Top Chef All-Stars: fried food y’all!

Last night “Top Chef All-Stars” on Bravo merged its own brand with Food Network, as Paula Deen was introduced by host Padma Lakshmi as the guest judge for the quick fire challenge. But first they showed the remaining six chefs hanging around with Richard showing Mike his “secret black book” of ideas. Hmmm. So what do you think the challenge was? Yep, making a dish using a deep fryer.

Paula said that her true favorite was Antonia’s fried shrimp and avocado, but she was disqualified for only plating one dish in time and not two. The least favorites were Dale (oyster and beef) and Carla (catfish). The two favorites not named Antonia were Richard (fried mayo balls!) and Mike (fried chicken in oyster shells–an idea he stole from Richard’s book!). Mike won and he took home $5K as well as angry glares from Richard. Wow. Carla, Tiffany and Antonia talked about this being a violation of “chef law.”

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The Next Food Network Star: do you believe in karma?

For those of us pissed off that the judges of “The Next Food Network Star” kept giving Debbie Lee pass after pass this season, despite the fact that she was dishonest and deceitful while acting all jolly and Korean, karma reared its head in our favor. More on that in a minute, but last night’s showdown between the final three of Lee, Melissa D’Arabian and Jeffrey Saad was actually very exciting to watch.

They began the episode by having the three finalists meet Emeril Lagasse at his restaurant, and Emeril announced their challenge for the week–in honor of the upcoming film, “Julie & Julia,” the contestants would have to create their own ultimate 3-course meal for some very distinguished judges. Each would have $1000 to shop as well as the help of a sous chef. After shopping (and Jeffrey being way under budget), they arrived back to find out who their sous chefs would be….naturally, former contestants….Jamika, Michael and Katie, who would be paired with Melissa, Debbie and Katie, respectively.

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Top Chef Masters: Cooking for Doogie and his buddies

Last night was the fourth preliminary round of “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo, and the challenges are surely not getting any easier. For this one, the four contestants were Mark Peel from Los Angeles; Douglas Rodriguez, who owns several restaurants nationwide; John Besh from New Orleans; and Anita Lo from New York City.

Host Kelly Choi announced the quickfire challenge, and as they have been using some of the more interesting challenges from past seasons of “Top Chef,” they continued that by asking the chefs to create a dish with eggs, but with one hand tied behind their back. The judges were “Top Chef” regular Gail Simmons, as well as two other experts in eggs including a diner owner. Douglas went first and made a corn cake with eggs and ham. Mark, who said his dad was born with one arm, knew a little something about this particular “disability,” was a bit more ambitious, making a duck egg pasta with an olive oil cream sauce. Anita cooked the egg in its shell with shiitake mushrooms and truffle oil. And John made simple slow-cooked eggs, but he cooked them too slowly, because they weren’t done in the 25-minute alotted time.

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