The Art of Cooking: Top Chef All Stars LA Episode 3 Recap

TOP CHEF -- "Strokes of Genius" Episode 1703 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, Ludo Lefebvre -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- "Strokes of Genius" Episode 1703 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi, Ludo Lefebvre -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /
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Top Chef All Stars LA
TOP CHEF — “Strokes of Genius” Episode 1703 — Pictured: (l-r) Lee Anne Wong, Brian Malarkey, Nini Nguyen, Lisa Fernandes, Jamie Lynch, Bryan Voltaggio, Melissa King, Stephanie Cmar, Gregory Gourdet, Eric Adjepong, Jennifer Carroll, Karen Akunowicz, Kevin Gillespie — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /

JUDGES’ TABLE: Despite Gail Simmons saying “I thought it was the most exciting plate of food we ate all day” about Eric’s poached halibut and the judges sharing universal praise for Bryan and Brian’s dishes as well, Guest Judge Ludo Lefebvre described Melissa’s creation as “almost like a Michelin-style wonton soup” in declaring her the winner.

Left to identify their least favorite dish from each of the groups, the judges invited Stephanie, Jamie, Lee Anne, and Karen to the elimination firing squad.

LAST CHANCE KITCHEN QUALIFIER: Occasionally Top Chef producers will do so much foreshadowing throughout an episode that an elimination doesn’t come as a surprise, and that was the case in episode 3. While we had already pegged Jamie as the chef who’d be packing his knives and leaving, hearing him reflect that “serving a French chef chicken without a jus is like, just put the noose around your neck” only confirmed our suspicions.

CHEF DISH: For some unexplained reason, Lisa, Jen, and Melissa were completely ignored during the Quickfire Challenge and never presented their dishes. When someone asked Jen on Twitter about being omitted, she replied: “Yeah what’s up with that?!” We second that emotion.

We cop to the fact that throwing shade at Brian Malarkey is becoming a recurring theme in these recaps, but even when he’s not earning Snark Attack honors, the simplest of facial expressions and mugging for the camera leaves him having the same effect as nails on a blackboard.

SNARK ATTACK: Having just declared this a Malarkey-free zone, at least for one week, the nod goes to Padma for her voiceover at the end of the show saying that “Jamie enters Last Chance Kitchen after clucking up another chicken dish. Can he prove he’s not a bad egg?” Since we’re total suckers for a strong pun game, we declare Padma the winner and new champion of Snark Attack.



  • Just two weeks removed from making Marcus Samuelsson swoon over her grilled radicchio, Melissa’s lobster wonton was said to be “absolutely stunning to look at” by Tom Colicchio and “pretty close to perfection” by Gail.  Can’t get any more en fuego than that.


  • Showing consistent strength in both the Quickfire Challenge and Elimination Challenge, Eric recovered nicely from a subpar performance in episode 2 and shined bright throughout.


  • Lee Anne continues to struggle, by her own admission, especially when preparing what Padma said: “wasn’t a dish, it was a collection of ingredients.”
  • Unfortunately, Stephanie has taken up residence in this category of our Heat Index, piggybacking less-than-inspiring mortadella tortolloni onto last week’s “Indian taco”.

We’ve always been in awe of the talent displayed on Top Chef, but the collective excellence is even more apparent during challenges like this week’s using art as the inspiration for their dishes. Our own cooking skills skew heavily towards Jackson Pollock and we’re not too proud to admit that if we had to cook for a living we’d be baroque, so number us among the very impressed at just how good these cheftestants truly are.

As the restaurant industry continues to struggle mightily, Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio has become omnipresent on national media advocating for the restaurant community through his Independent Restaurant Coalition. To learn more about the group’s efforts, please visit

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Were you inspired by the artistic creations on this week’s Top Chef All Stars LA?