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.

Comments

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

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

BBC Culture: Matthew Weiner: Mad Men’s creator on its final episodes

The creative force behind the period drama talks about where his characters are as his show begins its final episodes. “We left off with everyone’s material needs being met in an extreme way,” says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner of where we last saw the characters on his critically acclaimed period drama when the show went on hiatus 10 months ago. “Then the issue is, what else is there?” That is the central question with the return to US TV of the AMC hit, one demanding to be answered by both the show’s characters, and its creator whose success is the envy of the television industry. Mad Men has been a defining part of Weiner’s life for the last 15 years. He wrote the pilot script on spec while he was a staff writer on CBS’ Ted Danson sitcom Becker in 1999, using it to land a writing gig on HBO’s The Sopranos in 2002. It would take another five years, filled with multiple rejections, before the first episode of Mad Men would make it on the air. Someone with less determination or vision

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.