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Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #8 - 02/02/11 (Spoilers)

LindaWhit Feb 2, 2011 06:23 PM

Ya know, shoveling is for the birds! I'm pooped after shoveling and chipping ice off the driveway all day! But it's Top Chef night - and we were sans TC last week, AND I still have electrical power. So onward. :-)

The bar scene after last week's competition - Mike reiterates that he wasn't going to let Marcel get away with pulling out details about problems with service, so he piped up. Antonia says that there's a list of people she wants to go home, and Mike is at the top of her list!

For this QuickFire, the cheftestants' plating and presentation skills will be on display. Isaac Mizrahi is guest judge. When he sees Mizrahi, Fabio says he's thinking "Oh no! I think he going to say 'Chefs - you going to make a great dish - and I will have to wear it!'" LOL

The Quickfire is all about Inspiration - plate's presentation, per Padma, is designed to attract the palate. As such - she and Isaac will be judging on the plating only - they *will not* be tasting it!

During the cooking, Blais says many of the chefs seem to have problems with the fact that the judges aren't going to be tasting. But he knows Mizrahi wears black a lot, so he's making a black ice cream.

Antonia isn't cooking anything - it seems she's using all raw foods.

Per Fabio, Angelo's dish looks like a bag of vomit. Tee hee! It really does look kinda gross - and he writes "Crocodile" across his table. And then tells Mizrahi that his favorite designer is Roberto Cavalli. Nice way to suck up to the guest judge, Angelo. NOT!

OK - for judging, lots of the plates LOOKED beautiful, but would you want to eat them? Mizrahi did NOT like Dale's dish at all. Dale says he doesn't care what a fashion designer thinks about his food. MEOW!!! Mizrahi also really disliked Angelo's dish and writing on the table was completely unnecessary.

Bottom group - Dale, Tre and Angelo
Top group - Fabio, Carol and Richard

And Richard wins, and gets immunity!

For the Elimination, they will have to create a traditional 3-course Italian meal. They draw knives - Frankie No, Junior, and Dino the Chef. They bring in Frankie Pellegrino, owner of Rao's, his son, Frankie Jr., and Dino, the Exec Chef @ Rao's.

Frankie Team - Antonia, Carla, and Tiffany - Antipasti/Appetizer course
Junior Team - Dale, Tre and Mike - Primi/Pasta course
Dino Team - Richard, Fabio and Angelo - Secondi/Meat course

They will be judged on their *individual* dish, although they'll be cooking within their course. They have several hours to prep, and then they head over to Rao's to finish cooking and plate and serve.

Antonia, Carla and Tiffany are up first with their Antipasti. And the three women all seem to be working well together - all of a sudden, Tiffany's polenta is burning on the tray!

Guest judges? Designer Isaac Mizrahi and actress Lorraine Bracco - she's a repeat guest judge from many seasons past! Joe, the GM of Rao's, Nicky, the bartender at Rao's, and someone else from Rao's NY (sorry fella, didn't catch your name! LOL) Bracco talks about coming to Rao's the first time with Joe Pesci when they were studying to film Goodfellas.

Carla's soup gets called "something you can get in Wisconsin" by the Rao's GM. Ouch! Tiffany's polenta seems to go over VERY well. Antonia's mussels were VERY well received as well - no one had a bad comment. And it looks like they all three got the "family style" idea.

Next up - Primi course - Dale, Tre and Mike are cooking. And upon bringing the dishes to the table, I have to say Dale's dish looks WONDERFUL! But it doesn't get good reviews - no sauce, and Bourdain says "someone in the Witness Protection Program is eating this right now".

Tre's risotto also didn't do well. Rut-roh! Meanwhile, Angelo, Fabio and Richard are in the kitchen cooking. And Mike's pasta is now reviewed. It was the LEAST pleasing of the three, according to one of the Rao group - his pasta wasn't just al dente, it was way undercooked!

Blais has said he always thinks that Fabio's not going to make it in finishing his dish in time, but at the end, he said "Fabio's a magician - he pulls a rabbit out of his hat and Whoop! He's done!"

Angelo's pork chop is swimming in sauce, and Nicky the Bartender says you're full by eating all of the garnish before the pork. Fabio's pan-fried polenta gets rave reviews from the Rao's group, and Blais's cacciatore dish also gets good reviews.

In the in-between, Mike shows the cheftestants how to make gnocchi in Top Chef University (back at the house). Antonia seems impressed that he's hand-cutting them vs. using a gnocchi (cutter?), but tells him to not let it go to his head. Then Angelo walks in and asks "What's burning?" LOL

So who's in the bottom? I'm thinking Angelo, Mike and probably Tre. And the top, I'm thinking maybe Fabio, Antonia, and maybe Richard?

Padma comes into the Stew Room, and asks to see Antonia, Carla, Fabio and Tiffany. After they leave, Richard asks "Have they ever called the bottom group 2x in a row?" Dale replies "It's All-Stars - they can do whatever they want!"

And they ARE the top group! Carla's soup was well liked by Lorraine Bracco, despite the dislike from the Rao GM. :-) And Antonia wins! Now her father won't be disappointed in her! Fabio's pissed off, saying he made the most traditional dish, and Antonia beat him with a "French dish." And when they go back into the Stew Room, Mike says "I'm surprised that Antonia won - she did just steam some mussels." Ouchie.

The bottom group is Mike, Dale and Tre...all from the second course. Mike knew he'd be there because of the undercooked pasta. Bourdain said if he had used pasta from a box, he wouldn't be there - and Mike said he had thought about it. REALLY? You KNOW the judges would have called him out for using a boxed pasta!

Dale's dish was faulted for no sauce, and they didn't seem to like the pasta either. Tre's risotto was made stiffer than the way it should be - it wasn't creamy enough. Tom Colicchio said when it's spooned onto a plate, it's supposed to spread out. And Bourdain said that it was buried in garnish.

Tom said back at Judge's Table, good Italian food should be simple. And THAT is probably why Antonia won! I'm thinking it's going to be Mike going home....or Tre. I really hope it's not Tre *or* Dale. And MAYBE, just MAYBE - the Elves gave us a hint at the beginning of the show with Antonia saying Mike's at the top of her list to go home...and SHE won - so maybe Mike's going home? LOL

OK, we're back at Judge's Table. Tom tells Mike the sauce was fine; but the pasta wasn't good. Tre's rice wasn't good either, and Dale's pasta wasn't good. Yowch.

DAMMIT! Tre's gone. Shoot, shoot, shoot! I was so hoping he'd stay longer.

And next week, looks like Jimmy Fallon's the Guest Judge - THAT ought to be fun, based on the previews!

Well, that's all she wrote, boys and girls. It's time for Linda to go sleepies. :-) See ya next week, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel. (Actually, I'll see you tomorrow morning after reading what everyone else writes!)

  1. huiray Feb 14, 2011 04:21 AM

    F. Viviani blog about episode 8 of TC:AS

    1 Reply
    1. re: huiray
      LindaWhit Feb 14, 2011 05:11 AM

      He's really getting very tiring about the damn mussels. Just DROP it, Fabio.

    2. mariacarmen Feb 9, 2011 08:58 PM


      1. C. Hamster Feb 9, 2011 08:48 AM

        Ummmm ..... [hiding, cringing sheepishly] ..... comcast cant tell me if tonight is new or a repeat.

        Can anyone yell the answer out of the side of their mouth while discussing spreading risotto or Padma's hot pants?

        Thanks [i think]

        4 Replies
        1. re: C. Hamster
          LindaWhit Feb 9, 2011 08:49 AM


          Bottom of my OP noted Jimmy Fallon is the guest judge - they're cooking at Colicchio & Sons, I think, for Fallon's birthday party.

          1. re: LindaWhit
            C. Hamster Feb 9, 2011 09:05 AM

            marcel'satwit :::::::::::THANKSLINDA ::::::::::::::jamieonlymakessoup

            Now I remember the Jimmie Fallon teaser and your OP

            I shall look forward to your spoilage in the am!!

            1. re: C. Hamster
              LindaWhit Feb 9, 2011 10:05 AM

              ROFLMAO! I had to log off all windows here at work to install new software, and I come back to your reply - LOVE the first line! LOL

              1. re: C. Hamster
                debbiel Feb 9, 2011 11:37 AM


          2. chowser Feb 9, 2011 07:06 AM

            Can we rehash the risotto that got Tre sent home? They told him risotto should spread and fill the plate and that's generally how I've had it/made it. However, I was just watching the Travel Channel(it was either Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern) about a food trek in Venice. They talked about this one particular restaurant that refused to change the way they've been doing things for generations, purists. And the risotto served didn't spread--it remained in a lump in the middle of the bowl. Tre mentioned that that's how he'd been taught, to many raised eyebrows. Maybe he was right? Now that I think about it, maybe it was Andrew Zimmern because I can't image Bourdain being part of both contradictory views.

            26 Replies
            1. re: chowser
              Pylon Feb 9, 2011 07:21 AM

              Now that's interesting.

              Has anyone taken the time to look at Tre's winning risotto from S3 (I think) to see if it sat up or spread?

              1. re: Pylon
                huiray Feb 9, 2011 07:43 AM

                I think his risotto was of about the same 'viscosity' in both cases - but in S3 it was only a small part/complement of the overall dish, whereas in the current season it stood alone and it has also been debated that he overwhelmed it with large pieces of veggies amongst other things.

                1. re: Pylon
                  chowser Feb 9, 2011 07:45 AM

                  I've been trying to find a clip of the show but haven't been able to yet. I saw it last night. I was wondering about the season 3 comparison. I found this interview with him where he said the consistency was the same but that the previous season's was a side, not a main (does that matter?):


                  So what went wrong with the risotto? “The garnish was a bit too much. The consistency was the same as Season 3. When I make it, it’s usually a side dish. And I kind of made it like a side.”

                  I thought it was a good article--he's pointed out Richard Blais as a standout and Angelo and Antonia as top, too.

                  1. re: chowser
                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 03:58 PM

                    chowser, thanks for posting that. if there's one contestant who was a class act from beginning to end in BOTH their seasons, it's Tre. i REALLY hope he wins fan favorite.

                2. re: chowser
                  huiray Feb 9, 2011 07:40 AM

                  Someone like alidrum would be better at answering this.

                  Still, my understanding is that there are two types of risotto made in Italy/(Northern Italy), a "firmer" version common to Milan and environs and a "looser" one [risotto all'onda ... 'on the wave'] common in Venice and environs. Although if one consults various recipes for the Milanese version it is still called "all'onda" in at least some of them, the impression is that it (the Milanese version) is still much firmer than the Venetian version. If the preceding is correct, one could also speculate that maybe the restaurant in Venice in that show was sticking to it's [more Milanese-like] version rather than the more common version in Venice and was thus 'noteworthy' in that place?

                  Here're two selected posts from TWoP related to this subject:

                  1. re: huiray
                    alidrum Feb 9, 2011 08:05 AM

                    youìre right about this huiray...the risotto I eat here in Torino (my SO is famous for his risotto, he's from Alessandria, an hour outside Torino) is not usually as liquidy as Collichio likes. As a matter of fact they always teach children to spread their risotto out on the plate and eat from the outside in so it can cool down. Adults do this as habit also, so it is not as thin as Collichio wants. Not that it's gloppy by any means..and yeah, even italians save leftover risotto and zap it in the microwave for lunch the next day.. now that's when it gets gluey!!

                    1. re: alidrum
                      larkinaitana Feb 9, 2011 09:40 AM

                      Alidrum, you're making me miss risotto alla milanese. =) Could it also be the rice? Or do you think it's just the preparation? A good friend of mind comes from a milanese family, and they taught me always to use canaroli, while it seems that most recipes call for arborio. I have always used canaroli, but I don't know enough about the two types (except that they both stay toothy) to contrast them. Thanks for this post---it brought back memories of my ex-boyfriend's father stopping the conversation at a huge family meal in Milan, dead silence, and him "teaching" me how to eat a risotto. He meant well, but I don't know which was more embarrassing--him doing that, or and everyone else yelling at him that I knew how to use a fork, and that I wasn't a martian (or a child!) =)))

                      1. re: larkinaitana
                        Nettie Feb 9, 2011 11:56 AM

                        I thought I had read that arborio is traditional, and carnaroli was developed more recently specifically for risotto. In trying to find more info about the differences, I found an interesting (if long) article about the differences, which notes "Of all the japonica varieties grown in Italy, Carnaroli has the highest amylose content. Chefs may not know such technical details, but the relatively high amylose content gives Carnaroli the qualities they admire -- it absorbs a lot of liquid, it offers a long window between cooked and overcooked, and it makes a creamy, flowing risotto, not a sticky one."
                        The rest of the article is here: http://articles.sfgate.com/2003-10-22...

                        Thanks for the story about learning to eat risotto!

                        1. re: larkinaitana
                          alidrum Feb 9, 2011 01:10 PM

                          I'm wondering if the reason for the "looser" risotto is because they serve it immediately. You're taught here to take it off the heat and "mantecare" with butter and then let it rest at least 5 min's before serving. This would give the rice time to absorb more of the liquids.

                          As far as type of rice, I have always used arborio, just what I was taught to use.

                          mantecare=solidify...I just looked up the english definition of mantecare, I never realized that it meant solidify, interesting....I thought it meant incorporate..so if it means to solidify it makes sense that maybe the risotto is not supposed to be too runny...just thinking out loud here...

                          1. re: alidrum
                            mariacarmen Feb 9, 2011 08:56 PM

                            that IS weird - to me, spanish speaker, "mantecare" would seem to simply mean "to butter' - to add butter!

                            i've watched the episode 3 times now. when Tre takes it out of the pan and pours it into the serving bowl - it POURS, it spreads, just as they said it should. when they show it on the table, it's a lump. so it appears it solidified between plating and eating. so.... i'm thinking you're right - serve immediately. or add more liquid than you think you need at the end if it's going to sit for any length of time.

                            1. re: mariacarmen
                              chowser Feb 10, 2011 03:21 AM

                              I always wonder why the contestants ever make risotto given that it has to be eaten pretty quickly after preparing and I'm sure w/ the filming and all the courses being served, it can't be eaten when it should be.

                            2. re: alidrum
                              huiray Feb 11, 2011 06:11 AM

                              Hmm, Google Translate says mantecare [Italian] = whisk or mix [English]...

                          2. re: alidrum
                            mariacarmen Feb 9, 2011 12:03 PM

                            Alidrum, you're making me miss Alessandria! I lived for 3 months in tiny little Gaminella (near Casale Monferrato) in 2005. i made risotto there with a local, but who was raised in Milan, and our risotto was somewhere in between the runny/stiff scale.

                          3. re: huiray
                            chowser Feb 9, 2011 10:53 AM

                            It's interesting because one of the reasons Tre was let go was the consistency of the risotto. But, as I'm looking for more on it, I came across this one w/ Anthony Bourdain and seafood risotto from Venie and it's much looser (looks delicious):


                            The plated dish appears about 1:40.

                            1. re: chowser
                              huiray Feb 9, 2011 11:08 AM

                              Yes, I've seen that scene before. Thanks.

                              IMO it is another facet of the proposition that Bourdain & Colicchio & Co bring to a "judging table" their specific experiences and preferences and that they should not be regarded as folks whose pronouncements upon food is the end-all-and-be-all on a particular subject nor that their preferences are universally true.

                          4. re: chowser
                            boogiebaby Feb 9, 2011 11:37 AM

                            I noticed the same thing on andrew Zimmern's show last night! And I thought the same thing -- his fish risotto wasn't loose at all, and sat in a neat little pile on the plate.

                            1. re: boogiebaby
                              chowser Feb 9, 2011 01:24 PM

                              I was hoping someone else had seen it and could give more details. I normally wouldn't have noticed but it was so contradictory to what they said on Top Chef. So, it was Zimmern, though.

                            2. re: chowser
                              Miss Needle Feb 9, 2011 01:28 PM

                              I would love to hear Joe Heflin's view on Tre's risotto. Guy's definitely got his opinions about the subject. : )


                              1. re: Miss Needle
                                chowser Feb 9, 2011 02:03 PM

                                I'd forgotten all about that thread. It sounds like a heavy risotto with the lower proportion liquid to rice and the amount of butter/cheese. I wonder what the Italian purists will say about his adding that much butter to risotto (never mind the people further down who added cream to theirs). I have a preference for a slightly thinner one, compared to Tre's but if it tasted good, I'd be perfectly happy with a thicker one!

                                1. re: chowser
                                  Pylon Feb 9, 2011 04:55 PM

                                  Wasn't it Howie back in S3 that added cream to his risotto and was taken to task over it?

                                  1. re: Pylon
                                    chowser Feb 9, 2011 04:59 PM

                                    You have a far better memory than I do! I've added cream to risotto, too, though not regularly. I don't care if it's authentic or not. I could probably add bacon fat to it, too (but not butter because that would make it French). I'll bet bacon fat risotto would make a great arancini.

                                    1. re: chowser
                                      LindaWhit Feb 9, 2011 05:08 PM

                                      I'll bet bacon fat risotto would make a great arancini.

                                      Damn, that sounds phenomenal! LOL

                                      1. re: chowser
                                        Pylon Feb 9, 2011 05:10 PM

                                        I...I think I'm going to make some of that right now...mmmm....bacon...

                                        I remember him making risotto and sweating in it, then getting hammered because he finished it with cream. I always kinda wondered why you would do so. Seems like overkill, but I've never had it that way.

