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Which previous TC winners would be competitive in TC All Stars?

The TC All Stars didn't win their season and yet, many are top chefs (not in terms of the competition but in terms of skills). When someone as talented as Jen sizzles and burns so quickly, how do you think previous winners would do this time? Who do you think could make it to the finals against the All Stars:

Season 1: Howard Dieterle
Season 2: Ilan Hall
Season 3: Hung Huynh
Season 4: Stephanie Izard
Season 5: Hosea Rosenberg
Season 6: Michael Voltaggio
Season 7: Kevin Sbraga

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  1. Bryan Voltaggio for the win!

    1 Reply
    1. re: yuyu

      Yeah, I think both of the Voltaggio brothers would do great this time around.

    2. Hung (Season 3)

      Anyone think that Howard (Season 1) was the weakest TC winner?

      14 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I would think Hosea would be the weakest winner.

          1. re: chowser

            You think Howard could hang with Hosea?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm not sure who Howard is, but I think Harold is a way better chef than hosea.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I would put both Hosea and Ilan below Harold.

                1. re: debbiel

                  Hosea and Ilan would certainly be in a tie for the bottom.

            2. re: donovt

              A toss-up between Ilan and Hosea.

            3. re: ipsedixit

              Harold the weakest?? No freakin' way!! ;-)

              IMO, Hosea was the weakest, followed by Ilan. I also have a really hard time buying that Kevin Sbraga made the best finale ever, or whatever it was that Colicchio said. He flew under the radar for me the entire season. None of his food ever excited me. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had tasted it, but based on just watching the show, I'd put him below Harold as well.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I'll go there:
                Harold was one of the weakest winners at the time of his win (Ilan was probably weaker, though it's hard to judge his abilities since so many of his dishes were ripped off). Of course, he's had time to develop since then, and he might be more formidable now - I know his recent restaurant is well reviewed (which, BTW, doesn't have all that much to do with how good of a Top Chef contestant you are). It's more than fair to suspect Hosea would have the advantage going into a Top Chef style contest.

                People tend to put too much emphasis on how well a contestant did within their season, without factoring in that the talent levels were not by any means even across the seasons. Harold beat amateurs, line cooks, private 'chefs' and caterers in fairly convincing fashion and he did so mostly with straightforward dishes that wouldn't have stood out past the first two seasons. His most impressive dishes - a duo of beef with creamy polenta, steamed snapper with squash puree, and a competent ceviche with popcorn fritters. Delicious, I'm sure - but nowhere near as ambitious as the dishes that win challenges now.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I'd have to agree with you. Harold had a tendency to play things safe. His technical skills were strong, but he didn't extend himself too much. Safety was fine for Season 1 where he was going up against a culinary student, granola chef, etc. If Tiffany nailed her finale dishes, she would have probably won. But in order to make it through certain seasons (eg. Seasons 4 and 6), he would have had to step up his game. When competing against contestants like Richard Blais and Michael Voltaggio where they pushed the envelope, yet are still able to deliver technically, a duo of beef with polenta probably wouldn't have been enough.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    I agree but then again look at Kevin G.. He held up well to the Voltaggios and has a similar style to Harold.. I think Kevin could take Harold though..

                    1. re: SDGourmand

                      True. You bring up a good point about Kevin's style being similar to Harold's. But I think Kevin G is a lot brighter than Harold and knows how to play the game better -- ie. describing his meat as "toothsome" (even though he misused the meaning of the word) in the Napa finale so the judges can't fault him for that.

                      I also think my views are colored by the fact that I've eaten Harold's food several times. The food for the most part was delicious. But was it super memorable with a wow factor? Not for me. I found a lot of the seasoning to be on the timid side. But the food was very well executed.

                      1. re: SDGourmand

                        Kevin's and Harold's styles were similar only in a vague sort of way - they cook from different culinary bases (upscale Southern vs New York francophile haute cuisine), but both tend to win on flavor and comfort rather than wowing with technical prowess.

                        But Marcel's style was similar to Ferran Adria's. Doesn't say much about how they'd fare in competition compared to each other. Talent is a big factor.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Kevin's and Harold's styles are similar to me at least in the sense that I'd love to try their food (I've tried Kevin's at a cooking demonstration and really liked it but have yet to try his restaurant), and I've said before that I think my tastes are a little lowbrow. Or more comfort. Technically Kevin's at least a few notches above Harold, but it's not his style to go form over substance. Lol @ at the Marcel/Adria comment.

                2. All of them would do really well, besides Hosea. Finals would be voltaggio, blais, angelo if the winners were added to the season.


                  1. Did anyone know that Kevin (Season 7) named his recent newborn ... Angelo?

                    1 Reply
                    1. I think Hung and Michael Voltaggio would hang with this crowd. Stephanie wouldn't win, but would probably do pretty well. I'd *love* to see Bryan Voltaggio in this group - he'd have a very good chance of winning.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        agree on all counts, LW. i also think Harold could hang...he's wuiet but dangerous :)

                        Ilan & Hosea wouldn't have a prayer, and i have no idea how Kevin S would do. he did manage to win over some good competitors last season, and i'd actually be curious to see how he would fare against Angelo a second time.

                      2. Ah poor Howard such a weak chef we've already forgotten about you.

                        As for Harold...he just got two stars in the NY Times for his new restaurant.

                        1. Hung vs M. Voltaggio. Hung for the win

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: SDGourmand

                            hmm, i think i'd actually take Voltaggio in that one...but it'd be close.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I'm not even sure it'd be close. M. Voltaggio had an uncanny knack for swinging for the fences on every challenge and actually hitting most of em out of the park. He's just perfectly cut out for this type of competition. I'd give him the advantage over most of the Top Chef Masters contestants.

                              I think Hung is pretty great, btw - not trying to take anything away from his cooking.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                As I think of it more Volt probably would take the win.. was he ever in the bottom 3 at all in his season?

                                1. re: SDGourmand

                                  He was in bottom of the cactus quickfire and the bottom of the dinner party challenge (overcooked halibut).

                            2. re: SDGourmand

                              Hung could compete with the best, but he'd have no room to phone in anything. His technique is great, and he's my favorite TC contestant overall, but he lacks Michael Voltaggio's sophistication and consistency.

                            3. I think every one of them could make the finals. They've already proven they have the ability to do so. Now which of them would actually make it to the finals has too many variables to say with any certainty. Plus with 25 chefs competing, it would be even more difficult.

                              1. Other than Hosea and Ilan, both of whom are appreciably weaker than the others, I think all the winners would be right in the mix. Michael and Hung in particular would be serious contenders. I think Kevin would hang for a bit, but not do too hot ultimately.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gastrotect

                                  It's pretty crazy that both Kevin and Hung have worked under M. Voltaggio and all three won there seasons of TC.

                                2. One thing to keep in mind when dissing Harold and Ilan...their seasons were produced over 5 and 4 years ago. Their cooking skills have likely improved since their TC days.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    I don't know - but I have a sense that the fact that Ilan and Hosea are not respected as chefs has a lot to do with how unpleasant their personalites were.

                                    I watched a re-run of Ilans season yesterday, and I couldnt believe how obnoxious he was. I wanted to jump through the tv and punch him one!

                                    I'm not saying either of them are great, I mean, I don't remember being blown away by their food, but I think the dis-taste has more to do with THEM than their food.

                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                      I just don't recall ever being interested in either one's food. I do, however, remember thinking that there were several challenges where Ilan just skated through, where he could have easily been sent home. But...that was a long time ago and my TC memory might not be great.

                                      1. re: debbiel

                                        Ilan was the original one-trick pony -- most of his dishes were based on dishes he'd done as a line cook at Casa Mono, which weren't even "his" dishes.

                                        I think winning Top Chef probably was bad for Ilan: it gave him an over-inflated sense of his own abilities.

                                      2. re: NellyNel

                                        Ilan did go overboard with his animosity for Marcel. Except for his behavior with Leah, I didn't mind Hosea at all. In fact, I thought season 5 was one of the more entertaining seasons, certainly more entertaining than season 7. The parameters of the challenges are enough different so I don't see how comparing food from one season to the next is particularly valid. A lot of people seem to think Stefan was the best chef that season and yet Hosea did out cook him in the finale.

                                      3. re: John E.

                                        Harold's doing quite well for himself in NYC...and Ilan's place here in LA is still open, so that's something :)

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I though that Ilan's place was shut down by the health department a while back.

                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                            they shut him down after a week of being open because of a plumbing issues I think.. Took him a month to fix and then reopen..

                                            1. re: Withnail42

                                              as SDG explained, it was temporary. and while i hate to defend Ilan, that happens more often than one might think.

                                          2. re: John E.

                                            That's certainly true. But it's more interesting to discuss them as they were at the time of their seasons, since most of us don't know anything much about how they've developed since.

                                          3. This was originally posted in 2010. If we factor in the winners since then, Richard Blais, Paul Qui, Kristen Kish, Nicholas Elmi, how would things play out?

                                            I think Paul Qui could take on Voltaggio, Blais et al and win.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chefhound

                                              After seeing how Bryan Voltaggio did on his season of TCM, I really think any of the winners could really hold their own - provided they still cook regularly.