Top Chef: All-Stars Recap

Night at the Museum

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

December 14, 2010

This is actually a nicer look than she gave the judges.

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Previously on Top Chef, the season started wonderfully as the producers came up with the perfect initial Elimination Challenge. With a cast of 18 chefs who had not won in previous seasons, they were asked to remake the dish that led to their ultimate disappointment. In the end, there were several surprises, some of them serendipitous. Spike got the last laugh against Rick Tramonto, almost winning in spite of being stuck with more frozen scallops. Richard Blais may have choked the first time he attempted a glazed pork belly, but the only thing that kept him winning this time was the fact that he went slightly over the allotted time for plating. Finally, Angelo proved that his health was probably a factor during the Season 7 finale, as his recreation of his pork belly won him this week’s top spot.

Three dishes were clearly worse than the rest. This led to a decision between voting out a chef who hasn’t been cooking lately in Stephen Asprinio, someone whose meal looked and tasted icky in Fabio Viviani, and someone who served raw fish in Elia. While we expected Stephen to go home since he seems like he’s in way over his head, Elia failed in cooking school basics and had to be sent home.

In terms of our power rankings from last week, we feel that the situation is largely the same for most competitors, but we have made a couple of adjustments. Here is our new order, including some comments by way of explanation at the end.

1. Richard Blais
2. Angelo Sosa
3. Jennifer Carroll
4. Mike Isabella
5. Carla Hall
6. Tiffany Derry
7. Dale Talde
8. Jamie Lauren
9. Spike Mendelsohn
10. Tiffani Faison
11. Antonia Lofaso
12. Tre Wilcox
13. Marcel Vigneron
14. Casey Thompson
15. Dale Levitski
16. Fabio Viviani
17. Stephen Asprinio


We still think Jennifer is at worst the co-favorite this season, but we had to punish her for a dish that was not well-received. Meanwhile, one of the Top Chef blogs has indicated that Angelo’s dish would have won even if Richard Blais hadn’t been disqualified. We placed Mike Isabella a bit higher since he had a strong showing in both challenges. We did not, however, drop the duo of Carla and Tiffany down a significant amount. Their body of work is stronger than their opening day jitters would indicate. Dale Talde deserves recognition for exorcising his demons. Along with Dale, we should also note that Jamie, Tiffani and Spike all had fine first showings, with Jamie and Spike in particular impressing the judges. Casey was good as well, but we’d like to see more consistency from her before moving her up. The rest did about what we expected or didn’t even merit much face time during the episode, other than Fabio, whose dish seemed to make Anthony Bourdain regret ever becoming a celebrity cook famous enough to be a judge on Top Chef.

To kick off the show, we are introduced to a Jonas brother. Are we on the right channel? Readers of this site primarily know the Jonas Brothers for their hugely disappointing movie, which earned $19.2 million domestically, or roughly half of what Miley Cyrus’s concert movie made. Dale Talde has no idea who Joe Jonas is, and idly thinks perhaps he might be a pastry chef. Having just seen Top Chef: Just Desserts, we understand why. Also, Padma must have at least three inches on him. We understand why pre-teen girls like them – he’s their size! God, we hope our nieces aren’t reading this.

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