I don't know why, but for some reason I feel like Tom doesn't like Angelo. I lost my desire to watch the show after Angelo left. Angelo is my favorite. Tiffani should go before Angelo.
Given their post-Gitmo state of mind, and the conditions at Camp Top Chef lately, it was an unexpected delight to see the Muppets earlier in the show. Ordinarily, I hate goofy challenges like this: fuzzy, silly, tweenie, or personality-driven guest judges. As a general rule, I'd like to see Joel Robuchon, Eric Ripert, and Grant Achatz sit in on every challenge. But this was, I thought, one of the more unexpectedly delightful QFs in Top Chef history. I tried to resist -- curmudgeonly inclined as I am -- but who among us, what hard-hearted monster could not be charmed by the sight of Richard Blais, explaining himself to Elmo? Angry Dale being heckled by furries, fighting a natural instinct to curse at the Cookie Monster? As a dad -- all too familiar with Elmo and Mr. Noodle and friends -- I was fascinated by the varied reactions as the chefs were confronted by the fact that they'd be judged by Muppets. Blais thought instantly of his own child -- and how cool he'd look later having hung with Elmo. Tiffany and Carla seemed amused. Antonia thrilled and bemused. Isabella took it in stride. Dale was understandably dismayed -- but impressively enough, went on to snatch victory from disgust. It was the expression on Angelo's face, however, that was the "tell." When he first spied the Muppets popping up from behind the table, his face fell as if punched. He looked like someone had just taken a dump on his lap. My theory is that that was the precise moment where Angelo lost it. His will to go on disappeared. From the first second he looked into those three sets of pitiless, googly eyes, he was a defeated man. He had seen the Beast. And it was brightly-colored and fuzzy.
I should interject that no one was more excited by the Great Muppet Adventure than Tom Colicchio. It was all he could talk about after. I've never seen or heard him so excited about any guest judge -- ever! And I understand now. I put off watching the QC until the very last moment -- but was immediately charmed. And bizarrely enough, no challenge has ever shown us so unblinkingly the true characters of our contestants. As I've said, these are enormously talented people, doing a very hard thing -- under ridiculous pressure. It was great to see them have a laugh. It was great to see a few unguarded moments -- children again.
End of the day, Angelo went home. He may have been a better all-around cook than some. But his soup was far and away the worst. Top Chef is like the baseball play-offs. Doesn't matter who the better team is -- or who has the best season stats. One bad day, one booted slow roller to short, and it's all over.
I don't know why, but for some reason I feel like Tom doesn't like Angelo. I lost my desire to watch the show after Angelo left. Angelo is my favorite. Tiffani should go before Angelo.
I thought of the potato trick also. I think he spent along time cooking w/rice and not enough w/potatoes. I love Tony! He is so smart and you don't feel like you have wasted your time reading his blogs... a rich experience
Top Chef All Stars has been so exciting so far. Im a bit confused by some of the chefs that were picked to compete in this season, but to see Fabio, Dale, Carla, Antonia, and Casey was a great surprise. Its always sad to see them voted off but who knows what the judges are looking for from challenge to challenge. Hang in there Carla!! I'd love to see her and Dale make it to the last two. I love all of them and its getting intense the closer they get to the finals. Good luck to all!
I agree, I can't believe Angelo was asked to leave while Tiffany is continues on. Angelo is a much better all around chef, as well as Fabio. I understand the objectives of the show but sometimes, really good chefs lose for having one bad night while others, who are all around poorer chefs continue to fly under the radar. Sometimes the judging is really not fair.
I agree with most of your points, but I won't stand for the argument that mussels are solely French. Some of the best mussels I've ever had were prepared Italian-style.
I love reading Anthony Bourdain's blogs, like a little literary field trip. They are insightful, thougtful and fun. Thank you!
Peeled potatoes could have saved Angelo... It's funny how none of these professional chefs know the home secret for too-salty soup- throw in a whole, raw peeled potato or 2. They suck up the salt like crazy- you fish them out and discard them after 10 minutes or so, and it's super! Of course with soup for 100, you'd probably have to use more potatoes, but it really does work.
First Fabio leaves, and now Angelo. I swear, the judging in this season is so far off the mark I don't even know where to begin. Antonia winning for French mussels in a challenge asking for an Italian remake, Fabio being robbed in restaurant wars and the Rao's restaurant, Casey being dumped out for choosing to do both a dim sum dish and service (which Gail blamed her for and saying she didn't have to do service...I mean c'mon, someone has to do service and she is not even being credited for it, meanwhile Jamie has the worst dish yet she continues?).
The producers/sponsors must have a huge hand in the decision-making no doubt. The proof? As stated in the fine print at the end of the show.
I loved the Muppets. LOVED THEM.
And then, when Carla was going all insane while wandering Target, I couldn't help but think that she looked like Beaker. DIDN'T SHE? And now, every time you see her with your hair up, that's all you'll think about.
It's ironic. Once upon a time, before Dale took anger management classes, Dale was screaming because Ming voted Lisa Fernandes' dish as the best dish. "She made bacon," Dale cried. Then, two seasons later, Ming voted Dale's stoner grilled cheese sandwich seared with an iron as the best dish. "He made a grilled sandwich," the other chefs could have cried. But ... they didn't. It's not just ironic, it's serendipity.
thought there couldn't be a better quick-fire challenge than the fish one you thought up -- but, boy, this one was good. sorry to see angelo go - he had those flashes of creative genius, didn't he? but he lacks mental toughness, i think. endurance. burn-out? oh, yeah. i will check out his asian-style restaurant; he leaves no doubt re his cooking genius. but, boy, i am getting more and more impressed by antonia - she cooks consistently well. exceptionally well.
I agree!,, what makes a top chef is not being on the bottom more than once!! Show is getting boring with the way it eliminates it's chef Right on assessment
I have to disagree here. If the show is judging these chefs on their dish on THAT DAY ONLY, then why have an ongoing contest? Just ask them to cook something on one single day and whoever is best o that day wins? It's a stupid process. Angelo is by far the better chef than most of them, except Richard and maybe Dale.
And don't get me started on a BAKING competition for puppets!! These are savory CHEFS, they are NOT and never claimed to be BAKERS! Maybe next week they should be asked to throw a clay pot or weave a rug....those skills aren't cooking either. How horrible they you gave prizes based on a competition for skills these chefs didn't claim to have.
Some of the best Chefs are now gone! I love and hate this season because the contestants are strong but some of the challenges are weak (Target). I love Target; however, NOT for Top Chef. In Season's to come; please consider returning to the "Top Chef/Gourmet Cooking" process, as compared to, "Top Chef/Survivor Series"!
By far the most unbelievable event in the totality of human culinary unlikelyhoodedness Is Marcel getting a show on SyFy ( now pronounced siffy) to do molecular gastro......... sheesh couldn't they get Wylie Dufresne or Blais???
oh man, top chef marathon on bravo....might as well call my husband now and appologize that all the housework IS NOT getting done...lol! You know, this is a contest on a tv show...of course they are going to create a bunch of weird challenges and ingredients. And as crazy as some of them have seemed it it amazing to see what these chefs can pull together out of the weirdest of circumstances. I keep saying it...they have been having weird, out of the box, complicated challenges since the show started. It really isn't any different. However I still say it wasn't fair to send casey home when she didn't even get to execute her dish cause she selflessly served. Thought Tiffany's fake chicken and dumplings should have gone home cause that was the LEAST like the orginal. Otherwise I kind of see where the judges are going with these choices...
They've done a wedding challenge...It was the eppy where Steven kept dealing with front of house and wasn't helping in the kitchen. I think he went home for that one. They also had to recreate the same dish for a famous chef and were judged as to who had the closest one...It was a piece of fish wrapped in thin cut potatos..dale won, casey second. They've also cooked from gas station findings...vending machines...had to cook by color...had to cook on a fire pit on the beach...had to cook with a burner and block of wood on the side of a lake...but you obviously have good ideas cause they've already done some of them....
