Friday, August 31, 2012

Flashback Friday - August 31, 2012

This post was originally published on November 5, 2009. We can't really do Top Chef recaps as Flashback Friday posts because in most cases, a single post makes no sense out of context. But the Reunion Dinner Special was a one-off, so here it is.
Top Chef Reunion Dinner Special Recap

This week, the powers that be at Bravo decided to break the momentum of the swell of excitement that has been building on Top Chef Las Vegas (yawn). Instead of more Voltaggio bickering, we are treated to Marcel Vigneron being himself (you know, a complete and total ass) in a Top Chef Reunion Dinner special. Double yawn.

Bravo execs must have themselves bickered over whether the dinner party should be a nice family show full of fun, feel-good moments, or one filled with bad memories and acrimony. They chose the latter. Where it might have made for good tv to feature the most irritating chefs from each season, they instead made it easy on themselves and invited the finalists from each season, several of whom were pills. And to host this fun fest? Chef Fabio Viviani, who must have signed his life away to Bravo.

The show starts off like a finale episode, with scenes of chefs arriving at the airport in Los Angeles and then traveling to Social, once the location for the Elimination Challenge in episode 5 of season 2.

Tiffani Faison from season 1 arrives first. Fabio has already started drinking because he knows what is to come.

After Tiffany, we see her season's champ, Harold Dieterle arrive.

Next up is season 2 winner Ilan Hall and season 2 asshat, Wolverine Marcel.

Suddenly, the "Top Chef Reunion Dinner Special" becomes the "Marcel Vigneron is a Douche Not-So-Special." Marcel explains why everyone hated him.

Oh, we do get to see the other chefs for a bit, too. Season 3's Dale Levitski and Casey Thompson come in next. Dale talks about how he bonded with Sara Nguyen during their season and that they now live together and she's his "girlfriend/little sister." Casey says she had a little sister too that season - Hung. And on that note, season 3 winner Hung Huynh strolls in.

Season 4 finalist Richard Blais enters and is asked by Fabio if he copied his hairdo from Jennifer Biesty. Lisa Fernandes, sporting a new extra-butch buzzcut, is next to arrive. When asked what she's been up to these past few years, she states she's still with her same girlfriend. Um...I think Fabio meant chefly accomplishments.

Season 5's Carla Hall walks in next and Casey shits herself. It's the first time they've encountered each other since their unsuccessful pairing in that season's finale. But before Casey gets a chance to duck and hide behind the bar, Stefan walks in and starts flirting with the lesbians.

Fabio then grabs another glass of wine and sits down to talk with Marcel, Tiffani, and Hung, three of the more abrasive characters ever to appear in the Top Chef Corporate Sponsorship Kitchens.

Tiffani really owned up to her past bad attitude. But Marcel remained childish. He didn't want to answer any questions about the time he was hit over the head with a bottle by an angry Top Chef fan, requiring 30 stitches. Or about anything else vaguely interesting. Stefan then joins the klatch.

Fabio has enough of the chatter and brings out the knife block. While it would have been fun to watch him throw the knives at Marcel, it's merely a signal that there will be some sort of cooking challenge. Harold's thrilled.

The sight of the block prompts Blais to do a riff on his inquisitiveness.

One person from each season draws a knife which is numbered from 1 to 5. This number represents the course that they will be expected to prepare for the dinner. Hung, Casey, and Dale are doing the first course, Tiffani and Harold get second, Ilan and Marcel get third, Blais and Lisa get 4th, and Stefan and Carla get 5th course. Each season/team has an outrageously high budget of $500.

Cut to the chefs rushing around Whole Paycheck. At one point Stefan is holding a jalapeno pepper in his right hand and a large cucumber in his left. As Carla approaches, he nods toward the jalapeno and says, "Fabio," then indicates the cucumber and says, "Stefan." Carla gives him a "you wish" and walks off.

Ilan and Marcel decide to blow most of their budget on expensive wine. Although they exchanged some pretty harsh words in the past, they seem to have buried the hatchet. Unfortunately, Ilan wasn't strong enough and the hatchet bounced off Marcel's hair....

Back at the Social kitchen, Tiffani remarks that this time she's cooking in a kitchen full of professionals. Is she saying that they weren't professionals in the past? Meanwhile, Stefan is flirting with her. She calls him a "lesbian opportuniwhore," to which he remarks, "look out, Lisa!"

Time's up! Knives down! Everything gets plated and brought to the table, family-style. Looks like the former cheftestants are getting a lot of cold food today. Fabio stands up and gives a long-winded broken-English toast about being a weener and heem sorry he not have been een keetchen with them all.

Fabio then introduces a never-before-seen clip from last season: Blais, Casey, and Marcel in front of Judges' Table, being interrogated after the finale. Marcel, not surprisingly, is being a douche and insists on talking while the judges are talking, prompting Toby Young to tell him to shut up. Marcel then stalks off like the immature brat he is, feigning offense at being called offensive.

That causes Fabio to ask if the cheftestants thought they were unfairly criticized in their season, prompting a montage of various judges saying mean things. We then get another montage showing the cheftestants boozing it up.

Marcel and Ilan then serve their salt-crusted fish dish, giving the producers the opportunity to swing the topic of conversation back to Marcel, King of the Douches.

We momentarily move away from the Marcel Show and face the tension between Carla and Casey. Carla is happy for the opportunity to clear the air.

And Casey acts all innocent. She thinks we've forgotten this.

The chefs then decide they are tired of talking about Top Chef and what they went through. This incenses Fabio who stands up and demands the cameras be shut off. Which they aren't. So we get to see him yell at the group like an angry father, saying that eef they don' wan' to talk, they-a should pack up-a da food and leave because they-a make heem look-a stupid. And the cheftestants all laugh at him, making him look-a stupid.

Back to the Marcel Show: Fabio asks him about the head shaving incident, which he relents to relating with the help of a montage. And I relive cheering Cliff on as he wrestles the little jerk to the ground. Ah, memories! We are also subject to a montage of fights between cheftestants, namely, Howie and Joey in season 3, and the chair throwing incident between Spike, Jen, and Dale in season 4.

And finally, a montage of stew room antics which include faux magic, Glad beds, and volleyball. And I'm looking at the clock and thinking, "oh shit, is this going to be a super-sized episode?" But the credits start coming up on peoples' torsos and I'm relieved.

The end. Let's not do this again, shall we?

Next week: The Voltaggios are back, serving breakfast in bed to Nigella Lawson and Padma. Unfortunately, nobody gets naked.

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