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Top Chef All-Stars: fondue and Fallon

Last night was an interesting episode of “Top Chef All-Stars.” Not that they aren’t all interesting, but this one was a bit more so. They began with Fabio ribbing Antonia a bit more about her winning last week with mussels that were a “French” dish, as Fabio claimed, not Italian. Then host Padma Lakshmi introduced the Quick Fire, which was to create an interesting form of fondue. But Padma threw them a curve, which was that they would be their own judges, with comment cards to pick the least favorites and the favorites. The least favorites were Fabio (Bellini with caviar and white wine); Mike (spiced lamb with feta fondue); and Tiffany (apple fritter with hazelnut/chocolate fondue). The favorites were Antonia (smoked salmon on toast with crème fraiche—ed. Note—ewwwwwww!); Dale (Pho-ndue); and Angelo (deconstructed walnut/goat cheese fondue with endive dippers and beet juice shots). Dale won and he got a trip to Napa Valley.

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Top Chef All-Stars: this is pure genius

Unlike other reality shows that either jump the shark or try to use the same formula over and over again, the fine folks at Magical Elves bring us “Top Chef’s” eighth season, but with an awesome twist–”Top Chef All-Stars” on Bravo. It’s not a match of winners, mind you, but of contestants who came close to winning but fell short. That means contestants who are both still hungry and partially or fully bitter. And that makes for genius TV.

Also, after having seasons in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Washington DC, this battle takes place in the heart of it all, New York City. The same host, Padma Lakshmi, returns along with head judge Tom Colicchio as well as Gail Simmons and newcomer Anthony Bourdain (who has been a frequent guest judge).

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Interview with Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain

If you’re a fan of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” you have something big to look forward to starting December 1. The new season is “Top Chef All Stars,” pitting contestants from previous seasons in what is sure to be the best season of the show yet. Along with host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, regular judge Gail Simmons and new judge Anthony Bourdain, some of the past competitors who return for this season are Carla Hall (season five finalist), Spike Mendelsohn (season four, top five), Fabio Viviani (voted fan fav, season five) and Marcel Vigneron (season two finalist).

We had the chance to participate in a conference call with Colicchio and Bourdain recently and naturally they had great things to say about this season and are looking forward to sharing it with the world. Below is the transcript, and the show begins airing Wednesday, December 1 at 10:00 pm ET/PT.

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