                                        1. re: chowser
                                          KailuaGirl Feb 9, 2011 05:46 PM

                                          I think I have to make some of that bacon fat risotto just for the arancini! What will I use for refried beans if I use up my bacon fat in risotto?! Oh dear, oh my!

                                          1. re: KailuaGirl
                                            chowser Feb 10, 2011 03:19 AM

                                            Shivers down the purists spines!

                                    2. re: Miss Needle
                                      KailuaGirl Feb 9, 2011 05:42 PM

                                      Interesting thread, and the risotto sounds good. It would be fun to hear Joe H's take on this whole thing.

                                  2. k
                                    KailuaGirl Feb 7, 2011 09:15 PM

                                    Wow, 455 replies as of this typing, a whole new flurry about "real" Italian cooking today, and it's still only Monday. :-) I hope everyone had a great weekend. I can't wait for Wednesday and Linda's terrific recap. I'm just glad that a few of the cheftestants (including Marcel) are gone, sad about a few of the others, and am hoping that Mike I. goes next. }:-[

                                    47 Replies
                                    1. re: KailuaGirl
                                      debbiel Feb 8, 2011 03:37 AM

                                      "I'm just glad that a few of the cheftestants (including Marcel) are gone, sad about a few of the others, and am hoping that Mike I. goes next"

                                      Great season so far recap KailuaGirl!

                                      1. re: debbiel
                                        roxlet Feb 8, 2011 04:34 AM


                                      2. re: KailuaGirl
                                        Pylon Feb 8, 2011 07:53 AM

                                        Really, we're back to talking about Marcel again?

                                        Let it go, for f*@k's sake.

                                        1. re: Pylon
                                          Joanie Feb 8, 2011 08:55 AM

                                          Some conversations just keep on keeping on. Marcel sucks, minestrone as an antipasti, etc.

                                          1. re: Joanie
                                            Pylon Feb 8, 2011 09:36 AM

                                            At least the minestrone happened this past week. I sure hope we aren't debating the merits of it as an appetizer next Monday...

                                            1. re: Pylon
                                              alidrum Feb 8, 2011 11:13 AM

                                              I understand that the Rao guy stated that soup was part of the antipasto course at his restaurant...fine, go for it.

                                              So I'm to understand that someone would order at Rao's
                                              secondo-protein of choice with contorno(side dish)

                                              that's absurd..NOBODY eats soup AND pasta at a meal.

                                              Soup is not an antipasto..period. In fact primi in Italia are divided into 2 categories...minestre.i.e. soups, passati,(vegetable soups that have been pureed) tortellini in brodo......and pastasciutte..which means "dried pastas" meaning brothless i.e.spaghetti , lasagna, ravioli.etc.

                                              On a lighter note, may I rename this thread The Mussel/Butter War of 2011? LOL

                                              1. re: alidrum
                                                karenfinan Feb 8, 2011 11:27 AM

                                                what is done in Italy is irrelevant to this challenge- and MANY people eat soup and Pasta at a meal, just perhaps not many Italians. Again, while it is interesting what Italians do, it has nothing to do with cooking in this rather eccentric Italian American restaurant. I'd rename the thread "Don't f**k with Italian traditions or you'll hear about it!" :-)

                                                1. re: karenfinan
                                                  alidrum Feb 8, 2011 11:55 AM

                                                  Once again....My initial post in this thread (if you've read it) was to try and figure out why Fabio (not me) FABIO called Antonia's mussels French. I'm pretty sure it was because of the butter added to the dish.

                                                  I could give a rat's &ss if someone wants to eat a 5 course meal of all pasta. Whatever floats your boat...

                                                  1. re: alidrum
                                                    karenfinan Feb 8, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                    sounds like you're getting a little testy....maybe time to step back. there is a local Italian american rest. here in the teeny tiny town I live in ( Italians were some of the first white settlers) and they always served minetrone as their first course along with sliced salami, peppers, etc. I suppose not traditional Italian, but delicious, nonetheless.

                                                    1. re: alidrum
                                                      Caitlin McGrath Feb 8, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                      Mario Batali's very popular NYC restaurant Batali has a pasta tasting menu.

                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                        roxlet Feb 9, 2011 03:34 AM

                                                        My husband and I once ate in a country restaurant between Bologna and Parma. It was the kind of place that held weddings, so it was huge, but it had an area in the front for weekday dining. There was no menu, so when the padrone came over to ask us what we wanted, we said pasta. He then proceeded to bring out a series of 5 or 6 pastas, each served with the appropriate wine -- some of which he pulled off other tables for us to try. I've been involved in discussions on one of these boards about chicken not being served in red tomato sauce, but one of the pasta dishes was just that. It's not just Babbo that has pasta tastings!

                                                  2. re: alidrum
                                                    KailuaGirl Feb 8, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                    I like it, Alidrum! When the same topic gets a "robust " response twice on the same thread it deserves some type of mention. :-)

                                                    1. re: alidrum
                                                      larkinaitana Feb 9, 2011 04:11 AM

                                                      alidrum...I'm thinking at this point that it's just you and me =)))))))

                                                      1. re: alidrum
                                                        larkinaitana Feb 9, 2011 04:29 AM

                                                        Joking about soup aside, I think that there is a greater issue about food here. If I understand what alidrum was saying, and the subtext of my point has always been this: I have gone to great French restaurants in Europe (in and out of France), and in the US. Some have been traditional and some have only been French "inspired", but what many of them have in common is that they build on a tradition, riff on it--whatever--and come up with something else, but something equally good because there are rules at the foundation, rules that make sense that are there for a reason; so even the most inventive plates have some connection with the past (how is this different from contemporary art in dialogue with the past?). I am Italian-American. I have also spent many years living in Italy. I live in a small city famous for its Italian American food. That said, most Italian American restaurants so whatever, pander to whatever crap people want, and there is no connection or respect with the rules that at one point weren't "rules", but just common sense (like, excuse me for going back to this, but alidrum's point about what the heck would you order an appetizer that's a pasta soup, and then a pasta/rice course? I suppose if you were on some bread bender, but it just doesn't make sense.) There's no emphasis on ingredients, on regionality (in Italian restaurants in the US, yes, but not in Italian-American restaurants). Let's face it, Italian-American restaurant cuisine is not good. I know from suppliers in this area--they all say that the French restaurant owners drive them crazy for the freshest ingredients, and that the Italian restaurants don't care. (And again, I live in a city known for it's Italian-American cuisine). It just makes me sad that you can find a good French (or French inspired) restaurant thousands of miles from France; it's not true for Italian, or Italian-American cuisine.

                                                        1. re: larkinaitana
                                                          huiray Feb 9, 2011 06:13 AM

                                                          larkinaita, I'm interested - what city do you live in?
                                                          p.s. Thanks for your contributions.

                                                          1. re: larkinaitana
                                                            roxlet Feb 9, 2011 08:04 AM

                                                            I think that saying that "Italian-American restaurant cuisine is not good" is a gross overstatement. There are plenty of Mom and Pop restaurants that honor ingredients and that make good, honest food. Rao's is certainly one (yes, I've eaten there) and I've gone to many, many others that have good, honest food. By the way, I would not categorize minestrone as a pasta soup the way pasta fagioli, for example, might be categorized. There generally is very little pasta in the minestrones I've had, and I've eaten many that don't have pasta at all. I am also Italian-American and I also live in a city that is known for its Italian American cuisine...

                                                            1. re: roxlet
                                                              Joanie Feb 9, 2011 08:31 AM

                                                              Why is everyone so secretive about their cities with Italian American culture? I'm in Boston which has a sizable hunk of that altho I feel like >50% of the North End is northern Italian cuisine now.

                                                              1. re: Joanie
                                                                mcf Feb 9, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                                I'm in the NY metro area. We have a lot of excellent Italian cuisine from different regions of Italy, and at a wide variety of price points.

                                                                1. re: Joanie
                                                                  roxlet Feb 9, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                  I, too, am in the NY Metro area -- I was just mirroring the other comment, but the info on where I live is on my page, thus not secretive at all!

                                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                                    mcf Feb 9, 2011 01:25 PM

                                                                    I'm a bit of an online privacy nut.

                                                          2. re: Pylon
                                                            Pylon Feb 8, 2011 11:30 AM


                                                            Stop it! It's just soup!

                                                            1. re: Pylon
                                                              mcf Feb 8, 2011 12:14 PM


                                                              1. re: Pylon
                                                                LindaWhit Feb 8, 2011 02:35 PM

                                                                Hey, cool. That scream went out of the typing box. ;-)

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                  Pylon Feb 8, 2011 02:40 PM

                                                                  My screaming has the power to break HTML formatting...but not the thread :D

                                                                  1. re: Pylon
                                                                    gaffk Feb 8, 2011 02:46 PM

                                                                    If you could break the thread, you'd be my hero . . . .villain as you were last week ;)

                                                                    1. re: gaffk
                                                                      LindaWhit Feb 8, 2011 02:48 PM

                                                                      HEY! Why would you want the thread to be broken? You don't want any more write-ups from me? Harrrumph.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        gaffk Feb 8, 2011 03:35 PM

                                                                        I love your recaps LindaWhit. But these threads about Marcel, soup as an antipasto . . . heated exchanges . . . not so much.

                                                                        1. re: gaffk
                                                                          LindaWhit Feb 8, 2011 03:47 PM

                                                                          Yeah, I know. I was just trying to divert the thread attention elsewhere. ;-)

                                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                                            debbiel Feb 8, 2011 04:13 PM

                                                                            Do you remember that one time when Marcel made minestrone as an antipasto? Really, it's the main reason I hate him.

                                                                            1. re: debbiel
                                                                              mcf Feb 8, 2011 04:16 PM

                                                                              I have always hated him for swirling butter into it, because it made it French food.

                                                                              1. re: mcf
                                                                                chowser Feb 8, 2011 05:49 PM

                                                                                Had I known throwing butter into food would qualify it as french, I could have MTAoFC long ago.:-)

                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                            gaffk Feb 8, 2011 03:42 PM

                                                                            Please don't "harrumph" . . . I love your reacaps . . . I read them before I even watch the episode (I want to know what to look for ;)

                                                                            1. re: gaffk
                                                                              LindaWhit Feb 8, 2011 03:50 PM

                                                                              If I still had a cat in the house, I'd have said my hackles were up. ;-)

                                                                              And you're putting pressure on me to make sure I capture all the details for you to watch for! LOL

                                                                          3. re: gaffk
                                                                            Pylon Feb 8, 2011 02:55 PM

                                                                            Me? Villain?

                                                                            I think you are making assumptions about me based on limited information and excessive editing of my comments. :)

                                                                            1. re: Pylon
                                                                              gaffk Feb 8, 2011 03:43 PM

                                                                              Yeah, you piss me off with your Marcel love ;)

                                                                        2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                          mcf Feb 8, 2011 03:10 PM

                                                                          That was cool! I pictured Pylon running off the page, arms waving wildly, while screaming.

                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 8, 2011 03:48 PM

                                                                            EXACTLY! Or perhaps looking like Charlie Brown when he was ticked off at Lucy for pulling the football again.


                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                            mariacarmen Feb 8, 2011 08:57 PM

                                                                            that is frickin' HILARIOUS!!

                                                                    2. re: Pylon
                                                                      aching Feb 8, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                                      And can you believe that Jamie? Skating through TWO ECs without even cooking?!?

                                                                      Just kidding. =)

                                                                      1. re: aching
                                                                        mariacarmen Feb 8, 2011 09:05 PM

                                                                        Does Padma look fat to you?

                                                                        I'm sorry, i have to say it's even funny that poor Alidrum posts something for the first time, gets ticked off by some of the responses, a nice CHer apologizes, a day or so later Alidrum comes back, and then someone tells him to take a timeout! What the hell are we doing here, people??! I LOVE this thread and how huffy we all get (as much as it makes me cringe at times as well.) Linda, you are absolutely FORBIDDEN from ever stopping your TC posts. i don't care if Pylon razes the entire website.

                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                          Pylon Feb 9, 2011 04:02 AM

                                                                          Duly noted.

                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                            alidrum Feb 9, 2011 07:22 AM

                                                                            thanks mariacarmen...for the record I'm a she not a he :-) And Padma isn't fat, I am from eating too much soup and pasta...LOL

                                                                            Anyway I kinda found this thread fun, I'm pretty passionate about my feelings about Italian food....the only reason i jumped into the fray was to try and get inside Fabio's head and explain why he reacted the way he did.
                                                                            Can't wait til tonites show, I won't get a chance to see it til someone puts it up online which is usually Friday.. Happy Top Chef watching everybody...

                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                              aching Feb 9, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                                              Did you mean to respond to me, Mariacarmen? I wasn't attacking Alidrum - I was just joking with Pylon.

                                                                              1. re: aching
                                                                                mariacarmen Feb 9, 2011 11:59 AM

                                                                                aching - i was responding to you only about my joke about Padma looking fat - in response to all the other jokes about bringing up subjects that have already been talked about. sorry, got too lazy to scroll up to where Pylon's post was. The part about Alidrum was to all of us, and I wasn't scolding anyone about attacking anyone - just commenting.

                                                                                it's just so easy to offend/be offended online! ( :

                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                  aching Feb 9, 2011 12:11 PM

                                                                                  Oh, okay, I just didn't want to be taken for a mean CHer - I'm a nice one, I swear! (And yes, I thought Padma looked fat in that yellow horror of a dress - but shhhh, we're not allowed to talk about that here!) =)

                                                                                  1. re: aching
                                                                                    mariacarmen Feb 9, 2011 08:51 PM

                                                                                    so, just to keep the topic going (not to argue with you!), i think she looked just fine for a woman who just had a baby - imagine most newbie mothers fitting into what i'm sure is some designer dress. she, overall, to me, looks better with a little meat on her bones. more voluptuous. a little belly never killed anyone.

                                                                          2. re: Pylon
                                                                            Withnail42 Feb 8, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                            My thoughts exactly.

                                                                            Love him or hate move on already.

                                                                        2. goodhealthgourmet Feb 6, 2011 06:33 PM

                                                                          anyone catch this on Huff Post Thursday afternoon?


                                                                          i'm going to start another thread about it because this one is already way too long and i expect it will inspire a bit of discussion :)

                                                                          19 Replies
                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                            KailuaGirl Feb 7, 2011 05:56 AM

                                                                            Interesting article and comments.

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                              larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 06:06 AM

                                                                              Has this writer ever watched Top Chef? The women contestants are as varied in temperament, skill and talent as the men. Does Jen Carroll and her way of leading a kitchen have anything to do with whiny Leah's approach to food, other than the fact that they are both women? Elia, Jen, Tiffany...they got sent home for reasons that had to do with their food, not because Tom is the judge and Padma the presenter. Top Chef always presents a mix of guest judges and contestants. This is such a tired line of reason, one that doesn't really merit much attention...

                                                                              1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                karenfinan Feb 7, 2011 07:25 AM

                                                                                I have to respectfully disagree. I think unconscious bias is a very strong component in many professions, and I think it is entirely possible that it is afactor at work at Top Chef as well. It is no secret that professional kitchens are places of strong conscious prejudice against females chefs. Perhaps not as completely now as say 5, 10 or 20 years ago. So for me, it is an interesting idea to think about the possibility of unconscious biases amongst the judges. No one is saying overt prejudices, which are easy to see, but something much more subtle and more difficult to be aware of. We ALL have unconsicous biases about people, ideas, etc. I for one would LOVE a top cheff season which was ALL blind tastings to see how it turned out, gender wise. But perhaps we should continue this on the designated thread for this topic- thanks for posting the link ghg

                                                                                1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                  celfie Feb 7, 2011 07:36 AM

                                                                                  the women on the show happen to be the weakest competitors - generally speaking
                                                                                  blame the producers for that - not the judges

                                                                                  1. re: celfie
                                                                                    Miss Needle Feb 7, 2011 08:29 AM

                                                                                    I'm going to have to agree with that. There's a smaller pool of female talent to pick from in this industry. As Top Chef starts out with an equal number of female and male contestants, the females are invariably going to be the weaker group overall. And the producers do not pick contestants solely based on talent and skill level. There are so many other factors -- looks, personality, how comfortable they are on camera, etc. There are probably a lot of female chefs that rock in the kitchen but wouldn't make for good TV.

                                                                                    I do think there is a bias on Top Chef, but the bias is more of a contestant's previous work history. Everybody expected Lia Bardeen to make it to the finals because she was the sous chef at the 3 Michelin starred Jean-Georges. After the first quickfire challenge, Colicchio mentioned to Tre that he was probably not used to losing. What does Colicchio know about Tre at that point except that he was executive chef at Abacus and nominated twice for the James Beard award for rising chef? I think that these biases probably influence the judging more than the sex issue.

                                                                                    And I don't think blind judging will work past the first few episodes as the judges will be able to ascertain the style of a chef pretty quickly. And they did do a couple of episodes on Top Chef where there was blind judging. The blogs pretty much revealed that it wasn't truly "blind" because they knew what the styles were at that point.

