EW Description: “The culinary competition reunites cheftestants from the past seven seasons. This time around, the ambition is strong, the egos are stronger, and the insults from new judge Anthony Bourdain are just delicious.”
When the All-Star season first began, I was extremely excited. So many of my favorites were back and I was thrilled to see them again. I absolutely loved Jen when she was on in season 6, but her complete and total meltdown in the second episode led to her too-early departure. The first couple eliminations were completely shocking and I watched as several of my favorites left almost instantly. Some of my old favorites disappointed me (Jamie, who turned into a sullen brat since season 5) and some of the people I hated in their season became my new favorites (Season 1’s Tiffani did a complete 180 with her personality and became extremely likable).
Once we got to the middle of the season, I was a little bit irritated. A lot of the challenges seemed designed to instigate drama rather than showcase the talents of the chefs. For instance, the US Open Challenge was all about strategy and scheming. I don’t want to watch these chefs scheme to screw over the competition. I want to watch them strategize in order to develop the best dishes. I watch Top Chef for the food, not the drama. Maybe I’m in the minority. Fortunately, the majority of the challenges have been extremely difficult and have stretched the chefs to their limits. I love when a challenge truly pulls one of the cheftestants outside of his or her comfort zone. It can lead to some of the most creative dishes I’ve ever seen and it absolutely fascinates me.
Now, we’re at the end of the season. The second of the three-part season finale airs next week. This season has been full of surprises. The final four are Mike Isabella (Season 6), Richard Blais (Season 4), Antonia (Season 4), and Tiffany Derry (Season 7). Basically, everyone expected Richard to be in the finale. I never would have expected Antonia to make it to the final five. I really liked her when she was on in season 4, but I didn’t think she was going to be the best of the best. She has absolutely astounded me this season. I definitely never expected Mike Isabella to make it to the finals. I thought he was an obnoxious jerk when he was on the first time. I still think that, but I believe in his talent more than I previously did.
My favorite, Season 5’s Carla Hall, sadly got eliminated in the first part of the finale. She was doing so well, but any sort of misstep gets you sent home in this group. Richard is definitely the frontrunner to win, but I have a feeling he’s going to choke just like he did the season 4 finale when he lost to Stephanie Izzard. Right now, I’m rooting for either Antonia or Tiffany to take it all. We’ve only had one female Top Chef and I’d love for the Top Chef All-Star winner to be a woman.
If you want to catch up on the season, Bravo airs all the episodes from the current season right before the new episode every Wednesday night. Basically, Bravo becomes the Top Chef network on Wednesdays.