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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American Idol: more good stuff

Some folks might criticize “American Idol” for not replacing Simon Cowell with someone equally harsh, but after two nights of watching Steven Tyler and J-Lo in action, I have to admit I think the show is already much improved. Maybe that’s not because Simon left, but more because three judges are better than four, and because of Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres did not return. Here is a brief recap of last night’s New Orleans auditions…..

GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

First up was Jordan Dorsey, a 21 year old singer from the Bayou. This dude was shown in his day job giving piano lessons to a kid, and then he did a ridiculous version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that blew away the judges and all of us watching. Definitely a kid worth keeping on our radar…..Sarah Sellers, who had some banter with Steven about her lips. I mean, there was more sexual tension in what they didn’t say than in what they did say. But she was good too, with a really nice soulful voice…..Jovany, a shipbuilder with Cuban roots, talked about how he loved J-Lo and also idolized her husband Marc Anthony, so you just knew he was going to suck. But he was awesome! Then he took his shirt off for J-Lo because he told his buddies at the shipyard he would, and Steven and Randy Jackson joined him. Ha!……Then Jacquelyn Dupree, from Mississippi, brought in pictures of Randy from high school, and Randy’s high school football coach! This show was beginning to get weird, but that was also funny and oddly heartwarming. Nevermind that Ms. Dupree had to be a stalker on some level to make all that happen, but she was good enough to get to Hollywood…..Brad Lowenstern was a 16 year old scrawny kid who said he got picked on a lot growing up. Uh-oh. But then, he started singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and just knocked it out of the park. Damn, looks are so deceiving sometimes……Jacee Beadeaux, a 15 year old pudgy, dorky kid, sang “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay,” and while he’s a bit green, he sang really, really well. Mrs. Mike commented that Simon would have hated this kid based on his looks and green-ness, and that’s so true, and exactly why the show will be better this year…..they closed with Paris Tassin, a 23 year old mom who has a special needs child that she almost didn’t have. But her daughter is doing well and Paris sang a song to her daughter and soared into Hollywood, making J-Lo cry along the way.

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American Idol: season 10 kicks off amid huge hype

Season 10 of “American Idol” on Fox is way different than the previous nine. The biggest change, of course, is the departure of a man who became synoymous with the show–Simon Cowell. But also gone are Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres, and in their places are rock legend Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, and pop icon Jennifer Lopez. Randy Jackson, who has been there since the beginning, is the lone returning judge. Last night as the festivities kicked off with this past summer’s New Jersey auditions, those trying out were equally intimidated and honored having the chance to sing in front of Tyler and Lopez, and it sure gave the show a whole new complexion. For one, these judges, especially Lopez, are not as apt to say “no” as quickly as Cowell was. As a result, 51 of these contestants made it to the Hollywood round. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from last night’s auditions….

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