                                                                                  2. re: karenfinan
                                                                                    larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 08:01 AM

                                                                                    I agree with you, Karenfinan, that a blind tasting would be a GREAT idea, but not because of biases that have to do with gender. There are all kinds of biases with which judges approach each dish. I'm simply saying that for every woman voted off, there seems to be a good reason (well, at least a reason that doesn't have to do with her gender); just as there are reasons for the men who get voted off. In every profession, we hear this over and over .I have no doubt that the kitchen has been a difficult place to be (just as the university, politics, the medical profession, etc. have been). The outstanding female competitors got far because they are strong chefs and strong leaders. Respectfully, as a woman, I'm just tired of hearing this.
                                                                                    (BTW, I don't think the blind tasting would ever happen...producers wouldn't take the chance of getting rid of a fan favorite to early on!)

                                                                                    1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                      LindaWhit Feb 7, 2011 08:20 AM

                                                                                      (BTW, I don't think the blind tasting would ever happen...producers wouldn't take the chance of getting rid of a fan favorite to early on!)


                                                                                      It's been said many, many, many times:

                                                                                      (1) these episodes are filmed months before they're aired;
                                                                                      (2) the judges have made their decision as to who is told to PYKAG months before the fans/viewers get to see the show;
                                                                                      (3) the producers do not influence the judges as to who is to asked to leave other than ONE time when Tom wanted to throw the lot of them out during the attempted Marcel head-shaving incident;
                                                                                      (4) the judges have NO idea who might or might not be a fan favorite 3-4 months before the show even airs.

                                                                                      Hence...a blind tasting by the judges would be perfectly appropriate.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                        ipsedixit Feb 7, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                        I was once in favor of blind tasting for TC but after thinking about it some more, I don't think it would be more fair to have blind tasting.

                                                                                        In fact, I think it would be less fair.

                                                                                        I think it should be expected that Fabio would make better gnocchi than say Tre, or that Angelo might be able to do crudo or sashimi better than Tiffany.

                                                                                        Is it fair for the judges to consider the pedigree of the TC contestants when judging their dishes? I think so.

                                                                                        Regardless of whether they admit to it or not, this is really how the dynamics of food v. chef v. diner really works.

                                                                                        If I go to Lagasse's restaurant and get plated an egg roll, I'm going to judge it very differently than if I went to Susur Lee's restaurant and was plated an egg roll.

                                                                                        It's just the way life works.

                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                          thew Feb 7, 2011 08:48 AM

                                                                                          i disagree whole heartedly here, ipse.

                                                                                          if tre is serving gnocchi i expect a great gnocchi, or don;t serve it. period. i don't care what his last name is, where he was raised, the color of his eyes, or anything else.

                                                                                          the idea that having italian parents makes you more capable of producing good gnocchi is absurd.

                                                                                          the judges are judging on the plate of food. only. is it good gnocchi, not is it good gnocchi from a black guy.

                                                                                          if emeril sticks an egg roll on his menu, i expect a great egg roll. the egg roll doesn't know the skin color, passport, or first language of the chef. and i don't care what they are.

                                                                                          i expect itzhak perlman to play a great violin, regardless if he is playing classical or klezmer he may be more familiar with, or jazz and rock. and i certainly expect that if i go to see him in a professional situation if he is pulling out a led zeppelin tune he has rehearsed it, perfected it, and only then plays it for me.

                                                                                          1. re: thew
                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 7, 2011 09:07 AM

                                                                                            Well put, thew.

                                                                                            1. re: thew
                                                                                              ipsedixit Feb 7, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                                                              It's not about having Italian parents per se, as opposed to having African-American parents.

                                                                                              Rather it's the expectations that each judge has created by their on-camera persona. Fabio talks about how well he can make gnocchi, both to the audience and to the judges.

                                                                                              I agree that all chefs -- regardless of creed, race, ethnicity, sex, etc. -- should be expected to make good food. But it is inevitable that that food will be judged through the prism of the expectations and ideas we have of each chef.

                                                                                              Call it bias if you want, but that's just human nature.

                                                                                            2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                              goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                                                              Is it fair for the judges to consider the pedigree of the TC contestants when judging their dishes? I think so.
                                                                                              ipse, i know this is a rare occurrence, but i have to disagree with you. i see where you're trying to go with the restaurant analogy but it doesn't quite work here. when you go to a restaurant you're there for a specific cuisine so it's to be expected that the establishment puts forth top-notch representations of dishes that fall within the scope of that cuisine. but the show is different - it's not Top *Chinese* Chef or Top *Italian* Chef, etc. the chefs are expected to produce dishes that showcase their talents working with ingredients and techniques from a wide variety of cultures and cuisines, and to show how *adaptable* they are to a given situation or challenge. it shouldn't matter if someone who chooses to serve the judges gnocchi has been making it since birth, or since last week - just don't make it if you lack the skill or confidence to pull it off.

                                                                                              oh, and who would order an egg roll at a Lagasse restaurant...and what would it even be doing on the menu? ;)

                                                                                            3. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                              larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 08:50 AM

                                                                                              Okay, I was not around to hear you say this many, many times. But doesn't the All Stars count as an exception? The producers have a *clue* that Fabio will be an overwhelming favorite, and that no one is going to miss a Tiffany or a Marcel....

                                                                                              And even if we weren't talking about his season, we are talking about PRODUCERS. Not any producers, but *reality tv* producers. Do you think that Marcel was cast 100% for his ability, or 70% for his ability/resume and 30% because the producers said "this guys is going to piss off half the cast"? Or Fabio..you don't think when he started to get weepy about his turtle on his audition tape ("Aye LARVE my TOORTLE") that they didn't think they hit paydirt? This is, after all, television. That's what producers get paid to do.
                                                                                              ...And what separates this show from America's Test Kitchen is precisely the "Real Word" house that the cast is in, the fact that they live together and sometimes have to do silly tasks together. I watch it for the food, but let's not kid ourselves about what we're watching, folks. Judges are judges, producers are producers.

                                                                                              1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                LindaWhit Feb 7, 2011 09:12 AM

                                                                                                lark, it's not me just saying it - it's been said on Bravo blogs, it's been said by Tom Colicchio more often than not throughout the various TC seasons. That is why I put up those points in response to you saying the producers wouldn't "let" a fan favorite leave early. If that were true, Tre never would have left during Restaurant Wars in his season, Sam would have won his season, etc. But since the filming was done several months in advance, there is no saying who will be a fan favorite - hence, the blind taste testing *is* a viable option.

                                                                                                As for the producers hitting paydirt with Fabio walking his turtle or probably realizing that Marcel was going to be abrasive to the other cheftestants, of course they hit paydirt! The producers definite cast for a "good show." That's what they're there to do.

                                                                                                But regardless, as thew said above, the judges are there to judge the food. That is how they pick who wins.

                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                  larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                                                                  I just seem to remember some tag line in the credits about how the judges' decision is final, except when producers intervene in the interests of ...blah, blah, blah. And I think it would be naive to think that manipulation didn't go on; it's a reality show, it happens. And I wouldn't expect Tom Colicchio to say, "i'm a chef and what I say goes, except when I'm overruled by the network for ratings' sake." The judges are there to judge the food; the producers are there to make sure the network gives them another season. Sometimes the two have to be at odds, and I'm not convinced what's good always wins.

                                                                                                  1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                    LindaWhit Feb 7, 2011 12:16 PM

                                                                                                    Yes, that credit line is there. It's there to protect everyone...the show, the network, the producers. But Tom has stated time and again that he was NOT going to be the senior judge on this show if the producers interfered in any way in who was told to PYKAG. His reputation in the chef world would be worth shite if the producers were allowed to keep someone controversial, a character, etc. Read his many blogs on Bravo's site - he's said this over and over and over again.

                                                                                                    Again, the only time that I'm aware of it happening is the Marcel attempted head-shaving. The producers convinced Tom Colicchio that if they got rid of ALL of the chefs and hand Marcel the win by default, it would shorten the show by at least 3-4 episodes (based on the # of chefs still there). What they did was proper, IMO - the only one who got the boot was Cliff when he was disqualified for putting his hands on Marcel and aggressively and physically holding him down - which was expressly forbidden by the contract the cheftestants sign.

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                      dach Feb 7, 2011 04:58 PM

                                                                                                      The producers edit the episodes to make the judging seem closer, and thus more controversial, than it really is. Controversy and uncertainty drives viewer interest, which drives ratings: the ultimate objective of the producers. As a side-effect it also can create an appearance of unfair or controversial judging results.

                                                                                                      We aren't jury seeing all the evidence and testimony. We are watching a 1:15 made for TV version.... with an agenda, of delivering eyeballs and ratings.

                                                                                                      (just my opinion: as a voracious reality (unscripted) TV watcher over many years.)

                                                                                                      1. re: dach
                                                                                                        mcf Feb 7, 2011 05:08 PM

                                                                                                        Tom Colicchio addressed that issue in his blog by saying anyone with any doubt of the outcome had no idea how the food tasted. The judges were firmly unanimous.
                                                                                                        He made it clear that it wasn't even close.

                                                                                        2. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                          goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                                                          This is such a tired line of reason, one that doesn't really merit much attention...
                                                                                          yet you took the time to post about it...?

                                                                                      2. a
                                                                                        alidrum Feb 6, 2011 05:38 AM

                                                                                        Just an observation on why Fabio said Antonia's mussels were "French"...

                                                                                        I went back and looked at the video of Antonia preparing her mussels and sure enough I remembered correctly that she added large hunks of butter at the end when the mussels were cooked and opened. Definitely a french preparation, not italian. I've eaten mussels here in italy for 30 years and never had butter added, just olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley and if it's a saute of clams, red chili peppers. Maybe Fabio was alluding to the preparation as being French...jmho

                                                                                        forgot to mention that diced fresh tomatoes are added sometimes too...but no butter.

                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: alidrum
                                                                                          KailuaGirl Feb 6, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                                                          At the very end of his vlog Eric Ripert states that adding creme fraiche or "even butter" is used in Northern Italian cooking.
                                                                                          Kind of OT, but dealing with butter - A little earlier this morning I was looking at the COTM thread and there was a recipe for DiGionni's (?) lasagna from a 1970 NYT article. I was surprised to read that it called for drizzling 2 T. of melted butter over the parmesan cheese layers. That was a first for me, but I'm no expert on lasagna recipes (I've got mine, and I stick with it!). Has anyone tried it and, if so, how does it taste?

                                                                                          1. re: alidrum
                                                                                            ipsedixit Feb 6, 2011 09:26 AM

                                                                                            I'm not an Italian cuisine expert, but isn't the use of butter quite common in Northern Italian cuisine? While olive oil is generally the choice of fat in the South?

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                              KailuaGirl Feb 6, 2011 09:46 AM

                                                                                              That's what ER says.

                                                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                alidrum Feb 6, 2011 10:40 AM

                                                                                                ok, I knew this was going to come up,...I'm sure you all saw that I live in Torino (Northern Italy). I have eaten mussels all over italy..naples, rome, all over puglia, sicily, calabria, adriatic coast luguria, venice yada, yada. Never saw butter on mussels..I even called 2 of my best friends and my SO and they all concluded that butter isn't used on mussels. It's not a northern versus southern thing..think about it like parmigiano on seafood. It's the dairy element that doesn't work for the Italians.
                                                                                                Now in France you can get them with everthing from cream to roquefort ...well, just about anything.
                                                                                                Yes, butter and cream are used extensively in the north of Italy (creme fraiche I wish I could find, but even here in Torino, a large city, it's pretty impossible), just not with seafood. The only thing you do see cream and butter with fish (anchovies) is in the bagna cauda.

                                                                                                1. re: alidrum
                                                                                                  KailuaGirl Feb 6, 2011 11:07 AM

                                                                                                  Oh well. You and Eric Ripert just disagree.

                                                                                                  1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                    huiray Feb 6, 2011 11:32 AM

                                                                                                    ...and Eric Ripert in effect also insisted in TC:DC that minestrone, an Italian dish, requires pasta in it to be called minestrone. In contrast, various Italian cookbooks/chefs and Italian food authorities readily indicate that minestrone does not need to have pasta.

                                                                                                2. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                  ipsedixit Feb 6, 2011 10:50 AM

                                                                                                  Of course a French chef would know, right? :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                    alidrum Feb 6, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                                                    Did anyone read my original post? I never said that butter isn't used in northern italy. My point was to suggest a reason for why Fabio called Antonia's mussels "French". No more no less.

                                                                                                    I have never had butter on mussels in Italy...anywhere. Sorry but that is the truth. I never post on chowhound, now i know why..
                                                                                                    returning to my previous lurker mode...arrivederci

                                                                                                    1. re: alidrum
                                                                                                      ipsedixit Feb 6, 2011 11:24 AM

                                                                                                      Hey, relax.

                                                                                                      No one -- at least not me -- is questioning your knowledge or post. I was just posting a question to get a better understanding on the issue.

                                                                                                      I take no sides on whether the mussel dishes were Italian, French, or Martian.

                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                        huiray Feb 6, 2011 11:35 AM

                                                                                                        Well, it does seem to me that the tone of the responses to alidrum do tend a bit towards taking a position that the sacrosanct ER is right and Fabio (and alidrum) is wrong.

                                                                                                      2. re: alidrum
                                                                                                        KailuaGirl Feb 6, 2011 06:22 PM

                                                                                                        I'm sorry if I offended or angered you. That was never my intention. I was just pointing out what one of the judge's said on his vlog since not everyone reads/listens to them. I didn't even know they existed for a long time.

                                                                                                        To tell you the truth, I never looked to find out that you lived and cooked and ate all over Italy for 30 years. All I can say is "I envy you!"

                                                                                                        As far as butter is concerned, you might have noticed that since we were on the topic I questioned using butter in lasagna. It's something I'm completely unaware of and thought that perhaps someone, like you, with far more expertise than I possess, could enlighten me. I'd still appreciate that.

                                                                                                        Please don't return to lurker mode. The more voices the better in all discussions, from food to politics.

                                                                                                        1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                          alidrum Feb 7, 2011 02:02 AM

                                                                                                          I was going to post again last nite but fell asleep trying to watch the super bowl. (I almost made it til the 3rd quarter, 3 am!)

                                                                                                          I didn't intend to fly off the handle like that and I'm sorry. :-)

                                                                                                          About the butter on the lasagna...strange I had never heard of that myself til about 2 weeks ago I was making some typical lasagna here at home and I was using the no boil pasta (popular here too) and I looking at the back of the box to see if they suggested soaking them in water. I had read about this somewhere and was curious if the pasta people encouraged this also (no mention of soaking but I did it anyway and I found it much better). But as I was reading I noticed that their recipe called for 2 knobs of butter for the top of lasagna before baking. Very surprising, I never saw that before...

                                                                                                          I hope everyone reads Fabio's blog about the show the other nite, it really is hysterical. I really enjoy him on Top Chef and I think he's gotten the shaft the last 2 weeks, he deserved to win, especially Restaurant Wars. I suppose I was driven to post my thoughts about his "French mussels" comment because I was trying to explain why an italian might feel that antonia's preparation wasn't completely authentic.

                                                                                                          Happy viewing....til next week.

                                                                                                          1. re: alidrum
                                                                                                            KailuaGirl Feb 7, 2011 05:55 AM

                                                                                                            Oh good! You're back and I'm happy to see it!

                                                                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                              alidrum Feb 7, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                                                              thanks... :-)

                                                                                                      3. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                        huiray Feb 6, 2011 11:40 AM

                                                                                                        "Of course a French chef would know, right? :-)"
                                                                                                        ...like what needs to be in minestrone?

                                                                                                        1. re: huiray
                                                                                                          debbiel Feb 6, 2011 12:11 PM

                                                                                                          I read ipsedixit's response as more a knock on Ribert than alidrum. Tongue in cheek--of course a French chef would know about Italian cooking, suggesting we shouldn't assume Ribert is an expert on all things.

                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel
                                                                                                            huiray Feb 6, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                                                                            Who's Ribert?

                                                                                                            "Tongue in cheek--of course a French chef would know about Italian cooking, suggesting we shouldn't assume Ribert is an expert on all things."
                                                                                                            May I enquire about the phrasing and desired meaning in that sentence?

                                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                                              debbiel Feb 6, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                                                                              Sorry. I meant Ripert. The video blog post that was referred to upstream. My assumption was that when ipsedixit wrote, "Of course a French chef would know right," he actually meant something along the lines of, "Yeah, I guess we shouldn't really take a French chef's word on what constitutes Italian cuisine as absolute."

                                                                                                              1. re: debbiel
                                                                                                                huiray Feb 6, 2011 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                Thanks for the clarifications. :-)

                                                                                                3. fame da lupo Feb 6, 2011 03:42 AM

                                                                                                  Anyone else annoyed they left out the contorno? This is the fourth course of a typical Italian meal. I think those who made the antipasti should have had to make a contorno. Contorni are ultra simple, typically, but that would only increase the challenge.

                                                                                                  1. Pylon Feb 4, 2011 07:14 PM

                                                                                                    Not surprised at all that RB won the QF with the Black Sundae. Awesome. But, credit where due, I thought Carla's plate looked fantastic.

                                                                                                    Sorry to lose Tre. I'll admit, I like my risotto to sit up a bit. I guess I'm not TC material. Not news, I know. :)

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Pylon
                                                                                                      AMFM Feb 5, 2011 09:38 AM

                                                                                                      agreed. richard and carla's plates were a step above everyone elses.

                                                                                                      and i like risotto both ways! it does bug me how sometimes they don't care about a difference from traditional (or their idea of it) and other times it's the kiss of death. i guess the moral is if it tastes fabulous and is different, it's inventive and extra great. if it's mediocre or bad, it's just an extra bad attempt at the original.

