Top Chef All-Stars: epic battle to conclude season

We all knew this was going to be a heavyweight fight between Richard Blais and Mike Isabella on “Top Chef All-Stars.” But I think these two guys exceeded their own expectations as well as those of the viewers and judges and also their fellow chef-testants. The episode began with Richard and Mike chilling in their hotel suite–and with host Padma Lakshmi telling the eliminated chef-testants that they would be making a small bite (they call it an amuse-bouche) which would determine who the two finalists would be having as sous chefs on their respective teams. Mike wound up with Jamie (ha!), Carla and Tiffani; while Richard had Spike, Angelo and Antonia. Nicely done for Richard.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: how do you say “double elimination” in French?

Last night on “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo, it was another 75 minute episode, but an action-packed episode in which two chefs were eliminated from the competition.


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Top Chef Masters: a master is crowned

The one thing that struck me this season on the inaugural “Top Chef Masters” is how truly amazing these chefs are at what they do…and how they can create masterpieces on a plate within minutes, using any ingredients in front of them. Well, the finale last night was no exception, with Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello and Rick Bayless squaring off for the grand prize of $100K for charity and the title of Top Chef Master.

They began by having host Kelly Choi take them to the Getty Villa, where they would be spending the day and night, having time to think about their menu, and then creating four main dishes each to serve to a panel of judges. The judges for the finale would be the three who have been here since the start–food critics Jay Rayner, Gael Greene and James Oseland; “Top Chef” regulars Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi; and each of the winners of the first five seasons of “Top Chef.” The task? A “meal of a lifetime”–dishes that represented various parts of each chefs’ life–their earliest food memory, when they decided to become a chef, their first restaurant opening, and today.

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Top Chef Masters: zero hands

nullLast night’s “Top Chef Masters” was the prelude to next week’s season finale, and it was one of the most intense and difficult challenges, if not the most difficult, yet. The final four first did their quickfire challenge, where they were blindfolded and had to guess what was being put in their mouths–10 items in all, and among them were peanut butter, hoisin sauce, hummus, pappadum, ketchup, smoked paprika and mango. After looking afraid and not feeling like he did well, Michael Chiarello wound up winning with 7 out of 10 correct. Rick Bayless and Anita Lo had 6 correct and Hubert Keller had 5. So Michael began with 5 stars, Rick and Anita 4 each and Hubert 3.5.

Then came the elimination challenge, and each chef would have to cook a buffet lunch for 200 Hollywood guests, but the catch was that they couldn’t touch the food. Instead, they had to interview and “hire” a staff from among former “Top Chef” contestants. Among them were Fabio and Jamie from last season. They also each had a $2000 budget to work with.

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Top Chef Masters: would you like fries with those vegetables?


Yesterday’s “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo brought us from five contestants down to the final four, and the challenges, especially the elimination challenge, were particularly interesting. First, after unveiling mounds of fast food burgers and fries with the chefs wondering if they would have to create something using those pre-made items, host Kelly Choi told them that instead they were going to make their own gourmet burgers with side dishes, and serve to judges that included “Top Chef” Season 4 contestant Spike Mendelsohn and filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who created the film “Supersize Me.” But I’m wondering..what did they do with all of that fast food?

Rick Bayless made a ribeye burger with three kinds of guacamole. The judges loved the burger but wondered why Bayless made three types of guacamole instead of just one. Still, Rick managed 4 stars.

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