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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The judges criticize all the things we noted earlier, but then they notice Jen’s aggressive stance and note that she seems really pissed off. She loses her damn mind at this point. Note that we love Jen, we had Jen at #2 in our power rankings, and were openly rooting for a Jen vs. Richard Blais duel all season long. We cannot overlook the fact that Jen acts like an insolent child during this discussion, though.

Tom asks why they “piled everything on one plate.” Jen’s reply is frankly the most pissy thing we’ve seen in the history of the show. “You guys are smart enough. You’re the judges. Why don’t you say, ‘hey, can I get a different plate for this?’”

Tiffani says, “Oh wow,”

The fact that Jen’s own teammates are appalled speaks volumes about how far she has crossed the line. Jen is obviously someone who needs her beauty sleep.

Tom then asks if Jamie’s leaving to get medical attention affected the dish, and Jen said not at all. Antonia harshly criticizes Jamie for her unwillingness to play through pain, and notes that everyone else on the team said the same thing.

“I will fight to the death on this,” Jen says, as she defends the flavors of her dish.

After the commercial break, she does indeed die. Or at least her candidacy on Top Chef All-Stars does.

“I think I yelled at the judges more than they yelled at us,” Jen says when they come back to the stew room.

Jen’s elimination is the most surprised we’ve ever been with regards to a reality show that bases its results on performance. It would be like Dwight Howard getting kicked out in the first round of a dunk contest against high school students.

This is echoed when Antonia says, “Holy shit” after Padma tells Jen to pack her knives. When the decision is announced to the rest of the contestants, the reaction is pretty much the same as it would be if Edward got staked in Twilight.

After she makes her very courteous exit, Jen can be heard swearing in the back.


As we have said, we had considered Jen to be a co-favorite. You can tell the strength of a contestant’s professional reputation by the way the other chefs behave. Running an Eric Ripert restaurant is the equivalent of being an NFL head coach. Those are the most coveted jobs in the industry. In re watching the episode this weekend, what became apparent is that the producers knew that they were going to get buried for Jen’s ouster. So, they laid it out carefully to make the whole thing understandable. And it was a perfect storm:

1) She doesn't get to pick her dish's components.

2) When she and Jamie agree on what to cook, one of the items isn't
eligible for use due to the contents of the freezer not being what was expected.

3) They were down a person as a group when Fabio picked the other team.

4) Their team divided up into duos. Jen's partner left for a sketchy reason.

5) The ovens didn't cook evenly.

6) Jamie only showed up in time to basically plate the dish.

7) The rest of the team struggled so much that they were on the bottom. Had they been excellent otherwise, she would have been safe.

8) Eliminating one of the other contestants would have forced a decision about which half of the duo was more responsible for their failure. Jen is the only choice on her dish unless the judges feel Jamie should be eliminated for her absence.

Fare thee well, Jen. We know you were Jason Lee’s favorite, and that he’s so distraught he has said he would quit watching this season if he weren’t going to be recapping it once his school semester is done. You were one of our best-liked contestants as well, but we do have to say that your behavior at the end of your run was unattractive. We know you’re a great chef. We just wish you’d comported yourself better when the chips were down.

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