Top Chef: All-Stars Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
January 25, 2011
"Our team dynamic is really quiet, probably a little bit too quiet. I'm a little bit nervous, because we haven't had any issues." This is what we love about Richard Blais. Even when everything is going great, he worries that there is room for improvement. Is it any wonder why BOP staffers taunt one another when we eat at Flip Burger?
When the meals begin, Dana Cowin of Food & Wine Magazine is among the first in line at Team Etch. This sends Tiffany into a panic, because they had not expected any of the regular diners to be professional food critics. Right on cue, the people at Cowin's table remark that their food is severely undercooked and she requests that the dishes be prepared again. Tiffany's walk back to the kitchen is the saddest we have witnessed since The Green Mile.
Good news, Richard Blais! Team Bodega finally has something go wrong. The kinder, gentler Dale hasn't completely let go of the rage he is taking Anger Management classes to correct. As the moment of serving arrives, the wait staff commits the cardinal sin of invading his space. The old Dale whose temper too often controlled him briefly returns. Pressing at the front of his mind is that Restaurant Wars was the challenge that caused Dale to be eliminated last time. His tension is completely understandable. Without missing a beat, Fabio intercedes by calmly stating to Dale that any and all criticisms of the servers should be directed to him. Almost immediately, Dale regrets his lashing out, which demonstrates just how far he has come in only a couple of years. If Dale wins this season, something that grows more possible each week, his mastery of his rage demons will be a primary reason why. The talent has always been there in terms of his cooking.
Of course, any snafu for Team Bodega is brief. Literally from the moment Dana Cowin reads their menu, she is ready to vote for them. As she concisely states, their menu is more fun and fun is what an eater covets from a pop-up restaurant. When Tom, Padma, Ludo and Anthony Bourdain arrive, they quickly concur with this assessment. Frankly, the producers of Top Chef are having difficulty in showing a balanced opinion of both restaurants. Whereas Etch couldn't properly cook their food from the start and are having a nightmare in terms of firing food off the line, one of the criticisms of Bodega is that a customer had difficulty eating the food out of the can it is served in. Even the front of the house is a blowout as Fabio seems to be auditioning for the prestigious title of Heaven's Waiter while Tiffany is getting slammed for her forced friendliness and too-loud fake laughter. If this were a prize fight, the referee would have already stepped in and called the bout.
By the time the meal is over, everyone but Marcel and Richard has reached the conclusion that Team Bodega has won handily. This statement exemplifies why each chef is who they are. Marcel delivers unsatisfactory food then tells himself it is much better than it is while Richard delivers a delicious meal then spends the rest of his time deciding what he could have done better to improve himself as a chef.