Top Chef All-Stars: Contestant Preview
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 1, 2010
Jamie Lauren: Banky Edwards made the argument in Chasing Amy that the “male-friendly lesbian” is a figment of the imagination, which is news that breaks the heart of Stefan from Season 5. He made no effort to hide his infatuation with Jamie Lauren, who prefers co-stars of The L Word. No, really. She’s been dating Catherine Keener’s younger sister. Way to go, Jamie! Of course, this is a cooking show rather than a dating show, so Jamie doesn’t automatically win All-Stars for scoring hotties, she just wins at life. In terms of Season 5 performance, Jamie was always well regarded by the other chefs yet their respect didn’t translate to many victories. She won a pair of elimination challenges but never finished first in a Quickfire. She was generally in the middle to the high side during elimination votes. What is clear is that other chefs (not just Stefan) love her and are thrilled to have her on their side during team events. That speaks better of her as a chef than her Season 5 showing. Still, her lack of dominance during a lackluster season means she’s probably not a serious contender during All Stars.
Dale Levitski: We begin our damnation of Season 3 by taking a look at Dale. He’s funny, well intended and sincere, a refreshing combination of personality traits for reality television. He was a middling performer on Season 3 who won only one Quickfire and one elimination challenge during the season, one of the worst resumes of any All-Star. Dale did provide surprising competition to Hung in the finale, serving two of the best four dishes that evening. His overall body of work meant that he was fighting an uphill battle against Hung but to his credit, Dale made the finale at least marginally interesting.
Antonia Lofaso: She is one of the trickiest competitors to evaluate in that she never jumped off the page during Season 4 yet she won four Quickfires and an elimination challenge. When she got to the final five, she almost beat Richard Blais not once but twice. Is that a fluke or an indication that she was growing in confidence with each passing challenge? To a larger question, if we think Blais is the best contestant in the competition, doesn’t that mean Antonia is at least middle of the pack if not higher? This is the sort of thing that makes the whole evaluation process tricky. Our perception is that Blais is a much better chef; also, he won seven times in Season 4 while Antonia won only five. Wouldn’t you agree that those results are closer than you would have thought, though? Similarly, Stephanie won a total of seven events that year, meaning that while she and Richard seemed night and day ahead of everyone else in Season 4, Antonia’s resume stands up remarkably well. This is why we are viewing her as a potential dark horse even if she does start out low in the power rankings.