The Corner

Top Chef All Stars (Spoilers)

Just catching up as The Corner’s unofficial Top Chef critic. So far, the wisdom of taking (some of) the best non-winning chefs from the previous seasons seems like a brilliant idea, TV-wise. But I am bummed that they’ve already kicked-off two of my favorite chefs: Elia and Jennifer. Elia was the first to be kicked off and it does seem like she deserved it. Jen, not so much. The Chefs didn’t like her dish, fair enough. But her partner, Jamie, cut her finger and simply left the kitchen to get a whopping two stitches, and basically checked out of the competition.

I don’t mean to be heartless, but they should have booted Jamie. As Fabio noted, he broke his finger during his season and taped it up and carried on (and last season, the bizarre Angelo guy got some intestinal bug and nearly missed the final competition). All of the chefs seemed to agree that Jamie should have duck-taped the wound closed and persevered.

I understand that it seems unfair to disqualify someone for an injury, but that’s what we do in every other serious competition. When boxers, football players, baseball players, et al are injured, they’re out of the competition, right? You don’t get a second chance at the Olympics if you pull your hamstring. If Jamie had dropped her dish on the floor by accident, serving nothing, she might be booted off the show for failing to participate. Why should it be different for an accidental minor injury? The grand prize is $200 K and a hyper-jump in your career. If I knew I was completely ruining a meal I might be tempted to give myself a self-inflicted wound to fight another day.

Meanwhile Jen was one of the best chefs in the history of the show — and great TV. The judges insisted that she wasn’t booted because she fought back against the judges, but if I were her, I’d be hard pressed to believe that. Boo. Hiss.

One other request: Stop feeding kids! Every season we have one or two episodes dedicated to feeding underdeveloped humans with no appreciation of good food. Last season, the producers turned the show into flat-out agitprop for school lunch activists, sprinkling b.s. sermons with bogus numbers. I understand that Tom Collichio, who I like a lot, is the son of a school lunch lady, but the chefs-feeding-kids thing is b-o-r-i-n-g and self-indulgent.

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