Eliminations are getting tougher for the judges and tougher to watch. The funny Fabio left last week, and Bravo promoted this episode as packing a shocking elimination. So I guess Mike is safe.
Muppets Take Top Chef
The Quick Fire challenge this week had a prize of $5,000 and guest judges Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Telly Monster. Of course the chefs will have to bake cookies for their Muppet judges. The chefs react with a lot of smiles and laughter at the antics of Cookie Monster going wild for cookies. Elmo suggests a cookie with zucchini or carrots, but Cookie Monster just wants a yummy chocolate chip cookie.
Mike claims he’s never made cookies, Antonia will follow Cookie Monster’s advice and make chocolate chip cookies, and Richard confabs with Elmo to make a zucchini cookie. Angelo also says he hasn’t made cookies in a long time, but no one believes him. Carla goes with what she does usually for her catering business. Dale gets heckled by the Muppets for using potato chips, but he can’t heckle them back. Richard pulls out the liquid nitrogen yet again.
After the 45 minutes are up, the tasting begins.
Antonia made dark chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips, fresh caramel glaze and sprinkles. They’re large, dark, gooey disks of a cookie.
Carla made a traditional chocolate chip cookie with cinnamon.
Dale made pretzel and potato chip shortbread cookie with salted caramel chocolate ganache.
Richard gets Elmo to say hello to his daughter, which was sweet, and then shows his ice cream cookie with chocolate chips, zucchini, and mint. Cookie Monster doesn’t think it’s a cookie but Elmo liked the zucchini.
Mike made an almond and dried cherry cookie with rose petal powdered sugar, which sounds like he really does have cookie experience.
Tiffany made a shortbread cookie with lemon zest, rosemary, thyme and coconut milk.
Angelo made chocolate chip and Belgian hazelnut cookies and served it with a chocolate banana milkshake.
Cookie Monster had an issue with Richard’s non-cookie and Angelo’s dry cookie. Cookie Monster picked Dale and Antonia as the top cookie; Antonia’s tasted good, but, as Elmo points out, it did look like cow chips. After huddling up, Cookie Monster announces Dale as the winner.
Good-bye Muppets, Hello Target Dog
The Elimination Challenge brings a huge prize of $25,000 and a trip to a large suburban Target. They’ll get there around midnight and cook for three hours, using only what they can find at Target. They’ll be serving 100 Target employees in the store. The Target is immense so there is a lot of running around, back and forth, from the food sections to the appliance sections. Tiffany is overjoyed at finding Tony’s Chachere’s seasoning. Mike and Angelo pair up in gathering supplies, with Mike relying a bit too much on Angelo, and distracting him. Carla gets her head caught in the presentation of her station cloud for a long time before getting down to shopping for food.
Everyone but Carla has started cooking; Richard ambitiously is making two proteins and a corn pancake. Antonia is making an egg dish, while Tiffany is using her Tony’s to make a jambalaya type dish. Dale is doing a simple tomato soup and steak grilled cheese sandwich—grilled by using an actual clothing iron. Carla finally gets to cooking and she’s making a soup in a very short time. Mike’s doing a soup, as is Angelo. Angelo gets Mike to taste his soup, he says it needs something so Angelo adds a lot of salt. Meanwhile, what the hell is up with people tasting with the spoon and then putting it back in the pot?! Where’s the sanitation?
It’s 3 a.m. and the diners arrive as do the judges—Tom, Bourdain, Padma, and Ming Tsai with Thomas O’Brien, the chief home designer for Target, joining in at the tasting table. Richard serves pork tenderloin with green chilies, apples, braised pork ribs and corn pancakes. Bourdain thinks it is an ugly dish but it tasted good. Dale presents a rib eye grilled cheese sandwich and spicy tomato soup, explaining how he used the irons. Cue Ming Tsai to crack the “Iron Chef” joke and Bourdain wonder if Dale really is a stoner at heart.
Carla serves curry apple soup with tomato ginger jam and cucumber apple slaw; she worries that the flavors didn’t fully develop. The soup definitely lacks protein for the judges. Antonia presents her parmesan eggs on garlic crostini with almond, tomato and apple salad. Bourdain notes how ballsy it is for her to do 100 eggs. Mike serves up his spicy coconut soup with mushrooms, scallions and lime. Padma could only take one teaspoon of it, but Ming and Tom like it.
Tiffany serves a jambalaya with chicken, sausage and shrimp with a summer salad on top. Bourdain finds the chicken rubbery, and Tom doesn’t think it’s all that special. Up last is Angelo’s baked potato soup with bacon, sour cream, potato skins, scallions and cheddar cheese. The judges find it too heavy and too salty. Padma notes how many soups they had and head back to Judges’ Table. The chefs are totally exhausted, as it’s 4:30 a.m., but it’s back to the stew room for them.
Not Hitting the Target
As the sun starts to rise over Manhattan, Padma calls Richard, Dale, and Antonia to Judges’ Table. Richard is so tired, his faux-hawk is leaning to one side. Richard says that the running around the store wore him out; Ming liked that he did proteins two different ways. Bourdain liked Antonia’s bold egg dish. Dale’s soup was perfectly seasoned, done seriously and goofily as well. Ming then announces that Dale wins, and takes home a total of $30,000 in this one episode.
It’s not as fun before the judges for Carla, Tiffany and Angelo. Carla knows her soup did not develop flavors and Bourdain wanted protein, even chicken. Angelo knows that his soup base was not balanced; Tom couldn’t get past one spoonful of the saltiness. Tiffany talks fast about it not really being a jambalaya because it wasn’t cooked with tomato and Bourdain didn’t like the Tony Chachere’s. This makes no sense to me; not all jambalaya has tomatoes in it, and Tony Chachere’s is on the table of pretty much every jambalaya shop I’ve ever been in. I’m thinking maybe she must have used too much, because a little goes a long, long way.
After deliberation, Tom addresses the bottom three once again. He acknowledges the difficulty of the challenge and notes Carla made too much and didn’t develop her flavors. Tiffany’s rice dish was over-seasoned and incomplete. Angelo’s dish had entirely too much salt. After a difficult decision, Angelo is sent packing both his knives and his collection of very tight pants. He graciously thanks the judges and says goodbye to the remaining six chefs; he thinks he was just tired after so many dishes. And it’s back home to his son and to his mail order Russian bride.
And oh dear lord, Paula Deen is on next week. Probably with a truck full of butter.