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Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #1 - 12/01/10 (Spoilers)

They're BAAAACCCCKKKKK! And so are we, boys and girls - we've got some Angels, and we've got some Devils coming back to duke it out for another chance to become......TOP CHEF! So is everyone ready for some backstabbing? Only if they're stabbing the backs of...hmmm...what - lobsters? Tee hee!

I am very much looking forward to seeing a lot of favorites come back....I truly think they have a great All-Star group! Okie-dokie - we're OFF and running! w00t!!! Who's gonna go first? 74 minutes and counting....YES, people, it's going to 11:15pm tonight for the first episode!

I'm loving the quick recaps as each of the cheftestants are introduced in the house re: what happened to them in their season. And WHAT a surprise, Marcel is still a jerk. :-/ TRE! My MAN! LOL The latest Fabio line as he's punching the elevator button: "Skyhouse...we're going up but I feel like I going to hell!" :-D And immediately following that line, we get "I not gonna take a bunk bed ever again - I squash my balls in my season and I'm not doing that again!!" LOL Fabio's back - yay!!!

Richard Blais saying the (*his*?) biggest competition is Jennifer Carroll from TC6. Good assessment. And it's BLACK chefs' coats for the All-Stars, and off they go to the TC Kitchen! Padma and Tom greet them, and Padma let's them know the winner will get $200K - the largest prize ever for TC (along with the Food and Wine feature and being featured at the Food & Wine Festival in Aspen).

For the QF Challenge? Don't know yet....they've got to cut to commercial, of course!

Whoa. I just read what I wrote so far. Linda, maybe you went just a *tad* overboard on the exclamation marks? Perchance you're a wee bit excited to have Top Chef back with these great chefs? ;-)

QuickFire Challenge: Each season's chefs work TOGETHER to create ONE dish that must represent the city in which their season was filmed. Winners of the QuickFire will all get immunity.

TC1 is going with a cioppino gazpacho for San Francisco.
TC2 is going with shrimp tacos for L.A.
TC3 is using mangoes, avocados, jalapenos, and pork tenderloin for Miami
TC4 has 4 chefs...could b e a problem! But they're going with deconstructed Chicago Dogs.
TC5 is using apples...a TRIO of apple dishes? Ugh. Trios. Please. STOP with the trios!
TC6 is going with mobster Italian food to represent Vegas. I kinda like that idea, as Vegas doesn't really have a specific food that's related to the city, does it?
TC7 is going with crab cakes for DC.

LOL - "Professor Blais" is breaking out the liquid nitrogen...no surprise there! He made a mustard gelato for the Chicago Dog - I like that!

So - who won? Tom goes over all dishes...sounds like there were several favorites, but TC4 wins for their Chicago Dogs! All 4 get immunity....Richard, Spike, Dale, and Antonia.

Now it's time for the Elimination Challenge...Room Service trays are brought in front of all of the teams and Padma asks them to lift their covers. The ingredients that sent them packing are on the tray - they have to make the dish that sent them home, but make it BETTER. Three hours to prep/plan in the TC kitchen, and then 2 hours at the Russian Tea Room to cook. And Tony Bourdain is back right off the bat! Yay! :::::doing the Snoopy Happy Dance!::::::

They're at the Russian Tea Room - and the kitchen is tight - so Tom comes in to split the group into two groups of 9....and whoever's NOT cooking will get a chance to taste the other group's dishes with the judges! Winner of the EC will get $10K.

Angelo, Dale Talde, Stephen, Fabio, Elia, Richard, both Tiffani's, and Tre are first up. The cheftestants get to watch on a TV in the kitchen what everyone else is saying about their dishes.

Jennifer Carroll was highly complimentary of Richard's dish. And YAY! Dale Talde un-EFFED himself with the butterscotch scallops, per Bourdain! LOL And unfortunately for Fabio, AB *hated* his pasta dish! He called it an "inside out animal." Yowch.

