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S17.E01: It's Like They Never Left!

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Usually the mise en place race is one of my favorite competitions on this show, but they did it all wrong here. They need to divide the chefs into teams so they can cheer on their teammates while secretly snarking on each other in the talking heads. The way they did it in this episode was totally boring.

Malarkey and Leanne bragging about how good they were with cooking over an open flame and then winding up on the losing team was classic Top Chef comeuppance. Angelo and Leanne showing pictures of their families and then doing poorly in the elimination might not bode well for their immediate futures on this show.

It was interesting that Jamie, the chef who lost because he gave up immunity picked Stephanie, the chef who lost because Nick wouldn't give up his immunity, to be on his team. I thought it was going to lead to a discussion on the philosophy of taking or declining immunity, but I guess not. Maybe that will come later when immunity is actually on the table.

I liked Jennifer well enough in the Vegas season, not so much when she returned for the All-Star season. I want to like her again, but the slow measured way she speaks in her talking heads is making her sound rather snooty. She seems to talk normally when she is with the other chefs, so maybe she just needs to relax a little when she is being interviewed.

By contrast, Nini might not be as accomplished as the other chefs, but she was really bringing the funny to her interviews. Here's hoping she can find a way to hang around for a while.

This probably makes me a terrible person, but my favorite part of the show was the red team lounging around on the picnic tables congratulating themselves on what a wonderful job they did intercut with the judges ragging on their food.

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The editors love that, and there are usually plenty of self-congratulatory chefs that can be contrasted with the judges explaining how awful the dish is.

The whole episode felt flat to me and didn't capture my attention at all. I hope thing get more interesting.

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It’s always tough to care a great deal the first few episodes, when there are a ton of people, and that’s not entirely mitigated by the fact that they’re returning, so they’re not completely unknown to viewers or hard to keep straight.

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I was so happy to see this show back and almost had a fan girl meltdown when I recognized the people and realised it was All Stars. I had no idea! I thought it was just a normal season!

Love love love Stephanie!!!!! I hope she lasts forever so I can watch her delightful talking heads. Charming and hilarious 😍

Loved Gregory on his season too so I was thrilled that he won. I adored the joy the yellow team radiated when they won and it was so cute how Jamie rejoiced in his good judgment for picking his team.


I don't mind Malarkey. He's fun on GGG and I find his brand of nonsense harmless. 

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On 3/20/2020 at 7:52 PM, Quilt Fairy said:

Also, Kevin Gillespie may not be the "Bacon Guy" but I'm pretty sure he was the "Pig Guy". 

Iirc, I nicknamed Kevin “Bacon Jam” back in the day - so he is certainly a bacon guy, if not the bacon guy.

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On 3/21/2020 at 3:54 PM, AriAu said:

Lots of people seem to forget that she was actually eliminated before Season 10 (Seattle) even started-they did preliminary cuts in Season 10 (and also in Season 9) and literally handed out Chef Coats to those who got to move on! 

Oh yeah! I'm glad they stopped doing that.

I haven't been watching regularly for the past ten years or so, basically since the last All Stars, so I don't have a clue who about half these people are. I saw some of Gregory and Melissa's season though. I see them going far, with Stephanie,  Kevin, the Voltaggio, and probably Jen. I didn't keep up with the KY season after the first episode, so I'm not sure how good a cook Nini is, but I hope she sticks around a little while to be charming.

I didn't remember Lisa Fernandes at all, even after her sour grapes comment about being picked last, until they flashed back to her in the final 3 lineup with Stephanie I. and Richard. I really resented her in that season, especially for eliminating Antonia, and then apparently I forgot she existed. It's been a while since then, though; seems a lot less intense and unpleasant now.

I remember Malarkey being funny and easy-going back in Season 3. I didn't know he was disliked. He was a little irritating this ep, but I don't think he forced Joe into cooking soggy flatbread.

Nice to see Angelo figured out how to chill out.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/26/2020 at 2:54 AM, Lois Sandborne said:

I haven't been watching regularly for the past ten years or so, basically since the last All Stars, so I don't have a clue who about half these people are

Me neither! I remember Bryan, Kevin, Jen, Angelo, Brian Malarkey, Lisa (sort of) and (sort of) Lee Anne. I fell out of interest in Top Chef when I kept disliking the winner, but I was pleasantly surprised when I recognized so many old faces (couldn't get Carla Hall back? Kidding. Sending it out with love!)

Like this season's Survivor, I'm dubbing this "oldschoolers versus newschoolers." And like Survivor, it was interesting that a team based entirely of (what I am dubbing) newschoolers came out with the win. These All Star seasons of any reality show seem to exist to prove the game has passed the oldschoolers by. So, I hope we're not looking at that here, or I will have nobody to root for who I recognize and will have to start going on personality.

But this was fun. Like a family reunion where you know only your side of the family, and are then introduced to the other distant cousins you never knew existed.

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Full disclosure: I'm an Angeleno, so this season was always going to bring me joy. Especially right now, when LA is under Safer at Home guidelines, and it's hard to envision the future of the restaurant scene. 

Kevin Gillespie is probably my favorite cheftestant, ever, so I was thrilled to see him back for this All Stars season! Las Vegas is still the high-water mark for me, as far as the skill level of the chefs goes, though I was always disappointed by the outcome of that one, since I found Michael Voltaggio repugnant. His arrogance really rubbed me the wrong way, and I far preferred Bryan, so I'm happy to see him back in competition, too. Jen-in-Vegas is and was one of the female contestants I liked and admired most, and whose food I would have liked to eat. Her attitude when she got eliminated so quickly in her first All-Star season put me off, completely, so we'll see which version is back.

I always liked Lee Anne. I'm more than a little surprised that she seems so unsettled, this time around. I hope she finds her rhythm. I'm also quite fond of Malarkey, always have been, but I understand that he annoys the daylights out of many (including his competition).

The only one I'm unhappy to see again is Lisa Fernandes. I loathed her when she competed, and she's going to have to do a lot to redeem herself, in my eyes. She does seem more mellow, but that's damning with faint praise. I probably won't be sorry to see her go.

The panel of guests was so impressive! That was a list of LA heavy-hitters!! Plus the legendary Jeremiah Tower! Suzanne Goin's first restaurant, Lucques, is one of my favorites, anywhere. And for those of you with long memories, she was the victim of the Cheetoh penis! I don't often see her business partner, Caroline Styne, on TV, so that was a great pleasure.

I'm going to enjoy this season, I can tell, though it already feels weird that they're not practicing social distancing, and the thought of them flying off to Europe makes me nervous, until I remember that all of this was filmed long ago!


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/20/2020 at 4:50 AM, Bossa Nova said:

After 17 seasons......Padma is still  - pack up your knives and go - fucking annoying. 

*16 seasons. The first season was hosted by Katie Lee(Bot). Also annoying, but not Padma. 

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  • 6 months later...

I'm rewatching (thanks Covid).  I'd forgotten how much Karen annoys me, between her hair, her voice, and particularly how her mouth moves.  She looks like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit when she speaks.  (Sorry to be so shallow.)


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