“Time’s Up! Hands Up, Machetes Down”: Top Chef All Stars LA

TOP CHEF -- "Pitch Perfect" Episode 1707 -- Pictured: (l-r) Padma Lakshmi, Danny Trejo -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- "Pitch Perfect" Episode 1707 -- Pictured: (l-r) Padma Lakshmi, Danny Trejo -- (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /
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Top Chef All Stars LA
TOP CHEF — “Pitch Perfect” Episode 1707 — Pictured: (l-r) Kevin Boehm, Stephanie Izard, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio — (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo) /


LOCALE: Top Chef All Stars LA Kitchen

CHALLENGE: Pitch a restaurant concept for Restaurant Wars

With the always-popular Restaurant Wars just a week away, chefs were asked to pitch their vision for a new restaurant concept with the two best ideas becoming the competing restaurants next week.

GUEST JUDGES: Season Four Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard and James Beard Award-Winning Restaurateur Kevin Boehm

  • The Country Captain, Family-style southern restaurant ( Kevin)
    • “Country Captain” braised & roasted curry chicken with bread & butter pickles, hot chow chow
  • Middle Passage, Food from the African Diaspora (Eric)
    • Tamarind glazed duck with coriander green peppercorns, cardamom & collard greens
    • Berbere shrimp with charred vegetable broth
  • Kann, Haitian woodfired cuisine (Gregory)
    • Braised oxtail, sauteed plantains with caramel onions
    • Marinated red snapper with cilantro, lime, garlic, ginger, rice & peas
  • Thatcher and the Rye, Mid-Atlantic cuisine (Bryan)
    • Crab rolled jicama with green apple, cucumber & dill pickle mignonette
    • Game hen, sunflower seed risotto, shellfish broth
  • Three Black Crowes, Modern global dim sum (Karen)
    • Focaccia dough scallion pancake, dungeness crab salad, yuzu brown butter aioli
    • Sweet potato dumplings in red curry with Kaffir lime peanuts
  • Hanai Mama, Modern Hawaiian (Lee Anne)
    • Salted egg curry mahi mahi bites
    • Coconut and mango beer-braised pork belly
  • Lucy C’s, Modern elevated American comfort food (Stephanie)
    • Smoked salmon pate with salt vinegar chips
    • Pork schnitzel, grilled lettuce puree, celeriac remoulade & romano beans
  • D2, Baja Asian street-Mexican/Asian street fusion (Brian)
    • Shrimp & hamachi aguachile
    • Braised oxtail with gochujang mole
  • Sabrina, Modern Asian Californian cuisine (Melissa)
    • Ahi tuna, Asian pear, fermented black beans, shiso leaf
    • Corn agnolotti with Chinese lap cheong, xo sauce & yuzu

JUDGES’ TABLE: After hearing concept pitches from all nine chefs and tasting dishes that represented each, the judges sang the praises of Melissa, with Guest Judge Kevin Boehm declaring that “she’s got Michelin star chops”, Brian, Kevin, and Gregory. Guest Judge Stephanie Izard told Kevin that “I was blown away by your presence as a restaurateur”, while Tom Colicchio raved to Gregory in saying that his “plantains stole the show”. In the end, Kevin and Gregory’s concepts were chosen as the two winners and the two restaurants to be featured in next week’s Restaurant Wars.

LAST CHANCE KITCHEN RETURNEE & QUALIFIER: This episode saw the return of one chef from LCK’s first half of competition when Karen was welcomed back while Eric was sent off to Last Chance Kitchen after winding up in the bottom three with Lee Anne and Stephanie. In likely seeing the writing on the kitchen wall, Eric said that “I fell on my face”.


CHEF DISH: We found the subtle discussion of size mattering to be an interesting sidebar this week, as the build-up to Restaurant Wars brought a comparison of which chefs had opened the most restaurants. Brian Malarkey leads the way by quite a bit, followed by Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie, while some other cheftestants have yet to open their own restaurant.

We’d also be remiss if we didn’t recognize Chef Kevin’s brilliant, yet ultimately not used name for his restaurant concept: “I’m gonna do a fried chicken joint called Flusterclucks!”.

MALARKEY SMARM-O-METER: Just when we thought we were gonna hang a ‘Gone Fishin” sign on this category for the week, the king of me turned to a server just prior to his concept presentation and asked “Do I look alright?”, instantly earning an 8 on this week’s meter.

SNARK ATTACK: Guest Judge Kevin Boehm earns this week’s honors on the strength of his reaction to Stephanie’s presentation, suggesting that “maybe she should’ve named her restaurant ‘Immunity'”.


EN FUEGO: Even though Gregory and Kevin prevailed, it’s hard to overlook Melissa’s continued excellence. About her food and presentation, Tom said “it was elegant, it was understated, it was quite beautiful”, while Guest Judge Stephanie Izard described her agnolotti as “the most well-crafted dish we had the entire day”.

ROLLING BOIL: As a prolific restaurateur, this week’s Elimination Challenge was clearly in Brian Malarkey’s wheelhouse and it showed. Saying that “I daydream about concepts”, it came as no surprise when the judges loved his D2 presentation.

BRING TO A SIMMER: Despite presenting a concept that the judges felt had great potential, Lee Anne’s dishes fell way short and landed her back in familiar territory on the chopping block. Like Bryan Voltaggio, Chef Wong continues to struggle to click on all cylinders in the competition.


And with that, the groundwork has been laid for next week’s Restaurant Wars, a highlight every season on Top Chef. In an exercise that emphasizes collaboration and execution, we can’t wait to see what unfolds at Kann and The Country Captain.

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Which Top Chef All Stars LA restaurant concept will win Restaurant Wars?