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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Top Chef All-Stars" Is My Fave in Trouble?

It was really hard for me to say what I wanted to last week about “Top Chef All-Stars” without giving anything away.

So now, let me say it. I think my guy Blais is in serious trouble…

What has me so concerned? The words of Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain…

Before Thanksgiving, Tom and Anthony did a conference call with reporters about the season. Of course, they had to be very careful about what they said, but I think they dropped some major clues…

First, Anthony said, “There are a lot of surprises. Surprisingly, there were some talented people that fell.”

Then, when a reporter from Atlanta asked specifically about Blais, Anthony said that based on his previous season only, “It is clear this guy’s enormously talented.” Tom admitted that Blais should have won his season, and then added, “He’s been doing burgers for the last couple of years. So it could be a handicap.”

Then toward the end of the call, Tom said this: “We are as objective as possible. We focus on this food and this food only. There were times we felt like, ‘I can’t believe this person is going home.’”

See what I mean?

Add to that Blais’ issue with time in the premiere and his lack of appearances in the previews of the season, and I think he’ll be gone in a matter of weeks. That won’t stop me from watching the show, but it will disappoint me…

However, if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. I, of course, hope that I am…

So besides shaking my confidence in my all-time fave, what else did the dynamic duo of Tom and Tony have to say? Seriously, these two should have their own show…

On how the contestants have changed:
Tom: “Dale [Talde] has matured a lot since Chicago. Spike has done a lot. They all seem to have matured a lot. Once you get the chance to see yourself, you kind of rein it in yourself.”

On why Anthony can’t do a whole season:
Anthony: “I’m a huge fan of the show. In a perfect world, I’d be there all the time. It’s just a matter of logistics.”

On who they’d like to hang out and have a beer with:
Tom: “Anthony.”
Anthony: “I find Fabio very loveable.”

On the line-up of contestants:
Tom: “We’re not involved in casting. We have a great lineup. It would have been great to have Bryan Voltaggio [“TV Guide” reports he turned the show down, as did Stefan Richter of season five.].”
Anthony: “I was enjoying this season as a ‘Top Chef’ fanboy. I was really pleased with the lineup.”

On judging the contestants now that they know them:
Tom: “It made it very difficult to judge them. It’s much easier when you don’t know them. The judging is more constructive [this season].”
Anthony: “We have higher expectations maybe. It makes you a little more passionate about strengths and weaknesses.”

On judging in general:
Anthony: (Discussing his season four appearance, when he helped send Dale Talde packing) “I thought Dale was an excellent competitor that year. Seeing talented people do something so inexplicably bad is fascinating. At the end, it’s all about the food. We only see the food really,”
Tom: “We’re not privy to what goes on behind the scenes.”
Anthony: “You live and die by what you put on the plate this week.”

On this year’s contestants as a whole:
Tom: “Like any all-star game, you’re playing with the best of the best. You want your competition to think highly of you as well. That’s as important as winning the show—respect from your peers.”
Anthony: “They’ve been toughened up by the process. If I wasn’t on the show, I’d enjoy watching it…It’s a real attempt to get New York right this time.”

On Fabio:
Anthony: “He’s an enormously likeable guy, very charming. If I’m bitter about anything in my life, it’s that I’m not Italian-American.”

On whether the show has changed the food world:
Tom: “I think it’s made people really aware of the creative process. I still think Americans are still very conservative when it comes to food. The barriers are coming down.”

Finally, Anthony revealed why he came off so nice in his only judging appearance on “Top Chef D.C.”: “The most perverted thing I could do was make Eric Ripert the bad guy.” Then he added, “I’m trying to be cuddlier.”

I hope for all of our sake’s he doesn’t mean that…

“Top Chef All-Stars” airs Wednesday, December 8th at 10 p.m. on Bravo, with special guests Joe Jonas and guest judge Katie Lee.
Photo Credits: Bravo and David Giesbrecht/Bravo