Tue. Mar 31st, 2020

TV Recap: Top Chef: All-Stars LA – Episode 2

Hello!!!!!! Welcome to another perfect recap of “Top Chef: All Stars: LA.”

If you haven’t read our recap of Episode 1 (first of all, figure out what’s wrong with you?), I am Los Angeles’s favorite son Daniel Trainor and I am somewhat of a “Top Chef” aficionado. A-chef-ionado?

Daniel, I’m going to have to legally cancel you for that one. I’m Sam Stone and I’m a beautiful, yet dangerous newcomer to Top Chef. I’ve never seen a season and I’m not ashamed to say it! God I feel so light after admitting that.

DT: So, let’s jump into Episode 2. We are greeted with the absolutely SHOCKING news that there will be no Quickfire Challenge this week. 

SS: I was hoping to see chefs sprinting in a Quickfire, so you can imagine my disappointment.

DT: Instead, the chefs are sent out to the farthest corners of Los Angeles to eat at establishments featured in the late Jonathan Gold’s “101 Best Restaurants” to get inspiration for the Elimination Challenge. 

SS: Padma sends the chefs on their way like a freshman year acting teacher before spring break. “Go out and LIVE. EXPERIENCE things!! Fall in LOVE!!! Rob a BANK!!!!!”

DT: Split into four groups, the chefs explore different areas of the city and are tasked with creating a dish for a group of 200 inspired by their food tour.

SS: All the chefs remark on how “flavorful” and “full of flavor”, as well as how “flavor forward” everything was. We can be sure, dear reader, that the dishes contained flavor.

DT: At a taco truck, Lisa finds a way to mention that she, too, owned a food truck for five years which I didn’t know but I knew, ya know?

SS: Yeah, classic Lisa move to have owned a food truck for five years.

DT: When the chefs are adequately inspired, they head to Whole Foods to gather ingredients.

SS: I hope we both clocked the man in the middle of the aisle wearing AirPods, texting and getting in everyone’s way. What a gorgeous celebration of LA, Whole Foods, and where those two iconic institutions intersect.

DT: I saw him and I loved him. Could have BEEN me, for all we know! Watching a bunch of grown adults run around a fully-stocked grocery store was like torture porn, at this point.

Eric wants duck, but so does Lisa! It’s a duck battle for the ages. In the end, Brooklyn’s own food truck queen wins out.

SS: Wait, what is torture porn?

DT: A discussion for another time.

SS: Is torture porn another themed season of Top Chef? From the past?

DT: I SAID ANOTHER TIME! So, the chefs grab their stuff and we end up at a train station for some reason. 

SS: The chefs served their dishes to the judges, as well as Jonathan Gold’s friends and family, and also Jon Favreau showed up, which I thought was nice of him.

DT: There are a lot of dishes to try, and a lot of people to try them.

SS: Stephanie chooses to serve godDESS Padma Lakshmi something she’s termed “an Indian nacho” which Padma consumes with a seething rage I’ve only ever seen in the animal kingdom.

DT: To quote Stephanie’s delicately nuanced and articulate testimonial, it was a “wicked oops.”

Esteemed food critic and acclaimed writer Ruth Reichl is there and she’s absolutely horny for Kevin’s apple butter.

SS: Mercifully, that is NOT a euphemism. 

DT: Brian makes a fried beef tartare that he hubristically assures Padma will knock her socks off! Padma takes one bite, turns away, and has never looked more underwhelmed in her life. 

SS: Classic Malarkey Moment

DT: So, we leave the train station (choo! choo!) and head to Judges’ Table. Our top three are Nini, Kevin and Bryan. The judges ultimately give the win to Kevin and his pork and mushroom terrine. 

SS: In the bottom we have Angelo, Stephanie, and Eric. Ruth rips Angelo limb from limb, declaring that the tuna in his dish died in vain, and everyone is eager to let Eric know his scallops were trash. He brings up his duck battle with Lisa, but Eric, babe, it’s too late.

DT: Eric has turned into Molly Ringwald in “Sixteen Candles” because he cannot stop thinking about duck.

SS: Stephanie, despite her flavorless and emotionally draining “Indian Nacho” does NOT get sent home.

DT: Angelo gets the axe for his tuna crudo, which Tom, Ruth, Padma, and the entire world found overly sweet. The rest of the chefs live to see another day.

SS: And we get to add another brick to our friendship wall, Daniel. 

DT: Okay, so torture porn…


Daniel Trainor is writer, podcaster, son and friend from Los Angeles, California. Originally from Michigan, his love for all things pop culture started early, once using pancakes to bribe his way onto the Oscars red carpet bleachers with his mother. In addition to writing for AwardsWatch, he is an huge sports fan and hosts the LGBTQ sports podcast “Same Team.” One day, he hopes Jane Krakowski will win an Emmy.


Sam Stone is a writer and actor based in Brooklyn, New York. He writes humor, culture, and travel among other things, and spends his free time reading about all those things. You can find him on twitter @sam_the_stone or on Instagram @samstone000.


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