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Top Chef: All-Stars – Ep 4 – Tennis, Anyone?


I have to start this column with an apology to my friend Maddie, and anyone else who I accidentally spoiled with my Facebook status today. I just felt like I had to lend some support to my favorite DC lunch location – I just wasn’t thinking . Sadly, that has been a common status far too often in my life!

Anyway, another great Top Chef episode, and not solely because of Padma tennis shorts. Sorry, zoned out there for a second. But two more excellent challenges will always help make an episode great. And you throw in some strange dynamics in the fact that the worst dish – in fact, not even the second worst dish – did not get set home. Sadly, this victimized one of the chefs I was rooting for this season dynamic.

Before getting into the challenges, I want to say a few things about some of the chefs, as this season’s dynamics are starting to develop.

Angelo – The DC villain is shaping up to be the All-Stars villain. What the hell is he doing messing around with other chef’s dishes? Spike said it well, Angelo is like a car salesman, you don’t know if you should trust him or not. Is Angelo sabotaging dishes intentionally? I didn’t think so in DC, but this is now two seasons where chefs he helps seem to struggle and get eliminated. He helped Spike and Tre and both of their dishes crashed and burned. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Jamie – What the hell is going on with Jamie? She’s like a different person this season. Some could simply be editing, I guess, but she seems really bored and uninterested. First, I am sick of the soup. Sick of it. All she makes is liquid – when she actually cooks. This makes two of four elimination challenges where she actually didn’t make anything. She left to get her two stitches in Episode 2, and she (along with Mike) never got to compete in the tennis challenge. As Richard said, “You’ve got a story going here.” She does, a story where she doesn’t cook in a cooking competition.

Spike – Part of the reason I like Spike now, after not liking him in S4, is because he has mellowed a bit. And I have eaten his food – awesome! However, it’s why he lost this week. The Spike of old would never have allowed Angelo to talk him into altering his dish. The Spike of old would have just shouted Jamie’s name and sent her terrible dish out on the court as part of what I think was a good strategy. Get the worst dish out on the court to lose to what is probably the other team’s best dish, AND, it gets the worst dish up for potential elimination. As a result of his unexpected timidity, Spike goes out early.

Marcel – I may be reading too much into this, but I think they are laying the groundwork for both being at odds with Angelo. Interestingly enough, just like in his season, I am going to wind up rooting for him because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He’s right; Angelo does always serve on a spoon!

Fabio – I don’t know what to make of him, one week he’s acting like an ass and cooking badly, and the next week he’s hysterically leaping over tennis nets and making awesome gnocchi. Of course, he only seems to make gnocchi – he’s the Jamie of gnocchi.

Carla – Yet again, she is being underestimated. Perhaps it is because of her simpler, homey style of cooking. Maybe it’s because she’s a caterer and not a restaurant chef. Maybe it’s because she’s just so darn kooky, but no one ever gives her credit or considers her a true contender. She was one poorly-advised sous vide away from perhaps stealing S5 from Hosea and Stefan. And perhaps she’s poised to do the same thing to the All-Stars.

I’ll be rooting for her, along with Blais, Antonia and Casey. I’m pretty sure that’s where I am settled into this season – but that’s still subject to change.


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