Yes, I am recapping season 8! But this week...we're going to have more of a "weecap." You see, I wanted a few weeks off between Top Chef Just Desserts and Top Chef All Stars, but only got one. And I watched the premiere of All Stars a few weeks back via screener DVD from Bravo, so decided not to watch it a second time. Needless to say, my memory of it is a bit fuzzy...cuz I didn't take notes.
Anyhoo...All Stars! How exciting is that?
When the show starts, we find the eighteen re-cheftestants from seasons 1 through 7 meeting up at their digs in New York. It's cute that they all seem to have met before and for the most part have a genuine affection for each other. Except for Fabio, who's not all that thrilled to run into Marcel again after the unpleasantness at the Reunion Dinner special last Fall. And who should be standing at the elevator when Fabio disembarks?
In case you missed it, this season's cheftestants are: Tiffani "Dave Ain't Her Bitch, Bitch" Faison and Stephen "Top Sommelier" Asprinio from season 1; Elia "Bald is Beautiful" Aboumrad and Marcel "Wolverine" Vigneron from season 2; Tre "Shoulda Won" Wilcox, Dale "Briefly Dated PR's Jack Mackenroth" Levitski, and Casey "Carla Screwed Herself" Thompson from season 3; Dale "Crotch Grabber" Talde, Richard "Fauxhawk" Blais, Spike "Asshat" Mendelsohn, and Antonia "Poo Talker" Lofaso from season 4; Fabio "Eets Not Top Escallop!" Viviani, Carla "Casey Screwed Me, But You Won't Hear Me Blame Her" Hall, and Jamie "No, Stefan, No!" Lauren from season 5; Jennifer "The Fish Whisperer" Carroll and Michael "Douchebag" Isabella from season 6; and Tiffany "I'm Getting Married" Derry and Angelo "Inigo Montoya" Sosa from season 7.
The chefs eventually get around to putting on their snazzy black chef's coats and head to the Top Chef kitchen where they find Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio waiting for them with their first challenge of the season. The cheftestants from each season must team up and create a dish that symbolizes the city in which that season was filmed (in order, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and Washington DC). Yeah, it didn't seem fair that some teams had two members, and others had three or even four. An advantage, or no?
Everybody loves team challenges, especially when there are eighteen competitors in 7 teams. The kitchen got hectic real fast.
Team Chicago, with four members, came out on top with their version of a Chicago dog with Dale Talde's sausage [insert juvenile joke here] and Blais' mustard ice cream. I think the main advantage was that they worked well together, and Dale managed not to put his fist through anything.
For the Elimination Challenge, the re-chefestants were presented with covered platters bearing ingredients that were used in the dishes that got each chef eliminated.
Yes, Spike gets to work with frozen scallops once again, and Jamie Lauren has to re-create that nasty celery salad dish of Eric Ripert. But it's ultimately worth it because the winner of this challenge gets a cool $10,000.
After some hours of prep, the cheftestants head to the Russian Tea Room to complete their meals and serve them to the judges.
Turns out that 18 chefs is a bit more than the RTR kitchen could handle, so the chefs are split into two groups. And of course there's a twist - the chefs not in the kitchen will act as tasters in the dining room. It doesn't seem like such a big deal to the first batch of chefs in the kitchen, until they notice a huge monitor that allows them to see and hear all seventeen of the judges pissing all over their dishes.
Verbally, not literally.
Bourdain's somewhat savage reaction to Fabio's pasta dish irritates the Italian Stallion.
God, I missed Fabio. He should compete every season!
Stephen Asprinio also fails to impress with his selection of appetizer dishes that were his responsibility but not his products in the original Restaurant Wars. Also on the bottom was Elia Aboumrad who just didn't get that her fish dish was bad, so why change it?
Before the bad news...the good: Spike managed to overcome the frozen scallop issue and impressed the judges with his new interpretation. Jamie also bested the celery and ended up on top. Richard Blais was praised for his dish, but because he didn't stop plating when his time was up they couldn't consider him for the win. Angelo Sosa rounded off the top three. Doesn't it seem like he just got eliminated? Season 7 isn't even a memory yet, it happened such a short time ago. And maybe it's because the judges remember the taste of his original dish so well, one made when he was sick with the monkey flu in Singapore, that they were able to come to the decision that his dish was the best of the best.
On to the bottom three: of course nobody was going to send the lovable Fabio home for a little bad pasta, but the snotty Stephen and once-bald Elia were fair game for elimination. And it was determined that Elia committed the worst sin and she became the first re-cheftestant to pack her knives and go.
Next week - a better recap! Maybe. :) I kinda like this half-assed one.