April 7th, 2011
10:34 AM ET
If 16 episodes wasn’t enough to satisfy your “Top Chef: All-Stars” cravings, you’re in luck! Last night’s reunion episode brought back all 18 contestants, along with Padma, Tom and Gail.
The Andy Cohen-hosted affair included some of the segments we’ve come to expect from these reunions: satirical send-ups of the Richard/Fabio and Mike/Angelo bromances, reminders of how charming Fabio is, how genuinely likable Carla is and how fashionably trendy Angelo is.
Rather than rehash what we already saw during the season, I’d rather dive into some of the new things we learned during the reunion - some of which were just interesting tidbits.
We saw Richard become hyper-critical of his work during the show, but what I didn’t know is that after he lost in his original season, he almost contemplated giving up cooking entirely! It comes off a little over-dramatic, but it also makes me happier that he won this time around. Richard shouldn’t need the validation of a reality show title to know how talented he is, but if that’s what it takes to keep him cooking, then so be it.
We also followed up on three of the bigger controversies from this season. First, Jen’s “guns blazing” elimination. Watching the scene just made me uncomfortable all over again. Jen said she let the emotions get the better of her, and Gail confessed was shocked that a similar scene hadn't happened earlier.
Controversy No. 2: Jamie's lack of enthusiasm for… pretty much anything, especially cooking. We got a recap of everyone bagging on her lack of cooking (I said my part during the season, so won’t pile on here), and she didn’t do the best job of defending herself. But you do have to give her credit for showing up, knowing she would take some more heat.
Finally, Chef Law. Just to remind you, in the words of Carla, "there is man law, and there is chef law." And apparently Mike broke the latter when he was “inspired” to make a dish very similar to something in one of Richard’s notebooks. At the time, this was a HUGE deal, but at the reunion, the chefs downplayed the whole thing. Everyone agreed it was water under the bridge.
A couple other interesting personality notes: Tiffani, who claims that her season 1 performance was the blueprint for how not to compete, said she came back, not necessarily to win, but to show that she’s a different person, which I think she did quite well.
And based on a viewer question, we find out that Gail would choose to go on a date with Spike over Angelo or Fabio. (I’ll assume her husband is chaperoning.) Padma, on the other hand, said she’d take that date with either Elia or Casey. She also showed off a new word she learned recently in relation to another contestant, but I can’t repeat that comment here for the sake of decorum.
We got some fun video clips of Marcel’s auto-tune rap video (“Put it on a plate”) and Antonia’s history as the Black Hammer. (Is it a curse or coincidence that everyone she’s on a team with gets eliminated? I’m going with coincidence.)
And then we got to the main event: Tom vs. Elia. Apparently, after she was eliminated, Elia gave some interviews in which she slammed Tom and the food on his restaurant’s menu,calling him a sellout. Elia tried to avoid the conversation, but Andy Cohen pressed the issue. She refused to admit regret over her statement.
Tom fired back about what he thinks is and isn’t appropriate to say to the press, as well as his conjectures that Elia was embarrassed to have been eliminated first. There seemed to be some confusion about whether this was over Elia’s elimination or just a personal attack. Honestly, the whole thing was awkward to watch, and it seemed like everyone at the reunion felt the same way.
Luckily, we ended on a high note (that previously mentioned montage of how awesome Carla is), and this season is FINALLY done. What did you think of the “All-Stars” format? Last night’s reunion? Sound off below!
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