Maybe you could cook Dale's dish at home without thinking about it. Maybe you could even make it as well as he did. BUT --
Could you cook it at 3 am after a 20-hour day at the end of a relentless two weeks (or more) or nonstop challenges and physical and mental exhaustion, in a kitchen you put together yourself off what you found on store shelves, from ingredients you scrambled together off those same store shelves, with no chance to sit back and plan?
I don't think so.
As much as I enjoy the fine-dining challenges, I find these tests of innovation and creativity some of the most impressive. These are all skilled and talented people. How do you separate the best? Don't show me what you make at the top of your shift; show me what you do in hour 14. Show me what you do when the grill goes down or you find someone left the walk-in door open and all the fish is turned.
Those two qualities--endurance and on-the-fly creativity--are what Top Chef is all about.
What a stupid challenge. I thought this show was supposed to be about sophisticated chefs making sophisticated food. More and more episodes are turning into hour-long commercials. Target? Really?
The show also needs to change the way it kicks contestants off. It should follow the model of some of the modeling and fashion shows. A contestant's overall performance should be taken into account. Tiffany has consistently been on the bottom, and she is still on the show? Nonsense. Angelo was on the bottom once was it? And he gets kicked off? Nonsense. The "playoff" rules that Bourdain mentions need revising. That is no way to determine a "top chef;" it should be a chef who is a consistently high performer.
With the way the judges table has been going this season, I joked to a friend after the mussels-in-broth win that the chef that makes a PB sandwich will win next. Well, I was close. Grilled cheese. Really? An iron "brilliant". Really? Check out student housing after bar time on a Saturday. What a joke.
I am highly disappointed! In watching tonights episode, all I could think of was "What is Tony Bourdain going to have to say about Angelo's "shorts and knee socks" ensemble? And no mention? This may be a whole new trend!
Some Suggestions, i was truely bummed out to see Angelo go, I really can't imagine watching the rest of the series without him but hey, the show must go on. Anyway, this season has not been great in terms of challenges, I think a it would be fab to get the chefs to design their own 3 course meal, but for the EC each design must be handed to another chef to execute. The design should consist of ingredients, plate design etc etc, afterall thats what true top chefs do. Now imagine Mike I excuting Angelo's asian inspired menu! Another QF challenge could be, the chefs make fast lunch for the army and in the evening do a fine dining meal for the generals etc. The drama would be in watching the chef's crumble and even rise under the pressure. Another great challenge which I believe season 5 did was to recreate a famous chefs dish, however it would be interesting if all the chefs created the same dish, obviously it has to be complex, eg; many components and techniques in one dish- chef Morimoto's dishes or Mario batali's dishes. How about the chefs cater for a wedding in teams? how great would that be? Whilst All Stars has drama, its really quite insulting to watch what these chefs are being put through. Cookies, really? Grilled cheese sandwich, pot pie all seems mediocre. Top chef should be an all rounder, someone with intergrity and respect for the profession which they wouldn't sacrifice for a game show. In the dum sum challenge Dale won but he only made enough dishes for the judges. Angelo had a great dish and also fulfilled the brief of the challenge.
Tony, Angelo did not lose it in the way you think. Seeing the sesame street characters, he looked pained and the Target challenge was the last straw in what seemed like a Top Amateur Chef programme rather than All Stars.
Anyway, I hope Angelo, Jen and couple of the others get a chance to come back like in season 5. Otherwise we may have a 'top lucky' chef who won because the better chefs took a risk and got eliminated. Winning with grilled sandwich, pot pie or muscles with fennel doesn't seem like all Stars.
there was a moment in the Target challenge that I looked at my husband and said, "Angelo's just *not* on his game- he looks like he's in a tank of syrup or something..." (maybe it was the knee-highs and shorts- eek!). But at the end of the day I really did think Tiffany was going home. Liked her on her season, here, not so much. Felt bad for Angelo- I wonder how much the fatigue of having *just* finished a season weighed in...
