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Lessons learned from the premiere of “Top Chef: All Stars”

2 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

This post was written by SmartBrief’s Doris Nhan.

Watching Bravo’s “Top Chef: All Stars” was like watching a high-school reunion full of the people you loved, the people you loved to hate and the people you’d always been rooting for. The premiere promised an intense season as 18 contestants returned to compete once again for the top prize, and in the process, win redemption for their past.

“Top Chef” cast members have had a long rivalry over who had the best season. So for the Quickfire Challenge, chefs worked within their season to create a dish that represented the city where their show was filmed. Chefs from Season 4 (Chicago), Season 3 (Miami) and Season 6 (Las Vegas) were praised for flavorful food that uniquely represented their respective cities.

The Elimination Challenge asked contestants to re-create the dish that sent them home. The one who failed would be asked, once again, to pack his or her knives and go. The key in this challenge was to improve the flavors of the dish without straying too far from the original concept. Other lessons to take:

  • Don’t let your ego get in the way of a good dish. Judges slammed Season 2’s Elia Aboumrad for not improving her Red Snapper in Ti with Snapper Jus. All believed she was a talented chef, but hindered herself by the memories of her original dish.
  • Don’t let your food have an identity crisis. Judges couldn’t tell if Season 5’s Fabio Viviani made a pasta dish or stew. Judges said the Handmade Caserecci, Crawfish and Crab Stew was overworked, overdressed and unappealing.
  • Do let your dish show your personality. On Season 5, Jamie Lauren was sent home for badly re-creating a Pan-Seared Black Bass with Celery and Green Peppercorn sauce. This time, she revamped the celery sauce by making it her own, winning over the judges’ praise for keeping true to herself.
  • Do use flavors and textures to create a balanced dish. Angelo Sosa re-created Homemade Ramen with Sweet Glazed Pork Belly and Watermelon from the Season 7 finale. It hit the spot for judges who said his perfectly cooked noodles were a delightful contrast to the pork belly and watermelon.

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