Welcome to the Top Chef Reunion show! Hopefully tonight we’ll have some burning questions answered, like: who actually turned down the chefs’ burners in every episode? Was the wedding challenge really as unfair as it seemed? Can Dave go ten minutes without crying? Let’s dive in and see!
First up, a little recap of the season so far. This would come in handy if Bravo didn’t play these episodes every ten minutes, and if I didn’t have some sort of weird compulsion to watch them each and every time they are on. I know, it’s a sickness.
Robo-host Katie Lee Joel tells us to grab our aprons, because this show might get messy. How clever, because this show is about cooking, and most of the contestants wear aprons. Oh ,look! Dave, Tiffani and Harold are hanging out in the kitchen drinking Bellinis or something. I guess they get some extra time to get liquored up, because most of the drama this season revolved around them. Well, two of them at least.
The chefs magically arrive in the order in which they were eliminated, and we get to see a little reminder of why each one got the boot. Hi Ken. You were sent packing because you’re crazy. There’s Cynthia- she left the show to spend time with her father, and I’d really like to see her back as a competitor in Season 2. Here’s Brian who will never forget that kids don’t like soft carrots. Candice’s rubbery quiche got her kicked out. Lisa will never again forget a major ingredient in a dish. Andrea learned that sometimes a chef has to do things she doesn’t want to do. Miguel, this is not Top Sous Chef. Stephen, this is not Top Waiter.
Whew! Is that everyone? I’d like to comment that all of the contestants look really nice- everyone is out of their chef jackets, and sporting their own looks, and it’s nice to see; especially Stephen who is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. That’s right- no fancy- schmancy suit and wide tie for Steve tonight- he’s just like one of the regular people. The other contestants seem shocked by Stephen’s appearance, and he tells them that he doesn’t always wear suits, like in the shower, or when he’s obviously trying to distance himself from the Stephen that was portrayed on Top Chef.
Katie Lee tells the chefs that the Judges would like to see all of them, and I marvel once again at her amazing deadpan delivery. The contestants are led into a stark white room, and take their seats in front of the esteemed Judges; Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio and the emotionless host, Katie Lee Joel.
Tom kicks of the Q & A by asking everyone if the show has affected their careers in any way. What? We’d better be building up the good questions, Tom, because if this show is going to be an hour of stupid, obvious questions about cooking, I am switching to CSpan, because that would be more interesting. The chefs answer that, of course, the show has changed their lives somewhat. Brian is enjoying more recognition and acknowledgement, and Ken got booked on Howard Stern, which is the dream of chefs everywhere.
Gail asks the Judges if they’ve been reading, message boards to get fans’ feelings on the show. Miguel says that he has been, and Dave’s a hero, Harold’s a hero and Miguel was a hero up until the “Tiffani is a snake, ssssss,” thing.
Andrea says that she’s the only person in reality TV to be sent home twice, which I’m positive is not true although I can’t think of anyone else right now. There has to be another person in the history of reality TV that has been sent home twice, right? Help me out here. Andrea feels that the reason she was eliminated twice was because she was so into “elimination.” Yes, Andrea, we know that, because you talked about it all the time!
Ken was the first to be sent home, and I still can’t figure out why. Oh yeah- it was because he was a disrespectful nut job. We see footage of him tasting the sauce with his finger, and then speaking very disrespectfully toward the Guest Judge. Ken has no regrets, and most of the other chefs come to his defense, saying that they have all used their fingers to taste sauces at one time or another. Not Lisa though. She always washes her hands. Always! Ken decides that it’s now time for the yelling portion of the show, and berates Judge Tom for choosing overcooked chicken and a dish with sand in it over his. Stephen also decides it’s time for yelling, and stands up and says: “Would you rather eat sand, or s***?” Um, sand, if I have to choose. Are we done with Ken now? Good, because I really had enough of him during the one episode in which he was eliminated.
Yippee! Now it’s time to talk about Stephen. I have to say that at the beginning of the season, and in the middle of the season, I really didn’t care much for Stephen. I thought he was a clueless, pompous, ass, and I still think he is, but now I want to take him out and feed him hot dogs, Easy Mac and Boones Farm. Is that weird? I don’t care.
Here’s a clip of Lee Anne calling Stephen an ignorant ass, and then a clip of Stephen acting like an arrogant ass. To be fair, they probably don’t have much footage of Stephen not acting like a jerk, so they have to work with what they have. The Judges ask Stephen if this experience humbled or changed him in any way, and he replies that he has a bit of an extreme personality, (really? I hadn’t noticed), and it was humbling to see his personality right in his face. Lisa calls him arrogant, and says that people stop her on the street to tell her how much they hate Stephen. Harold disagrees, and says that we saw Stephen’s alter-ego on the show, and he really is a special dude. Special. That’s a word for it, I guess.
