We’re counting down the days until our favourite Top Chefs return to the small screen on Top Chef All Stars: LA. With a plethora of elite culinary masters facing off against each other, Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio has the difficult (albeit, delicious) task of trying all the dishes and, along with his fellow judges, selecting only one person to win the $250,000 jackpot.
Colicchio will be joined on Top Chef All Stars: LA by host Padma Lakshmi, fellow judge Gail Simmons and 15 returning chefs:
- Eric Adjepong (Season 16: Kentucky)
- Karen Akunowicz (Season 13: California)
- Jennifer Carroll (Season 6: Las Vegas, Season 8: All Stars and Last Chance Kitchen Season 7)
- Stephanie Cmar (Season 11: New Orleans)
- Lisa Fernandes (Season 4: Chicago)
- Kevin Gillespie (Season 6: Las Vegas)
- Gregory Gourdet (Season 12: Boston)
- Melissa King (Season 12: Boston)
- Jamie Lynch (Season 14: Charleston)
- Brian Malarkey (Season 3: Miami)
- Nini Nguyen (Season 16: Kentucky)
- Joe Sasto (Season 15: Colorado)
- Angelo Sosa (Season 7: Washington D.C., and Season 8: All Stars)
- Bryan Voltaggio (Season 6: Las Vegas)
- Lee Anne Wong (Season 1: San Francisco and Last Chance Kitchen Season 7)
Ahead of the season premiere, we caught up with Tom Colicchio himself to get the scoop on the competition’s most explosive season yet.
FOOD NETWORK CANADA: How involved were you in the casting process for Top Chef All Stars LA?
TOM COLICCHIO: Not at all. (laughs) I’m not involved in choosing [the competing chefs] and I really don’t want to be. I try to be as impartial as possible. I don’t have a horse in the race here.
FNC: Who are you excited to see return to the show?
TC: I’m excited to see them all return, to tell you the truth. I think they’re all really strong. Since the show, Karen Akunowicz has won a [James] Beard Award [and] several chefs have been nominated for Beard Awards. I think the rivalry from season five between second-place finisher Brian Voltaggio and Kevin [Gillespie] should be interesting… But [we’ve] got a lot of chefs who’ve done some great things since they’ve been on the show. I’m just happy that we got a lot of participation from some really good chefs, and it made for a fantastic season.
FNC: Do you think there’s an advantage for chefs who competed on the most recent seasons of Top Chef?
TC: That’s one way of looking at it. But the other hand, someone who competed ten years ago has ten more years of experience under their belt. So that’s kind of hard to beat, too. Every season is different. Every challenge is different.
We find that halfway through a season, everything starts to look the same. [We] start seeing a lot of patterns in terms of flavour combinations and things. [But this time around], I think everyone kind of stood true to themselves. There’s not a lot of looking around, you know, where someone wins two [challenges] in a row and all of a sudden [a chef] tries something similar to that. [We’re looking for] good food. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if it’s rustic or what I call tweezer-ready. Good food is good food. Technique is good technique, [and] you can’t mask that. It really comes down to, ‘is it delicious or not?’ So I think this season, the chefs seemed a little more confident in their ability.
FNC: Are there any former Top Chef other contestants you’d like to see return in a future All Stars installments that haven’t come back yet?
TC: I’d love to see all the winners come back. That would be definitely pretty awesome. I think that might be hard to do, but you know, I’d love to get as many back as possible.
Watch Top Chef All Stars LA Thursday at 10 P.M. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. Stream Top Chef All Stars LA and all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.