                                                                                                      1. re: AMFM
                                                                                                        mariacarmen Feb 5, 2011 08:17 PM

                                                                                                        you know, my experience is that Italians absolutely do not like a variation on the tried and true. It does not compute to them. i lived in Italy for five months in a little town in Northern Italy and tho that does not make me an expert by any means, everyone i spoke to, even in my travels through other parts of Italy during that time, said the same thing - the dishes had to be prepared as they had always been prepared. For example, pizza was ALWAYS eaten by itself. We had a local (originating from Milan, so not just a small-town-non-sophisticate) over for dinner while living there, and made our own pizza, and I served a salad beforehand. it was unheard of to him, and just wrong.

                                                                                                        ALTHOUGH, to your point, we also had him to dinner once where i served a farfalle pasta with lemon juice, olive oil, feta, parmiggiano reggiano, and chopped fresh mint, and he absolutely loved it. But i contend that it was not Italian to him, so he looked at it in the context of a new food, and not something that had been bastardized.

                                                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                          piccola Feb 6, 2011 04:23 AM

                                                                                                          This is true to a point. I think most Italians are sticklers for tradition, so if you call something a risotto, for example, it has to follow the exact risotto criteria, no improvisation. But they're open to new and creative foods, so long as you don't call them the name of an existing dish. And they're typically open to seasonal variations -- like subbing winter greens for summer ones in a dish.

                                                                                                          1. re: piccola
                                                                                                            mariacarmen Feb 6, 2011 10:49 AM

                                                                                                            that's exactly what i meant, just don't call it by the traditional name.

                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                              piccola Feb 6, 2011 04:05 PM

                                                                                                              I can't say I entirely disagree with this attitude. I love new and creative foods and I'm constantly experimenting in the kitchen, but I think it's a little misleading to call those experiments the name of a specific existing dish.

                                                                                                              I mean, obviously there's some leeway. A frittata is still a frittata if you change up the add-ins. But spaghetti carbonara isn't carbonara without eggs and pancetta, or if you add in tonnes of other ingredients.

                                                                                                              1. re: piccola
                                                                                                                Pylon Feb 7, 2011 05:26 AM

                                                                                                                I think that's fine for at home, but for TC, we've seen several people admonished for their dish based on calling it one thing but producing another.

                                                                                                                I love to experiment, and rarely eat the menu itself, so I usually don't care what a good dish is named. :)

                                                                                                    2. aching Feb 4, 2011 03:11 PM

                                                                                                      Does anyone else think it's funny that the #2 tag on this thread is "annoyance" (right after "carrot")? I don't know why exactly, but i cracked up when I saw that.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: aching
                                                                                                        huiray Feb 4, 2011 04:04 PM

                                                                                                        Never mind, I'll address an inquiry to TPTB directly.

                                                                                                      2. huiray Feb 4, 2011 08:00 AM

                                                                                                        F. Viviani interview.

                                                                                                        ETA: Title added by request.

                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: huiray
                                                                                                          mcf Feb 4, 2011 08:17 AM

                                                                                                          I can't speak for others, but I find it really unhelpful to see a link with no statement about the content it's linking to. Maybe just one line stating what you think is most interesting/meaningful about it? Just my $.02; change tendered upon request.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf
                                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                                                                            Kind of agree - just a simple "funny interview with Fabio" would suffice.

                                                                                                            And it IS pretty damn funny. :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                              KailuaGirl Feb 4, 2011 10:00 AM

                                                                                                              I laughed out loud at the Grandma story!

                                                                                                            2. re: mcf
                                                                                                              huiray Feb 4, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                                                                              Fine. Done.
                                                                                                              <Shrug> Perhaps you should just pass on by next time.

                                                                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                huiray, when you post a link without any explanation, the possibility is there of a spoiler being revealed to someone who doesn't want to see them.

                                                                                                                Of course, then maybe you'll say "so don't click the links" but if the links *are* harmless and just an interview without any spoilers, why *not* let people know that? Just consider it a nice courtesy on your part for other readers. :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                  mcf Feb 4, 2011 09:23 AM


                                                                                                                  But I don't want to pass on by; you might be posting something great. I wasn't taking aim at you, just sharing some netiquette that saves some time when one is reading a lot of threads with links online. A little heads up about content let's us each decide if we're interested or not.

                                                                                                                  And Linda makes a great point about spoilers. Sometimes I don't watch TC until days after it first airs. TiVO overload.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                    huiray Feb 4, 2011 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                    You're welcome.

                                                                                                                    You say upstream you're bothered by the tone of this thread, say that you wish to have fun and friendliness and also say you are sharing some netiquette with me and others. Thank you. Perhaps I might suggest in return that the phrasing of sentences helps you achieve your purposes - for example, suppose one said that it would be helpful to see a link with some brief description of it, rather than saying it is really unhelpful etc...
                                                                                                                    :-) ;-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                      mcf Feb 4, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                                                                      You know what, I noticed that after it was too late to change it, and I completely agree. It's always better to use the more positive phrase. I didn't breach netiquette, but my style of communication could have been better.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                        gaffk Feb 4, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                                                                                        Do we break into a rousing rendition of "kumbaya" now ;)

                                                                                                                        1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                          mcf Feb 4, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                          Oh, lawdy, please NO. :-)

                                                                                                              2. re: huiray
                                                                                                                DGresh Feb 4, 2011 09:18 AM

                                                                                                                It was an interesting interview, but did anyone else feel that it didn't sound like Fabio? I think they turned his idiosyncratic broken english into standard english,and it ends up seeming very inauthentic. I read another interview with him that was transcribed word-for-word and I could hear his voice in every sentence.

                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                  LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 09:31 AM

                                                                                                                  Agreed. It was an Americanized Fabio.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                    chowser Feb 4, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                    By Americanized, do you mean not authentic Fabio? Sorry, couldn't resist.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                      huiray Feb 4, 2011 10:27 AM


                                                                                                                      I'm not entirely sure that the "Fabio-talk" that we hear on the show and "see" in his ?FB? threads etc isn't a bit of a "show", and that he isn't capable of (at least reasonably) standard English as occasion requires.

                                                                                                                  2. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                    mcf Feb 4, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                    I thought the attitude and thoughts were Fabio; direct, a bit crude and strongly emoted. Love this part:

                                                                                                                    "There's something essentially fucked up about how screwed up nutrition is in America. Diabetes, heart disease, ADD, ADHD -- these are all nutritional issues. You know what food choices I had as a kid? Take it or leave it. The only thing on the table was the only thing available. I grew up eating red meat, pasta, whole milk. There's nothing wrong with eating red meat, and there's everything wrong with eating blue meat. It's not what you eat -- it's the quality of what you eat. In America, you can't drink a glass of wine until you're 21, but you can drink a can of soda that has 20 spoonfuls of sugar. "

                                                                                                                  3. re: huiray
                                                                                                                    jujuthomas Feb 4, 2011 10:30 AM

                                                                                                                    ARGH! can't.read.blogs.at.work! now I really, REALLY can't wait for the end of the day. LOL!

                                                                                                                  4. Joanie Feb 4, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                                                                                    Eater was good this week:


                                                                                                                    I like these two:

                                                                                                                    Only nine chefs remain. That is not that many. I think that means there are only 25 episodes left? Cool. Time is flying by.

                                                                                                                    It's Tom, Padma, Anthony Bourdain, our three previously-seen Rao's owners as well as a manager and Nicky Vest, who is the bartender and has an amazing vest. What a good nickname! It's not one of those obnoxious ironic nicknames like "Tiny" where the guy is actually big and you're like, "Oh I get it." Here, his nickname is Nicky Vest because his name is Nicky and he definitely has a vest on.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Joanie
                                                                                                                      jeanmarieok Feb 4, 2011 09:42 AM

                                                                                                                      LOL - that made me laugh - thanks for posting!

                                                                                                                    2. NellyNel Feb 4, 2011 06:35 AM


                                                                                                                      I just had a look at the QF dishes (as I said in my earlier post - I didnt actually watch the QF)

                                                                                                                      Anyway - YIKES!
                                                                                                                      I think Fabio's dish looks AWFUL!...awful!
                                                                                                                      AND - so does Richard's!
                                                                                                                      I don't get it!
                                                                                                                      Carla's dish is stunning, and exactly what i was imagining from all of these chefs!
                                                                                                                      Dales looked bad, Angelo's and Antonia's...
                                                                                                                      I'm really surprised!

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: NellyNel
                                                                                                                        tofuburrito Feb 4, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                                                                                        I have to give them credit for comic affect though. A little while ago I was thinking about Angelo's little bag of weirdness and Fabio's tuna women walking in rain with umbrella and the memory of it caused me laugh out loud.

                                                                                                                      2. Withnail42 Feb 4, 2011 04:16 AM

                                                                                                                        Credit where credit is due:

                                                                                                                        Don't recall anyone saying something along the lines of. 'Time to get into the (whatever car they're driving this season) and go to Rao's.'

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: Withnail42
                                                                                                                          LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 04:29 AM

                                                                                                                          We are thankful for small favors. It is, however, just one episode sans such a comment. Expect to be inundated for the next few weeks to make up for it, I'm sure. :-)

                                                                                                                        2. John E. Feb 3, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                                                                                          Does anyone else miss Marcel, even a little?

                                                                                                                          I'll watch his show on SCIFI channel at least once, but they better grab me right away with it because if it's poorly done, I won't be giving it another chance.

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                            ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 07:57 PM


                                                                                                                            Marcel reminds me of Wolverine's fay doppelgänger.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                              LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 04:28 AM

                                                                                                                              LOL! And I'm with ipse on the "Nope." :-) I will be interested to see his show on SciFi just to see if he's any different (as he's claimed he will be).

                                                                                                                            2. re: John E.
                                                                                                                              gaffk Feb 4, 2011 05:11 AM

                                                                                                                              Wow, I thought "finally, a week without Marcel talk." Thanks a lot John E.

                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                AMFM Feb 4, 2011 05:31 AM

                                                                                                                                i actually would have LOVED to see what marcel would have done for that quickfire.

                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                  JonDough Feb 4, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                                                                                                  Have you seen Blais off?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JonDough
                                                                                                                                    John E. Feb 4, 2011 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    Yes, I have. I know there was a thread about it somewhere, and I don't remember what I wrote, but as I recall, it was a well-produced show and he looked like a natural. But I think the format might need a little tweeking. It was sort of a throwdown thing but the ocmpeptition part of it at the end seemed to not work so well.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                    Pylon Feb 4, 2011 07:12 PM


                                                                                                                                    I didn't, but he would have done something interesting, I'm sure. With foam.

                                                                                                                                    It did make me think of Hung crushed cereal QF from his season, tho. Might have played here.

                                                                                                                                  3. a
                                                                                                                                    AMFM Feb 3, 2011 02:34 PM

                                                                                                                                    i just wanted to point out that i thought carla's quickfire looked the best. and it was very hard for me not to laugh at angelo's misspelled croc-a-dile.

                                                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: AMFM
                                                                                                                                      Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                      Maybe Angelo is a cooking savant, because he's sure not the sharpest tool in the shed.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                        mcf Feb 3, 2011 04:28 PM

                                                                                                                                        To be fair, spelling is a very poor indicator for intelligence. Lots of good spellers are dumb, and some of the brightest folks I know spell, um, whimsically.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                          soupkitten Feb 3, 2011 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                                          spelling is sometimes an indicator of educational access, though. many excellent chefs, who are highly intelligent, dynamic and creative individuals, can't spell worth crap, because their "higher ed" was in non-essay based, culinary trade schools or otj training in kitchens. ferran adria dropped out of high school.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                            mcf Feb 4, 2011 06:15 AM

                                                                                                                                            SK, I see spelling as having little to do with educational access (some of the most post graduate degreed folks I know are the rock bottom worst spellers) or intelligence and more akin to having an ear for music or foreign language. I think you're born with it or not. I was a born speller, and I never had to learn to do it, I could hear very complex words as a young child and just knew how they should look on a page. I've noticed that some of the worst spellers I know also have great difficulty learning foreign language. Hard wired, IMO.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                            KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 05:03 PM

                                                                                                                                            I agree about spelling. A couple/few shows ago there was some discussion about Tom being left handed. That's an aside but made me think, almost all the lefties I know, including my brother, best friend, and favorite cousin, are atrocious spellers. Before spellcheck came along their papers were a nightmare to proof! My brother and best friend are excellent cooks and absolutely brilliant individuals. My cousin probably can't work the microwave, but his wife's a good cook and he's really smart at what he wants to be smart at.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                              Joanie Feb 4, 2011 05:21 AM

                                                                                                                                              One leftie here who cringes at all the horrible misspellings (and shitty grammar) these days.

                                                                                                                                              Was anyone else surprised when Carla said she used to model?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joanie
                                                                                                                                                mariacarmen Feb 4, 2011 06:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                No, I can see that. Bone structure, the tall, thin, lanky frame, in her 20s.... i can totally see that. Top fashion models (she modeled in Paris, so it's not like she was featured in a Sears catalog) don't always look like standardly "pretty" girls. But I do think she's pretty, albeit in a non-conventional way.

                                                                                                                                                not that this has anything to do with her cooking..... but neither did that challenge. except hers was beautiful AND looked enticing and edible.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Joanie
                                                                                                                                                  lenwood Feb 4, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                  That was my favorite part of the episode-- learning that Carla got interested in French food when she was a model and was working in Paris.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lenwood
                                                                                                                                                    roxlet Feb 4, 2011 08:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                    She also talked about this during her first season.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Joanie
                                                                                                                                                    KailuaGirl Feb 4, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry, I wasn't saying all lefties are bad spellers, but trying to illustrate that spelling prowess and intelligence are not correlated. The lefties in my life are great at math (I suck!) but not at writing. It seems to be a right/left hemisphere dominance thing.

                                                                                                                                                    Like mcf, I've always been great at spelling. I also pick up foreign languages with ease. I'm also primarily right handed, although do some things more easily with my left hand. Go figure...

                                                                                                                                                    Anyhow, sorry if I gave offense. That wasn't my intention.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                      Joanie Feb 4, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Oh I'm joking. I'm good with languages too and while I eat and write leftie (and if I played guitar), all sports (except pool) are right handed and it's my stronger hand. Opening bottles of water with this broken right wrist has been a bitch, yet I did somehow manage to trim Brussels sprouts and make a nice roasted dish with bacon (and I don't even cook). I think you're my opposite.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Joanie
                                                                                                                                                        LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Interesting - I write right-handed and chop and peel food right-handed, but almost everything else is left-handed. Batting, throwing, playing tennis. I tend to eat in the European manner, so that's mostly lefty as well.

                                                                                                                                                        Shoveling and pool playing I'm ambidextrous. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                          James Cristinian Feb 4, 2011 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I am equally comfortable eating with either hand, it comes in handy when sitting next to a rightie or leftie. Is it wrong to switch hands while eating? I won't get into all the other things I do differently.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 12:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I'm comfortable eating either way, although I prefer tines down on my fork (European) vs. cutting the food item with fork in left hand and knife in right hand and then switching the fork to the right hand to be tines up (American). Just a matter of preference and what I grew up doing.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                              Shrinkrap Feb 4, 2011 02:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                              "cutting the food item with fork in left hand and knife in right hand and then switching the fork to the right hand to be tines up"

                                                                                                                                                              My husband is a NUT about that; makes me glad to be a leftie, but my poor kids! And this from a mm who doesn't send think you notes. that was In abomination in MY house!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                  Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 06:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                  I agree, and I was exaggerating. But in this case it's just an example of something I already sensed. I guess when I chose the word "sharp" I was thinking the he seems rather naive about a lot of things -- including in this case how not to impress someone -- and that this makes him seem not quite bright.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                    AMFM Feb 4, 2011 05:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                    exactly. doesn't make him dumb. or a bad person. but if you don't know how to spell it, don't do it - especially when it's so over the top, anyway!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                      mcf Feb 4, 2011 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                      I gotcha, but I see that differently, too. I'm thinking of a number of people I know (one is an ex, one is a doctor of mine who's a full time researcher, others friends and acquaintances) who are extraordinarily bright intellectually and equally atrocious as spellers as well as socially inadept/naive and clueless.

                                                                                                                                              2. chicgail Feb 3, 2011 02:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                Issac Mizrahi was only there so Bravo could cross-promote the show they created when they lost Project Runway to Lifetime. He's only "slightly" more qualified than the housewives of whatever who were judges on a previous episode. An it's hardly fair to the cheftestants to have to cook for unqualified judges, but then when you consider some of the odd celebrities who wind up judging on Iron Chef America ...

                                                                                                                                                1. ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                  The whole Italian food theme for EC seems so unfair. I can't recall, but was there any other time where an EC was ethnic-cuisine based? It just seemed to favor Fabio, Antonia and Mike, even though Mike almost had to pack up his knives and go ...

                                                                                                                                                  I'm wondering if we'll ever see a Chinese or Japanese chef on TC?

                                                                                                                                                  Maybe one of the chefs (assuming they are Chinese) from Koi Palace? Maybe Urasawa-san could participate in the next TC Masters?

