Last night was the premiere of Top Chef All-Stars, the eighth season of our favorite reality show, which has brought back some of the best competitors from seasons past for a second chance at winning the title. With so many talented chefs in the mix, we undoubtedly have strong cooking, fierce competitions and big egos to look forward to in the coming months. Read on for our thoughts on last night's episode (as well as a reveal of the winner and loser).
• Reunited and it feels so...good?: We're definitely excited to see some of our favorite competitors back in the mix. Personal favorites include Casey Thompson from Season 3, Richard Blais and Antonia Lofaso from Season 4, Carla Hall from Season 5 and Jennifer Carroll from Season 6. We're not too happy about the return of Marcel Vigneron from Season 2 and Angelo Sosa from Season 7; we think their egos are just too big for the kitchen.
• "Do you like it?": For the Quickfire, the chefs had to team up by season and make a dish representing their season's city. Elia Aboumrad and Marcel made fish tacos wrapped in thin apple slices to evoke Los Angeles, but Marcel made the awkward mistake of asking judge Tom Colicchio if he liked the dish while he was tasting it. As it turned out, Tom and Padma didn't like it and Marcel and Elia were in the bottom. Team Chicago won with their innovative take on a Chicago dog topped with Richard's mustard ice cream. Intriguing!
• A second chance to make a first impression: The Elimination Challenge had a great premise: make the dish that sent you packing, but this time make it great. Presented with the ingredients for the dishes that got them eliminated the first time around, some chefs took the challenge and ran with it. Everyone gave props to Spike for dealing with the challenge of using subpar frozen scallops by completely masking their flavor in his ceviche.
• Beginning of the most uncomfortable Thanksgiving ever: The chefs were divided into two groups and each took part in the judging of the other group's dishes, with their comments being broadcast into the kitchen. We were glad to see most of the chefs taking the judging seriously and giving credit to those that did well. Still, there was some awkwardness as chefs had to listen to brutally honest comments about their own dishes.
• Anthony Bourdain!: Our favorite foul-mouthed judge is back and full of scathing-yet-accurate comments about the food. Dale Talde's butterscotch scallops, which he tore apart the first time around, were given a pass with this assessment: "He unf---ed this dish." Unfortunately, Fabio Viviani's messy pasta dish didn't fare as well and was correctly described as looking like an inside-out animal. Bourdain also alluded to his most recent colonoscopy when describing Stephen Asprinio's unappealing eggrolls. Yikes.
• Homemade ramen for the win: Angelo redeemed himself with his homemade ramen with sweet glazed pork belly and watermelon, which won him the challenge and a cool $10,000. We are suckers for handmade noodles, so we are willing to overlook our usual dislike for Angelo and admit his dish looked seriously good. Elia's bland, undercooked fish wrapped in ti leaf, however, was as uninspiring the second time around and she was sent home.
Are you as excited for this season as we are? What are your thoughts on last night's episode?