Top Chef All-Stars Recap

By David Mumpower

March 9, 2011

Mike Isabella is presumably the one wearing the head dress.

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1) Richard Blais – After one week in second place, Blais moves back into first. I hope that this doesn’t jinx him the way that Dale’s ascension to the top of the power rankings did.

2) Carla Hall – With Dale gone, everyone moves up a spot. In terms of performances relative to their seasons, Carla is the remaining contestant who came closest to winning. That bears noting as we grow closer to the finale.

3) Antonia Lofaso – Remember back in season four when we expressed outrage over Lisa getting to advance instead of Antonia? At the time, it was readily apparent that Lisa’s drama was more important than Antonia’s low key personality and exquisite cooking skills. What a tragic miscalculation that was. Antonia, Richard and Stephanie Izard in the finals would have been epic.

4) Mike Isabella – Hey, he won something last week! “That’s two, baby!”

5) Tiffany Derry – You the reader have won as many challenges this season as Tiffany.

Dale is gone. No one can believe it. That is the way this episode begins and the behavior is perfectly human. Dale won a Quickfire and an Elimination Challenge in the same episode then turned around and cooked a dish worthy of elimination the next round. As upset as we have been with some eliminations such as Tiffany Derry’s in season seven, this was as shocking a rise and fall as reality television has ever experienced.




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With the dominant player from the season eliminated, well, not much has changed in that everyone still looks at Richard Blais as on a different playing field from the rest, but there is one more spot open for the finale than had been expected. And we are facing that cutoff point tonight. One of the remaining five players will not make a trip to the Bahamas to compete for the title of Top Chef All Stars champion. Tiffany Derry is particularly troubled by this thought as she was sent home for a dish at this same moment in the most recent season. The difference is that she deserved to make the finals that year while her continued presence in All-Stars is a mystery. Again, you the reader have won as many challenges this season as Tiffany. And you may not be able to make a can of soup if I spotted you the can opener and a microwave.

Padma shows up at the door and tells the chefs to head up to the roof. Everyone nervously meanders toward the exit, wondering what challenge is awaiting them up there. Instead, Padma informs the quintet that they are going to take a ferry to Ellis Island for their next competition. When they arrive at the ship, they are informed of their contest. This one is as tricky as anything in the show’s history. Using only the contents of a snack bar, the challengers are asked to create a delicious dish. This request on its own would not be particularly trying, but the catch is devilish. The chefs must cook their meal in the moments between their departure and the horn signifying their arrival at Ellis Island. As Mike Isabella states, this could take five minutes or three hours. They have no way of knowing.


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