With the uneven Just Desserts spin-off just a falling soufflé of a memory, the cooking competition got back on the front burner last night with its much-hyped All-Stars edition. Jammed with vets from seasons past, most awesome and only a few awful (Stephen from season 1, you remain a supercilious hobbit), it's clear that a real food fight is on...and on fire.
As Padma said at the outset, more is at stake for these also-rans than ever before. Not only is there a buttload of prize money on the line, so too is their pride. And from what we saw last night, a few of the cheftetsants returned with plenty of that. Marcel still sees himself as season 2's victim, round 5's usually adorable Fabio dared to give it back to newly semi-regular judge Anthony Bourdain, and Angelo is still using the flu he contracted during the Season 7 finale as an excuse for losing. We'll see how boastful they are after Tom, Padma and company cut them down to size at the judges' table a few more times.
We'll also see if Chef does better with leftovers than it did with sweets. While Just Desserts had its moments, all the nastiness and name-calling left us colder than Yigit's sorbet. So far, All-Stars seems to pack more heat — having the crew revisit the meals that sent them home and witness their competitors' critiques was deliciously twisted. Let's just hope the producers can keep it at a steady boil for the rest of the season.
Did you indulge in Top Chef All-Stars? What's your take? And what did you think of the first eliminated cheftestant?