Top Chef All-Stars Recap: All's Fair in (Bro)Love and Restaurant Wars

The devil on my left shoulder and the angel on my right one both had reasons to cheer during last night’s “Restaurant Wars” installment of Top Chef All-Stars. I can’t lie and say I didn’t delight in the bloody, five-chef pileup that occurred when the members of Team Etch got called to the judges’ table to defend their wayward creations, but if I could only order one item off last night’s menu, it’d have to be the adorable friendship that’s developed between Fabio and Richard.

Seriously, the pie-eating grin that the cocksure Italian planted on the pessimistic mad scientist after getting word of Team Bodega’s Restaurant Wars victory was sweeter than the former’s amaretto cheesecake and Carla’s blueberry pie combined. Individually, the two guys are among the season’s most charming chefs: I liked Richard’s tale of serving avant-garde Filet-o-Fishes (sans top bun!) when he was a kid working at McDonald’s; and I loved the way Fabio defended his servers from crabby Dale while also finding time to flirt with every receptive guest who entered his dining room. Put these fellas together, however, and it’s like combining the forces of peanut butter and marshmallow Fluff on the same slice of Wonder Bread. (Apologies to both chefs for such a low-rent food metaphor.)

Some other observations about last night’s telecast:

* Who knew how many delights could be whipped up from a tub full of fish skins and guts, or if you want to get technical about it, “heads, racks, wings, and collars”? And, while we’re on the subject, who knew fish had collars? (Right now I’m envisioning a four-star eatery staffed by a dozen or so anthropomorphized cod in crisp white shirts and bow ties.)

* You could tell Marcel was in hot water as early as the menu-planning stage, or to be precise, the moment where he started whining like a petulant teenager: “Nobody’s doing anything till I write it down!” (Be sure to check out Marcel’s exit interview with my colleague Megan Masters here.)

* Who else is rooting for Carla to make the finale? She certainly has karma on her side, the way she blew kisses to the opposing team and wished them a good service.

* Was I hallucinating, or did I hear Tiffany say she was leaving Angelo in charge of her dish while she tackled front-of-house duties? Angelo, the guy she’s repeatedly suggested is just as likely to sabotage his teammates as he is to help them? (Not that her sad frisée-over-egg dish was ever going to take home top prize, but still…)

* If I could’ve tried only one dish tonight, it probably would’ve been Richard’s tuna in a can (raw tuna belly with fried chicken skins, chilies, and lime), but I still would’ve awarded the $10,000 top prize to Fabio, whose took a risk with his front-of-house position that paid dividends for his entire team.

* After learning that one man (Le Bernardin’s Justo Thomas) can butcher up to 1,000 pounds of fish in just five hours, I’ve realized that maybe I shouldn’t whine about the perils of trying to recap American Idol and Top Chef between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

* And what about Marcel’s parting words that “the only mistake I made was picking the wrong team”? Was he not listening when Tom and Tony thumbed their noses at the phlegm-like dollop of parsley he’d slapped on his monkfish? (“Why foam? Why now?” wondered Mr. Bourdain.) And his dessert — “a perfect storm of f***ing awfulness,” gasped Tony — looked downright inedible. But don’t take my word for it: Check out the depressing screengrab below (barf bag not included).

What did you think of last night’s Top Chef All Stars? Did the right contestant go home? Did Tiffany dodge a bullet? And who are you predicting for the final three? (I’m going with Richard, Dale, and Carla.) Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps, interviews and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Mimsy says:

    Fabio is a charm bomb. Marcel is just a bomb bomb. I actually clapped when he was sent to pack up his knives. I’m still rooting for Carla; she’s my fav. Hooty hoo!

  2. Mike says:

    Fabio didn’t risk anything by being in the front of the house. He is the best that Top Chef has ever had in terms of that position, and Dale even said that they had the steal of the draft when he picked him. It wasn’t even a question as to if he would be out there. Plus he made a relatively easy dish, and there was no way he would be sent home if they lost because he was a LOCK for killing it out front.

  3. Buffy Freak says:

    So glad Marcel is gone…he’s such a douche. But Dale’s behavior with the servers was inexcusable…he’s the next one I would like to see sent packing.

  4. Lisa says:

    Dale’s behavior was inexcusable.
    You don’t treat the hired help like trash !

    I hope he is out on his ear soon.