                                                                                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                    chowser Feb 3, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                    There was Susur on TCM. I don't think this EC is any less fair than the Singapore finale in the previous season that seemed to favor Angelo who didn't win. Maybe they could do a molecular gastronomy one and see how Carla does with it. Why don't we see women chefs do MG? Has there been anyone? Even Jen who seemed to be more accomplished didn't.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                      Caitlin McGrath Feb 3, 2011 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                      We did see Carla have to cook inspired by the style of WD-50, in episode 3.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                        momjamin Feb 3, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Carla held her own at wd-50, IIRC. Not a win, but not a crash and burn, either.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                        LJNew Feb 3, 2011 01:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                        What about the dim sum challenge? In Chinatown, no less - serving to Asians. I remember Fabio (or someone) having a sort of "oh sh*t" reaction to that .

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                          The Dairy Queen Feb 3, 2011 01:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Dim sum service was pretty ethnically based...


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                            ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                            While dim sum is Chinese, none of the TC chefs were Chinese, so everyone was disadvantaged similarly.

                                                                                                                                                            With Italian, a handful of the judges had a headstart.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                              Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 03:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Dale specifically said that he grew up using Asian cooking techniques and that the cuisine was familiar to him. Angelo has also expressed a familiarity with Asian cuisines and cooking methods. Unlike dim sum, Italian cuisine doesn't employ a completely different set of cooking methods and equipment than those they use every day, andI don't see that the "headstart" helped Mike any!

                                                                                                                                                              In the past, knowledge of a cuisine hasn't necessarily been an advantage (for example, Tiffany won the Ethiopian challenge even though she knew nothing about Ethiopian food, over Angelo who had consulted at an Ethiopian restaurant).

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                            Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                            There have been at least two French-themed challenges: the French Culinary Institute challenge in season 3 and the "recreate an Eric Ripert dish" challenge in season 5. And yes, the dim sum challenge seems much more unfair than an Italian challenge for American chefs, since it required not only that the dishes fit the challenge, but that they be prepared using equipment most of the chefs were not familiar with and served in a way not not commonly served in American restaurants. Dale won -- was that unfair?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                              ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 03:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Dale was a classically trained chef from CIA. Not sure that gave him an advantage in the dim sum challenge. I'm not sure Buddakan NYC counts as real Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                No, but he did specifically say that he grew up using Asian cooking techniques and that the cuisine was familiar to him.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                  ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 05:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  "Asian" =/= dim sum.

                                                                                                                                                                  In fact, it's a bit obtuse, if not politically incorrect, to equate "Asian" with Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                  It's like saying European is the same as French.

                                                                                                                                                                  No can do.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                    Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 06:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Well, I was being vague because I don't remember the exact words Dale used, but he specifically said about this challenge that he was familiar with both the food and the techniques.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                      Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 06:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Actually I think Dale said he worked in a dim sum restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                        mattstolz Feb 4, 2011 03:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        he did. during the dim sum challenge

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                        huiray Feb 4, 2011 06:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        @RL: So if I couldn't remember what someone specifically said about some kind of Polish pierogy dish, or a Swedish lutfisk dish, or an English steak-and-kidney pie - I could just say "Oh, that European dish" ?

                                                                                                                                                                        In Dale's case I might suggest "East Asian"/"SE Asian" cooking techniques might be at least better if one did not remember his exact words - thereby leaving out, by implication, things such as Turkish techniques, or Bengali techniques, or Uzbekistani techniques, etc.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                We also had Roy Yamaguchi on TCM.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                  goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 04:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I can't recall, but was there any other time where an EC was ethnic-cuisine based?
                                                                                                                                                                  how quickly we forget...the dim sum challenge a few weeks ago?

                                                                                                                                                                2. s
                                                                                                                                                                  souvenir Feb 3, 2011 12:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I am one of the people disappointed by this episode. It just really seemed not about the food.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. g
                                                                                                                                                                    gastrotect Feb 3, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm surprised at the hate for this episode. I actually rather enjoyed it. I would have liked more cooking and less unrelated conversation during the EC, but overall I got a kick out of the Italian vibe of it all. Maybe because I'm Italian-American I didn't mind it. I also thought Antonia winning was perfectly acceptable. I think more than almost any other cuisine, Italian really is about staying simple and allowing specific ingredients to shine. Hell, the one guy (the son perhaps?) even spoke in a bit of detail how is grandmother/mother was known for eliminating extraneous ingredients. So in this setting IMO, simple and traditional shouldn't be so frowned upon. Ultimately the best dish is going to be about taste. Simple doesn't necessarily always mean best tasting, but when it does, I don't see why it should be degraded/knocked down because it didn't involve as many steps of preparation/execution. If Antonia's mussels blew the judges away, they blew the judges away.

                                                                                                                                                                    I see people saying steamed mussels are too easy to be a Top Chef winner, but I'm of the opinion that pasta is easy to make fresh and to screw it up so badly is a bit baffling. I recognize that Mike chose a hard shape to make fresh, but that's just a poor decision. A similar dish with a simpler pasta shape would have most likely been very well received if the pasta was done right.

                                                                                                                                                                    As for the QF, I can see why a lot of people hated it. I actually enjoyed it being a designer myself (of buildings, not clothes though). It was interesting to see who really took on the task. I would have, however, liked the three favorites to actually be tasted by Isaak before choosing the winner since the idea of good looking food is to attract the palette.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect
                                                                                                                                                                      jujuthomas Feb 4, 2011 04:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm with you, I enjoyed this episode! perhaps because all the food in the EC looked so delicious to me... right up my alley. :)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, I recall a few episodes ago complaints that Bravo's website didn't seem to be uploading the recipes from All-Stars. They seem to all be there now; Put in the person's name along with Season 8 and you should get their recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                      For instance - Blais Season 8 comes up with 17 recipes: http://www.bravotv.com/foodies/recipe...

                                                                                                                                                                      Ugh - just tried with Tre, and it does come up with some of his Season 3 recipes. Same with Marcel - a lot of Season 2 recipes of his were listed, and Carla - some of her Season 5 recipes were there. But at least Season 8 recipes are up!

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                        KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        Just out of curiosity, I wonder if Tre's risotto recipes for both seasons differ in any way? Will have to check it out. Thanks for the info!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                          LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, his Season 3 risotto isn't up there. It's really a crapshoot finding recipes there. According to Wikipedia, Tre won the first EC for "Seared Ostrich Filet with Heirloom Tomato Risotto and Abalone Reduction".

                                                                                                                                                                      2. NellyNel Feb 3, 2011 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        My 2 cents:

                                                                                                                                                                        I didnt mind this episode.
                                                                                                                                                                        I liked the QF, however I do agree that the top 3 should have been tasted, then judged.

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know why - but I never suspected Antonia was Italian American (DUH)

                                                                                                                                                                        I was not actually watching the show, I was listening as I got ready for work , but
                                                                                                                                                                        being a fan of "The Fashion Show" myself, I knew as soon as Angelo told Mizrahi that Cavalli is is favorite designer - he was gonna be on the bottom! (designers can be a bit sensitive)
                                                                                                                                                                        Though, it sounds like his dish really looked awful...

                                                                                                                                                                        I am on the fence about Antonia winning...I kind of agree that her dish was a bit too simple, but I also agree that tastes matter.
                                                                                                                                                                        It's just that it's another example of the judges attitude about these things being subject to how they feel that particular moment.
                                                                                                                                                                        I have heard Tom both praise and criticize a really simple dish.
                                                                                                                                                                        What they want seems so ramdom to me.

                                                                                                                                                                        I am someone who hates to label "men/woman ______________" as I truly believe ones sex is irrelevant and should not ever be called into account in a professional setting...
                                                                                                                                                                        BUT - I must admit - I was tickled to see the 3 girls in the top 3!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. ipsedixit Feb 3, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          I've got no comment on this episode. To me it was just like eating Wonder bread with water.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm posting just to thank Linda for her continued (and remarkable) efforts.

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 08:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Wonder Bread with water. :-D It wasn't their best, but it wasn't their worst ep yet.

                                                                                                                                                                            But you're welcome. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                              chowser Feb 3, 2011 10:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I thought the same thing. Ehh, whatever. I didn't mind that Tre was eliminated and thought it was fair. I was surprised Richard wasn't in the top, given the raves he got, but it was fair enough.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. c
                                                                                                                                                                              cheesemonger Feb 3, 2011 07:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Did anyone else think- during Mike's gnocchi-making segment.... "why didn't he make gnocchi, if it's such a strength?" Hand made gnocchi is wonderful, and the dish we saw him plating (briefly) looked great.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cheesemonger
                                                                                                                                                                                susancinsf Feb 3, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                My impression was that he wanted to make the rigatoni specifically because it is so difficult to make and prepare as fresh pasta. He was swinging for the fences and struck out. IMO, this was a ballgame where the base hits won the game.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. C. Hamster Feb 3, 2011 06:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Fresh pasta cooks so quickly !!!

                                                                                                                                                                                Undercooking fresh pasta as much as Mike did seems like a very major mistake. A worse offense than Tre's clumpy risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                Seems to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                And THANKS LINDA!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                                  lawgirl3278 Feb 3, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  From what Tom said at JT, and what Tony said in his blog, Mike's pasta may not have ever cooked properly. Tom said it looked like it had too much egg.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Did anyone catch Padma's reaction to Tre's exit? I haven't seen her so emotional when a chef left since C.J.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lawgirl3278
                                                                                                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    i'll have to watch it. i walked away from the TV at that point and listened from the other room because i KNEW it was coming and didn't want to see it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lawgirl3278
                                                                                                                                                                                      Caitlin McGrath Feb 3, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, after she told him to PYKAG, she said in a near whisper, "I'm sorry, Tre" and looked positively pained. Clearly, she was a fan.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                                                                                                        Nettie Feb 3, 2011 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        In my memory, she seemed to tear up a little when she said goodbye to Tre, but I might have imagined that. It seemed a little over the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: lawgirl3278
                                                                                                                                                                                        debbiel Feb 3, 2011 05:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I did notice that. I thought perhaps she was tearing up.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lawgirl3278
                                                                                                                                                                                          mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, she did seem particularly sad for Tre. i thought it was sweet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                            TheFoodEater Feb 4, 2011 12:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            maybe she was more stoned than normal this episode.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: C. Hamster
                                                                                                                                                                                          kmcarr Feb 4, 2011 11:06 AM


                                                                                                                                                                                          Fresh ROLLED or FLAT pasta cooks very quickly. Mike I made and EXTRUDED pasta which is a very different beast.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. mattstolz Feb 3, 2011 04:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          i actually kinda liked the quickfire.

                                                                                                                                                                                          HOWEVER. i think it would have been much better if he would have picked the top two or three based on looks and then tasted each to decide the winner. it IS still top chef, not next great artist or americas next fashion designer or whatever the Bravo shows are

                                                                                                                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                            susancinsf Feb 3, 2011 05:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you and agree that your suggested approach would have improved it. That said, while I did sort of like the theory behind the quickfire, that the food should look enticing (and think that in that respect Blais probably did deserve to win), I also felt that the judging was inconsistent. Angelo was probably deservedly in the bottom group because his bag of whatever *did* look gross: but the writing on the table is a put off and the writing on the plate that Fabio did (that put him in the top group) isn't? Fabio's plate was *not* something I wanted to eat. For that matter, neither was Antonia's tree of whatever, and the judge commented that it was attractive. And how would you even taste Tre's plate? It was artistic, but it barely qualified as food.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Several of them would have made different dishes if they had known they might be tasted if they looked good enough to eat. And shouldn't that be the point? Blais was proud he won because he wanted to be the most 'artistic chef', not because he wanted to be the best artist.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                                                                                                              James Cristinian Feb 3, 2011 05:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Does anyone remeber Hung's smurf village from Top Chef Miami? How would that go over?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                                                                                                                                                soypower Feb 3, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Or Frank's magical mushroom forest from Season 2? That's the stuff that bad acid trips are made of...

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soypower
                                                                                                                                                                                                  goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  speaking of bad acid trips, did anyone catch Fabio's comment about that in relation to his QF dish?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                    jujuthomas Feb 4, 2011 04:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I caught it, GHG, it was one of my favorite lines of the night!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jujuthomas
                                                                                                                                                                                                      goodhealthgourmet Feb 4, 2011 09:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      it gave me a good laugh. sometimes it's so hard to understand him that i think we miss some gems :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                                                                                                                mattstolz Feb 3, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                based on looking at it alone, i actually thought i would have enjoyed fabios most. but then again tuna is one of my favorite things ever, regardless of preparation. i think the fact that antonia was in the top for a dish that would not have even been edible was kinda ridiculous. it was a challenge about plating FOOD. not creating a foodscape. its top chef, not food network challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nettie Feb 3, 2011 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  FYI, if anyone wants a closer look at the QF dishes, Eater posted a slideshow:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  This confirms that Angelo's entry looked really disgusting, and that Carla's entry was very pretty while still looking like something you might want to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                    LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 06:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only plates that I thought would be something I'd like to eat were Carla's and Tiffany's. I didn't like the look of Richard's black dish, although I thought it clever that he used Mizrahi's penchant for dressing in black as a theme for his "look".

