Top Chef All-Stars: epic battle to conclude season

We all knew this was going to be a heavyweight fight between Richard Blais and Mike Isabella on “Top Chef All-Stars.” But I think these two guys exceeded their own expectations as well as those of the viewers and judges and also their fellow chef-testants. The episode began with Richard and Mike chilling in their hotel suite–and with host Padma Lakshmi telling the eliminated chef-testants that they would be making a small bite (they call it an amuse-bouche) which would determine who the two finalists would be having as sous chefs on their respective teams. Mike wound up with Jamie (ha!), Carla and Tiffani; while Richard had Spike, Angelo and Antonia. Nicely done for Richard.

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Top Chef All-Stars: Jamie continues to skate

Last night “Top Chef All-Stars” resumed on Bravo, and there are 13 chefs left. They began as host Padma Lakshmi announced the Quick Fire Challenge, and told the chefs that they would be going up against a world class chef in a race of speed. That chef would create a dish quickly and they would each have to create their own dish in that amount of time. The chef? Head judge Tom Colicchio. This was must-see TV, because no one who watches the show has likely ever seen Tom cook before. And these all-star chef-testants were in awe of Tom, as was everyone watching. The dude created a fish dish in 8 minutes, 37 seconds that looked amazing, and I don’t even like fish.

So the least favorite dishes were Dale (pad thai gone wrong), Jamie (one single clam on a plate) and Angelo (made a raw dish when Tom specifically said not to). The top dishes were Mike Isabella (made a similar dish to Tom’s–black sea bass with capers and olives while Tom’s was with clams, tomato and zucchini); Marcel (made a similar dish but with Asian flavors like dashi broth); and Richard (grilled beef tenderloin and foie gras). The winner was Mike, and his prize was a new Toyota Prius as well as immunity! Wow.

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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 DC: double dose of going home

Last night, “Top Chef DC” on Bravo continued to prove why it’s one of the best reality shows going. They staged a double elimination, and held the chef-testants accountable for working together in teams of two. But first, the quick fire challenge…

For that quick fire, hosts Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio were on hand with no other guest judge. Since both of them have recently welcomed new additions to their families, their challenge would be to create a dish for the parents and then a second dish of baby food for the child. They would have 45 minutes and both Tom and Padma would choose one winner who would take home $10K.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: more veggie tales

Last night’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo featured the remaining seven chefs facing more and more pressure. Some would respond while others would start to wilt, and we’re almost to final four territory (just where has this season gone??).

We began with a quick fire challenge as host Padma Lakshmi introduced Italian chef Paul Bartolotta, who has an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and is known as one of the best in the cuisine. But oddly, their quick fire was not Italian-oriented. Instead, they each had to create a “TV dinner” style dish based on a popular show, drawing knives to determine who would be representing which show.

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