Dave’s up next, and I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that we’ll see some tears. But before the tears, we are treated to a montage of Dave’s Top Chef experience, which mostly seems to consist of him frantically running around the kitchen and freaking out about things. Judge Tom gives Dave a box of tissues, and Dave tells us that he’s very passionate about cooking, and can’t help the tears. He’s never cried at work, or in the kitchen, but Top Chef just makes the tears flow.
Dave f***in’ loves cooking, but Tiffani doesn’t think his view is any different from anyone else- they all have a deep passion for cooking, and that is why they’re all in this competition. Dave doesn’t appreciate Tiffani’s interruption, and asks her why she has to try to steal his thunder? This is his time to speak, darn it and he doesn’t want to be interrupted! He keeps it together, and doesn’t cry, and I am disappointed. And shocked.
Speaking of Tiffani, it’s her turn for a moment on the hot seat. Judge Tom asks her if she thinks Dave belongs in the Final 3. Dave replies “Of course not,” but Tiffani says she does think he belongs, and Ken laughs derisively. He’s been quiet for a few minutes, so take solace in that. Dave certainly thinks he belongs in the Final 3, and says that $100K would help his broke ass right about now.
What’s next, what’s next? Oooh- a countdown of the best lines from Top Chef. I hope some gems from Harold are included, although they’d have to bleep most of the words out, so maybe they won’t be.
* “If the food is good, say it’s good. If the food is crap, flip the plate.” - Ken
* “I’m not your bitch, bitch.” - Dave
* “You’re a snake. Sssssss” .- Miguel
* “Sexy and succulent.” - Brian
* “I’m a cook,” (and about a hundred different variations). - Harold
* “I’m over it. (Harold and Stephen) can just go make out somewhere.” – Dave
* “This is not Top Sommelier.” - Various
* “It is what it is.” – Everyone
“I’m not your bitch, bitch,” is probably the most memorable line from the show, and Dave says that he’s heard that people are selling t-shirts with the quote on it, and he needs to get a piece of that action. Well, ask and ye shall receive, Dave. Katie Lee presents him with his very own “I’m not your bitch, bitch,” shirt, which Tiffani immediately tries to take. The group collectively rolls their eyes, as Dave wrestles the t-shirt out of Tiffani’s claws, and in the end of the tussle he shows he’s not her bitch, and has the shirt to prove it.
The Judge Gail asks Brian another boring question- “Are all chefs naturally competitive?” I would assume that chefs who apply to be on a reality cooking show competition are pretty competitive, Gail. Stupid question. Moving on.
At this point, I would like to note that Lee Anne and Stephen are passing an open bottle of wine back and forth between them, and I think they are getting a little snockered. All the better for the viewers, I say!
Okay, back to the “are chefs competitive” question. We see footage of the chefs talking about how dirty competition is, burners being turned off and oven temperatures being lowered, chefs missing food, and dishes being copied. Was Andrea unhappy with the way Miguel fed her to the wolves twice? No, it’s just a TV show, and Andrea looks good in tire tracks. I would also like to note here that I don’t think Andrea has been drinking at all, so her comments are not incendiary or interesting, and I don’t want to write about her any more.
Judge Gail asks Tiffani if she’s aware that message boards are all abuzz with rumors that she was the one turning off burners and lowering oven temperatures. Tiffani says that she’s aware, and the theories certainly are interesting and cause drama, but doesn’t deny the rumor. She tries to explain the whole thing away by saying that none of the chefs were familiar with the equipment, and could have turned burners off by accident. Or maybe the Temperature Fairy flew in and did it, right Tiff? Cynthia calls her out, and tells her that’s BS, and Dave agrees, telling Tiffani to just admit that she did it.
Woot! It’s getting good now. Tiffani leaves the set, and goes into the corner and cries, Cries! Judge Gail is worried that Tiffani is sick, (maybe because she’s ingested her weight in cheap wine), and asks someone to attend to her. Tiffani tells the PA that she doesn’t want to be on the show anymore, and does not want to be anyone’s monkey, and we are sent to commercial. When we come back, Tiffani has miraculously recovered, and is sitting with the chefs once again. Dang! I thought we could enjoy the rest of the show Tiffani- free, but it’s not to be.
Harold’s up next! I can’t imagine anyone has anything bad to say about Harold, He seems to be a workhorse who did his thing, and didn’t cause any drama. Tiffani says that Harold is the kind of guy you want to cook with and be friends with. Stephen calls Harold his right hand man, and looks up to him. Lee Anne says he has a sensibility, and we see footage of Harold taking responsibility for errors a number of times, (some that weren’t even really his).
