teamwork, apparently a concept they're not familiar with- I worked in a Oyster Bar,restaurant in the Quarter in NO-Very simular situations, only add patrons that have been sucking up street side Hurricanes-It's not pretty
Bravo for a great blog and candid perspective. When you write, you capture my historical knowledge on levels more exciting than book smarts. Love the references to the gangster snitches. Dead on, regarding Jamie, and Casey for that matter. I do a lot of dim sum at The Empress in L.A. and we are always griping about how slow they bring out the food to our seating area. I like the idea of waiting near the kitchen. Don't think I'd try it. But I love the idea of it. Keep up the great writing Tony!