Wasn't it Top Chef that had as a challenge a 7-11 (or Circle K) and all ing had to come from there and one chef (team?) used flaming hot cheetos and slim jims and another made apple dumplings or something?
I don't completely agree that this is the worst season (although the museum thing was the stupidest thing I think I have ever seen on any cooking competition), bc to me, being a chef means being creative and resourceful no matter what the circumstance. If you can take the ingredients available in a Target supermarket and elevate them to something amazing, no matter what that is, you should win, whether it looks like fine dining or not. Versatility, too- being able to throw together a cookie bc you have a basic knowledge of ratios and such- you don't have to be a (in all caps) PASTRY CHEF. (sound of angels singing)
People are ragging on Dale's sandwich, but he had a piece of beef in there, which could have been tough, chewy or otherwise detracted from the sandwich very easily. He must have done *something* right to that meat, 'cause I bet it wasn't prime, aged beef...
As for Tiffany, I don't know that it was the fact that she used a spice mix (although someone alluded to it), it was what another judge said (Tom?), "It's like she didn't know what was wrong and just thought that *more* spice mix would fix it." (instead of looking for another flavor to make it more complex or balanced). The thing that hit me hardest as a cook was when Tom said, "You know just because you grew up eating something and you have an affinity for it doesn't mean it's good." *ouch* Made me rethink a lot!
I've always thought Carla (and I'm a fan) looked like a muppet! :-)
Finale? Antonia (not a loudmouth, but consistently delivers), Carla (who I think no one takes seriously bc she can be goofy, but her food- and her gut instinct- have usually been right on, except this week) and either Richard or Dale. Richard's more consistent and creative, but Dale has phenomenal highs (and conversely some pretty dismal lows) that can beat Richard. I think Richard is consistent enough that he can't 'beat himself', but I do think that Dale could be his own worst enemy...
Mr. Bourdain, Your blog makes me laugh out loud every week! Really missed reading your take on Fabio's departure last week. I love Top Chef and this season hasn't disappointed. This is one reality show where the contestants actually have a talent, and have to actually work through impossible challenges for their fame and prizes. Many of the challenges this season have however been a little crazy and some of the eliminations have seemed premature. I was really disappointed to see Angelo go. He seems to have been the best and most original chef to be eliminated so far. My picks for the final are Richard, Dale and either Carla or Antonio. As portrayed on the show they appear to be the most talented chefs remaining. Keep on blogging Anthony!
Boxed wine? Seriously!? I didn't know Terlato made a boxed wine. I mean, really, what brand of boxed wine does a Top Chef drink?
There is an actual reason- the Sesame St muppets are owned by the Henson estate and not by Disney, the others (Swedish Chef and all those from the Muppet Show) are owned by Disney. I'm sure it was a rights issue.
I loved Cookie Monster and Elmo (he's a SCREAM when he isn't on Sesame St- I laughed so hard I almost peed when he went 'COOOOOW CHIIIPPPS!'). I have *no* idea why Telly. He's always been the useless muppet on the show to me. Oscar the grouch would have been fun too!
The thing that I've noticed is that two mistakes can take a chef with talent off this show in an elimination challenge. The first mistake is to diss the challenge and not make a best effort to do whatever is asked. In one of the early seasons, during the TGIFriday's challenge, cooking for firefighters, a contestant kept sniffing that she was better than this, that she did only fine dining, certainly never anything so pedestrian as to cook for a casual dining restaurant and a bunch of firefighters--and then...oversalted the food, a totally rookie mistake. The second is to get vain about one technique or ingredient that the person has mastered and repeat it over and over, implying that this is the key to his/her reputation as an innovator and master. More than once--and it's no longer innovation and the cliche about one-trick ponies starts to come up.