Harold has mostly stayed quiet during the show, and when Gail asks him if he’s single, he flat out refuses to answer the question. Maybe he’s concerned about the, ah… overzealousness for him shown by some of his fans, possibly my fellow recapper included, but he won’t say. Gail insists that his fans want to know, Ken announces that Harold is gay, and Harold asks Ken out on a date, and then says that he is not single. Boy, is Harold’s partner going to be pissed if he goes out with Ken!
Okay, we’re done with the warm fuzzies about Harold and his orientation, and now we’re on to discussion about the challenges. Were the challenges fair? Andrea thought they were creative, and showed both positives and negatives. Harold calls the wedding challenge “bulls***,” because they only had 16 hours to execute a menu, and only a half hour to shop for ingredients at a grocery store. Judge Tom thinks that they should have been able to prepare a good meal in 16 hours, but concedes that they shopping situation was difficult.
Since the competitions were so hard, the chefs had to unwind afterwards, and how did they do that? Alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. In fact, it looks like every moment they were not cooking, some of the chefs were imbibing. Nothing wrong with that, although there is something wrong with the footage of Miguel threatening to take off his pants and then dancing the Hustle with Lee Anne. And look- there’s Dave, drunk, wearing Miguel’s wig and dancing around the kitchen. Finally, we see footage of Stephen stumbling upstairs where I presume he passed out on the bathroom floor, and Miguel actually passed out on the floor. I like to see this side of the chefs, and I wish Bravo had shown a little more of this during the season.
Something I’m glad Bravo didn’t show much of? The grossness that is Miguel. I’m not going to go into much detail here, because I find it disgusting, but apparently Miguel earned the nickname of “Chunk Le Funk,” because he loves to eat, is chunky, and… funky. Andrea describes him as this “disgusting blob of a mess of a human being who doesn’t have any manners,” but she says it in an affectionate way, so it seems kind of nice.
The fun stuff done, now we have to hear about Tiffani. Great. The Judges call her the most controversial of all the chefs, but Tiffani doesn’t agree. She thinks that when people are in danger of being eliminated, they take things personally, and grasp at straws, and her actions were misinterpreted, and she was unfairly blamed for things. A video clip shows her stating that she isn’t here to make friends, she’s here to cook, and can sometimes be perceived as mean. Then we see video clips of all the other chefs calling her arrogant, cutthroat, fake, a dog and a dragon, and just a bitch. Tiffani says that she’s a nice person, but she didn’t come here to be nice. Well Tiffani, I would say you achieved your goal then.
Remember the night Tiffani told the Judges that Miguel should go home, and then lied about it to Miguel? Even after we see the footage again, Tiffani still won’t admit that she lied until the other chefs berate her and Dave yells at her to admit her guilt. She finally admits her guilt, but says that she told Miguel the truth later. Off camera, I guess.
Although Tiffani wins the prize for the most confrontations, she was not involved in the longest (and most immature) argument in Top Chef history. That dubious honor belongs to Candice and Stephen with the famous “Obviously you’re a tool and a douchebag,” spat. The fight went on for 37.05 minutes, and started off about cookie cutters. Wow. The Judges ask Stephen if he has a different perspective on the argument now, and he says that he was wrong, and of course cookie cutters should have been used while cooking for children. He tells Candice that she was right, and he never should have treated her so badly. Ken must feel he’s been quiet for far too long, and laughs at Stephen’s earnest speech, which makes Stephen really, really mad. Stephen and Ken exchange some nasty words, and at one point Harold has to hold Stephen back. Please. Does anyone think that Stephen could take Ken? Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Anyway, Stephen apologizes to Candice, and I am proud of my boy.
Now, the Judges kick the Final 3 out, so that everyone else can dish about them. When asked if they think one of the other chefs should have made it to the Final 3, the consensus is that Lee Anne should have made it instead of Tiffani. When asked who they think should win, Ken chooses Tiffani, (because he has to be ridiculous just one more time before the end of the show), and Andrea chooses Dave because he’s the underdog. Lee Anne doesn’t share her pick, but says that although Tiffani is a smart, innovative chef, she needs to work on her people skills a bit.
And, that’s it for the reunion show. Tune in for part one of the finale, where instead of an immunity challenge, the chefs will start off with an elimination challenge! What will happen? Will Dave prove that he’s not anyone’s bitch? Will Harold tell prove that he really is a cook? Will Tiffani sabotage the others? I can’t wait to find out!
I'm ordering my own "I'm not your bitch, bitch" t-shirt, but you can reach me at: SueEllenMishke@fansofrealitytv .com