Top Chef All-Stars: yikes

We figured that this season of “Top Chef,” being “Top Chef All-Stars” and all, there would be some ego clashes and shocking eliminations. Last night was mostly the latter.

The show began with Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers joining host Padma Lakshmi to announce the quick fire challenge. Helping to cater “A night at the museum” for a group of kids visiting the National Natural History Museum, the chef-testants would have to created a midnight snack geared toward kids that were apparently around 10-12 years old. Each snack would have to be served in a brown paper bag.
The least favorite snacks were by Tiffany D (coconut rice pudding), Mike Isabella (chocolate coconut bar with coconut horchata) and Stephen (snickerdoodle cookies). The favorites were Spike (homemade potato and carrot chips with dip) and Tiffani (Rice Krispie treat snowball).

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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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Top Chef Las Vegas….errr Napa Valley

Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the scene shifted to the Napa Valley in California, and some of the cast had physically changed. That’s because there was a decided time lag between when the final four left Las Vegas to when they re-convened in Napa…we’re not sure how much time, but enough for host Padma Lakshmi to have her pregnant belly start showing. Also, Kevin’s hair was different (and there was less of it)and Jen looked like she had gotten some sleep. The brothers Voltaggio pretty much looked and acted exactly the same.

So Padma announced that for part one of the finale, there would be a quick fire challenge to start, and she introduced guest judge and Top Chef Master Michael Chiarello, a Napa Valley restauranteur himself. For the challenge, they would have to cook Padma and Michael a dish in 30 minutes using Napa grapes and whatever else was in a pantry on the Napa Valley train….and of course, they would all have to share the train’s kitchen. This was a high stakes challenge, too…the winner would win a third generation 2010 Toyota Prius. Wow, these sponsors are really ponying up!

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Top Chef Las Vegas: breakfast in bed

Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the six remaining contestants were greeted in the kitchen of the Venetian Hotel with a phone call from host Padma Lakshmi. Padma was hanging out in a hotel room with cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson, and the quick fire challenge was to cook and deliver to them breakfast in bed.

Robin went first (how is she still here?) and made blintzes with goat cheese and pineapple. I don’t like goat cheese, but either way, that sounds disgusting. Eli made a reuben benedict with thousand island hollandaise sauce. Since they were staggered in groups of two, next was Mike and Kevin. Mike made a huevos Cubana with banana puree, and Kevin made steak and eggs. Then it was Jen and Bryan–Jen went with creamed chipped beef and Bryan made a 4-minute egg over corn polenta.

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