Top Chef All Stars – A Show About Nothing? (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

With a freshly minted – either the best episode of the season or … well, let me give another spoiler alert.  If you have in on your DVR, why are you reading this?   Top Chef in the can, let’s get right to it:

  1. The quickfire was total genius – and almost certainly the least appetizing quickfire of the season, maybe any season.  Having all processed food, and only microwaves and a rolling hotdog griller to cook on (you know what I mean, the thing that rotates the hotdogs and taquitos so seductively to drunken customers at 7-Eleven) – Tom Hanks had an easier culinary challenge in Cast Away.  Throw in the the indefinite duration and we had a real McGyver problem.
  2. Of all people, who’da thunk that Carla would have the MacGyver solution?  She just planned well and her dish seemed easily the best of the bunch.  Mike Isadouche’s soup was a heartfelt attempt but looked pretty disgusting.  Richard was angry about the loss – which inspired a snappy comment from LG.  Honestly chefs have such massive egos – of course they think they are brilliant.
  3. The Ellis Island challenge was cool.  You always get the weepies when the cheftestants get to see loved ones.  This was no exception – although Carla’s husband did not resemble what I had in my mind’s eye, while Tiffany’s mom absolutely did.
  4. Antonia’s dish looked brilliant.  The risotto and … well, I don’t do veal for moral reasons, although it clearly has the characteristics as a protein of the sorts of meats that I would LOVE.  It is a clear winner.  She has been strong the last month – and she has sort of moved to tops on my rooting list.
  5. The prize this challenge might have been the sickest product placement in television history.  Tiffany in particular in a confessional gave a virtual TV commercial testimonial.
  6. The elimination – well the judge’s decision was not a surprise.  Considering the quality the judges got to taste – and their raving comments – how can you tell someone they cannot advance to the finale set?  That said, eliminating nobody was a bit of a cop out.  These people are pros – shouldn’t Tom Collichio be able to identify someone slightly worse than the others?  But this is better television.

So, how to we rank order the chefs at this point – the same Furious Five?

  1. Richard – he can do things nobody else can do.  His creative brain creates ideas nobody can create.  He is not a slam dunk, but he has it all.
  2. Antonia – the big closer, has been rock solid since early in the season.  Has a lot of versatility, and is peaking.  Of course there is a time gap with the change in venues, so as long as her life did not fall to pieces in the interim, she should be a serious contender.
  3. Carla – deciding between Carla and Isadouche is a matter of ceiling vs consistency.  Carla has won three times this season, but she also has been on the chopping block a lot.  At this point, where you only need to be great twice, I’m betting ceiling.  After all, last season’s Top Chef won on the basis of a single great week.
  4. Mike Isabella – Isadouche has been pretty steady.  He has been in the bottom a couple of times, but most of the time has been solid.  Solid won’t get a win.
  5. Tiffany – she has been the clear borrowed time cheftestant all season.  That said, her performance was heartening.  But I cannot see her winning, while the other four all could.



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