Top Chef Review: Welcome Back, All-Stars!

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Because Top Chef is one of my favorite reality shows, I was so excited to hear that it was doing an All-Star round for Season 8. 

All the contestants who came close to winning their respective seasons were back last night, given another chance at the grand prize, which has been upped to $200,000. Not only did this provide a veritable amount of food porn, but also visits from fan favorites such as Fabio and Carla, along with controversial folks like Marcel and Spike.

Let's get right to the review!

Top Chef All-Stars

With snazzy new uniforms and sexy looks, the chefs return to New York City.  It’s kind of nice to see that many of them know one another on a personal basis.  With so many egos and talents under one roof, fans should expect good food - but also lots of drama. 

Right off the bat, the viewers are treated to flashbacks of the contestants' best and worst moments, lest we forgot their shining moments.  Marcel?  Selfish, self centered, and egotistical. Stephen?  A tool and a douchebag. Ah, the good old days.

There’s not much time to socialize, though, as the chefs don their cool black attire and join Padma and Tom in the kitchen.

The Quickfire Challenge
The chefs team up here to represent the food of the city in which they originally competed.  It’s the Battle of the Seasons to answer the age old question of whose season was the best.  And there’s immunity for the entire season at stake.

There’s some private trash talking about whose season is the best; Tom Colicchio is always a tough judge to please and he picks Chicago (Season 4) as the winner, due to the originality of Richard’s mustard ice cream. As resident molecular gastronomist, Richard always did whip up some crazy things, but they usually paid off for him. Pork + black pepper sausage + mustard ice cream... FTW!

The Elimination Challenge
Season 8 is pretty determined to make the contestants relive some of their worse moments; the challenge is to recreate/improve the dish that originally sent them packing.  You can just see their lives flash before their eyes... yet again.  Meanwhile, Tom looks oddly gleeful at the prospect of this challenge.

Miso Butterscotch Scallops. Dale utters these three words with such disgust and horror you can’t help but laugh.  Good thing Dale has immunity because he faces Anthony Bourdain again, who despised his initial creation.  I think he went a little crazy because he putters around the kitchen and bakes some cornbread. 

I do think some of the contestants have more of an edge than others; some weren’t eliminated because they were bad dishes; others simply had slightly better ones. Elia, for example, had a fine dish but was more of a judgment call.  Meanwhile, Spike has to deal with his infamous frozen scallops.

Top Chef does the sneaky thing where they separate the pack and have them critique one another unwittingly. The chefs should really know by now that when they talk behind someone’s back, it will come back to bite them in the ass. 

Bourdain is one brutal judge; he calls Fabio’s pasta stew an “inside out animal." Elia is so distraught at the impending critiques that she refuses to watch altogether.

Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi

Meanwhile, Antonia correctly predicts that the previous chefs will rip them to shreds as revenge.  Bourdain calls Spike the “craftiest motherf*cker on the show” for disguising his scallops to the point of making them disappear.  Bourdain will definitely be an entertaining judge this season. He’s like a trainwreck you can’t take your eyes off of.

The Judges' Table
Richard is lauded for his dish, but disqualified for going over the time limit.  Angelo wins for his original pasta dish, along with $10,000 for his troubles!

Poor Fabio asks Bourdain to be more respectful, resulting in a muddled gaze from the judges. I think Bourdain might have been a bit drunk actually. 

Elia is universally trashed for the raw fish, and despite her pseudo threats, which were mildly inappropriate, the judges only stare her down. And then they send her home.

Overall, we're off to a great start. Just consider these quotes. Sound off now with thoughts on the Top Chef premiere.  Did you agree with Elia’s elimination? Who are you rooting for?

Top Chef All-Stars Premiere Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (4 Votes)
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Top Chef Season 8 Episode 1 Quotes

I squashed my balls on Season 5 and that is not going to happen.


I'm like an underdog, like an Italian dog, a good one.