Skip to main content

The True Cutthroat Culinary Competition Returns: An Advance Review of Top Chef: All-Stars

Longtime readers know that I am obsessed with Bravo's culinary competition series Top Chef, but also that I've been disheartened by the last season (and the trainwreck that was Top Chef: Just Desserts), so there was a lot on the line for tonight's season premiere of Top Chef: All-Stars, which reunites some of the fiercest competitors ever seen on the series for another shot at the title.

Arriving as it does on the heels of Top Chef: Just Desserts, there hasn't been a lot of time to regain one's appetite for the franchise, thanks to a schedule that now sees three iterations of the Top Chef formula airing basically year-round. Which might be a recipe for brand awareness, but it doesn't quite keep the franchise at its freshest.

Last season, which saw the competition move to Washington D.C., might is regarded by many as the worst season to date, saddled with some lackluster casting, some dull challenges, and some lazy editing. And Top Chef: Just Desserts, while high on reality-TV drama, was often histrionic and off-putting. Or just plain creepy. ("The red hots were for my mommy!")

Fortunately, Top Chef: All-Stars taps into what made the series so wildly addictive and delicious, bringing back some fan-favorites (Richard Blais! Jennifer Carroll!) and some duds (Stephen Aspirino) and putting them through their paces once again.

The first episode, airing tonight, contains a team Quickfire Challenge that's tied to the history of the show and what might just be the all-time greatest Elimination Challenge ever, one that has a strong emotional hook to it and which ties into the season's underlying theme. (That's all I'm saying on that front.)

Liquid nitrogen, inspired flavor profiles, and strokes of culinary genius mark tonight's episode and offers a taste of what's to come: some kick-ass and cutthroat competition from these returnees as they go head to head with some seriously strong chefs. Wondering just how Angelo might stack up against Richard or Marcel? You're in luck.

Look for egos, rivalry, and bruised feelings as the competition heats up and some nastiness between one chef and one of the judges as old wounds sting after renewed criticism (though, in my opinion, absolutely earned). And a shocking decision at the episode's conclusion. Which adds up to a fantastic episode of television and of Top Chef in general, reigniting my love for this series and keeping me on the edge of my seat.

The winner, in the end, is quite obviously us watching at home.

Top Chef: All-Stars begins tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on Bravo.


Jeremy said…
A "trainwreck," really? I thought that Just Desserts was one of the more entertaining of any season of Top Chef. All but a couple challenges were extremely entertaining and I thought the most talented chef won in the end.

Popular posts from this blog

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian