SPOILER ALERT!!!! In case you missed the large, bold, headline directly above this sentence, this is a Top Chef recap. That means I’m going to tell you what happens, while mocking the return of numerous D-bags that I thought I was done watching on television forever. You’ve been warned.
Top Chef All-Stars arrived and came out swinging. Whoever the genius at Bravo was that decided to bring back seven seasons worth of popular Top Chef contestants deserves a raise. Bravo, Bravo.
If you have never watched Top Chef before, then this season is nothing special. You don’t really know who these people are. But for devotees like me this is fan-freakin-tastic. We’re already invested. Sides have already been chosen.
As absurd as it is undeniable, the power of reality TV makes us feel like we know these people already, like old friends. We already know and love – or hate – them. And every elimination is going to upset someone out there. Except for maybe Stephen, because that guy is a joke. Seriously.
We start things off with the obligatory re-intros to the old gang as they arrive in their new house, fully stocked with GE appliances and 55-gallon drums of Swanson broth. Thankfully, the team at Bravo made the doorway large enough to fit the egos that the cast brought with them.
Many of the best villains, morons, and D-bags have returned. Marcel seems to be the exact same unreasonably arrogant boy-man that he was before, but no longer has his age as an excuse. We get more of the shifty Spike, who Bourdain lauds as “the craftiest mother-bleeper who has ever been on this show.” Stephen, who is likely nothing more than chum that the casting directors wanted to see re-devoured in this shark tank of culinary talent, has managed to get more pretentious and less impressive than the last time we saw him.
At first I thought it was just the MTV reality shows, but I’m getting the feeling that maturing as a person is a lot more difficult once you have been on camera.
But there are also some of our favorites, those that beg to be rooted for. Obviously, top of this list for most Atlantans is “Professor” Richard Blais. It is so refreshing to see Blais cooking food of the caliber of which he is capable again. When burgers have been all that we have seen of him for the last two years, it is easy to forget that he is a fantastically talented and inventive chef. But it makes me shed a tear that I can’t actually EAT that food in this town anymore.
The list could go on, but I’d bet you a bag of Buitoni frozen pasta that Jen C., the Dales, Jaime Lauren, Fabio, and Tiffany D. all have fan clubs praying for their vindication as well.
Before this becomes a dissertation, let’s skip to the highlights:
- The chefs are broken into teams according to their season’s host city, Chicago, New York, DC, Miami, Vegas, LA, and San Fran.
- Richard Blais LOVES liquid nitrogen. I laughed aloud when that was the first thing out of his mouth during menu planning. If it weren’t for the fact that his food rocks and consistently wins, it would be easy to mock how he seemly refuses to cook without a welder’s mask and Kevlar gloves. But his nitrogen mustard ice cream clenches the W – and immunity – for team Chicago (including Spike, Dale T., and Antonia). Fear the faux-hawk. (That’s +2 points each for those playing Fantasy TC at home.)
- I LOVE how the producers are cranking up the mind games. The first elimination challenge forces the chefs to improve upon the dish that sent them home from their first season. Way to twist the knife Bravo! That means that one poor soul in this group is going home for the same dish TWICE. Freakin’ GENIUS.
- Angelo: Seriously, dude, the deep V/Graphic tee in the first half of the show screamed D-bag, but a fully zipped turtle neck for wardrobe #2? Come on.
- More drama inducing brilliance: The chefs watch as their dishes are ripped apart by their housemates on live TV in the kitchen. And we get to watch their hearts break in real time. I hope this becomes an every-challenge thing.
-Elia refuses to hear the comments on her dish. Hmmmm…
- COME ON RICHARD! You gotta watch the time. Blais is still plating after the buzzer has sounded. Neither his hands nor his knives were down. Rook move. This does not sit well with the fellow chefs.
- I’m pretty sure that I saw Jen C. Tiffany F. stretching in the waiting room kitchen so that she doesn’t tear a rotator cuff throwing Blais under the bus at judges table for going over his time.
- Bourdain on Dale T.’s butterscotch scallops: he “un-bleeped this dish pretty well”.
- Bourdain hates Fabio’s pasta dish with a passion. Fabio now hates Bourdain with a passion. At judges table it seems that he is two steps from dragging Bourdain out back to settle things like men.
- Blais makes it into the Top 4, only to be immediately dismissed for his time violation. Our boy, who probably would have won otherwise, takes the news graciously. Jen C. Tiffany F. begins icing down her throwing arm.
- Ugh. Angelo wins. As annoyed as I get with him, the dude can cook. Score one for the bad guys…and my fiancée, as she wasted her first round pick on him. Ok, maybe she didn’t “waste” it….
- Elia’s undercooked, under seasoned, and un-tasted red snapper sends her and her knives packing once again. Frowny face emoticon.
I promise they won’t all be this long, but I honestly have another 500 words in me. Even so, I’m sure that I missed some highlights…what were YOUR favorite parts?
P.S. In case you were wondering, here is Team Watson for Fantasy Top Chef: Blais, Jen C., Marcel, Casey, Mike I., Dale L., Elia, Spike, and Tre. I’m currently down 11-3.
- Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast