Top Chef All-Stars: No More Mr. Bunky Bed (Ep 1 Recap)

This is Top Chef, not Top Fighter.

A full week after it aired, I’m finally pulling this post together. It’s going to be a little shorthand-y, because I’m not embellishing my original notes much.

First of all, why did the opening credits look like some sort of art installation? I didn’t write it down at the time, but there were shadow people, right? Weird stuff. (Hm, designing the “Top Chef” opening credits could be a challenge on “Work of Art.” If the “Millionaire Matchmaker” can work with the “Housewives” of Everywhere, I think this can be arranged.)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Lauren and I were major Fabio fans during Season 5 of “Top Chef”– mostly because of his hilarious statements, spoken in his Italian accent. So I jotted down a few of his quotes…

[Getting into the elevator to the apartment.] “Skyhouse… we’re going up, but it feels like we’re going to hell.”

[In an interview.] “I’m like the underdog, you know? Italian dog. Good one.”

[Walking through the apartment.] “I’m not going to take a bunk [pronounced “bonk”] bed ever again. I squashed my balls on season five and that is not gonna happen.”

Fabio used to complain about sleeping in the “bunky bed.” I’m kinda sad he’s shortened it to “bunk” but at least he’s saying “bonk.” That adds a new and probably unintended dimension… any college students who have bunk buds, you have to start calling them bonk beds now. In fact, everybody of legal bonking age has to call it a bonk bed now. FACT.

And here comes last season’s Angelo, who is back for redemption after he fell super-ill during the finale in Singapore.

Sick sad world.

Angelo: I brought a lot of Advil this time.

And here come Carla (Season 5) and Tiffany from last season (Season 7)! Two of my favorite contestants! I feel like I know them. I’m not alone.

Carla [to Tiffany]: I feel like I know you!

Amidst all the reuniting, Fabio discovers the chef uniform tops, which are ninja-black. They’ve earned a more slimming color, I guess.

Fabio: Guys, you gotta get some coat right here.

Go ahead guys, get some coat!

You know it.

Marcel looks like a priest in his chef uniform/jacket/coat/whatever you call it. He’s probably the most unholy priest possible (well… okay… in the personality department, at least), since he’s generally such an ass. Fabio interviews about how Marcel was an unnecessary dick to him when they met. Not shocking.

Apparently the prizes are bigger this season? I guess more money? I don’t know, all that Aspen/Food & Wine stuff is the same.

Marcel interviews that he came in 2nd place in Season 2 and never won anything. Except… infamy. And also, like, fame and probably a million opportunities. Shut up, Marcel.

Ew, Marcel. Also: Shut up. (This one's for Crystal.)

Quickfire Challenge: Each season has to work as a team to create a dish that represents that season’s city.

I love watching the chefs’ faces during judging, as they watch the judges and look at each others’ dishes.

Fabio is not impressed by the Season 4/Chicago team. They have that guy (Richard– I think) who uses liquid nitrogen for everything. (Richard– I think– also seems to be the guy to beat… several of the chefs seem to be in awe of him.)

Fabio: I don’t know, hot dog with mustard gelato? I would go back and get my pasta again, but that’s just my opinion.

I agree that it doesn’t sound appealing, but at least gelato is Italian. Right, Fabio? Come on.

Mustard gelato?!

Okay, that picture is obviously from Season 5, not from last week. Whatever. (And I never noticed it before, but Fabio kinda looks like Jason Segel.)

Judge Tom Colicchio was “happy to see the mustard ice cream.” Chicago/Season 4 won. And Fabio wasn’t the only incredulous chef.

Mike Isabella: So they did a sausage with mustard. Big whoop.

The Elimination Challenge is a shot at redemption…

Padma: In front of you are the ingredients that sent you home. Turn the dish that sent you home into a success.

Spike: I can’t believe I have frozen scallops again. I’m reliving this nightmare. It’s the great scallop gate with Rick Tramanto. (Spike reminds me of Brothers & Sisters actor Dave Annable.)

Okay, there are two people named Tiffany and two people named Dale. In each pairing, one is white. I don’t want to say Black Tiffany and Asian Dale, but that’s kinda the easiest way to do it without beating around the bush. If you think of a better way, please inform me. (Also: Non-Asian Dale looks/acts alarmingly like someone I know… separated at birth?)

Asian Dale has to make miso butterscotch scallops, which was apparently declared the worst dish in Top Chef history?

All this scallop hubbub reminds me of a delightful Fabio-ism from Season 5: “This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop!” (Pronounced ska-lope.)

Even though he’s worried about improving his famously bad dish, Asian Dale also happens to have immunity. So he’s baking weird shit and amusing people.

Fabio, Elia and Stephen are the three people who are like, “Oh hey, my dish was fine the first time… when it got me eliminated.” Well, Stephen got eliminated in a team challenge for ignoring the kitchen while he worked the house (ouch)– so he has to cook three dishes he’s not familiar with. But the dishes didn’t taste bad, so in theory he should be okay.

Fabio: I don’t think there was nothing wrong with that dish. But I guess it were because I went home. To be eliminated twice for the same dish… you gotta be stupid, then.

Guess who comprises the bottom three?

Tre: Stephen is a great friend and house guy. He’s a great dresser. But I don’t think he came out of the trenches. I think he just came out of… Macy’s Day Parade or something.

He IS sorta looming like a Macy's Day Parade float.

Jamie (another of my favorites from Season 5) went home for making (very famous French fish guy) Eric Ripert’s dish poorly. I remember that episode– they ate a bunch of courses at his restaurant, and then it was like– surprise! You all have to recreate one of these dishes. Jamie hated the dish she drew, and continues to hate it.

Half the chefs get invited to sit with the judges while the other chefs cook. Lo and behold– there’s a TV in the kitchen. The first half competitors can watch the other half critiquing their dishes.

Elia doesn’t want to hear. She hides behind some coolers. I kinda feel like she should be able to deal with this. I mean, to pull out another Season 5 Fabio quote, “This is Top Chef, not Top Pussy.” (Pronounced poo-say.)

Anthony Bourdain is judging, and he’s, uh– not afraid to speak his mind. He declares that Dale “unfucked” his scallops. And he HATES Fabio’s pasta dish.

Then it’s switcheroo time. Fabio’s ready to strangle Bourdain.

Elia: It’s weird to sit with the judges now. There’s a lot of feelings hurt. (And they know the other half will see them critique.)

Season 1 Red-Headed Tiffany: This is like the beginning of the most uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner ever.

The previously-sitting-with-the-judges chefs enter the kitchen and see the TV. Jamie: Told you!

The girl who spoke up the most with her critiques (Antonia) is like, fuck.

Richard-the-nitrogen-happy-genius was plating after clock ran out. He’s not eligible to win. Some people are vindicated, others are super-pissed.

Jamie, Spike and Angelo are in the top 3. Jamie still wouldn’t serve her dish, because she doesn’t fucking like that type of fish. Haha. Stick to your guns, Jamie! (Your hair looks pretty.) Angelo wins $10,000 “furnished by Buitoni.”

As I foreshadowed/spoilered (whatever, this aired a week ago)– Fabio, Stephen and Elia are in the bottom 3.

Fabio: I agree to be criticized in a constructive way. I don’t like to be made fun of, and that’s what you did throughout the meal. (I think he implies that he would fight Anthony Bourdain… and probably lose. Bourdain is scary.)

Elia: Don’t eliminate me. I have a lot more to do. I mean it. (This feels like the kiss of death. As soon as she said that, I was like… ouch. You’re gone.)

Fabio: I may be the worst chef in here, but I won’t let anybody make fun of me because this is a very serious matter. You know, everybody’s working their ass off, and everybody has a bad day.

The Judges agree that Elia’s dish was not improved upon. The fish was raw and she didn’t even taste it, or do anything to vary the original dish.

As I watched, I was figuring that they’d keep Fabio because he’s such a character. But I was sweatin’ it.

Bourdain [re: Stephen’s dish]:  As I was eating it, my mind was drifting back fondly to my last colonoscopy. It was that bad.

Elia goes home. She’s humiliated, and I feel bad for her. She interviewed a lot during the episode about how she has matured, and wanted to show the judges everything she’s learned.

Elia: The first to go home, it’s almost not worth that you came. (Sad but true.)

Then we see a montage of things to look forward to this season…

Paula Dean: I could whip your cute little ass. (You don’t want to see her when she’s angry…)

They have to cook head-to-head against Tom.


Somebody goes to the hospital.

Sorry for a kinda bland recap, but here’s to a crazy season!



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