Top Chef All Stars Recap
By David Mumpower
March 23, 2011
1) Richard Blais – Well positioned to win All-Stars as expected, Blais has not been as dominant as had been expected this season. I am also troubled by the way he seems to be psyching himself out after a couple of months away from the competition.
2) Antonia Lofaso – Nearly eliminated last week, Antonia appears to be overwhelmed by her potential Top Chef title, questioning her self-worth. And the grease fire didn’t help her disposition any. Hopefully, this was one (overly long) bad day that will be quickly forgotten.
3) Mike Isabella – Mike’s continued presence in the game reflects the fact that players with nothing to lose are frequently the most dangerous. As the other three remaining contestants wonder if they can comfortably call themselves Top Chef All-Stars champion, Mike focuses on what is important: new personal bests in the category of loudest burp.
4) Tiffany Derry – Tiffany won something last week! I haven’t been this shocked by a turn of
events since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson. With a whopping one victory under her belt, Tiffany has a 25% chance of winning Top Chef All Stars. In the immortal words of Gorilla Monsoon, what a travesty of justice that would be.
We are back to form this week as, unlike the previous episode, we start with the remaining contestants lamenting the elimination of a fellow competitor. Carla was the unlucky one in an episode where none of the dishes was particularly good, a stark contrast to the last episode in New York wherein every meal served was a triumph. Whether the chefs can put this misstep behind them and recover gracefully will be determined tonight. Oddly, I am most concerned about the two players who top this week’s power rankings as Richard and Antonia both need to get out of their heads a little bit. Instances such as this one are the reason why the term “paralysis by analysis” was invented.
The Quickfire Challenge begins only two minutes into the episode, indicating that we will be all business this week. Someone named Lorena Garcia is the special guest judge this week, and Padma informs us that Ms. Garcia will be the host of an upcoming NBC reality show competition entitled America’s Next Great Restaurant. Garcia’s biography at NBC.com is well worth reading if you have the time. She graduated from Law School then chose to become a chef instead; despite her credentials, Richard Blais and Mike Isabella make it clear during the opening competition that they don’t think much of her opinions on food.
The chefs are divided into teams of two with the end result being a battle of the sexes. This suits everybody just fine as the boys don’t even wait for Antonia and Tiffany to say anything before they become Facebook Official with their bromance. All of the estrogen in the room seems to be inducing alpha male behavior from Richard, as he grows overly smug about his team’s chances of winning. The challenge requires the preparation of 100 dishes, each of which is expected to match the others in terms of appearance and flavor. Precision is key here as a random chosen plate will be using for judging rather than one specially prepared by the chefs for this purpose.