  5. LisaSp says:

    It is going to take some adjusting to reading you over here, Michael, but just wanted to say hi, wish you well, and tell you i totally agree with your pick for final 3! I loved Richard in his season and hated that he choked in the finale; hope he is victorious this season–seems to be an all around nice guy and a very talented, creative chef!

  6. Sara says:

    Kudos to Dale for choosing Marcel as the opposing team captain and then watching him implode!!

  7. Sarah says:

    Hootie hoo! I’m rooting for Carla! PS – Marcel should have been gone two weeks ago. His absence will definitely change the atmosphere of the kitchen and for the better.

  8. Drew says:

    I do love Richard and Carla and hope they make the finals, and that one of them wins it all. As for the last member, I really don’t want it to be Dale. I don’t like him at all. I’d rather see Angelo or Antonia. Actually, I have this sick desire to, after all this time, see contestants go out the same place they did their season. If Fabio or Antonia go next week, then it can go Tre, Isabella, Dale, Tiffany, Fabio/Antonia, get all runners-up in the finale. XD

  9. J says:

    My dream final 3 would be Carla, Dale, and Tre. I just never got the appeal of Richard (and never will, esp with that hair). I can only hope that Angelo will be the next to leave. In my opinion, he and Marcy are equally annoying.

  10. J says:

    And about that dessert. . . it reminded me (visually) of when my mother would serve canned peaches and cottage cheese. That was a perfect storm of awfulness.

  11. coco says:

    My fav episode every season is Restaurant Wars and it didn’t dissapoint!
    Team Carla!

  12. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for not spoiling the ending in your picture or headline!!

    I think Fabio deserved the win. He rocked! It was a toss up between Tiffany and Marcel as to who should go home. I like Marcel, but he was not a good leader!

    • melodious says:

      I second the “thanks for not spoiling it”. I do not know wtf is going on with tvguide that they don’t think Top Chef is worthy of a spoiler alert. Every week, in the picture and the front text is the results. Fortunately for me I read Tvline first yesterday, and then went to watch my DVR. Thanks again!

  13. Trish says:

    Oh, Fabio. *swoon* I love him. I want to eat at his restaurant just to be flirted with! So glad to see a bond forming between Fabio and Richard, two of my favorite Top Chef contestants ever. And thanks, Michael, for covering the show. I am new to you, haven’t read you before, and I really enjoyed your recap.

  14. Ben Phelps says:

    Very smart on Dale’s part. He used the Quickfire win to his advantage and put Marcel on the opposing team, and it worked out perfectly.

  15. Erica says:

    So glad to see Marcel go home. I just can’t stand him at all. Love Richard and I’m glad to see him win a challenge finally. As for Dale yeah he was a jerk to the servers but he is miles better than he was the first time he was on so I’m not going to hate on him too much.

    I’m putting the final 3 to be Richard, Carla, and either Dale or Angelo. Honestly, though it could be anyone’s game still.

  16. the real wendy says:

    Slezak doing Top Chef! My dreams do come true!

  17. Kelly says:

    I think Richard will definitely make the final three, though I think Angelo will probably make it too. I think Dale and Carla have equal chance of also making it.

  18. Linda says:

    Slezak, thank you for writing two recaps a night. Especially here. Sad to say your old home did not delight with their own TCAS recap. I came to TVLine for Idol worship, but was pleasantly surprised to see you also Top Chefing. Keep up the good work.

    Here’s hoping Carla goes all the way!

  19. Andie says:

    I was originally thinking the final three were going to be Richard, Angelo, and Marcel, but now maybe I can put Carla in there? That would make me happy. Not the Angelo part, however, but he is just so tricky. Yuck.

  20. oriharakaoru says:

    I am totally #teamcarla. LOVE HER. Love Antonia, too. Both different personalities, but awesome chefs in their own ways and I find myself agreeing with both of them. Dale can be off-putting, but sometimes I can’t help but like the guy. #conflicted Fabio is just a good time, and I’m liking him more this season than I did in his original season. Not sorry to see Marcel go. I like Tiffany, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been her. Kind of a toss-up between those two. My dream final three is Carla, Richard, and Antonia. :D

  21. Kari says:

    I am so excited that you are recapping Top Chef but I am a bit offended that you referred to the almighty Fluffernutter as low-rent. That culinary delight is manna from the heavens, I tell ya.

  22. asherlev1 says:

    Oh my god yes! I was giddy with delight over Fabio and Richard’s bromance.

    I just found out you moved to tvline when I went looking for Idolatry and I just wanted to wish you the best. :D