'Top Chef All-Stars' Recap: He Has a Soul!

Kim Conte
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top chef all stars mikeLast night's episode of Top Chef All-Stars was way too feel-good touchy-feely for me. I look forward to Wednesday nights so I can snicker at the ridiculous dishes the contestants create in a moment of extreme panic; so I can mock Padma Lakshmi when she says silly things and be jealous that I'm not her; so I can ridicule the losers who are tearfully sent home; so I can relentlessly hate on Mike Isabella.

But last night all of that -- especially the last point -- was utterly impossible.

The episode began innocently enough and full of fodder for which I could snark on: Padma arrived at the house and informed the chefs they would be taking a trip to Ellis Island on the ferry. En route the contestants are given the Quickfire Challenge: They must assemble a dish using disgusting junk food -- hot dogs, cheese, bags of chips -- basically whatever they can find on board that's edible before the ferry docks.

To be honest, the QF was a complete sh*t show from start to finish: Inspector Gadget Richard pulled out a magic packet the military uses to cook food (no one was surprised) and cooked a hot dog. Mike made peasant cheese soup that looked -- and I can only imagine tasted -- like vomit. Antonia made grilled cheese. Carla sliced some oranges. And, Tiffany threw together nachos in the microwave (really?).

Padma and guest judge Dan Barber liked Carla's oranges the best. And, right after cranky-pants Richard gave Dan B. the stink eye, the Elimination Challenge was announced. And here's exactly where the show began its downward spiral into the black hole of touchy-feeliness ...

Given the Ellis Island setting, the contestants were tasked with cooking a dish inspired by their heritage using documents compiled by "one of the best genealogists of all time" and a little help from some special guests ... their families.

As Carla's husband, Richard's pregnant wife, and Tiffany's, Antonia's, and Mike's moms all paraded across the screen and embraced their relatives, I had to stop myself from getting emotional. I found Mike to be downright charming when interacting with his mom! And that's only the beginning of the love-fest that has become Top Chef All-Stars.

The relatives joined the judges for dinner to sample all the dishes. That meant that the judges couldn't snark on the food like they usually do and risk offending all the family members. Seriously, the whole meal was a never-ending barrage of compliments about the food -- it was quite possibly the most boring 28 minutes of my life.

When it came time for judges' table, I'm sure it surprised no one that the judges ended up allowing all five chefs to continue on to the finals in the Bahamas. I thought this was an elimination reality show, people! But how could they eliminate anyone when apparently they just ate the best meal of their entire lives?

And the ultimate kicker? Mike and Antonia discovered that they were long lost cousins! I've relied on Antonia, my partner in Mike hate, to inform me all season of Mike's most vilest habits and soullessness -- the burping, the farting, the nose-picking, etc. But now that they are cousins and seemingly in love, my Wednesday evenings are fun no more.

I just can't take it.

Were you happy to see all five chefs make it to the finals?

 

Image via Bravo

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