OK, Antonia, Spike, Casey, Marcel, Dale L., Jennifer, Michael, Jaime and Carla are now in the kitchen and the first group is now sitting with the judges. Fabio went right for AB, noting he said he hated it 11 times. :-)

And in the previews for JT, it looks like Fabio's in the Bottom group. Rut-roh. Please don't tell us that he's going home already? We, the viewers, NEED his silly comments! PaLEEZ???????

OK, back to the 2nd group's dishes: AB just called Spike the craftiest MF*cker who's ever been on this show for how he turned around his frozen scallop debacle! LOL But WOW. Jennifer didn't get ANY decent reviews! Could she be the one to go? It will be interesting to see who's in the top and who's in the bottom. And Richard Blais plated after time was up...a problem?

They ask to see Angelo, Richard, Spike and Jaime. Hmmm...this has GOT to be the top group! So Richard is told by Tom that he saw the tapes, and while his dish was excellent, he did go over the allotted time...so he is not eligible to win. Tom says the winner is Angelo - so the dish he got booted for just a few weeks earlier on his season, he wins for this go-round! But Richard Blais seemed to have had the best dish (per Dale T.) and he looks disappointed that he wasn't eligible to win.

Fabio, Stephen, Elia are called in for the bottom group. Not surprised at Stephen being there - he just doesn't seem to be very "cheffy." Fabio and AB go at it, and it could very well be him going home. :-(

The judges say that Elia refused to improve her original dish. Fabio's flavors were too thick and heavy. (I have to agree it didn't *look* all that appetizing!) And Stephen's dish gets compared to a colonoscopy by Anthony Bourdain. Yowza! LOL

Padma tells Elia to pack her knives and go...perhaps that was foretold by the Magical Elves when Elia was shown saying she was going to WIN the All-Stars. Hmmmm....

Oh, the PREVIEWS look great - even TOM gets into one of the competitions...and WHOA - this will definitely be a drama-ridden season, at least in the little bit we saw of the Stew Room and Jennifer taking on Tom Colicchio at JT.

Well, there you go - first Ep is out of the way. How does everyone thing the cheftestants did? Any favorites yet? Nah - too early, I think. Except I still think Blais has a chance. :-)

Toodle-oo - I'm off to try and sleep!

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  1. I'm psyched already! The intro really set the tone, and it looks like it's going to be a great ride. I'm here with you, Linda!

    1. "professor blais"

      haha i like it! wanna try mustard gelato!

      1. Wow, I'm really surprised that so many looked like they gained weight. They were chefs before and they're chefs now. Wonder what changed for so many of them?

        Marcel's point about his season not ever winning cash or prizes is a good one I never thought of!!! First time they saw one of those "high stakes" quick fires in a later season the folks from the first few seasons must have been irate!

        23 Replies
        1. re: charmedgirl

          Well, Marcel was TC1 - they were still trying to figure out if this was going to take off, and I'm sure had a VERY limited budget with which to pay the cheftestants any prizes. As it became more popular amongst the audience, more advertising dollars came into play. Poor Marcel. :-P

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Not saying there wasn't a good explanation. Just saying if I had been on an early season, the first time I saw someone win $10,000 for a quick fire, I'd have had some words to shout at the TV screen. :-P

              1. re: charmedgirl

                True first few seasons you get an autographed book from a guest judge,or something along those lines. Around season 4-5 they started to get a little better. I'd be a little pissed too if I got a book and a few months later someone, perhaps they even learned a few tricks from watching you, gets $25,000 for doing the same thing.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                Marcel was TC2 (just a nit) -- but I don't remember much in the way of prizes before S4? Then the high stakes money came into play in Vegas S6?

                1. re: momjamin

                  Ugh - you're right. I was dog-tired last night (made an offer on a condo, and I was stressing!) and had trouble placing who was on which season. I'll have to print out a spreadsheet with their pictures and Season number! LOL

                  I can't remember when high-stakes came into being - I *think* they might have had a few "extra" prizes in TC3? But don't have time to look for that...at least not yet. I'm sure Wikipedia might have noted it.

              3. re: charmedgirl

                i dont think it is so much they have gained weight (exept fabio has gained quite a bit) as they are "styled" now. They used to all look so ratty.