Yes, the challenges were...not fine dining and the judges were not top professionals in the trade, just people who need/want to eat good food. Yes, this probably removed some of the fancy tricks from some of the contestants who use them (although most of these chefs are...already gone). So, if you are someone who can truly innovate and adapt and please the finest palates, then why would you screw up everyday food? What's the point???? And, is it worth making? When the Top Chef Masters crew messed up, it was admittedly lack of practice preparing volume food with a short time frame, rather than skill or creativity, and or taking on too much--a failed innovation. It seems this season, when the All Stars mess up, it's the same thing that cost them the last time, usually mistakes A or B, with a dose of lost interest and confidence (Angelo's undoing) or fear of going farther and not appearing to have broken up with the judges before being broken up with (Elia and Jen).
Admittedly, personality can save people for a long time. Fabio was in the bottom 3 more often than not, lauded mostly for his turn at the front of the house in restaurant wars. He's engaging and more fun than Dale--but Dale performs solidly week after week, albeit with the charm of a porcupine who needs morning coffee. But then, in real life, it's easier to forgive those who either perform flawlessly or are at least pleasant and willing in the face of inconsistent performance--and to let those who have started to sink into despair and are not performing, go.
I'll say it again: Seek out someone who works in performance enhancement and go over your tapes. Odds are that any disappointments that are occurring in your business lives are showing up in the contest, where the pressures are the extreme version of what can happen at intervals in our personal and work ives (some mentioned working parents, for example).
Regarding Angelo: "When he first spied the Muppets popping up from behind the table, his face fell as if punched. He looked like someone had just taken a dump on his lap." Here I am, drinking my coffee at 7:22 a.m. in Kenmore, NY and I literally laughed out loud and spit it out. The best thing about Top Chef this year: YOUR BLOG.
Im so disappointed to see Angelo leave. I'd have liked to see Richard, Angelo, Fabio and Dale as the final 4 and the last fight between Angelo and Richard, but Anthony's right, Angelo lost the stamina to fight on. Jennifer too was one of my favourite. These are the contestants who seem to have the arrogant competitive professionalism that's elegant and at the same time edgy. It's not an easy show, but I like Top Chef esp this season. There's so much talent and handled at a very high level. I love all the famous and credible Chefs as guests, love Anthony B's comments. Hope they'll bring these people together in a special show.
me too, he was my favorite. I really look foward to the day I can go to his next restaurant and eat something of his. I have no one to root for now
Please, make it mine your words. You said it all. Angelo is amazing talent, Dale is so lucky to really get the Jury's palat, but he works in NY ( Here even to get a job as a waitress is hard if you dont have NY experience, Ive worked in SF and LV and I couldnt get in a Nice restaurant in NY as a server) Antonia is always too close, Tiffany is humble and her southern touch has been maybe too "etnic" for the Italian/French Jury. Richard is a PHD in techniques ( it was fun finally seeing him not using Nitrogen), Mike I am not passionate about him, and Carla is AWSOME, she cooks with her heart and I love to see her comments when he cooking does not come up right. But if Richard, Carla, Antonia or even Dale ( he is not my favorite) win, I will be really happy, and try to get reservations to eat at Dale's restaurant as soon he is out, I am so curious!!!!!
But Dale? His dish tasted the best? Was executed skillfully and innovatively? A Grilled Cheese Panini with a bologna thin slice of Ribeye and Tomato Soup? The winner? Really? We're back to Top Short Order Cook again. No, not even that. I could cook that myself at home without thinking about it. When are the next TC tryouts? I'll bet there.
'Ya think it might be time for TC to take a break for say, a few years? Maybe? Get rid of the non-stop product and store placement? Yes?
Thanks for confirming my guess that this season has already been taped, and for your firsthand account.
I'm kind of disappointed in the challenges for these Top Chef All-Stars. Why can't these talented chefs be stretched to do something extraordinary ... rather than catching fish on a boat or making 3 a.m. grilled cheese sandwiches in Target? I love Top Chef Masters because the chefs really have to be on their best game. I agree with an earlier poster here who said expecting non-pastry chefs to compete with cookies is like asking a concert pianist to play the trumpet! But regardless, Anthony Bourdain is just about the best reason to watch this show. I am a HUGE FAN.
