Hello my little Muppet Babies. OK, i have a confession to make: Muppets scare me. Puppets in general, in fact. I've never seen Avenue Q, and I don't think I could. I do love Sesame Street, though, so I was giggling like a little kid watching this week's inspired Quickfire Challenge where the chefs had to create cookies for none other than the Cookie Monster! And Elmo! And Telly! Perhaps the two greatest moments were 1) Cookie Monster constantly interrupting Padma. Sorry Padma! and 2) When Padma tried to have a real "learning" moment, which seemed appropriate for Sesame Street, while explaining to the little monsters (no Gaga reference intended) that cinammon and cardamom are from the same place. Elmo says, "TMI." I almost died!
I was happily surprised at how much less the chefs bitched about creating sweets than usual. While the Muppets deemed Richard's cookie not really a cookie, I bet he was satisfied that his little girl got a shout-out from Elmo. I actually e-mailed him to let him know that that was, in fact, left in the episode, so I hope he DVR'd it and played it ever and over. I'm sure he scored some major daddy points for that! Dale, who seemed to be one of the more worried chefs in this challenge actually came out on top with a potato chip cookie. Not only have I eaten a potato chip cookie before, but it was made by our very own Richard Blais. The whole concept also reminded me of David Chang's compost cookie at Milk Bar, in that it just seemed like a bunch of stuff thrown together. Since it was sweet and salty, I would've loved it. Sooo Dale wins again.
The Elimination Challenge was pretty hard, I must say. The chefs had to take over a Target and create a dish for 100 employees. Ming Tsai and Thomas O'Brien were guest diners. Not only do I love guest judge Ming Tsai, but I was excited to see Thomas O'Brien too because I actually know his products. He has the most beautiful blue bathroom set that I once saw at the Flatbush Target in Brooklyn. Feel free to echo Elmo right now... "TMI!"
Anyway, the chefs not only had to cook for 300 Tar-jay workers (Yes, Carla that's what I call it), but also had to set up their own stations. I'm not saying this because Target sponsored this challenge but I love Target. I love every section, including their clothing. (Merona, anyone?) The chefs had a decision to make: either pick out their appliances based on what they think they might be able to make, or choose the ingredients first. It seemed most did the former, pillaging for as many electric griddles as they could. Everyone actually seemed to get their bearings except Carla, who ws a little too pre-occupied with her decor. And although Carla didn't go home, the chefs nor the diners were not pleased with her sauce/soup. She very easily could've gone home, but, alas, it was not her time. It was Angelo's. I was bummed to see Angelo go. I really thought he would have at least made it to the finals. It's oddly appropriate that he essentially went home for taking the advice of another chef. I'm not saying it was Mike Isabella's fault Angelo went home at all, but he did tell him that his soup wasn't salty enough, and then Angelo overseasoned it. I would argue that potato soup is generally heavy, so that argment didn't fly with me, and I will also say that maybe one of the best potato soups around used to be at Bennigans (RIP.) I feel like I recently had a tasty one, and for the life of me, I can't remember where that was, but I'll let you know if I can remember. Anyway, a lot of opeople made soups, many of them horrible, and while people may think making soup meant taking the easy way out, a good chef or foodie knows that making a good soup, like cooking a perfect egg, is often considered the true sign of a real chef. Developing flavors in good soups is important.
Dale went the complete opposite direction and made a grilled cheese with tomato soup. His dish obivously reminded me of Betty Fraser's Season 2 FRIDAY's challenge winning dish (Bada Bing Betty! -- remember?), but Dale's had steak, and it was cooked correctly. Ming's joke about being an "iron chef" was groan-worthy, but was also adorable. Part of me wonders if Richard's dish would have won if it weren't so damn ugly! Antonia could've also won for the shear chutzpah of making that many eggs to order, and making them well. That's no small feat! But, in my eyes, the real winner of this challenge was Anthony Bourdain's sweater. It just looked just so great on him, and that slate blue color with his silver hair? Divine. OK, that's enough about that.
Speaking of the glorious Anthony Bourdain, we'll be taping the author answering questions about his book, Medium Raw, asked by a very special interviewer on Feb 23rd, so be sure to send in your questions about the book -- and only about the book -- here.
And apropos of nothing, my best friend just went to a bachelorette party down in Puerto Rico, so I of course suggested she and her friends eat at one of Season 4 finale guest judge, Wilot Benet's, restaurants, and they did! They dined at Pikayo, and, I'm told, had a fabulous time. She literally described everything as either "amazing" or "unbelievable." I obviously put my friend to work, snapping pics of all the dishes, so flip throught them here!
Tell me: Were you as bummed as I was to see Angelo go home? And, what have you been eating lately? Let me know, so I can eat it too!