Top Chef: All-Stars S01E08: fUGHettaboutit.

We’re not going to spend too much time on last night’s episode. We can’t. We just can’t. As adult human beings, it would be a crime against OURSELVES to spend almost any time talking about last night’s horrible episode of Top Chef: All-Stars. Remember how exciting it was when the season started because all our old pals were back? Well, it turns out that a bunch of our old pals aren’t nearly as good at cooking as some of our other Blais pals, and they’re almost all entirely annoying. And now we’re stuck with them? Eek. It’s like getting back together with 16 ex-girlfriends and having the same old fights (about expensive vinegar or something?) and each week one of the ex-girlfriends is broken up with all over again because you finally remembered why you broke up with her in the first place, but that still leaves, like, so many ex-girlfriends hanging around making poorly-conceived foams. At a certain point you have to wonder what you were even thinking, and you certainly wish you could just break up with them all at once and be done with it, but, you know, rules are rules. Anyway, the guest judge on last night’s Quickfire was Isaac Mizrahi, a miserable old Gargamel of a man who has been told one too many times by someone at an overpriced cocktail lounge that he was funny or clever and now when he speaks you can just hear him standing on their shoulders like some kind of misguided nightmare Amistad. His voice just drips with self-congratulation, and yet it is entirely unclear what he is congratulating himself for. Being the worst? At one point, he actually SNAPS at someone. Like, snap-snap-snap, grrrrrl, it’s 1992. WHAT IS HE EVEN DOING HERE? PADMA, MY BRIDE, DO NOT LET HIM SNAP AT PEOPLE. Ugh.

The challenge, we and the contestants are told, will consist entirely of visual aesthetics. They will NOT be judged on the taste of their food. Wait, WHUUT? This would be kind of interesting for an Elimination Challenge, insofar as you could imagine them being forced to prepare an actual meal that was visually stunning and the judges would eat it and it would have to taste like food but at the end of the day they would be judged on the presentation. That sounds…kind of…like something? But for a Quickfire challenge where they are not only not being judged on the taste of their food, but no one will even TRY tasting it, seriously what the fuck? Everyone just throw some shit on a plate. (Which is exactly what Antonia does? She is so impressed with herself for using seeds to represent grass or something and she makes a tree out of what I think are parts of a tree. It is some straight up macaroni painting shit.) Meanwhile, Isaac Mizarahi walks around SNAPPING at people like some kind of GOBLIN. At the end of his walking around he says “this challenge was very…challenging” and then SMILES! SMILES LIKE HE SAID SOMETHING CLEVER! AM I IN BACKWARDS TOWN? WHEN DOES THE FIRST BUS LEAVE? Awful.

Also, how has nobody just walked off the set of this show when they remembered that Richard Blais was still cooking? “Isaac Mizrahi wears black so I’m going to make some black ice cream.” Boom, you win. (He wins.) Richard wins. Let’s just move the fuck on. I mean, am I really supposed to be taking any of this:


For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs pull knives with Italian names on them. Mike Isabella and Fabio are very excited because something something heritage. (Later, Mike will explain that he doesn’t like having to be the “favorite” in this challenge because there’s always more pressure. Haha, don’t worry, Mike. You’re not the favorite in ANY challenge, including this one. I promise.) Three dudes walk in from Rao’s. Three teams. Everyone explains how the three courses of an Italian meal work (antipasti, primi, secondi) as if Starbucks had just opened a restaurant. Anyway, each team will be responsible for one course, under the tutelage of a different member of the Rao’s staff. Anybody asleep yet? Anybody fall asleep?

Shop shop shop cook cook cook Dr. Melfi Dr. Melfi Dr. Melfi.

I feel bad that they invited Lorraine Braco to be the guest judge of the “Italian Mob Dinner” episode only because you KNOW she was, like, fifth on the list. I’m not saying they definitely invited James Gandolfini before they invited her, because they might have known that they couldn’t get James Gandolfini, but they DEFINITELY invited Michael Imperioli before they invited her. And probably Drea De Matteo. And the dude who played AJ. (Also: “Award Winning Actress” lolol.)

The only thing that makes this episode even remotely bearable is this dude’s vest:

I don’t know, people talk about the food? They say stuff like “mama mia that’s a terrible pastas” probably. Anthony Bourdain is insmirkable I MEAN INSUFFERABLE. It’s all very well produced, I guess. I’m sure after shooting wrapped on this one the producers were like “good job, producers,” and the producers were like “thank you, producers.” Let’s just go to the Judges’ Table and see who gets WHACKED.

Antonia (mussels with fennel, white wine, garlic & parsley ciabatta), Tiffany (polenta terrine with italian sausage, roasted peppers & kale), Carla (minestrone soup with basil oil, tomatoes & homemade focaccia) and Fabio (pollo alla cacciatora, polenta al pecorino) are in the top three. Wait, no Mike Isabella? Do the judges know he’s the favorite to win this challenge? Tiffany cries. Aww. “Sausage and polenta is a great dish for me,” Lorraine Bracco says. Haha. WE KNOW, LORRAINE BRACO. No offense, none taken, but she looks like she knows her way around sausage and polenta if you know what I mean? Dr. PUFFI!

Anyway. Antonia wins. Eh. Everyone’s kind of annoyed. “It’s a French dish,” Fabio points out, which is true. It’s weird that when you ask a former cable television star to choose a winner in a reality show competition that makes a mockery of a genuinely rich and interesting cultural heritage that she kind of biffs it. So weird.

LOSERS, GET IN HERE! You are: Mike Isabella (spicy calamari, fresh rigatoni & tomato sauce) Tre (grilled vegetable risotto, marinated tomatoes & fresh basil) and Dale (fresh pasta, pancetta, brussels sprouts, chanterelle mushrooms, pecorino romano). So, the entire secondi team. Tre’s risotto was too firm. Dale’s pancetta was almost impossibly bland. Mike’s food was their favorite and he is everyone’s favorite he wins the whole show wow wow wow just kidding his pasta had too much egg in it or something. Tre goes home.

Yup! This show feels like the waiting room in Beetlejuice.