“Top Chef All-Stars” Recap (8.04): Game, set, dinner


Question: How do you best test a great chef’s culinary abilities? A) Let her show her creativity by using all the tools at her disposal or B) restrict his creativity by making him cook with only his thumbs? If you picked B, you’re probably a Bravo producer. The Quickfire Challenge this week is to make a stuffing without using any kitchen tools. Sorry, I misspoke, that is the Swanson Broth Quickfire Challenge this week. The way this show will shamelessly shill anything I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we hear Padma announcing the Cool Ranch Doritos Elimination Challenge.

Chicago chef Tony Mantuano, a former Top Chef Masters contestant, is the guest judge. Tony and Padma oversee the mayhem that ensues. The chefs need to make a stuffing without using knives or any other utensils. To quote chefbian Jamie Lauren: “Really?” Oh, and this is also an immunity and cash Quickfire, with the winner pocketing a cool $20,000.

That news sends the cheftestants running to the kitchen like a pack of rabid Dobermans. It’s so crazy once they hit the fridges I’m worried someone might lose an eye. That $20,000 seems to be making everyone frantic, everyone except the Commander in Chief of Hootie Nation herself, Carla. Slow and steady wins the race, girl, slow and steady.

But back to the caveman cooking. I don’t understand the point of this challenge. Why make them grate cheese on a pot rack and filet a quail with pepper mill? I saw celery and jar lids and what looked suspiciously like a hockey puck all being used as spoons. It makes no sense and can’t be sanitary. To quote Jamie once more, it’s a “clusterf–k.”

Still they all muddle through and now it’s time to taste what they made, literally, with their bare hands. Carla, who did not have enough time to properly cook her black quinoa , calls it an “undone-te quinoa.” After they get finished trying her crunchy quinoa, Carla asks if they “need some floss.” See, now this is why we love her – this and the face Padma makes when she heard Carla say “undone-te.”

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