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Top Chef: All-Stars – Ep 3 – Smells Like a Head Shop


Things you learn watching Top Chef…French toast and veal is a bad idea. Although, come to think of it, I don’t think I needed Top Chef in order to understand that this was a bad idea.

Episode 3 of All-Stars has kept the momentum going with three strong episodes in a row – a well-cast, well-executed All-Star season so far. What makes that very interesting is that early episodes of Top Chef are often tedious, as the full hour is usually jam packed with chefs introducing and displaying their dishes. There’s only so much time for anything else and thus little to comment on. In addition, those early chefs to go, just like most early boots in other shows, have not really made any impact on us. But with All-Stars, it is jolting to see early exits of past stars that excelled. Seeing Tina go out first in Survivor All-Stars just a few seasons after winning the whole thing was our first taste of that. It is the nature of reality all-star shows.

What Top Chef has done to solve the boring nature of early episodes is really bring their A-Game with their challenges. The Mise En Place Quickfire is always a winner, and the added twist this time made it even better. And I really, really liked the Tour of Fancy Schmancy Restaurants for the Elimination Challenge. As for the Double Elimination, well, I am never a fan of those; however I’m less militant about that with Top Chef than with the Amazing Race or Survivor. Maybe it’s because they seem less random in Top Chef. Survivor always seems to force the Double Tribals, which I have talked about ad nauseum. Top Chef’s double cuts always seem more organic. In this case, there were really four separate competitions in the Elimination, so have two of the losers depart did not bother me.

Quickfire Challenge – Padma is joined by David Chang, of Momofuku Restaurants, and he is this week’s famous chef for the All-Stars to gush over. The chefs are divided into four groups of four based solely on how they filed into the room. They are then tasked with doing the Mise En Place relay, but instead of it being a relay, they all must prepare the food simultaneously. The first team to finish starts the cooking clock – 15 minutes – to prepare a meal with the ingredients. The other teams will all have less than 15 minutes to cook, some substantially less depending upon when they finish.

Great. Effing. Challenge.

Team Angelo is quite confident and, in fact, finishes first in peeling the onions, stripping the rack of lamb, mincing the garlic and prepping the artichokes. Mike’s skill with the meat helped, as did Fabio’s massive smash of all of the garlic cloves. They start first. Team Blais wraps up next, not too far behind as Spike takes over the garlic and shows some rather impressive knife skills. Team Casey is next, but has only 10 minutes to cook, and thus elect to make lamb Carpaccio. A rather bold and necessary decision, because, raw lamb is not something that excites me, I must say. We also get a glimpse into Casey’s disastrous onion peeling from her relay back in S3. Team Marcel is last to finish and have only eight minutes to make their own Carpaccio.

It is an exciting challenge with the chefs running all over the place. At the end, Jamie exclaimed, “That was awesome!” And I would have to agree; at least she didn’t manage to hurt herself again.


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