'Top Chef All-Stars' Recap: Feed Me Cookie!

Kim Conte

padma lakshmi and elmoTop Chef has special guest judges on every episode. But last night it had some VERY SPECIAL guest judges. I'm, of course, talking about Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Telly from Sesame Street, who demanded -- what else? -- cookies from the contestants. Puppet judges made for a hilarious show, especially because host Padma Lakshmi insisted on talking to them like real live people.

But I do have one question: Has Bravo exhausted all of the famous chef judges and now has to resort to puppets? It just seemed like an odd choice for a cooking show. I mean, really? They can't even eat for real.

Truth be told, it was difficult to take the entirety of last night's episode seriously. The chefs were baking for judges that couldn't eat. (Congrats to Dale Talde for winning the $5,000 for his mashed potato-pretzel chocolate cookies. According to Cookie Monster, he can buy a lot of cookies with that prize. Why am I quoting a puppet?)

And the Elimination Challenge was even more ridiculous: The chefs had to visit Target in the middle of the night and had just three hours to raid the store and grab everything they needed to make a delicious dish for 100 Target employees. Hey, I bet you didn't know that Target has an expanded store with a varied selection of fresh produce and groceries. Thank god Padma was there to tell us.

The "shopping spree" didn't just include groceries. They also had to run around the store to find the appliances and cooking equipment with which to cook their dish. It was a stressful challenge that required a bit of physical prowess, too -- something that unpleasantly plump Mike Isabella found difficult (c'mon, I couldn't not take a shot at him):

I’m not in the best shape in the world, so it's going to take me a little while to run around the store. I’m about ready to have a heart attack.

Oh dear. Meanwhile, all the chefs plug in their Crock-Pots and hot plates, and get to work on their dishes. This is why I'm not so into the episode from a foodie point of view -- why are chefs at this level cooking soup in Target-purchased cookware? Why is Dale using a real live IRON to steam-iron his grilled cheese sandwiches? There's a reason this is unprecedented: It's high on entertainment but pretty low on substance.

I shouldn't be so quick to judge Dale and his pressed sandwiches and tomato soup: The judges LOVED them and joke that he was the "Iron Chef." Heh. He takes top prize (again).

But poor, poor Angelo, on the other hand, disappointed them the most with his way too salty deconstructed potato soup. He blames a "fatigued palate" for his blunder -- which I'm now going to use as an excuse for poor performance every chance I get -- and is sent packing (much to his new boyfriend Mike I.'s dismay).

Do you think Dale is going to win it all?

Image via BravoTV

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