“God, That was Good!”: Top Chef All Stars LA Episode 1 Recap

TOP CHEF -- "It's Like They Never Left!" Episode 1701 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeremiah Tower, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- "It's Like They Never Left!" Episode 1701 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeremiah Tower, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /
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The venerable Top Chef hit the ground running Thursday night, as returning chefs faced the fire during the premiere of Top Chef All Stars LA. (Spoilers Ahead!)

“Please sir, I want some more.” – Oliver Twist

These were our exact thoughts as the closing credits rolled on the season premiere of Top Chef All Stars LA. And while there was no hot sausage and mustard, oh was there ever food glorious food!

With that food came 15 chefs, some who felt like old friends, others who appeared to have changed a bit, and still others who are exactly who we’ve always thought they are. Hello Brian Malarkey? Angelo Sosa?

The festivities began at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory overlooking the city and beyond, where chefs were met with a variation on the mise en place challenge theme for their Quickfire Challenge. Under the exacting eye of Tom Colicchio, the cheftestants raced to trim three artichokes, supreme five oranges, and perfectly crack 20 almonds, with speed determining three teams of five for a continuation of the challenge.


Red Team: Kevin Gillespie, Jamie Lynch, Joe Sasto, Melissa King, Bryan Voltaggio

  • Char-grilled artichoke with sumac, yogurt & tahini
  • Tortellono with artichoke barigoule in pancetta brodo

Blue Team: Nini Nguyen, Lisa Fernandes, Stephanie Cmar, Karen Akunowicz, Brian Malarkey

  • Artichoke tempura with citrus aioli
  • Crispy artichokes with mint vinaigrette

Green Team: Lee Anne Wong, Gregory Gourdet, Angelo Sosa, Eric Adjepong, Jennifer Carroll

  • Artichoke crudo with carrot & fennel gremolata
  • Almond-crusted fried artichoke with orange aioli

Outcome: Highlighted by Bryan Voltaggio’s first-ever Quickfire Challenge win and on the strength of their Char-grilled artichoke dish, the Red team prevailed and earned the advantage of captaining smaller, winning chefs-selected teams of three for the Elimination Challenge.



LOCALE: Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, California

CHALLENGE: Seafood feast using only an open-fire as a heat source for cooking

GUEST JUDGE: Jeremiah Tower

GREEN TEAM: Melissa, Karen, Angelo

  • Grilled swordfish with hot & source sauce, ember-grilled radicchio, fresno chiles (Melissa)
  • Grilled scallops, gingered plums, nuoc cham & napa cabbage salad (Karen)
  • West coast oyster with smoked bacon rice porridge (Angelo)

RED TEAM: Joe, Lee Anne, Brian

  • Sea urchin, spot prawns with hibiscus ponzu & burnt avocado (Brian)
  • Sesame & semolina flatbread with clams, fried garlic, sea urchin, pickled peppers & miso parmesan aioli (Joe)
  • Shoyu tare-glazed halibut with charred sweet corn & cabbage, sea urchin, uni miso beurre blanc (Lee Anne)

YELLOW TEAM: Jamie, Gregory, Stephanie

  • Charred salmon with grilled peaches & roasted chili dressing (Gregory)
  • Steamed mussels with ember-scalded cream, toasted bread (Jamie)
  • Brined prawn with charred tomato sauce & roasted corn dressing (Stephanie)

BLUE TEAM: Nini, Jennifer, Kevin

  • Spiced tuna loin over grilled kale with red pepper tahini sauce (Jennifer)
  • Grilled scallop, carrots, tomatoes, with charred brussels sprout & fennel salad (Nini)
  • Eye of swordfish braised in chorizo with coal-roasted onion, olives, peas (Kevin)

AQUA TEAM: Bryan, Eric, Lisa

  • Charred shrimp & scallop ceviche with candied squash, mushrooms, avocado (Lisa)
  • Sablefish with corn porridge & charred leeks (Bryan)
  • Chesapeake boil with grilled prawn (Eric)

JUDGES’ TABLE: While the judges singled out Melissa’s grilled swordfish and Jennifer’s spiced tuna loin, the Yellow team won, with Guest Judge Jeremiah Tower describing Gregory’s charred salmon as “technically perfect” in declaring him the winning chef.

On the flip-side, the Red team’s dishes were deemed the judges’ least favorite, leaving Brian, Lee Anne and Joe up for elimination. Click below to see which chef was sent home and for the first edition of our HEAT INDEX chef rankings: