Welcome to another recap of “Top Chef: All-Stars L.A.!” We’re without our fashion queen Nini, but Karen has worked some magic in Last Chance Kitchen and, if we’re understanding her correctly, has potentially been held captive in the “Top Chef” kitchen. Whatever the case, she’s back in the game!
I’m Sam Stone, and if I’m being honest every time someone explains how eliminations work on “Top Chef,” I immediately forget. But I have an amazing personality.
I’m Daniel Trainor and, as someone who has repeatedly explained how eliminations work to Sam, I can confirm that he is not only dense, but that his personality is a 6!
Let’s get to it.
DT: Karen is back! It’s great to see her. Did we all think she was going to be inside one of those boxes? I sure did!
SS: Karen will never fit inside one of your boxes, Daniel!
DT: Happy to have her and the pink hair back. Although, she definitely seems…tired.
SS: This week’s Quickfire Challenge features guest judge Danny Trejo who is apparently some kind of taco guru, and also an actor. God I love LA.
DT: Before the chefs can get started making tacos of their own, Padma makes an incredibly uncomfortable joke about Danny Trejo’s 75-year-old wiener.
SS: The chefs all laugh nervously, as did I, and then the twist of this challenge is revealed: the chefs must use machetes for all their prep work in this challenge.
DT: Danny Trejo played the Machete in the feature film “Machete!” Do you get it? Do you get the joke?
SS: Personally, I found it erotic to watch these chefs slam their machetes into vegetables, and I, in fact, am proud to admit that.
DT: Meanwhile, I was wildly unnerved by the concept of Brian Malarkey with a machete.
SS: Kevin bravely chooses to use store bought taco shells instead of making his own which makes it feel like he is a parody of a white person trying to make Mexican food.
DT: At one point, machete-wielding Malarkey says “tacos ain’t supposed to be perfect, it’s supposed to be good!” A sentence that does not bear discussion, but bears repeating.
SS: Perhaps the title of Malarkey’s autobiography? Gregory’s taco is too salty, and Eric has bravely chosen to deposit one half of a teaspoon of filling in the center of a tortilla.
DT: Lee Anne, who is very excited to tell everybody that she lives in Hawaii (!!!) is in the top with the corpse of Karen and our eventual winner, Stephanie.
SS: After Stephanie pulls out the victory, Padma reveals that we’re on the cusp of moving into “Restaurant Wars,” which I have chosen to believe is when the chefs physically fight each other. Daniel? Am I right or am I right?
DT: Well, you’re not wrong! But in another more realistic way, yes you’re wrong. Restaurant Wars is to “Top Chef” as Snatch Game is to “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Is anybody still reading this? Halle-loo??????????
SS: It’s niche, but I think they’re still with us. Padma tells us that the Wars are approaching, but in the meantime this week’s challenge is to pitch a restaurant concept. Two winners will be chosen and those concepts will be the restaurants for next week.
DT: Our guest judges this week are Stephanie Izard, who won the fourth season of “Top Chef,” and Kevin Boehm, who is handsome.
SS: The chefs get to work creating mood boards like they’re 22-year-old life coaches.
DT: Voltaggio glues a plate and utensils to his mood board. His mood is chaos.
SS: Stephanie’s restaurant concept is…I guess…a place that serves food? It was pretty unfocused and she didn’t seem to know…like…what a restaurant was.
DT: Speaking of Stephanie, we get to Whole Foods and Kevin tells her to “move it, toots!” This man should never be allowed to speak to a woman again.
SS: It was a weird moment! I had to get a glass of water!
DT: A glass of water a day keeps the doctor away!
SS: God, I love that classic aphorism that everyone agrees is real.
DT: Karen reveals her restaurant concept to be some kind of modern dim sum situation which, considering her musical theatre background, gives us pause.
DT: It’s at this point we must discuss how the inspiration for Brian Malarkey’s restaurant was “Shrek.”
SS: Based on his thirty-five minute pitch, Malarkey is addicted to “Shrek,” and has now created a millennial focused Baja-Asian fusion restaurant about “Shrek.” God, what a show.
DT: Meanwhile, I was in the middle of writing a joke about how Thatcher and Rye sounds like the names that Voltaggio would give his kids and, lo and behold, they are!
SS: Voltaggio, despite his best efforts, is not a chef of the people. He pitched a “sunflower seed risotto” as an accessible dish, which seemed kind of tone deaf to this basic bitch.
DT: The judges were two seconds away from giving Melissa their kidneys because they loved her dish so much. Even Melissa was like “calm down, I made corn.”
SS: Stephanie pitches her…food place to the judges who are not impressed in the least, and the professionally handsome restaurateur suggests that she name her place “Immunity,” which was actually a pretty solid burn.
DT: Unfortunately, her schnitzel was shitzel.
SS: Eric’s concept “Middle Passage,” which was brilliant, gorgeous, and well thought out, unfortunately does not fly with the judges. He cooks food from the African diaspora, and pitches it as casual yet…also formal somehow. Padma seems furious at this contradiction.
DT: Gregory and Kevin win the challenge, which means we’re headed to Gregory’s restaurant Kann and Kevin’s restaurant *checks notes* The Country Captain.
SS: Eric and his unpopular dishes find themselves in the bottom this week alongside Lee Anne and Stephanie. Stephanie’s immunity means that the judges say some mean things to her, and then she goes away before Eric and Lee Anne face elimination.
DT: We say farewell to Eric this week. He’s free to go home and make love to his gorgeous wife, who this recapper would not mind getting to know a little better.
SS: Daniel, keep it in your homosexual pants.
DT: I MEANT AS FRIENDS. I CAN HAVE OTHER FRIENDS, SAM!
SS: Daniel, I’m declaring a restaurant war with you. Is that how those work? See you next week, love you. Bye!
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.