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                      mattstolz Feb 3, 2011 06:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks for posting that link. i was really wanting another look at them without having to sort through my DVR again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                                    LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 06:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That would have been a very good way to judge the Quickfire, matt. Then taste *would* have mattered. Padma had specifically said that plating was to entice the palate...but then in this challenge, the palate doesn't matter? Rather strange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Withnail42 Feb 3, 2011 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thought the same thing that the winners food should have been tasted. I'm all for making the plate look good. But we all know that it has to taste good as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                                        aching Feb 3, 2011 06:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree too! That would have made it a much better QF. Was I the only one who thought Blais's winning dish looked like a big pile of black mold? It was the most unappetizing thing I've seen in a while. I thought the irony is that all of those chefs have produced much more gorgeous plates when they were making food that was actually to be eaten!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 04:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A few thoughts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - I'm not all that bothered by the quickfire (ok, that fashion guy was out of place), but I suspect others will be. Given that Top Chef has had quickfires testing knife skills, and extreme speed cooking, and identifying "mystery ingredients," I think a challenge that isolated their plating skills was interesting. Why not? It's just another element of restaurant cooking. That said, I wish it was a little clearer (to us viewers or to the chefs themselves?) whether their plates were also being judged as something the judges would like to eat or if judging was to be based solely on artistic visual appeal... basically painting and sculpture with foodstuffs. From the judging, it seems as though the former was an active criteria, but it seemed like a lot of the chefs didn't know that when they created their plates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - Above me (and surely soon below) are complaints that Antonia won with a simple dish, an easy-to-make, unoriginal offering that seems either atypical or unworthy of an elimination challenge win. A part of me agrees - if taste was all that mattered, seems like you should be able to win just by supreme-ing a honeybell orange in season and putting it on a plate. At the same time, I wasn't there and maybe Antonia's dish tasted THAT much better than her opponents', while giving the judges a fine rendition of a Italian American restaurant classic that they all seemed to crave at that moment. And that, I guess, is what bothers me more. On previous episodes, challenges asked chefs to be influenced by specific cuisines, but were still free to make the food their own. You all remember Kevin last season winning praise for making a very inauthentic but delicious dish vaguely influenced by Indian cuisine when he didn't know the first thing about it? But now, chefs are made to cook Italian/Italian-American classics, and people such as Angelo are faulted for not holding true enough to the principles of Italian cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It makes for a lame dynamic, with contestants arguing whether fennel is Italian or French, or whether Tiffany's apparently delicious polenta was appropriate for antipasta, or according to the blogs, Italian enough. It's more pedantry than I like while watching Top Chef. That's what my posts are for ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - On another note, here's a quote from Bourdain's blog that I especially liked:
                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I wasn't around for the Quickfire, so maybe I missed why Padma was dressed like a Superfriend."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - I'm a little sad that Tre's gone, but at least he went out with his characteristic grace. You'll get em next time, Tre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        - And finally, do they HAVE to trot out Jimmy Fallon next episode? Is there any way that I can influence the editing of next weeks show at this late a date? That man is like an amazing swiffer sweeper that uses the mysterious power of science to remove every trace of fun and happiness from the room. What's next - is Carson Daly gonna be hosting the finale? (sorry to all fans of either man - I mean no offense. But I don't understand you at all)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        41 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                          momjamin Feb 3, 2011 07:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great observation about the QF isolating a non-taste skills. But, as in fashion/on the runway, my picks about what was attractive nearly completely missed Mizrahi's picks. I've got no problem with Blais winning, but I honestly thought he was in trouble with the black/gray gravel-looking ice cream...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: momjamin
                                                                                                                                                                                                            TheFoodEater Feb 3, 2011 11:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought tre's plate looked the most spectacular, and he was in the bottom. By far the best, to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mizrahi appeared to be a charlatan to me. I'm a bullshitter and I know another bullshitter when I see one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TheFoodEater
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Indy 67 Feb 4, 2011 03:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You might want to discuss your insight with Eric Rippert who spends a considerable amount of time discussing Mizrahi's food bona fides on his vlog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheFoodEater
                                                                                                                                                                                                                mattstolz Feb 4, 2011 03:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i agree! i actually really liked tre and dale's plates alot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  momjamin Feb 4, 2011 05:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, Tre's and Dale's colors appealed to me. (Maybe because there's so much frozen gray stuff outside right now.) I did agree that Angelo belonged in the bottom, but would have mentioned something about the actual bag of whatever-that-was instead of the Manson scrawl ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mariacarmen Feb 4, 2011 06:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And Mizrahi's first comment to Dre was that he liked the abstraction of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: TheFoodEater
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    gastrotect Feb 4, 2011 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was drawn to both Tre and Dale's plates as well, but I think in this case it was just a matter of opinion. Mizrahi obviously doesn't care for the style they put forth. There are other designers/artists that probably would have put them at the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  huiray Feb 3, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  @ cbyd: Mostly in agreement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Disappointing episode. Nonsensical, even. Unsatisfying QF. Ridiculous EC. Weird judging at odds with previous so-called criteria for imaginative food etc. They all seemed like giddy Mafioso and Mafiosa. Oh, so now authenticity ("Italian" or bust) of specific notions of American-Italian cuisine and childhood memories are what are required for TC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally disliked Lofaso's win; it seemed like they threw out any other notions of judging other than what fond reminiscences the taste reminded them of.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Note that ALL the other cheftestants not on the "winning panel", (which had all 3 remaining females) - who happened to be male - were incredulous at her win. Ditto Fabio Viviani. Even the vaunted Blais, FAVORITE of so many here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tre going - fine by me.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mike staying - good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dale staying - good for him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 01:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, so now authenticity ("Italian" or bust) of specific notions of American-Italian cuisine and childhood memories are what are required for TC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's apparently what was required for *this challenge* -- is it difficult to understand that different challenges have different requirements?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you don't like this challenge, how did you like the challenge in Season 5 to recreate one of Eric Ripert's dishes? Or the very similar challenge in Season 3 where they were supposed to create a classically French dish out of a set of ingredients?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As for what the guys thought, they've shown repeatedly that they don't have any respect for anyone who isn't part of their boys club. I wouldn't put any credence on their opinions at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 01:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "f you don't like this challenge, how did you like the challenge in Season 5 to recreate one of Eric Ripert's dishes? Or the very similar challenge in Season 3 where they were supposed to create a classically French dish out of a set of ingredients?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Completely different. In those challenges, the contestants were given a taste of a specific dish, and their technical ability was tested in their ability to recreate that dish precisely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In this challenge the contestants were asked (were they asked, or was it unsaid?) to hit the hazy and moving target that was the judges personal remembrances. And unless you grew up next door to Tom or once had an affair with Bourdain's wife, you probably won't know exactly how the porkchops were cooked in their most cherished memories. They were given no real objective to aim for... at least not one that they should all be familiar with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 02:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No, in the French challenge they were given a set of ingredients and told to make a classic French dish -- basically the same as this challenge. And if you remember, Casey was criticized for calling her grandmother's recipe Coq au Vin when it was made with chicken and not a "cock" -- what part of the "challenge" was that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The fact is, you don't know why the judges chose what they chose. You only know what the editors chose to show you. The editors chose to show you the parts about Tom reminiscing about his grandfather and not a technical discussion of the dish which may well have occurred in the *hours* of judging they go through. The other fact is that no one, in the history of Top Chef, has been eliminated for producing an otherwise well-done dish that did not meet the parameters of the challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I thought the challenge was perfectly clear: make a classically Italian dish, such as you would find in that restaurant. In the end, winning any of the challenges is a "moving target": food is subjective, and no one can tell what is going to tickle the judges' fancy on a particular day. And you do have to satisfy all the judges -- in this very challenge, for example, Carla was in the top group even though the Rao guy didn't care for her minestrone -- so it's not just at the whim of one judge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 03:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "No, in the French challenge they were given a set of ingredients and told to make a classic French dish"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. They were given a chicken, a potato, and an onion and told to use technique to make something simple and delicious. Sara M and Brian, IIRC, didn't make particularly French dishes. Casey was criticized, perhaps unfairly (though it also seemed as though Tom was just nitpicking a dish he liked and scored well), because she chose to serve a young chicken in a way best suited to old roosters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "The fact is, you don't know why the judges chose what they chose. You only know what the editors chose to show you."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This argument never goes anywhere, so I don't know why people still make it. Do you have any more of an inside track than I do? Just like you, I can speculate and make educated guesses. If we couldn't, there'd be no point of these threads. The judges went and made the same observations and criticisms on their blogs... where I'm pretty sure they weren't taken out of context.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Basically, this level of demand for "authenticity" is unprecedented in a Top Chef elimination challenge. Other challenges have specifically made disclaimers that chefs weren't expected to be intimately familiar with any particular cuisine to do well. On this one, contestants were faulted for making food that wasn't Italian enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You can argue that Italian/Ital-American cuisine is so well entrenched in American culture that it's different from, say, Ethiopian cuisine and the chefs (Americans + Fabio) should be responsible for knowing a bit about it. I'd half-way buy that. But to say that this challenge is no different from other challenges where the chefs were allowed and encouraged to apply their own backgrounds and training in making a dish is simply not true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            karenfinan Feb 3, 2011 03:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think you are absolutely wrong cbyd- and I have to agree with Ruth Lafler. Italian-American cooking is a certain type of food they were asked to recreate- most of them knew exactly what that meant, whether or not they executed it well . I also have to agree with Ruth about the boys club. Misogyny might be too strong of a word, but there is a definite stench of sexism amongst the guys. I'd love to see all three women make it to the finals for that very reason.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh and as always, thanks Linda for posting and doing such a good recap- one of my highlights of Top Chef is getting to come here and obsess!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Italian-American cooking is a certain type of food they were asked to recreate- most of them knew exactly what that meant, whether ornot they executed it well or not."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You're welcome to disagree with me. But did you read my post - the one just above at 7:03 PM? Your quote was the problem with this challenge. Deviations from that specific cuisine were penalized this challenge, which is bit of a new thing for Top Chef (the dim sum challenge was arguably similar, but also sorta stupid and unfair, though at least more entertaining).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JasmineG Feb 3, 2011 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How were deviations penalized? That was never said or implied in any of the judging.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The judges must be colluding then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Where did the judges make the claim that any of these dishes weren't "Italian enough"? The judges remarked that a couple of the dishes weren't completely Italian in their style -- but that's not the same as requiring them to be "authentic" Italian dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The judges often complain about dishes not capturing the essence of the cuisine in the challenge, but there's no indication they require slavish authenticity. In fact, saying that a dish isn't Italian because it's too fussy is no different than saying that a particular dish is not properly a dim sum dish, which they certainly did in the dim sum challenge, or that something isn't an amuse bouche or canape if it's more than one bite, which they've also done. Finally, I'd see your point more if Tre had been eliminated for "not being Italian enough" but he wasn't -- he was eliminated for making bad risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I brought up the judging because you seem to have decided based on no evidence whatsoever that the judging of the challenge hinged on (1) how authentic a dish was and (2) Tom saying that Antonia's dish reminded him of his grandfather. But in fact, the only person who criticized any dish for not being Italian enough was Fabio grousing about Antonia's win -- an opinion I think we can both agree was biased.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You were stating your opinions as facts and then using those purported facts to claim that the judges have somehow acted unfairly. If you'd state your opinions as opinions I'd have fewer problems with them, but if you're going to make accusations of unfairness, then you'd better have some solid evidence backing up your opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Where did the judges make the claim that any of these dishes weren't "Italian enough""
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anthony Bourdain made that statement (i'm paraphrasing, but the intended meaning is intact) on his blog about Tiffany's polenta. It was all he gave in the way of explanation for why Tiffany's apparently delicious dish lost to something I could teach a reasonably intelligent 7-year-old to make quickly and well. Seems like it was a judging criteria, at least for Bourdain (of whom I am a huge fan normally, BTW). The judges also complained on camera about Angelo disobeying the rules of Italian cooking with his pork chop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "You were stating your opinions as facts."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, I wasn't. I was stating my opinions plainly and trusting the intelligent readers of these threads to know which of my thoughts were opinions without flashing signs and neon letters reading 'IMO' each time I chose to give one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "if you're going to make accusations of unfairness, then you'd better have some solid evidence backing up your opinions."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Huh? Since when? This isn't a court of law - we're debating the fairness of a challenge from a reality TV show. About cooking. On the internet. Later this same thread, people will most likely be sighing over Tre's stunning pearly whites and making fun of Angelo's skinny jeans. I'm not even accusing anyone of any serious misconduct. I just think it was a stupid challenge and that the judges were inconsistent with their usual guidelines. Do I really need a warrant to investigate/discuss the matter any further?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At any rate, I feel there is plenty of evidence between the aired show and the judges blogs to question the criteria they used in judging this challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    huiray Feb 4, 2011 06:07 AM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JasmineG Feb 3, 2011 03:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't understand why you claim that there was a demand for authenticity in this challenge, when all of the talk both at the table and at Judges Table about the strengths and weaknesses of the food were all about how the food tasted. Yes, Tom said something about fishing with his grandpa, but they all discussed the taste of the soup, the polenta, the chicken and the mussels in why they thought that they were winning dishes, and the taste of the three primi dishes in why they thought they were losing dishes. They even said that the polenta wasn't something that they'd seen before and that it wasn't particularly traditional, and yet they liked the taste, so it was one of the dishes on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 06:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No one from Rao's did any judging, or did they? Their opinions were heard but probably completely discounted as in the case of Carla's soup. Seriously, how hard is it to make minestrone soup? Yes I'm sure it was good, but Olive Garden probably does good minestrone too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      piccola Feb 4, 2011 02:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LJNew Feb 3, 2011 01:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just curious, Huiray - do you like ANY of the cheftestants?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LJNew
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  huiray Feb 4, 2011 06:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 01:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "it seemed like they threw out any other notions of judging other than what fond reminiscences the taste reminded them of."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Quoted for truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lawgirl3278 Feb 3, 2011 07:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was going to post the Superfriend Bourdain quote...hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lawgirl3278
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    toncasmo Feb 3, 2011 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ok, i don't get the superfriend quote! is that when she was wearing the yellow dress that looked so horrible...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: toncasmo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      aching Feb 3, 2011 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, and it really did look horrible! She's a beautiful woman, but maybe not so much with the skintight yellow satin until the baby weight's come off! Seriously. I'm sure she was mortified when she saw the footage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aching
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        piccola Feb 4, 2011 02:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow, really? We're now snarking on the judges' weight?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: piccola
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          AMFM Feb 4, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          no. we're snarking on their attire. on tv,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AMFM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            aching Feb 4, 2011 06:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, correct. I don't think it's wrong to comment on how Padma looks when her role on the show is to look pretty! As I said, I think Padma is very beautiful, but that dress was incredibly unflattering. And Tony Bourdain started it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aching
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ipsedixit Feb 4, 2011 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As I said, I think Padma is very beautiful, but that dress was incredibly unflattering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agree. Nothing wrong with the "new mommy" weight that she's carrying around. But there are better ways to look flattering than to wrap yourself in saran wrap when you've still got some of the 9 months worth of "pregnancy eating" on you. Should've brought back that toga she wore on the NYC restaurant episode.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nettie Feb 4, 2011 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think that we can all agree that most women would kill to look like Padma even with the pregnancy weight! The problem is the dress: as Michael Kors is always saying on Project Runway, short, tight, and shiny is not good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  AMFM Feb 5, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  this needs a facebook like button. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    roxlet Feb 5, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, but maybe she was going for fecundity as a statement. If she was, she certainly succeeded!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - I'm a little sad that Tre's gone, but at least he went out with his characteristic grace. You'll get em next time, Tre.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      amen! always a class act...one of the many reasons he was my favorite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        aching Feb 3, 2011 06:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wasn't surprised to see Tre go, but I was really glad to see him go so gracefully. Jen should take note.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          John E. Feb 3, 2011 07:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I kind of thought the same thing about Fallon. I wonder what their process is in putting together a season and having interesting guests? Of course they won't be able to please everybody. I think a lot of it likely has to do with availability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I remember not being thrilled with the vegetarian episode of season 6 when I first heard about it. But I thought it was entertaining and Natalie Portman was great, for a vegetarian. (That's a joke everybody).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jimmy Fallon...really? When it was first announced that he was taking over for Conan O'Brien somebody said "what, was Carrot Top unavailable"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 04:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A lot of the guest judges are HUGE fans of the show (See: Joe Jonas) and quite possibly they ask to be a guest judge. The episode next week is Fallon's 35th birthday. From TV Guide Magazine article back in September 2010:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Jimmy Fallon recently celebrated his 35th birthday at Manhattan's Colicchio & Sons, where the chef-testants prepared some of his favorite dishes. The dinner party included the funnyman and his family as well as Late Night announcer Steve Higgins and head writer A.D. Miles and judges Colicchio, Simmons and Lakshmi. "It was the most fun I've ever had eating such delicious food," raves Lakshmi. "The food was great, and the company was even better."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The guest of honor returns the compliment: "I'm a huge fan of the show," says Fallon, who emceed this year's Emmys, where Top Chef took home its first trophy for best reality competition. "I said, 'I can get you the Emmy if you put me on the show,'" he jokes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              marcopolo Feb 4, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              what? no ?uestlove?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now that would be worth watching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DGresh Feb 4, 2011 01:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree on the vagueness of the QF-- Personally I would think that it would have to be attractive *and* you would actually want to eat it-- some of the things seemed like random collections of food that you wouldn't want to put in your mouth. And man, Angelo's dish was disgusting-looking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Withnail42 Feb 3, 2011 04:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quickfire was really really lame. Stupid in fact. Kind of throw their argument that is is all about how the food tastes out the window.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Knew Tre was going home as soon as he talked about his past successes with Risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Knew Antonia was going to win as soon as Big Tom started reminiscing about how her dish reminded him of a dish his grandfather made when as a boy they went fishing together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But I did like the elimination challenge. Liked the whole old school Rao's Italian theme.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. roxlet Feb 3, 2011 03:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "What about Fabio's complaint that steamed mussles, moules as you wrote, is actually French?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tom loved this dish because he said that he always had it with his grandfather after fishing, and I don't think that Tom's grandfather was French!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This episode seemed to have killed the theory that Antonia's teammates always go home. I thought the reaction of the other chef's to her announcement that she had won was terrible. They -- and Mike in particular -- looked at her as though she had suddenly sprouted a second head. But I was sorry that Mike didn't go home. His braggadocio is becoming wearing. I truly thought that it was going to be either Mike or Dale since part of Mike's dish (the pasta) was inedible, and neither the sauce nor the pasta in Dale's dish was any good. Unlike others, I was not a big Tre fan, but I thought that his risotto was at least edible even though the flavor was overwhelmed by the vegetables and the texture was not right. Interesting that he claims that is how he was taught to make risotto and that he always makes risotto that way. This is interesting in that he actually won for risotto during his season!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 05:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                First of all, IIRC, Tom grew up in the U.S. I have no idea where his grandfather grew up. Second, it wasn't a team challenge so Antonia's curse wasn't lifted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LaPomme Feb 3, 2011 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He was describing last night which Italian cities/villages his parents were from, so I would assume both sets of grandparents are Italian was well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LaPomme
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nettie Feb 3, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tom said that part of his family was from Calabria (the toe of the boot) and another part was from a town near Naples, I think, but then he said that he'd never been south of Rome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 05:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would assume that Tom's grandfather was born in the US, as like hell someone from Calabria would put butter like that on mussels. My mother's family is Italian-American, and food was an important part of family gatherings, but I'm sure I'm not the first Italian American to discover that the preparations they grew up with have little to do with the food that is eaten in Italy today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        gaffk Feb 7, 2011 05:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why would you assume his grandfather was born in the US?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 07:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For the reason I mentioned: that it would be very, very odd for an Italian of that generation from Calabria to put butter on mussels.(Calabrese cuisine is known for being one of the few regions that feature spicy cooking --even seafood--and butter would have been unheard of as a preparation for mussels then). .. Unless he was born here in the US and was raised with Italian American preparations (which, I would imagine, would "allow" butter as a preparation, especially in the 50s, where butter was slapped on everything).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            gaffk Feb 7, 2011 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, so I just went to read Collichio's blog for the first time this week. He emphasizes that Rao's is Italian-American and further adds:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "When my father's family came over to the States from Italy, absolutely no one was importing Italian ingredients. His family had to incorporate into their cooking traditions the foods available to them here."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can only assume his grandfather was therefore born in Italy as well?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chowser Feb 7, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Even if Antonia's isn't strictly "Italian" to Fabio, she said it's what she grew up w/ in her family, Italian American, which is more closely related to the cooking at Rao's Italian American place than what Fabio might make, as Italian food. It doesn't matter where Tom's family is from, if it brings back memories of his Italian American upbringing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                gaffk Feb 7, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I thought that was the point I was making? Or was that response really directed to lark?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  chowser Feb 7, 2011 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry, it was agreeing w/ yours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    gaffk Feb 7, 2011 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sorry too . . .Didn't mean to sound as confrontational as that post sounded :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It was just my guess based on the fact that Southern_Italians_don't_use_butter, especially with seafood. This isn't my opinion. It's very odd that his family would prepare mussels this way; if I had to guess, it was very much the Americanization of the 1950s culture that schlocked butter on everything. (Either that, or he was talking about the consistency, not the flavors?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  gaffk Feb 7, 2011 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, read Tom's blog. There were no Italian imports in America when his family immigrated; they adapted to their American surroundings. Rao's is an Italian American restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I grew up in a city with a large number of 3rd+ generation Italian residents, so I "knew" what red gravy Italian food was. Imagine my surprise when I dined at my friend's off-the-boat parents' house ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PS--I'm of Irish descent (many generations ago)--corned beef and cabbage is not Irish, it's Irish-American.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    NellyNel Feb 3, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, I don't agree - I wouldn't call Antonia, Carla and Tiffany teammaates at all - they simply had to work on the same course

