Top Chef: All-Stars Recap
By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis
December 2, 2010
One of our favorites, Carla, is next to arrive and after a montage of “Hoody-Hoo” clips is shown, she gets right to the point, saying that she knows she was eliminated due to listening to someone rather than going with her own instincts and she will not repeat that mistake. Atta girl. She is followed by one of our other favorites, Jen Carroll from Season 6, who pretends like she came across as a confident woman during her initial appearances on Top Chef. That’s not how we remember it, but we loved her for her talent. We were not the only one, either. Out of all the people shown arriving on set, Jen’s presence creates the biggest stir, even over Blais. The other All-Stars clearly have tremendous respect for her cooking talent.
The final three to arrive are Angelo, who claims to have a lot of Advil just in case he gets sick again, small town girl Tiffany (“from Beaumont to New York City”), and Mike Isabella. If we are judging the expected finishes of the players based on the amount of face time they receive at the start of the episode, these three are in trouble. Fortunately for them, we think it’s more that Tiffany never provided a lot of drama on her season. Also, while Mike and Angelo did have some conflicts, none of the three people they battled (Robin, Kenny and Ed) are here today. So, there are no existing feuds to highlight. We will be curious to see if Angelo’s arrogance is dialed down in the presence of so many chefs. As for Isabella, we suspect he’s more of a worker bee who will have trouble standing out.
Tom and Padma’s arrival signifies that the game is on. The mood of the competitors goes from insecure to nervous. Padma enhances that emotion by pointing out that all of them are Top Chef losers. She then relays the information that the prize money is doubled this season with half a million dollars up for grabs with the winner earning $200,000 of that. Cha-ching! That’s gonna pay for so many Tiffany weddings! Tom informs the 18 contestants that the first Quickfire challenge is all about bragging rights. Since so many seasons brag that theirs was the best and only Season 6 is right about this (he doesn’t say this but we all know it’s true), he will let the chefs settle the matter in the kitchen. Grouping by season, the players will create a series of dishes they believe best reflect the city where their season was based.
The groupings are as follows. Stephen and Tiffani create dishes representing San Francisco cuisine. Elia and Marcel create dishes representing Los Angeles. Tre, Dale L. and Casey create dishes representing Miami, the easiest city in our estimation. The largest team of Dale T., Spike, Antonia and Richard creates dishes representing Chicago. Carla, Jamie and Fabio create dishes representing New York City. Jen and Mike create dishes representing Las Vegas, the hardest city in our estimation. And Angelo and Tiffany create dishes representing Washington, D.C. This is a fantastic idea for a challenge, straightforward but requiring some thought, some decision making and a lot of team work. Given that the chefs only have 25 minutes to create their meals, there is also a lot of pressure due to the significant time restraint.