                1. re: LaLa

                  Ummm.... I'm afraid I have to disagree. I feel fairly certain that several of them have gained a decent amount of weight. It was very striking to me. I don't want to call anyone in particular out though, it doesn't feel very nice, so I'll leave it at that.

                  1. re: charmedgirl

                    uuuummmm...ok. I was just stating my opinion too :) Which I still think but then maybe the weight thing isn't really a "big" issue to me...big...get it...i crack myself up!

                    1. re: charmedgirl

                      With the exception of Angelo and Tiffany, they're all several years older, it happens.

                      1. re: charmedgirl

                        I know who you are thnking of, specifically. At least one big weight gain, and it wasn't that long ago for his season.

                        I thought Fabio (who did not gain weight) looked maybe a little too smooth? Anyway,I was glad he was not eliminated. A 'hint' in another article about Top Chef indicated sadness at someone eliminated early, and I was scared it was Fabio.... Not that I didn't feel bad for Elia, but I never considered her as someone who would make it in the long haul.....

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          What the heck happened to Fabio? I barely recognized him!

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            i'm with you. others have said he looks good, but i disagree. he needs a haircut, and he just looks haggard. he may have enjoyed a lot of success since his season, but it's taken a toll on him!

                          2. re: jeanmarieok

                            I think Fabio got a show of his own, right after his season...no?

                            1. re: pitu

                              If I heard correctly, he was scheduled to have his own show on Bravo, but plans were cancelled after Chef Academy got poor ratings and Bravo backed off cooking programs.

                          3. re: charmedgirl

                            Several of them struck me as having really gotten in shape since their original seasons, also not to name names because it's not really a beauty contest. I actually thought everybody looked like they were in pretty good fighting trim and ready to kick some ass!

                          4. re: LaLa

                            My observation was that some of them looked notably thinner.

                          5. re: charmedgirl

                            Looks like Tiffany Faison from Season 1 lost weight. She looks good.

                            But what happened to Mike Isabella? He looks like he hasn't stopped eating since he left Las Vegas.

                            1. re: chicgail

                              I think Tiffany Faison looks great - AND her whole demeanor seems to have changed. She is SO much more relaxed - at least so far. I'm rooting for her to be one of the finalists.

                              And yes - both Dales and Mike Isabella all seem to have gained a bit of weight. Didn't Mike get married soon after his season ended? (Not that that would have anything to do with it.) And he and Dale L. both have their own restaurants, so lots of taste-testing? :-)

                              I still wanna smack Marcel. And I'm waiting for Tre to show his stuff. I'm thrilled he's back!

                              1. re: chicgail

                                Totally agree that Tiffani looks great! And I agree she is coming across so much better this time, which makes me very happy. I really liked her in season one and thought she was getting the "villian edit," so I'm glad to see that doesn't seem to be the case this time.

                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                  I met Tiffani about a month ago...she looks great, and she's much nicer than the Elves led us to believe during season one. She does seem to have a no b.s. attitude, but she was very gracious and appreciative of her fans. Her only commentary about this season is that it was a lot of fun...which leads me to believe that she was around for a good amount of it. :)

                                2. re: chicgail

                                  Tiff does look great, also Blais has lost weight as well since his season. And Dale L.'s face is looking a little chunky.

                                  LMAO at the Mike I comment. - more fame and less work perhaps?

                                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                    Both Dales and Mike Isabella looked significantly heavier than on their last appearances, I thought.

                                1. re: chris2269

                                  Wow. What happened in this episode to bring that on? Or is it mostly carry over?

                                  1. re: debbiel

                                    Eaten her food in SF. Not bad but nothing I would tell a dear friend to go check out ASAP. Shes taking over/opening a restaurant here in LA and I will check it out but the over bravado (And now thinking of this it was probally coached or encouraged in all of them) is a bit mis placed. The best things at her restaurant in SF where the drinks.

                                    1. re: chris2269

                                      she's been the chef at Beechwood in Venice/MDR since mid-October.

                                      1. re: chris2269

                                        "Eaten her food in SF. Not bad but nothing I would tell a dear friend to go check out ASAP."