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Edit - this was a response to roxlet - not WWD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Joanie Feb 3, 2011 03:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mizrahi didn't eat/judge the main meal did he? I didn't like most of the people at the table for some reason, and I *do* like mob movies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The guys were douches when Antonia walked in after winning. I loved the look she gave them. I agree with those who say mussels is NOT a slam dunk at all. They can be amazing or boring or a bummer all around (I had surprisingly boring and small ones on Prince Edward Island of all places last summer).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Shrinkrap Feb 2, 2011 10:59 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks Linda!. Husband now insists on reading your write up before the show, and saying things like "who does Linda like? ..... she was disappointed...." I said "Linda doesn't have favorites!"Then I guessed for the next hour, but wouldn't let him tell me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LOL! I'm honored - but reading BEFORE watching? I don't know if I could do that if I wasn't writing them! :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And yes, I *do* have favorites! Now that Tre's been knocked out, Blais is my pick for the win. Or Dale -he's grown on me this season as compared to his original season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          soypower Feb 3, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          +1 on Dale. I used to hate that guy, but he seems to have matured and his food looks interesting to me. Was he on the season that Hosea won? I hated that season, so it's a complete blur to me. I also never really felt good about Antonia, but she seems much more likeable this season. Could it be the editing? Maybe the producers are setting them up as finalists? And see how suspicious you've all made me? :o)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soypower
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            momjamin Feb 3, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dale was on the season with Blais and Stephanie, as was Antonia. Fabio and Carla were on with Hosea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shrinkrap Feb 3, 2011 01:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Husband doesn't really watch the show, but MY watching it, and all the ones leading up to the new one, is my Wed ritual. HIS Wed ritual is teasing/harrasing me about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              gaffk Feb 3, 2011 03:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I always read your recap and the responses before I watch. I wake up at 5:00, so I don't like staying up until 11:00 or 11:15 to watch. Then again, I've only known about CH since the last, DC season (yawn) and don't much care who takes this season, so I guess the suspense isn't the real draw it used to be and reading this gives me a guide of what to look for as I'm watching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In fact, I have yet to see yesterday's episode. I was without power most of yesterday (thanks ice storm) and catching up on other stuff. I plan to watch after catching up with CH.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shrinkrap Feb 3, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No pressure....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  gaffk Feb 4, 2011 05:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  No, none at all . . . as long as it's a hell of an entertaining, full accurate recap ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    chowser Feb 4, 2011 05:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Because you know if there are any errors, someone is going to notice and point it out. At some point, we can all just stop watching the show altogether and read Linda's Cliff note version for a more in depth analysis. And, don't forget about being grammatically correct, too! Linda's weekly thesis on Top Chef--much appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LindaWhit Feb 4, 2011 06:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Noooooooooooooooooo! You cannot stop watching! I don't catch everything! I wanna hash it out ad nauseum with all of you (at least until the next week's show when we start the roller coaster all over again!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wanna go over


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      with you all!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is hereby declared that you are all forbidden from NOT being glued to your television on Wednesday nights at 10pm (or your DVR'd show the next day) and you are required to come here to discuss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let it be written. Let it be done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ::::waving my antique wooden spoon at you all to make it so::::::

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Shrinkrap Feb 4, 2011 02:52 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. mariacarmen Feb 2, 2011 10:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            re QF: Angelo's - I wonder if Mizrahi even caught the misspelling? Yeah, i agree, nothing appealing about that plate. But Fabio's looked ridiculous to me, and calling the women figurines "tuna"?? please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i was excited about the EC because it was finally back to pitting one chef against another instead of teams vs. teams.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In my opinion, Antonia won with her simple dish because it TASTED THE BEST. so what if it was simple? so what if anyone can do it? yeah, any one of those chefs "could" have done it but they chose not to, and what they did, while maybe more complicated (although what's complicated or innovative about mike's rigatoni and sauce? just that he made fresh pasta? so, they can all do that too - AND he screwed it up! By the way, one of the Rao guys SAID that he had stressed to them that they absolutely could use dry pasta - meaning to me they would not be penalized for it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i actually thought Dale should have gone home, much as I like his cooking so far.... bland flavors, not properly cooked pasta either, no sauce, no depth it seemed like....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But i'm watching the repeat, and Tre's risotto is shown as a round lump on one of the judge's plates!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I love that Tiffany pulled it off after burning her first batch, and that once again, even tho the Rao's guy pooh-poohed her soup, Carla came though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Linda, a slight correction - Blais made some kind of pancetta cutlet, not the cacciatore - that was also Fabio's dish, along with his polenta. I am sure you were worn out by the snow! Thanks again for rallying and posting your fabulous summary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            49 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              KailuaGirl Feb 2, 2011 11:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Great recap, Linda! Thanks so much!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Didn't the guy from Rao's say that they sometimes used dried pasta? It went by so quick that I wasn't sure. If so, I sure wouldn't advertise it. Then again, they're not looking for business.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was upset that Tre went home. I thought that Mike should have been the one to PYKAG - as someone said earlier, an Italian who doesn't know how to cook pasta? Give me a break! He also made a snide remark about Tiffany's polenta and sausage not seeming like an antipasto to him, but it was one of the judges' favorites.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And it looks like Antonia has finally beaten the "curse."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                CoconutMilk Feb 3, 2011 03:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't get what's so wrong with dried pasta. I remember watching Mario Batali on "Molto Mario" back in the day and practically every episode he would talk about how in Italy dried pasta isn't viewed as inferior to fresh pasta at all. They're just different. And I agree with him. Fresh pasta can never get the al dente bite that dried pasta gets. Some sauces are better with dried pastas (aglio e olio or a simple marinara), and some are better with egg-based fresh pastas (butter and parmesan).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This episode was somewhat lame. Lorraine Bracco is pretty annoying and I agree with the previous poster about the overkill fo the whole "Italian food is about letting the ingredients shine."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CoconutMilk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  TheFoodEater Feb 3, 2011 11:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  From the episode it seemed like italian food is about sitting around talking about goodfella's and making mafia jokes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheFoodEater
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ipsedixit Feb 4, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ... and about exchanging pasta for sex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      karenfinan Feb 4, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      what ? where did that come from?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ipsedixit Feb 4, 2011 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lorraine Bracco's comment (if memory serves correct) about Tre's risotto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Something to the effect of "if he made this for me, he wouldn't be getting any tonight"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          goodhealthgourmet Feb 4, 2011 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          not about Tre's risotto, about Dale's pasta dish. Tom asked her if she'd break up with her boyfriend for making her that dish, and she said he wouldn't get laid that night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ...and Tom's question stemmed from Dale's explanation that he got the idea for it from a dish he makes for his girlfriend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ipsedixit Feb 4, 2011 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, yes ... thanks for the clarification.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              chowser Feb 4, 2011 09:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And, they milked that line for all it was worth--with every preview, commercial, etc. "Well, he wouldn't be getting laid!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Indy 67 Feb 3, 2011 03:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When Mike, Trey, and Dale were facing the judges, the editors managed the footage so that the person to PYKAG was anybody's guess. However, the minute Bourdain praised Mike's sauce during the judges' discussion, I figured Mike had lived to cook another week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've decided Mike is on a very slow learning curve when it comes to maturity and getting along with others, but he is learning. The look on his face when he realized he would not be the one to PYKAG communicated deep humility and gratitude. Let's see how long the lessons of that moment last!?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ChefJune Feb 3, 2011 07:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some pastas are not meant to be made/served from fresh. Rigatoni is one of those. Many, many Italian restaurants -- fine ones -- serve dried pasta as well as fresh. It just depends on the type of pasta and the dish it's being used to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For some reason, many Americans have gotten the notion that dried pasta is "BAD" and fresh pasta is "GOOD." It's not a system of absolutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        FWIW, I use dried pasta almost exclusively. I'm no good at making it (I know my limitations, and pasta is one of them), don't much care for the "fresh" ones sold at the supermarket, and find dried pasta easy and consistently good. There are some really fine brands out there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I questioned their promotion of dried pasta precisely because so many Americans do think that only fresh pasta is good, and because people have been chastised on TC for not making their own pasta and praised when they have done so. Remember one gal, I can't remember who or which season, was the pasta queen? She made it beautifully and with no apparent effort, always winning gold stars at JT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NellyNel Feb 3, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree, I much prefer dried pasta myself...I really have to be in the mood for fresh...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, I think the judges would have totally citicized Mike if he didnt attempt to make hiw own pasta!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nettie Feb 3, 2011 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IMHO, fresh pasta is good when it's sheets of pasta like lasagne, filled pasta like ravioli, or ribbons like pappardelle--things that you make by passing the dough through rollers. You almost never see fresh extruded pastas formed by pushing the dough through a die like Mike was making. I guess I've assumed that's because the machines to make extruded pasta aren't nearly as inexpensive and easy to use as the rollers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            huiray Feb 3, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <For some reason, many Americans have gotten the notion that dried pasta is "BAD" and fresh pasta is "GOOD.">
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            IMO it's no mystery. For many of those who declare that this supposition is universally true without qualification - It's snobbery, it's "I spend more money than you do" syndrome (even though this is not correct, some dried pastas cost much more than fresh), it's "FRESH so by definition is better" syndrome, it's "Oh you poor thing, you don't have FRESH pasta to eat?" syndrome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Didn't the guy from Rao's say that they sometimes used dried pasta? It went by so quick that I wasn't sure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            yes, when they were discussing Isabella's failed rigatoni at the table, one of them distinctly said "I told them it would be okay to use dried pasta."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              John E. Feb 3, 2011 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I believe this episode proves that Mike Isabella did not make the bucatini in the early episode (was it 2?). Tom asked Mike if he 'made' the bucatini and he said he 'made' the bucatini as in making the dough and extruding it because that's the only way to make it. Mike then had a guilty, sheepish look on his face. He cooked the bucatini. If he had used a pasta extruder they would have shown that for sure. Is KitchenAid one of the sponsors?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DGresh Feb 5, 2011 04:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just rewatched. I think what the guy from Rao's said (in the consultation part early on) was that "you can use dried pasta-- we don't-- but you can". I think a statement like that would make if *very* hard for Mike to use dried. And anyway, at the point where he saw his pasta wasn't cooked enough, there's no way there's time to use dried anyway. He's just stuck. That's one thing that annoys me a bit about the show-- a real chef would and should take the extra couple minutes to get the dish right, but the game show format forces them to send something out underdone. I know, I know, it's "drama", but when Tom chides them for "sending out something bad" it's a bit silly. "I know it was bad, but I couldn't fix it chef, 'cause the timer was up!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pylon Feb 5, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think it's worth noting that there is a difference between "dried" pasta and "boxed" pasta. All boxed pasta is dried, but not all dried pasta is boxed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree, he was stuck at that point. Sending out dried pasta might have kept him in the game, but despite AB's blog, I don't think it could win. But he could have at least cooked a small batch early to judge proper cook time on his rig. Then he could have adjusted or switched if needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  roxlet Feb 5, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Really? I don't remember that he said that they don't used dried pasta at Raos. I've eaten there, and I am 100% certain that the pasta in my pasta fagioli was dried pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    AMFM Feb 5, 2011 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i agree. i thought he said they sometimes did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: AMFM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DGresh Feb 5, 2011 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I stand corrected-- I rewatched that section and he said "we *do* do that at the restaurant". I thought he had said "don't"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        karenfinan Feb 5, 2011 12:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        they do have their own line of dried pastas- very expensive ( for pasta) and very good

