Top Chef: All-Stars Recap
By David Mumpower
February 20, 2011
1) Richard Blais – This is the first time I have done the rankings where I seriously considered dropping him out of first place in the Power Rankings. Richard has had a strong season, but Dale and Carla are both nipping at his heels.
2) Carla Hall – She wanted Pot Pie, she got Pot Pie, and she delivered a delicious, remarkably complex Pot Pie. Carla is in the zone right now.
3) Dale Talde – Even though he won the Quickfire Challenge last week, he has to be dropped a spot since he narrowly avoided elimination. Both of Dale’s mistakes in the most recent Elimination Challenges are understandable. He still needs to step up his game.
4) Antonia Lofaso – No longer held back by lousy teammates, Antonia is elevating her game at the perfect time. Luck of the draw gave her the worst dish last time, yet she delivered an upper echelon entrée, no small feat for a first time cow tongue-er.
5) Angelo Sosa – Continues to cook solid dishes that aren’t winning anything. In terms of overall performances this season, Angelo is now closer to the bottom than the top. That is a strange (but true) statement to make of someone who has finished in the top group in six out of nine Elimination Challenges.
6) Mike Isabella – Clearly one of the two worst remaining contestants, Mike has only finished in the top group in one out of nine Elimination Challenges. With only one Quickfire win to boot, he has been treading water almost the whole season.
7) Tiffany Derry – Tiffany had the most difficult challenge of any returning player save for maybe Stephen Asprinio. She had little time between the end of her season and the start of All Stars, and she spent much of this time getting married/enjoying the honeymoon phase. The fact that she has no wins to date is representative of this struggle. She has avoided elimination, however, which means that she is just as likely to win the All-Stars competition as anyone else.
Previously on Top Chef, Fabio was eliminated for failing to cook a cheeseburger. This marks the first and almost certainly only time in the history of the show that I can say that I could have made a better meal than one of the contestants. I’m still in a state of shock over this turn of events, as is the new best friend of Fabio, Richard Blais. He pointedly notes that if his Italian bromance partner had taken a few moments to ask Blais for advice, the owner of the wildly popular Flip Burger restaurant likely could have staved off his friend’s elimination. That didn’t happen, so we will be without this season’s Best Accent for the remaining episodes.
The only topic of conversation at the start of the episode is one we had chronicled at the start of All-Stars. Kim Hollis and I had stated then that we believed seasons four and six to be the best compilations of cooking talent in the history of the show. We had hoped that the best returning players from those two seasons, Richard and Jennifer Carroll, would duel from the start of the show right up until the climactic showdown in the finale. Jamie’s semi-injured finger robbed us of that eventuality and while Mike Isabella remains, there is simply no disputing the fact that the contestants from Top Chef season four have dominated this competition. Antonia, Dale and Richard all remain and you will note in the power rankings above that I consider all of three of them to be likely finalists, remembering that four players earn appearances at the start of the finale. This makes me wonder if the winner from that season, Stephanie Izard, could out-cook a Voltaggio brother.