Top Chef All-Stars: Contestant Preview
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
December 1, 2010
Angelo Sosa: The second of two Season 7 chefs is Angelo Sosa, whom we openly despised for most of the season. He seems like a vainglorious, deeply insecure hypocrite in a lot of ways and there are few times in the history of Top Chef that we have laughed harder than with Ed’s revelation that he nailed Angelo’s girlfriend. Still, we have to give Angelo a lot of dap for battling through severe flu symptoms to almost win the competition. In fact, had Kevin not been gifted the presence of a Voltaggio brother at the finale and Angelo been healthy, we believe a different result would have occurred. To Kevin’s credit, he stepped up when it mattered most, but that takes nothing away from what Angelo accomplished. He won four Quickfires and two elimination challenges, including the first three overall events of the competition, a remarkable feat given the sheer volume of competition. Angelo suffered through a downswing toward the end of the season, not unlike Jennifer Carroll’s situation, but make no mistake that he is a serious contender to win the All Stars season.
Dale Talde: Perhaps no Top Chef contestant is more combustible than Season 4’s Dale Talde, a guy who almost got into a fist fight with another chef on Top Chef Masters. Dale can also cook. In the midst of top flight competition during Season 4, he established himself as a great chef with an impressive three elimination challenges as well as a Quickfire victory. Dale is one of those people who is largely a nice guy and usually has a smile on his face but will occasionally lose his damn mind with blind rage. So, his presence is a perfect combination of solid chef and potential reality show drama. We see him as middle of the pack in terms of overall talent, meaning we won’t be surprised if he is there late in the season or goes home early.
Casey Thompson: Since we already mentioned the potential feud simmering between Casey and Carla, we may as well discuss Ms. Thompson the cheftestant. The gorgeous Texan from Season 3 developed a reputation after the show was over for self-aggrandizing. Her actual performance on Top Chef was largely mediocre. She won three Quickfires and two elimination challenges, but both of the latter ones came at the end of the show when there were fewer competitors. For the body of Season 3, Casey was squarely in the middle and in fact toward the bottom more often than not. With a handful of episodes to go, she hit a hot streak and made it to the finale, yet there was never a time when she seemed like a serious threat to the 800 pound gorilla of that season, Hung. In fact, none of her four meals during the finale was considered the best by the judges, meaning she’s the clear bronze medalist from that season. Our expectations for Casey as a competitor are low, but she may bring a lot of drama if she proves insecure about what happened with Carla.
Marcel Vigneron: This Season Two contestant believed himself to be the top competitor against that season’s champion, Ilan Hall. This is not a perception we share, as it consistently seemed that Marcel managed to just do enough to stay in the game rather than showing anything truly special (he only really won two challenges). Other contestants accused him of disrespecting the game and even cheating (though it was never quite clear what they were accusing him of), and he was generally disliked throughout the Top Chef House. We’d call him an early odds-on favorite for villain of the All-Stars, but here’s the thing. While Marcel was kind of obnoxious and annoying, he really didn’t do anything horrible to the rest of the group. On the other hand, arguably the best chef of that season, Cliff Crooks, was disqualified from the competition after he (and the rest of the players) ganged up on Marcel and forcibly shaved his head. Cliff and the gang went way too far, and Tom Colicchio stated that he would have been fine with disqualifying all of the chefs except for Marcel for their behavior, but that would have made him Top Chef by default, and obviously that wasn’t happening. Marcel has an innate ability to get under other people’s skin by saying the most irritating thing possible, and this can have a huge impact on the other chefs if they can’t find a way to ignore him. We choose to believe they can beat him in the kitchen this time, though.