Wow – it’s been so long since I wrote about Top Chef. Oh wait, not really. Thanks Bravo for giving me a full week of a break before presenting 18 more chefs competing for the title of Top Chef. The best part of this group – no new names to learn!
That’s right; Top Chef starts its first ever All-Star season and has shown right away why they finally won their first Emmy last year. It’s all in the casting. The Vegas season with the Voltaggios, Kevin, Jen and the Gang was a phenomenal cast and helped the show finally win. Now the casting skills that led to that win have put together the absolute best All-Star cast of any reality show.
Originally meant to be 17 chefs, the 18th was added when Angelo unexpectedly lost DC, who all came close to winning but failed. No past winners have returned, but many finalists. In fact, the vast majority of the All-Stars made the Final Five of their seasons – only the Restaurant Wars victims Chicago Dale and Tre and the compelling Jamie and Vegas Mike (MM to those who read my old commentaries) failed to get that far.
There are actually very few quibbles I have with the casting – I would have loved to have Sam, Brian, Big Bearded Kevin return. But honestly, not sure who would get removed. That’s how good the cast list is. Bravo…er…Bravo.
The show opens up by re-introducing our All-Stars as they arrive at the Casa de Padma.
Tiffani – Season 1 San Fran – She was competitive and aggressive and barely lost her season. She will be SF Tiff for my purposes to differentiate between the Tiffs this season.
Stephen – Season 1 San Fran – He is described as a troll and a douchebag. Alrighty then. Season 1 was actually the only one I failed to watch, so this is my first experience with these two, but from what I have heard, Stephen is going to annoy me.
Elia – Season 2 LA – She claims that she will win this season (hmm), and that she has matured from her last time on the show. That time, she was complicit in an attempted assault and shaved her head like a crazy Klansman. So, one would hope.
Marcel – Season 2 LA – The most hated Cheftestant ever. I kinda liked him in S2, probably because everyone was really mean to him and I disliked Ilan so much. But really, Marcel is an ass, or a “selfish, self-centered, egotistical bastard.” He’s also really talented.
Tre – Season 3 Miami – A favorite to win his season, Restaurant Wars took him down. He later came back to win the Holiday special. He “ain’t playin’ around with this MF.”
Dale – Season 3 Miami – The Comeback Kid in Miami, Dale almost stole the season from Hung at the end. Miami Dale for this season to differentiate, he is a huge fan favorite.
Casey – Season 3 Miami – She ranks very high in show history in most challenges won. Season 3 Finale with her, Dale and Hung ranks with Vegas as the best Finale Trio. Also, smokin’ hot. I’m just saying.
Richard – Season 4 Chicago – My favorite Chef, and the best one to not win his season. I may call him Blais from time to time, because his last name is just too cool. The Professor, he loves using chemicals and other innovative techniques. Also, dude has lost a lot of weight.
Spike – Season 4 Chicago – Hated Spike the last time around. Love Spike now. That’s what making the greatest burgers ever will do – in fact, I may be stopping by tomorrow, Spike. (Note – I did. Delicious) Capitol Hill, baby!
Antonia – Season 4 Chicago – My wife’s favorite female Chef (Sam is still tops for her), she got into it with Spike in their season. She’s also one of the more popular past Chefs thanks to her single mom status.
Dale – Season 4 Chicago – ChiDale had quite the temper and went out with perhaps the worst dish ever – butterscotch scallops.
Jamie – Season 5 NY – The victim of Fabio’s Top Scallop line, and the object of Finn’s obsession, despite the fact that she plays for the other team. She is REALLY accomplished in SF, and now wants to prove herself with a better Top Chef showing this time around. And, damn, she looks great.
Fabio – Season 5 NY – The charisma. The pasta. The one-liners. And that damn impossible accent. Fabio got into it with Marcel during a recent special, so that could be an issue. Strangely enough, Fabio was really bitchy this episode. I hope that doesn’t foreshadow a personality shift.
Carla – Season 5 NY – Hootie Hoo! The DC caterer is one of the most popular chefs after her unexpected Top 3 finish in S5. Having Carla and Casey together could be interesting after the sous vide incident potentially cost Carla the S5 title.
Jen – Season 6 Vegas – Perhaps the most aggressive and talented women on the show, she was compelling to watch during her season as she fell just short of the Finale against arguably the best Top 3 ever (The Voltaggios and Kevin).
Mike – Season 6 Vegas – Full of one-liners, Mike is also wildly arrogant and possibly the biggest underachiever in show history. He is looking for redemption. And, by the way, I think we know where Blais’ lost weight went.
Angelo – Season 7 DC – He got sick in the Finale and it cost him the title. So talented. So arrogant. So weird.
Tiffany – Season 7 DC – Another really likable Chef, she surprised many (including me) by getting as far as she did. She’s not to be underestimated.
So, not much frivolity in this episode as there is only so much to show with 18 Chefs and two challenges in 75 minutes. But both challenges rocked.