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October 7, 2015

'Top Chef All Stars' Season 8, Episode 1 Recap (Season Premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 2nd 2010 2:15AM
top_chef_all_stars_2010_bravo['Top Chef All Stars' - 'History Never Repeats']

The very idea of 'Top Chef All Stars' is exciting. For one thing, if you've been a fan of 'Top Chef' for the past seven seasons, you already know these players. There's no need to get familiar with them, they're known quantities.

Marcel is annoying, but a great cook. Richard might have won if he hadn't choked in the finals. Tiffani overreached in her Season 1 finale and might have deserved the title of Top Chef after all. Every chef has a story that we already know.

So here we have the creme de la creme ... one step removed. This is the group of chefs who almost won the whole enchilada. To make it worth their while, there would be cash on the line.

First up was the Quickfire Challenge. The chefs had to create a dish that represents the city from their season. Immunity was at stake and the chefs had to work together. Just 25 minutes. But teamwork is always tricky. One team -- New York -- decided to make three dishes that were only linked by apple; they weren't working together at all.

Chicago, on the other hand, demonstrated both collaboration and creativity. They presented a deconstructed hot dog with mustard ice cream! It didn't look like a hot dog -- no bun -- but it was impressive. The pork and plantains from the Miami team showed well, as did Mike Isabella and Jen's pasta that represented Las Vegas.

When all was said and done, Chicago was the winner. And all four chefs -- Spike, Richard, Dale T. and Antonia -- were given immunity, meaning they weren't going home no matter what they cooked in the Elimination Challenge. That turned out to be a big advantage.

The Elimination Challenge was particularly nasty. Each chef was asked to make the dish that had sent them packing from their season, only make it better. A nasty challenge, but a great prize was at stake -- $10,000. The chefs were also split into two groups, and each group would be tasting the dishes of their competitors with the judges. Joining Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio this year on the judge's panel was the uber-critical Anthony Bourdain.

Padma suggested that tasting these reworked, improved dishes would be like a trip down memory lane ... Tiffany said it best when she described sitting with the judges after having heard them critique their dishes was like the worst Thanksgiving dinner ever.

Angelo and Richard got high marks for their ability to perfect the dishes that had tripped them up the first time around. And overemotional Dale was complimented by Bourdain for his ability to unfuck-up his butterscotch scallops, a dish Tony had despised.

Stephen A., from Season 1, was blasted by Bourdain and the other chefs, for unremarkable appetizers. But it was Bourdain's hatred of Fabio's New Orleans pasta stew that was really harsh. He called it appalling. Watching on a monitor in the kitchen, the chefs heard all the criticism from their peers and the judges. However, would those fellow chefs have been that honest -- and cutting -- if they knew the others were watching?

Probably not. Antonia, who was safe with immunity, anticipated that group one would rip group two to shreds. She was relatively unscathed, and Spike's scallops were a surprise hit. It seemed that he hid the taste of the frozen shellfish entirely, which was the right decision. Bourdain called Spike a crafty SOB and meant it in a loving way.

Jen was roasted for her duck, and that stunned her. You could almost see the confidence leave her body. Jamie, on the other hand, redeemed herself with a variation of Eric Ripert's crispy fish dish with braised celery.

Spike, Jamie, Richard and Angelo were called in to see the judges. Richard was admonished for taking too much time, over the allotted two hours, and he was disqualified from winning the challenge because of it. The winner of the $10,000 was Angelo. He'd improved on his dish by eliminating the watermelon tea.

Fabio, Stephen and Elia comprised the bottom three. Stephen admitted that he had not been involved in the creation of the original dishes, so he couldn't really replicate or improve them. Elia was accused of not cooking the fish long enough and serving a half-hearted effort. Bourdain felt that Elia had been her own worst enemy.

Fabio liked his dish, but Gail said it had been overdone. Fabio refused to back down and dared the judges to send him home. Elia, however, asked that they give her another chance. It seemed like a gutsy move. But of the three, Stephen seemed like he was the one out of his depth.

Nevertheless, it was Elia who was let go. Despite her ballsy move, she was told to pack her knives. She was upset, and rightfully so. She'd done better in Season 2. If she had simply tried one of her fish before serving it ... but woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn't matter when it's all done.

'Top Chef All Stars' airs Wednesday nights at 10PM ET on Bravo.

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Anthony Bourdain's criticism of Fabio Viviani was over the top and cannot be condoned. Bourdain was a demeaning and bullying judge who should be called to task. His actions were not funny; they were condescending and not what we should expect from a judge on this outstanding program. I salute Favio for standing up to this unacceptable treatment.

December 04 2010 at 6:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Loved the episode too! I got in late and wasn't sure if I'd stay up to watch the whole thing, but the minute it started I was giddy. I love seeing all the familiar faces who were all really strong contenders! I have a lot of favorites in there so it will be tough to narrow down. I love Angelo (glad he won the first challenge, Jennifer, Casey, Karla, Mike Isabella, and also Fabio ... but what was his deal last night??? Come on Fabio, you were always so good for a some upbeat spirit and a laugh and last night you just came off as a cocky, defensive a-hole. I like confident brazen chefs, but once it crosses the line into being a punk, I'm turned off (see Marcel) I hope he gets back to his former personality quickly or he's off my favorites list. LOL!

All in all, I'm soooooo excited for this season. Gonna be awesome!

December 02 2010 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last night's episode of Top Chef All-Star was amazing! I'm so happy to see my favorite top chef contestants. Bourdain had me laughing like crazy. I LOVE him and I'm glad he's a judge on the show! If Elia kept her mouth shut she would've still been on the show. Oh wells...Can't wait for next week.


December 02 2010 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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