                                        Agreed. I live fairly close to Absinthe and ate there several times when she was chef. Not bad but not particularly impressive.

                                        Of course I never tried the scallops. :)

                                        The food has improved since she left.

                                      2. re: debbiel

                                        I agree. During her season she kept saying that everyone expected her to win a quickfire or elimination and she still has that same attitude. She forgot to tell the judges that it was her turn to win. Personally, I don't like it when they talk bad about other's work or to highly of their own. I liked the way Brian Voltaggio carried himself.

                                        1. re: debbiel

                                          For me it was the moment during the quickfire when she said she was so much better than the other chefs during her season and that's why she suggested a trio, so she could do her own thing. Then, when Tom agreed her dish had been the best of the three (total bummer, I wanted him to take her down a notch) they cut to an interview with her where she was like "see, I knew my stuff was the best."

                                          I didn't mind her so much when she was on the first time but man she turned me off last night.

                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                            charmedgirl, I agree. You'd think she'd get the concept that the quickfire was a challenge that required team work to win (The Chicago group certainly got that: sure, they had a very skilled 'professor' to make the mustard, but it was a team 'take' on an iconic Chicago dish). But no, it seemed she was more interested in showing up her teammates than in winning.

                                            1. re: charmedgirl

                                              When Jaimie's cooking something that Colicchio says is great, I don't want her "taken down a notch". The trio seemed a legit way to go to me, and NYC is full of individualists trying to distinguish themselves from the crowd. The Chicago dog had distinct elements clearly executed by each member, or at least the mustard freeze and the sausage were attributable.

                                              I soooo want this to be about the cooking . . . .........

                                              1. re: pitu

                                                Plenty of contestants through the seasons and last night have demonstrated that there's a way to make delicious food, distinguish yourself, and still behave with kindness and integrity. Last night, Jamie was not one of them.

                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                  Though I don't think she's in the top for arrogance, I can see how people could see that in her. I really don't, however, see what she did last night that demonstrated a lack of integrity.

                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                    She's not in the "top" for anything in my opinion -- cooking, arrogance, or lack of integrity. But I stand by my statement. In any event, to echo what chris said to kick of this side bar, I'm already so over Jamie ... and I'm also sorta over talking about her. To be honest, I find her one of the more boring contestants. So I'll just agree to disagree about it. :-)

                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                      Jaime's not going to win this one and she'll say or do whatever she says or does until then.

                                                      I am just so glad that Lisa who was a finalist on Season 4 is not part of this group. If you want to talk about a mediocre chef overloaded with arrogance, lack of integrity and - mostly - attitude. She is just not missed.

                                                      1. re: chicgail

                                                        OMG. Can you imagine Marcel, Lisa, and Mike I. in a kitchen together?

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          Oh, great - now I'm going to have nightmares!

                                                        2. re: chicgail

                                                          I had forgotten about Lisa!! Must have blocked her out. Great point chicgail -- I am super glad she's not part of this cast. (Wonder if she wasn't asked or if she was asked and declined?)

                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                            <shiver>Lisa<shiver> I don't know that I would have been able to watch this if she had been on.

                                              2. re: chris2269

                                                It was a real buzz kill when she walked through the door. On her season I found her overly annoying and tiresome for someone who never really produced.

                                                1. I'm so sad to see Elia go home. I'm rooting for Jen, Richard, Tiffani. I can't wait to see Stephen and Marcel go home.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: lisavf

                                                    What you said on the "rooting for" and the "can't wait to see go home". But WHICH Tiffani? :-)

                                                    Oh wait - it's Tiffani (with an i) Faison and Tiffany (with a y) Derry. Got it. :-)

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Yep, Faison. I really liked Tiffany Derry but she didn't knock my socks off. I think Tiffani F. showed real talent.

                                                      It's going to get confusing, 18 contestants and two of them are named Dale, two of them Tiffany/i!

                                                      1. re: lisavf

                                                        I'll make sure I write Dale T. and Dale L., and get the right Tiffani/y! :-)