Top Chef: All Stars

2006, TV Show

Top Chef Episode: "Cooking by Numbers"

Season 3, Episode 4
Episode Synopsis: The remaining chefs are challenged to whip up an appetizer to complement a popular mixed drink. Their culinary prowess must then impress members of Chaine des Rotisseurs, a prestigious gastronomic society. Mixologist Jamie Walker and restaurateur Barton G. Weiss serve as guest judges.
Original Air Date: Jul 11, 2007

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Season 3, Episode 4
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Length: 44:03
Aired: 7/11/2007
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"Cooking by Numbers" Season 3, Episode 4

Hello folks. I missed all of you on the Fourth of July, when Bravo decided to be nice and air a rerun so you could watch fireworks instead (or if you aren't in the U.S., then revise that to read "so you could sit around in your undies and eat Doritos until you passed out"). But after the very brief hiatus, they come back with one of my favorite parts of the show: teamwork!!! I just love the first time the chefs get to work as a team. You have to enjoy seeing their brains churn as they try to make their own dish great while still worrying if they should help their teammate or let him do his own thing. The bitching, bickering and overall back and forth is wickedly fun to see. But before we get into the team challenge, we had a cool Quickfire this week. A mixologist named Jamie Walker creates cocktails made from the Bombay Sapphire Gin that he represents. The contestants have to make an appetizer to complement the drink, and each one has something different. First of all, I love the term "mixologist". Having been a DJ since college, the first thing I think of is the ability to seemlessly mix Fergie, Rick Astley and Slick Rick together to get some rump shakin' going on. But, of course, that has nothing to do with this. Then somehow I got the video for Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" in my head but with Jamie in it shaking up drinks. For some reason, this is how my crazy mind was working tonight. And then, of course, I thought about what a great job he has, mixing new drinks, trying them, remixing, trying again... and so on. I'm sure for some it's a blur of never-ending drunkenness, but then again, maybe not. I know plenty of people named Drunky McDrunkdrunk and I wouldn't label them anything but "not the designated driver" (see, I'm responsible, folks). So I assume Mr. Walker knows how to handle his liquor. The chefs could have had it worse, too, having to taste all the drinks, and Jamie even commented to Padma, "You have a tough job," just eating nice food and sipping down drink after drink. Casey ends up winning the Quickfire and the immunity by pairing a strawberry balsamic rickey (which sounds so gross to me) with a French-toast baguette with foie gras and raspberry sauce. It figures that she didn't even know what her drink was, but she was still able to win the contest. Then there's Hung, who once again talked back to a judge, saying that "Jamie was confused. That's why I called him out." It's nice to think your dishes are always the best, but suck it up when someone doesn't like it. Jeez. After that, the chefs were told they would have to work together as three-person teams. I was surprised when everyone seemed to agree to pick names out of a hat to determine teams but less surprised when they just started swapping teams anyway. The goal was to make a four-course meal, but each course had to have three different items based around a common food. Then, of course, the bickering starts as they try to figure out what they are going to make as a team. A lot of people didn't seem to like Howie leading the discussion, but I applaud him for stepping up and getting things slightly organized at least. The biggest difference from other episodes this season is that Casey is the first person with immunity that didn't seem to care that much about the elimination challenge. Casey wants to do something way out there, but that's easy for her to say, since she's not going home. Then while Howie and Joey are figuring out the dish, Casey is sitting and eating lunch without a care in the world as to how the meal is going to get done. And yes, this is the group that Joey chose to be in. I don't get that doubly stupid move from him. Joey chose to switch to a team that had his arch nemesis Howie and the girl with immunity on it. Why not save yourself the trouble and just visit the judges' table before you start? Now before we get into some of the dishes, let's talk judges for a moment. The meal was being served to Barton G. Weiss and the Chaine des Rotisseurs, an expert gastronomic society. The word "gastronomic" just sounds so wrong to me. It's like when I have few bean burritos and I let one go of gastronomic portions. No? That's not it? You don't say. But then, I visited the website of Barton G. It could be the best and most friendly restaurant page I've ever been to. The best part is the menu though. Not only are the dishes somewhat affordable, but the whole thing looks so delicious. I want you to check out the Back at the Ranch Skirt Steak and the Cheesecake Overload, not to mention the drinks made with liquid nitrogen. Then tell me if your mouth isn't watering. So, now back to our regularly scheduled program. CJ, Tre and Sara N. actually worked very well together on their dish, preparing tenderloin into three dishes that connected to each other well. The only complaint was from one of the judges, who said of Sara's steak: "...you could have [it] at Denny's." Hung, Brian and Lia created some great-looking shrimp starters, which the judges found very successful. Lia ultimately won the challenge with her olive-oil poached shrimp with avocado, cucumber, lime and grilled pepper salad. (Don't you wish they would just give these long ones a name sometimes, like Ba-Da-Bing Betty!) The Tuna and the Pineapple are called out for elimination. No yelling and backstabbing this time around, but Casey did break down and rip into the judges for laying a "guilt blanket" over her, naming her dish the worst. But that meant Howie or Joey would have to go home since she had immunity. But the end result is that none of the judges could stand the dessert. Dale had the idea and knew right away it was a failure, commenting that if they were serving "a whole bunch of blind people, it would have been great." Maybe it looked different in person, but on camera Camille's Pineapple Upside Down cake looked like a Dunkin' Munchkin with some sauce drizzled on the top. Tom was on target with this one. They shouldn't have done a dessert if they didn't know how to make it. Dale's reasoning that "the rest of the teams played it safe" is silly to me. Taking a chance with something you know how to make is important. But when you are shooting for 100 grand, you should use products you are familiar with. So with that, Camille goes home and Dale feels very guilty about it. To be honest, I don't think I even remembered there was a Camille on the show. The girls are getting no face time, so I can't say I'll miss her because I barely knew her. And finally, before I leave you, I ask you what's up with the ridiculous Bravo survey question this week? How do Jay and Howie feel about Casey? Hate her or date her? Is that the best you could come up with, Bravo? Just because she's the hot chef there doesn't mean these guys want to date her. It's just a childish question. I don't know why this one bothers me so much. Maybe it's the Casey sandwich I'm seeing with the three of them dating and I have to vent to cleanse my palette of this monstrosity. Until next week, friends. Don't forget to check out our Online Video Guide. And while you're checking out links, how about one of the coolest-looking gastronomic societies I could find on the Web? show less
Hello folks. I missed all of you on the Fourth of July, when Bravo decided to be nice and air a rerun so you could watch fireworks instead (or if you aren't in the U.S., then revise that to read "so you could sit around in your undies and eat Doritos until you passed out"). But after the very brief hiatus, they come back with one of my favorite parts of the show: teamwork!!!I just love the first time the chefs get to work as a team. You have to enjoy seeing their brains churn as they try to make their own dish great while still worrying if they should help their teammate or let him do his own thing. The bitching, bickering and overall back and forth is wickedly fun to see. But before we get into the team challenge, we had a cool Quickfire this week. A mixologist named Jamie Walker creates cocktails made from the Bombay Sapphire Gin that he represents. The contestants have to make an appetizer to complement the drink, and each one has something different. First of all, I love the ter... read more

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Premiered: March 08, 2006, on Bravo
Rating: TV-14
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Premise: A reality competition in which aspiring chefs compete for culinary stardom. Each episode features two challenges---a short test of basic cooking skills and an elimination challenge, in which one failing contestant is sent packing.

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