Top Chef All Stars: Reunion

M: I have to say, I don’t usually care to much for the reunion shows, and Andy Cohen annoys the crap out of me, but this one was REALLY funny at times.

E: Gah, Andy Cohen.  But yeah, there was plenty of interesting stuff here.  Witness the bro-mances.    Remember when guys could be friends and no one thought that was weird or required its own name?  Men hugging?  Being supportive?  Oh no!

M: Ahh, the good old days.  Seriously, though, the stuff with Mike and Angelo was normal guy stuff, but some of the Richard-Fabio?  The kissing (yes, I know Fabio is European, and it’s different across the pond, but still), the “arrangement” for when Richie’s on the west coast, and so on?  They definitely go a bit past normal guy friends.

E: Oh, whatever.  I think that’s just Fabio.

M: Perhaps, but Richard definitely goes with it, like the comment about their stubbles touching when Fabio kisses him on the cheek.  Funny stuff.

E: In random news, Fabio’s ex-wife must be the one he was married to during his own season, since now he’s saying he’s got a girlfriend.  That’s too bad.  They hadn’t been married very long, I don’t think.  Remember him talking about catering her wedding shower?  (That came up during Gail’s wedding shower episode.)  Although I guess all I really know about her is she looked stunning in the wedding picture they showed.

M: That is sad, but at least he still has, and walks, his turtle!  Let’s move on.

E: What if I don’t want to move on from the turtle?  That turtle was awesome.

M: Yes, the turtle was awesome, but we can’t spend the whole review on the turtle.  In fact, I think we’ve gotten about as much as we can out of a 10 second clip.  Can we continue?

E: Fine.  Now, Tom versus Elia – yuck.

M: Seriously, how uncomfortable was that!  You could see it on the faces of the other chefs, but Andy pushed it, and Elia wouldn’t back down.  I thought Dale L tried to put what may have been her point a lot more constructively, that Tom bears some responsibility as a mentor and an icon in the field, to maintain his integrity throughout his career.  Elia, however, didn’t make a very strong case that he had sullied it.

E: It became such a garbled mess – Diet Coke!  Corn fed versus grass fed beef!  Demanding steakhouse patrons!  I just wanted it to go away.  So, for a more fun argument, is there chef law or isn’t there?

M: I say there is, but after the fact everyone backed off because in the end they’re all friends.

E: Look, no one said the obvious; while it is definitely true that Mike had to execute Richard’s idea well in order for it to garner him that win, it was still a dish in Richard’s style and not in Mike’s.  Which makes it lame.  But kudos to Mike for expanding the boundaries of what he cooks.

M: It seemed like theft to me.  Not theft like Alex stealing Ed’s pea puree, but intellectual theft.  As you said, Mike had to execute it, but he never would have thought of it without looking at Richard’s book THAT MORNING.  It’s not like going to a restaurant and then doing your own variation of something you tried there.  It was taking the idea of a direct competitor and using it in competition against him.  That’s different in my book.

E: Agreed.  Something else I bet we can agree on?  When the season started, I didn’t know why Mike was here (other than to be annoying).  Now I do.  By the way, I wanted them to talk about Mike’s missing wife and why we’d never heard of her until the last episode.  But no!  Mrs. Isabella slides back into obscurity as if she was never real.

M: That didn’t cross my mind while watching, but would have been good info.  Maybe Mike said it was off limits.

E: Maybe.  Speaking of limits – and potentially crossing them – Jen Carol freaks me out.  Is it just me, or does she seem like she’s often teetering on the edge?

M: I don’t know, she didn’t seem much different from when we first met her in her season to me.  She’s brash and cocky, and that’s part of why we like her.

E: I think of her more as coolly confident and assured – but then she just seems a little nutty when she lets go.

M: I suppose I can see that.

E: How much did you love Tiffani saying that she specifically came on the show to prove she’s not that awful person from the first season?  Loved it.  And I will say, I think she totally succeeded.

M: And that winning her season would have been the worst thing that could have happened to her because it would have validated her bad behavior?  Loved it.

E: I loved the Black Hammer clips.

M: Oh, the “HAMMERED”, “OBVIOUSLY HAMMERED”, “BITTERLY HAMMERED”, etc title cards were SOOOO fantastic.  Loved that.

E: And I loved the “this is why Carla is fan favorite” segment.  I love Carla. I love that everyone appreciates the awesomeness that is Carla.

M: Yeah, they managed to capture all the little things we love about Carla.  The dancing, the caring for others, the crazy noises, the unbridled excitement.  Especially the unbridled excitement.  It’s just so infectious and so much fun to watch.

E: So yeah, all in all, it was a pretty good reunion show, and an excellent season all around.  I’d go for more All Stars – as long as they can get Brian Voltaggio and my beloved Kevin Gillespie to join in!  And Stefan.  They definitely need Stefan.

M: As much as I love all three of the guys you mentioned, I’m done with All Stars for now.  I want some new blood.  Maybe after a few more seasons…

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