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          KailuaGirl Feb 5, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've only seen their bottled sauces. I'll have to see if I can find the dried pasta, just to give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            huiray Feb 5, 2011 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have y'all tried the Cipriani line of dry pasta ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              karenfinan Feb 5, 2011 04:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              no, do you like it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                huiray Feb 5, 2011 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I like it very much. Amongst the best I've had (IMO) whether dry or fresh. I particularly like them with simple accompaniments (like just truffle paste, light sauces, etc).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  karenfinan Feb 5, 2011 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll have to look for this brand. ummm, I love pasta:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: karenfinan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    huiray Feb 5, 2011 05:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The ones I use [and am referring to] are the extra thin egg pasta ones in boxes (8.82 oz). What they call 'Tagliarelle' (plain variety) is my favorite. You can get them from various online places including Amazon (!) if your local market does not carry them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      karenfinan Feb 5, 2011 06:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just looked them up online ( I live in a teeny, tiny town, so none locally) and saw Amazon had it. Now on my list for food splurges - I love a splurge that is under $10.00. The " extra thin" intrigues me. thanks so much for the tip!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 03:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Although what's complicated or innovative about mike's rigatoni and sauce? just that he made fresh pasta?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It requires a lot more technique and finesse to make it well than mussels in white wine sauce. Its a more difficult dish. Though still not particularly innovative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    donovt Feb 3, 2011 08:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, but he didn't make it well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: donovt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      jcattles Feb 3, 2011 09:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ahh but he did make the sauce well, the judges commented that the sauce tasted good, but it was the pasta that killed the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jcattles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        donovt Feb 3, 2011 09:35 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        True, I would think making the sauce well would be the easy part of the dish though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: donovt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Indy 67 Feb 3, 2011 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's calamari in Mike's sauce. That ingredient alone would put the sauce in the challenging category. Think back to all the calamari you've had that was overcooked to the point that eating it was equivalent to eating rubber bands. Think about all the episodes the Cheftestants have failed cooking calamari specifically or, even, in failing to season properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In a situation in which all three chefs doing the primi course failed to deliver, Mike got the sauce spectacularly right. All we're discussing is why that was enough to save him -- certainly nobody is promoting him for the win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Indy 67
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ChefJune Feb 4, 2011 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are two ways to cook calamari. The most notable is very quickly. However, calamari can be stewed long and slow in sauce (gravy) and it comes out amazingly tender. It's that in-between time that produces the "rubber-band effect."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (In fact, I'm making calamari in gravy for friends on Super Bowl Sunday.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              James Cristinian Feb 4, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You can't say Super Bowl, it's the big game. The NFL police are probably preparing a warrant as I type this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Indy 67 Feb 4, 2011 04:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't recall either by commentary or footage of the cooking which technique Mike used to prepare his calamari. Did you catch this detail?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: jcattles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cowboyardee Feb 3, 2011 12:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never said he did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: donovt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's just the problem. He didn't make it well, and it was the PASTA course, not the "sauce" course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              roxlet Feb 3, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's actually not the pasta course, it's the primi. It doesn't have to be pasta at all as evidenced by the fact that Tre's risotto was not liked because it wasn't good, not because it wasn't pasta. Growing up, we always had a primi. I was surprised that Carla made soup for the antipasto since soup is a perfectly acceptable primi. Our primi might have been soup, pasta with peas or various kinds of beans or other vegetables, or a simple marinara, or, of course, pasta with a long-simmered sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry, I meant it was "his" pasta course. Making undercooked pasta would be like serving an over/undercooked steak with a nice sauce. The main ingredient should be the star, and absolutely needs to be edible. If the sauce was to be the star, he could have changed it around a little and made a soup with some crostini or garlic bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  KailuaGirl Feb 3, 2011 12:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hmmm. Just read AB's blog and he calls it "the pasta course." Love Eric Ripert's vlog! Bu then, I'd be happy listening to him read the phone book. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Caitlin McGrath Feb 3, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The chef from Rao's told them that the one hot antipasto they offer is soup, thereby opening up soup as a good bet for that course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      John E. Feb 3, 2011 07:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm curious about the way food is served in Italian homes. How often did your family have meals like this with three distinct courses? How long after the primi was the secondi served? The part that seems difficult is when there is a last minute preparation like steaks. Who cooks the steaks (I know Tuscany has steaks) while the primi is being served/eaten? Or are they just resting thorugh the anti-pasti and primi?I'm not trying to be a smart-aleck at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In our family if we had three courses that were served separately it was salad, main, dessert. We infrequently ate dessert growing up and now don't have it at every meal either. My mother was once asked how we ended our meal if we didn't have dessert, she replied "we just get up".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        piccola Feb 4, 2011 02:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can only speak for my relatives in Italy, who actually stick fairly close to this pattern. Generally, the meat is cooked ahead of time and rests while the other courses are served.But it's not uncommon for there to be some course crossover where someone is eating both primo and secondo at the same time. (Personally, since I don't eat meat, I usually try to stretch out the primo as long as possible so I'm not staring at an empty plate while the others are still eating.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We often have a salad after the secondo, but rarely any dessert beyond coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course, my family here (Canada) doesn't really do courses that much -- we just put everything on the table at once and let everyone help themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          roxlet Feb 4, 2011 03:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We ate like this virtually every day. We rarely had an antipasto at home, so it was primi, secundi and then almost always a salad. My mother cooked everything except for things that were grilled outside, which my father did. Twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays) we would have pasta with meatballs, so the meatballs (and other meats like braciole, sausage, and a piece of pork). Sometimes the red sauce would be made with chicken in lieu of the red meats. Other secundi were steak pizzaiola, chicken done a variety of ways, veal -- usually Milanese but sometimes veal birds, etc. This was how we ate every day, and as a very picky eater as a child, there was usually something I hated!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            John E. Feb 4, 2011 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We started to serve the salad last (sans kids) last. We used to either do the American thing and eat the salad first or at the same time as the rest of the meal. I decided to have salad last because if you eat the meal and don't put dressing on the salad and are full, you can save the salad for the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks, mc. THAT was the "fried" something or other. I remember Fabio talking about cacciatore, and I guess that stuck in my tired brain. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. John E. Feb 2, 2011 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The quickfire in this episode was the worst in the history of TC. I understand bringing fashion into the dessert show but this confounded me. Does this guy have a fashion show on Bravo? A cross-promotion is the only reason I think of for him appearing tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Was Fabio's polenta pan-fried or creamy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I understand why Tre was sent home, but maybe Mike should have gone home for being a paisano that made and cooked pasta incorrectly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wasn't enamored with this episode. I am disinterested in the whole mafia thing. I care so little about mob-related movies that I have never seen any of the Godfather films or Goodfellas. I've never seen The Sopranos. I suppose it's more than disinterest, more like annoyance because avoiding mafia/mob movies and TV has become an intentional thing for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that if Fabio would have thought about his comment about Angelo's quick-fire dish a little more, it could have been one of the best lines in TC history. (He said Angelo's dish looked like a bag of vomit. He was correct).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The fashion guy reminded me of when Marcel said Chinatown was full of Chinese (a "challenging challenge", really?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 2, 2011 08:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Does this guy have a fashion show on Bravo? A cross-promotion is the only reason I think of for him appearing tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      lenwood Feb 3, 2011 10:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The promotion was mistimed. The last episode for Fashion Show was two weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lenwood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i wouldn't know - i've never seen it. i was just confirming John E's question/suspicion about whether Mizrahi has a show n the network.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          julietg Feb 4, 2011 02:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mizrahi was a frequent guest on Molto Mario, and always asked pertinent questions. Plus he's sort of a New York institution. Just my $.02.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nettie Feb 2, 2011 09:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fabio's polenta certainly looked creamy when they served it, not pan-fried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 05:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry. There *was* a pan-fried dish put down in that round, but I was busy typing and didn't see exactly what it was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nettie Feb 3, 2011 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought that the show described the polenta as pan-fried at one point, but I could be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Nettie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LindaWhit Feb 3, 2011 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, I remembered that as well. So I'm not THAT crazy. Just a little bit. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            jcattles Feb 3, 2011 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Blaise did a pan fried pancetta "cutlet", Fabio did the cacciatore with the creamy polenta that Frankie Raos said was exactly how he like his polenta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: John E.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          kahudson Feb 3, 2011 06:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Agreed, I was horrified by a QF where edibility played NO role. When Angelo talked about wanting to be a food stylist, he hit the nail on the head. The QF was Top Food Stylist and not Top Chef.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, Mizrachi co-hosted The Fashion Show, Ultimate Collection, Bravo's replacement for Project Runway. I don't mind the cross-promotion, but maybe the edible fashion design challenge from TC: Just Desserts would have been a better fit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. goodhealthgourmet Feb 2, 2011 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i KNEW in my bones that Tre was going home the second they showed that clip of him winning that S3 challenge with risotto. boo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i'm too bummed to talk about it all, but just one note about the QF...could Angelo be more of a bonehead? for the record, he wrote "crocAdile." so he insulted Mizrahi AND spelled the word wrong!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Worldwide Diner Feb 2, 2011 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How did Angelo insult Isaac?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And how is it possible for Tre to win a risottoe challenge if he didn't know how to cook risotto? Did his risotto "spread" during S3? All of a sudden everyone is focused on whether his rice spreads and whether the rice shines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              goodhealthgourmet Feb 2, 2011 09:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How did Angelo insult Isaac?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              he told him pint-blank that Roberto Cavalli was his favorite designer and that's who inspired his dish. i saw it as a bit of a slap in the face.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              re: the risotto, i think it's bizarre that Bourdain was also a judge when Tre *won* with a risotto dish, but tonight he questioned whether Tre even know what real risotto was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              the whole episode just rubbed me the wrong way. stupid QF, strange judging, and too much inane table chatter about Marty Scorsese, Joe Pesci and the good-old "Goodfellas" days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Withnail42 Feb 3, 2011 04:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Interesting point about Bourdain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agree about the inane chatter. It seemed that it all came from Lorain Brocco.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Withnail42
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  James Cristinian Feb 3, 2011 04:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They were probably at Rao's for several hours, so there was lots of chatter. Lorraine Bracco was guest judge so naturally the edits featured her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 09:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i understand where the chatter came from, i just don't care to watch/hear it. i'm tired of the producers taking time away from action in the kitchen or at JT to show us stuff like that - it has nothing to do with Top Chef...if i want to get nostalgic about Goodfellas i'll watch my DVD of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruth Lafler Feb 3, 2011 01:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "it has nothing to do with Top Chef"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, you're wrong. That's not what Top Chef is to YOU, but Top Chef is an entertainment television program based around a cooking competition, and the producers can put any damn thing they want to that they think will make it entertaining to the broadest possible audience. YOU want to see more cooking. Many of us would like to see more cooking. But the producers are trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers not just people who are cooking fanatics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Feb 3, 2011 04:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        fine, add IMO to the end of that sentence and there should be no problem with what i said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        man, everyone's awfully touchy this season. sheesh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          gaffk Feb 3, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've come late to the party. But I too am struck by the vehemence of the posters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shrinkrap Feb 3, 2011 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like to think just testy after a week without....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf Feb 4, 2011 05:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This thread, anyhoo, yeah. Testy, unpleasant and not much fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sharonlouk Feb 4, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed. Very argumentative this season. Not fun for me, but I think some people enjoy that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sharonlouk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mcf Feb 4, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm fine with argument (ask anyone! ;-)), but not so much the nasty edge or personal stuff. Linda creates this great fun thread for us, and discussing the show should be fun and friendly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Adding "IMO" for those who don't think that fun and friendliness are important.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kahudson Feb 3, 2011 06:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the quick clip of that initial risotto, it did look much creamier than the TC All Stars risotto which appeared to have the consistency of mashed potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  jeanmarieok Feb 3, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I knew Tre was gone by the editing, too. I thought it was obvious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Angelo insulted Mizrahi by mentioning his favorite designer, whom I have forgotten, as the tie in to the mispelled crocodile....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jeanmarieok
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 05:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just don't see that as an insult. Did Mizrahi ever design a men's line? Angelo was just being honest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      debbiel Feb 3, 2011 06:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe insult is not quite the right word (maybe it is tho). It just seemed a bit...rude-ish? Sometimes saying nothing is more polite than being honest. And yes, Mizrahi has designed mens lines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Indy 67 Feb 3, 2011 06:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cavalli designs for both men and women. In women's wear, the two are direct competitors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        With that new information, perhaps you see why folks are saying "insult." Imagine walking up to anyone who has achieved respect in a particular field and telling that individual that you admire the work of someone else in the same field ( e.g. telling Eric Rippert that you prefer the cuisine of Joel Robuchon.) At the very least, it gains you nothing. And in a competitive situation, it's a huge blunder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          but Mizrahi did make a comment or a sound about it - even if playfully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. tastyjon Feb 2, 2011 07:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is one of those episodes that leaves me scratching my head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the winning dish, Antonia gets the nod for mussels in a broth. Huh? I'm not a chef but like to cook and yet I avoided mussels for years, thinking they'd be complicated. It turns out they are simple to make. The mussels part it easy (if you can source them fresh)... and the sauces/broth part is limitless. Fabio (and the rest) were rightfully irritated. He, for example, cooked a much more involved 2-part course. Simplicity is nice, but you shouldn't win a chef's competition by hitting a bunt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Likewise, I don't get the judge's hate for Mike's dish. Yes, he's an annoying personality. But he actually attempted fresh pasta. Maybe he failed. Maybe it didn't work. But there were several comments that implied he'd be smarter if he cooked the boxed stuff. What?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To me, this episode seemed to reward non-creative food and penalized attempts at creativity/authenticity. Strange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      173 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tastyjon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        tofuburrito Feb 2, 2011 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I disagree, moules/frites are a Last Supper meal for me and I have mussels almost everywhere I go that serves them (and I make them). There are vast differences in the bowls of mussels that one gets when ordering out. Some are a miracle in a bowl and some ruin your day. To make them that well, to impress that panel, I say "Bravo Antonia!" And if that edit was accurate how classless was it for the guys not to congratulate her?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One more thing; what was that designer on? How in the world did Fabio's plate get in the top 3? I thought Carla's was by far the best of the quickfire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Worldwide Diner Feb 2, 2011 08:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What about Fabio's complaint that steamed mussles, moules as you wrote, is actually French? I agree with Tastyjon that any competent chef should be able to make some mussels. Apparently the other chefs feel the same way - too shocked to give her much credit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought Richard really nailed the QF because he paid attention to who his target is, i.e., a guy who wears black all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tastyjon Feb 2, 2011 10:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She didn't make moules frites. She made moules. That's it. Steam them for 2 minutes with butter, shallots and wine (+ whatever) and that's a fine dish. I agree its often a wonderful meal, but I don't get how the win celebrated her uniqueness. What was her signature spin? Did she do anything that made them her own brand? Are you rushing out to find her unique twist?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's my point. She won with a dish that's likely been done a 1,000 times before by a 1,000 chefs. They rewarded sameness. That was the strange theme of this show. Usually one is rewarded for creativity and ambition, but this episode seemed to reward one for being safe and meeting expectations. Meanwhile the folks who tried to make fresh food from scratch were chided for not buying dried, pre-made basics. Blah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It celebrated karaoke. Even more, it suggested taking short cuts and being content with mass produced products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd hate to say it but maybe "Top Chef" has jumped the shark,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tastyjon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tofuburrito Feb 3, 2011 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm aware she didn't make frites, I was just mentioning something I like, sorry for straying. Are mussels specifically French? There are several recipes that include mussels in the Mario Batalli cookbook I have. Not being an expert on Italian cooking, I don't know how prevalent they are or if they are region specific but it seems just about every country with a coastline eats mussels.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for Fabio and Mike dismissing Antonia's cooking; when did chicken cacciatore and fresh pasta become rocket science? I've made both and they don't seem any more complicated than steamed mussels to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Antonia even said that mussels were something she liked to order at Italian restaurants. I've found them on many menus IN Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've found Chinese food in Italy, does that make them Italian?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    tofuburrito Feb 3, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Are you saying that people in Italy never ate mussels until they were brought in by people from somewhere else?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ChefJune Feb 3, 2011 08:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mussels (cozze) are eaten everywhere there's a coastline. They're French, Belgian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and probably a whole lot more. I have recipes from all these genres in my recipe file.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm a mussel lover, and prepare them often in many different ways. Some preps are very similar. But then, Provence used to be part of Italy, and Liguria used to be part of Provence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't say that. I'm looking for educated reasons as to why Fabio is right or wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tofuburrito Feb 3, 2011 10:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In reference to Fabio's dismissal of Antonia's dish as being French, Bourdain (in his blog) recommended that Fabio take a trip to Sicily.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I assume this is what you're talking about but I'm not really sure. You (on Fabio's behalf) seem to be questioning whether mussels are an authentic element in Italian cooking. Although I think Fabio was questioning the use of fennel. Again, going to a Mario Batalli cook book, I see plenty of recipes with fennel. So I don't really get the authenticity argument.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought Fabio was referring to the steamed mussels with fennel as a French dish but I don't really know for sure. Is it possible that Fabio doesn't consider Sicily a part of Italy? I know Sicily is geographically a part of Italy but I don't know what the Italians think of Sicilians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for Batali, you're citing a guy who is American. Doesn't mean you're wrong or Batali's wrong - just want to understand whether Fabio had a legit gripe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tofuburrito Feb 3, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just had a look at the recipes and found it interesting that Fabio used Shitake mushrooms in his dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          chicgail Feb 3, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Italians never ate pasta until it was brought in by Marco Polo from somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ChefJune Feb 4, 2011 06:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <Italians never ate pasta until it was brought in by Marco Polo from somewhere else.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That is SO not true. I can't believe you are resurrecting that old myth. there's not enough room here to cite the food history to disprove you, but you really ought to already KNOW that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              John E. Feb 4, 2011 06:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ok, but Italians didn't have tomatoes until sometime in the 16th century.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: chicgail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              gastrotect Feb 4, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's been greatly disproved. Pasta was in Italy for centuries before Marco Polo. I've been reading the Encyclopedia of Pasta and there is large source list for reading up on the subject in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gastrotect
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                chicgail Feb 4, 2011 07:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yowsa, folks. I stand corrected, my head bowed in shame. I am newly informed of this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Uh, yeah, WWD, that's what i was saying. i can't tell the difference between chinese food and italian food if i eat it in Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mussels aren't Italian. they are just mussels. there some preparations for mussels that are more typically italian, or more typically chinese, or more typically french.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tofuburrito Feb 3, 2011 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This eating Chinese food in Italy analogy doesn't make any sense to me. Mussels are used in some regions of traditional Italian cooking because Italy has coastlines that include mussels. Fennel grows in Italy and presumably has for a long time so one would expect to see it used in Italian cooking in the regions where it grows. Using two native ingredients in a dish makes sense when asked to prepare a dish from that region. Why is that such an issue?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you say mussels aren't Italian you would have to apply that to every ingredient, nothing is Italian, it's just food. No one said mussels were Italian exclusive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i don't think you meant this to me - it was WWD's analogy. I disagree with it too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worldwide Diner Feb 3, 2011 06:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Antonia even said that mussels were something she liked to order at Italian restaurants. I've found them on many menus IN Italy."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That implies that because you've seen them on menus in Italy, the dish must be Italian. What if I say I've seen beef and broccoli in Italy, that dish must be Italian? My point is that seeing somethin on menus in Italy proves nothing. My question has always been does Fabio have a legit gripe. I'm looking for educated answers, with documentation, not guesswork simply because there're mussels and fennels in Italy. There're mussels and fennel in China too but they they put them together in a steamed dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mariacarmen Feb 3, 2011 06:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  broccoli and beef, by themselves, are not italian or chinese. it is the PREP that makes them into some ethnicity, if at all. I was talking about the preparation of a dish, not the ingredients themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Worldwide Diner Feb 7, 2011 05:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    broccoli and beef, by themselves, are not italian or chinese. it is the PREP that makes them into some ethnicity, if at all. I was talking about the preparation of a dish, not the ingredients themselves.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That wasn't what you wrote. In any case, you don't seem to know anything about Italian mussel dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    tofuburrito Feb 4, 2011 06:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fennel may be available in China but it is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think you can infer if someone say's they found mussels and/or fennel on menus in Italy they are referring to restaurants that serve local cuisine, not a Chinese restaurant in Italy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If Bourdain & Ripert saying Fabio is wrong, the judges not questioning the appropriateness of the dish and similar recipes being found in Mario's book on Italian cooking isn't enough for you, you'll have to dig up your own evidence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tofuburrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      huiray Feb 7, 2011 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      @ tofuburrito regarding Fabio's comment about Antonia's mussels dish not being Italian in nature:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Have a look at larkinaita's post just below:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You might also be interested in what alidrum had to say further below:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheers. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Worldwide Diner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 05:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fabio has a very legitimate gripe. Of course mussels are found anywhere there's a coast, but Antonia's preparation was NOT Italian. Although someone will say that butter is used in Northern Italian cooking (for sauteeing meats, for making risottos, etc.), butter is NOT used for seafood. I lived in Italy for 5 years, my husband is Italian, and I learned to cook from my Italian mother-in-law, and I can tell you that the GOBS of butter she was adding to the pan as the mussels were opening would send chills down an Italian's spine. I haven't read Bourdain's blog, and of course you can find mussels in Sicily, but in butter like that? no. (And, as an aside, Bourdain may know everything about asian cooking, but I've heard him say pretty bizzare things about foods of certain regions in Italy [I'm thinking specifically of a special on Sardegna I have seen]). Mussels with fennel and butter just isn't an Italian preparation (and especially this southern Italian homey feel Rao's wants to replicate). The judges should have called her out on that (as well as the novice-level of the dish...THIS is top chef material??), but they didn't. Neither did they call Carla out on the fact that minestrone is not an antipasto. (I mean, Tom got all judgy about the consistency of Tre's risotto, which I get, but no one bothered to explain to Carla what an antipasto is and is not??) I can imagine it was difficult for Fabio to see that not only these points were not addressed, but that Antonia won for a dish so easy to prepare and off the mark geographically!! Fabio may not be the most talented chef of the group, but this had to have been grating (and the fact that Antonia was somehow waxing on about being of Italian descent while making this NON Italian preparation....) I am a huge fan of Top Chef, but the judges really lost credibility in this episode (because the producers want to back certain contestants, because they can't speak poorly about the food/owners of an establishment like Rao's, who knows?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        JuniorBalloon Feb 7, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There was no authenticity requirement.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          larkinaitana Feb 7, 2011 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What does that even mean? If the task is to cook a French meal, then McDonald's french fries should win because they taste good? They have potatoes in France. This is a cooking competition, of course fidelity to the cuisine is needed. Mussels cooked in butter is not an Italian preparation; it should not win at an Italian restaurant challenge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: larkinaitana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            alidrum Feb 7, 2011 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            thanks larkinaitana...if you read my posts below, this was the point I was trying to make...dairy and seafood and italians don't mix. I think Fabio was irritated because he thought the challenge was about preparing a proper course in the proper Italian style..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            and I wholeheartedly agree with your take on carla and her minestrone as an appetizer...what's up with that?