Top Chef All-Stars Recap
By David Mumpower
March 28, 2011
1) Richard Blais – Another contestant is the hottest performer in the competition, but Blais has been the favorite since day one. Nothing that has happened over the course of the season has changed my opinion that he is the odds on favorite to win Top Chef All-Stars.
2) Mike Isabella – At the start of the season when Kim Hollis, Jason Lee and I posted our preseason power rankings, Kim and I had Mike in sixth position. That placed him in the upper third of the contestants. Jason had him slotted in last place, not because of his cooking ability but because those of you who read Jason’s season six recaps will recall that Mike Isabella is arguably Jason’s least favorite contestant to date. Mike has clearly outperformed all of our expectations while also making Top Chef All-Stars basically a worst case scenario result for Jason. If Mike’s hot streak doesn’t end unexpectedly tonight, Mike is 50/50 to win the title of Top Chef All-Stars champion. I’ll have to talk Jason down from the ledge if that happens.
3) Antonia Lofaso – For the past two recaps, Antonia had been in second place, but the reality is that she narrowly avoided elimination last week while Mike has (seemingly out of nowhere) won two elimination challenges in a row. I hope I’m wrong, but the writing appears to be on the wall that Antonia is going to wind up on the outside looking in for yet another season finale.
With only three remaining contestants, there isn’t a lot of time spent reflecting upon the previous episode’s fallen competitor, Tiffany. Instead, we see the All Stars trio assessing how they stack up against one another. Mike has gone from happy (and lucky) to be there to a legitimate contender to the title. Richard had once viewed Antonia as his primary threat in winning the title, but he is beginning to re-evaluate.
Almost as if Blais needs to psych himself up, the season four runner-up debates their Top Chef accomplishments. He states that Mike has won a grand total of two challenges in two seasons while Blais has won eight. Assuming he is only talking about elimination challenges, Antonio’s victory tally is three, in case you were wondering. The fact that I have to slap this on as an afterthought reflects the conventional wisdom all three chefs share. At one point, there were three women remaining against only two men yet with the eliminations of Carla and Tiffany, Antonia is all that remains of Team Estrogen. The men have switched from an endangered species into the dominant species, the previous episode’s Quickfire result notwithstanding.
The following morning sees the arrival of the Puckmobile and its owner, Wolfgang Puck. Wolfie (I get to call him that but you don’t) was absolutely brilliant during his appearance on the season premiere of season six. He even set the record for Top Chef donut toss, a number that still stands to this day. His presence is always welcome as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, he doesn’t talk much at the start; Padma and Puck (I’m totally pitching this buddy cop series to NBC next season…they’re desperate and will clearly put anything on the schedule) inform the contestants that the Quickfire challenge will be a combination of prior competitions.