Angelo really didn't deserve to go home. Why was it okay for Dale to use too much salt but Angelo got home for the same thing? I love Tony Chachere's as much as the next person, but it has no place in Top Chef. Ms. Beaumont should have gone home this week. All in all, I have been disappointed in this season. I was so excited by the return of some of my favorite chefs, but this season has seemed to be one long advertisement rather than about the food.
I was so disappointed to see Angelo eliminated.I really wanted to see Richard and Angelo battle it out.
I TOTALLY agree. And what about Carla's pitiful soup? It wasn't even a finished dish. Angelo was treated unfairly...I was blown away by the judges.
Tony, as always, your commentary is insightful, humorous, and spot-on. This has been a very enjoyable season, because these are "all stars", and it's anyone's game to win (as we've seen, seeming "favorites" have already been eliminated, and QFC winners get eliminated in the EC, and EC winners are at the bottom of the next EC). This is great "drama", more so than the personal drama that we've seen in past seasons. (Although Marcel & Jamie certainly were focal points of several episodes).
For those who keep questioning why certain chefs get eliminated week after week, when they are "better" chefs than those who didn't get eliminated, I don't understand after so many seasons why they still don't get the criteria. Tony repeated it again in his blog: "He may have been a better all-around cook than some. But his soup was far and away the worst."
So upset with the Judges about Angelo being voted off. I don't understand how Dale can get a pass the week before for oversalting and yet Angelo goes home for the same thing. Angelo isn't even a favorite of mine, however I think he got a raw deal. I am a huge fan of Top Chef and for the first time wonder if the Judges are playing favorites.
There have been other contestants that have over-salted and they weren't sent home. I do believe that Angelo was missing his son and was almost relieved he lost. We've got to remember, Angelo (and Tiffany) had just finished with the DC season and went straight into All-Stars. I think I would have hit the wall, too.
As for Tiffany: I, like everyone else, am very tired of hearing that she's from Beaumont, TX. I can't believe she is still in the game. She should have been sent home for making "chicken and dumplings" that were not even remotely like chicken and dumplings. She has very little personality and, to my mind, not enough talent.
I've never been a fan of Isabella, but I do find him less annoying that in his season. For some reason, I want to hit Blaise. He is so arrogant! I haven't liked him since he said that he should have won his season. Not even! Dale is not nearly as obnoxious as he was previously. He seems very talented and probably should win, but I sure hope he doesn't. Antonia is also very talented, and I wouldn't mind if she wins. This leaves Carla. Yeah, she's way out there but everyone seems to love her food. I hope she wins.
Finally, I don't think there will be any problem awarding the Chicago season the title of Best Chefs. Only one of the Chicago chefs has been sent home
Did anyone else laugh themselves sick to hear Elmo say "TMI" to Padma? I thought that was priceless.
It's called confidence. Something they must have to be the best and to get to where they are. Try it, you may find the same level of success. (And yes, I am assuming you are petty, slightly jealous, and don't understand why people around you are more successful)
Tony, love you and your blog and I'm thrilled you are a judge this season... but you are soooooooo WRONG about Tony Chachere's. In Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi (and maybe some parts of Alabama), it is MUST HAVE in every kitchen pantry as far as spice blends are concerned. Would you tell someone from Maryland not to use Old Bay? Or perhaps Indians shouldn't use curry in their cooking? I've lived in New Orleans for almost 40 years, and I honestly don't remember NOT having Tony Chachere's in my pantry. It is a must have if you live down south.
It's about the right food for the right diners at the right time. Dale was cooking for the target employees - many of them college-aged holding down a retail job to pay for books- in other words, the perfect audience to throw dorm-room style steam iron grilled cheese at. I suspect that the tomato soup was the thing that won the judges over though- balance of flavor, with the GC acting more as texture. There's just something about a nice crunchy grilled cheese that hits you in the lizard-brain when you tuck into it. It's the perfect comfort food, and was something that could be done very well on improvised kitchen equipment.
I believe it was Angelo's turn to go home. Tiffany will go soon. Mike needs to go soon as well.
Carla Dale Richard and Antonia are worthy of top chef. May the best chef win!