Top Chef All Stars Season 8, Episode 1 Recap (Season Premiere): It Shoulda Been Me!

Unpack those friggin' knives, yo! The so-close finalists from the past seven seasons of Top Chef ain't playin' this time around, as they compete to win the grand prize of $200,000 on Top Chef All Stars.

Redemption? Saving face? Insults? How can this not be good TV?

The premiere opens with scenes of the returning chefs moving into their home for returning chefs in New York. We see some familiar faces (Jennifer, Spike, weird-hair Marcel) and some we barely remember (Tre, Antonia, Elia), but it doesn't matter, 'cause the flashback reel's rollin' out the put-downs, the screaming, and the drama. Yeah! Catchin' up on good times!

For the full cast, click here.

Quickfire Challenge:
Tom and Padma tell the chefs they have to create a dish that represents the city that hosted the season of Top Chef in which they appeared. Team challenges = tricky. New York does apple, Chicago goes hot dogs, LA serves up shrimp tacos, Miami turns out pork tenderloin, San Fran goes seafood cioppino gazpacho, and Vegas honors the mob with Italian bucatini.

Spoiler alerts ahead, people!

The first quickfire winner is Chicago. Congratulations Spike, Richard, Dale T. and Antonia -- you have immunity (which is like giving the finger to the Elimination Challenge).

Elimination Challenge Ouch. This one's a nasty. The chefs are asked to make the dish that sent them packing the first time around, only make it better and don't change it too much. The winner gets $10,000. The chefs are also split into two groups, with each group tasting the dishes of their competitors along with judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons (Hey, Gail!), and Mr. Critical, Anthony Bourdain.

Two hours into prep time and Dale T. is making corn bread for the cast because he has immunity (and, therefore, is giving the finger to the Elimination Challenge). Go Dale T.!

The next day, the chefs are divided into two teams and get their asses to cooking at the Russian Tea Room. That's when (surprise!) they learn that whoever is in the kitchen gets to eavesdrop on the dinner table goings-on. Great news if they like your dish. Not so great if they don't.

Tasting, tasting, politeness, tasting, until Anthony Bourdain takes a bite of Fabio's caserecci and crawfish dish and informs the table that he hates it and that it looks like an inside-out animal. Ouch. Fabio is wondering what Anthony Bourdain would look like inside out.

Angelo, Spike, Jamie, and Richard go to the winners circle, but Richard is disqualified because the judges say he went over his time during plating. Thanks for nothin', judges! Angelo takes the win for his Ramen with pork belly and watermelon.

Fabio, Stephen and Elia are in the bottom three. Stephen says that he wasn't involved in the creation of the original dishes so he couldn't really improve upon them which is both truthful and stupid, Elia didn't cook her fish long enough and then asked the judges to be given another chance (awkward!), and Fabio stood up to Anthony Bourdain and practically dared the judges to send him home.

Elia is sent home for being her own worst enemy. And for raw fish.

This season on Top Chef All-Stars: Paula Deen, screaming kids, Jimmy Fallon, a stadium, and friggin' Muppets, yo!

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld