Top Chef All Stars – The Swinging Six (SPOILERS!!!)

First – a couple more food trucks have been added to the grand list:  you can access that here.  Now, to the important stuff.  Some random observations as we hurtle towards the finale:

  1. WOW!!!
  2. The Sesame Street characters were obviously a glorious touch.  Cookie Monster is, I think, right up there with John Blutarsky as the greatest hedonists of American culture – his tacit endorsement of irrational devotion is inspirational I think.  Kids should take note – though he could end up at Betty Ford someday.  On a serious note, the show never fully explains how the Muppets fairly “judged” this competition.  On the other hand, the chefs did not complain – so one has to surmise it was reasonable.
  3. Between the shot of Buitoni last week and Padma declaring how EVERYTHING you could ever want you’d find at Target – the product placement is at a new high/low.
  4. The elimination challenge itself was fascinating – the time frame, the chefs physical exhaustion – and it was interesting to see the chefs lean on soup for the most part.  Antonia’s dish looked the ballsiest to me – although she didn’t win.  Dale’s innovation with the iron is the sort of McGyver thing you expect from a college student.  It was a masterstroke.  He has been up and down lately, so this was a big week for him.
  5. This was a less good week for Carla who did not get the timing of the challenge down.  This was particularly disappointing – as her usual bad weeks are related to simply not being able to deliver.  This was more controllable.
  6. But, see #1.  And you know what?  Angelo’s ouster was right.  The judges held to their criteria.  I do think they care about the entire season of work, but only to break ties.  That is, I don’t think it is a conscious criteria, but if you are torn on two contestants, you’d lean on the one you thought was “better”.  Angelo’s dish was too salty – a mistake he should have known and tasted.  Baked potato soup has so many of “those” sorts of ingredients from cheddar to bacon that it can go off the rails so easily.  If the dish was as horrible as the judges experienced – they had no choice.  Yes, he was the 2nd most talented guy in the field (and judging by Mike I’s reaction, the chefs agreed) – but … wow.  Tiffany is very lucky.  She might be able to pull of the Kevin (one good week) from last season – but it’s going to be tough.
  7. The power rankings from most to least likely:  Richard, Dale, Mike, Carla, Antonia, Tiffany.
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