Top Chef All Stars LA may be gone, but it’s definitely not forgotten.
In light of the fact that my Top Chef finale recap was a de facto love letter to the show, it should come as no surprise that I sit here a week later suffering from withdrawal. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m not alone, as fans of the show know no limits to their devotion.
While most of season 17’s cheftestants maintain an active social media presence that enables viewers to stay connected long after the finale, it’s hard not to wax nostalgic about the progressive 14 episode feast that we were served.
Even just a week removed from the finale, there are so many things that I’ll miss about Top Chef All Stars LA…
I’ll miss Stephanie’s modesty, growth in the kitchen, and one-liners. And I’m not gonna say I told you so in reminding you that I pegged her as an underdog in my first recap of the season, but I told you so.
I’ll miss Padma’s mischievous smile, her warmth, and her mastery as Top Chef’s host.
I’ll miss Joe Sasto’s larger-than-life mustache, despite it having made only a cameo this season.
I’ll miss Mama Wong. Appearing just a bit longer than Joe Sasto’s aforementioned mustache, Lee Anne’s mom made an impression on most everyone. I’d definitely tune in for a Lee Anne & Mama Wong YouTube series. Hint, hint Lee Anne.
I’ll miss Tom’s constructive honesty, his empathy, and his facial expressions when visiting the chefs and hearing what they’re whipping up. It really is fun to see the self-doubt that seeps in when chefs see those looks.
I’ll miss Nini’s self-deprecation and humor, as well as her amazing social media game. Sure, I can enjoy the latter anytime I want, but when it’s show-specific, she simply nails reactions that so many of us are having ourselves.
I’ll miss having Brian Malarkey to playfully disparage week after week.
I’ll miss Gail’s grace and expertise, both shared with cheftestants and viewers in a way that makes her occasional absence so glaring.
I’ll miss Gregory, whose thoughtful approach to cooking was a consistent joy.
I’ll miss Bryan’s laugh. Sure he’s a class act and sure he excelled yet again during his third go-round on the show, but it’s his laugh that never failed to entertain.
I’ll miss the 60-second commercial break and accompanying countdown clock during the show’s first break each week.
I’ll miss guest judge Marcus Samuelsson’s absolutely giddy reaction upon tasting Melissa’s grilled radicchio. Speaking of Melissa…
I’ll miss our reigning, defending Top Chef Melissa, whose smile and demeanor, not to mention obvious extraordinary talent, made her being named Fan Favorite a fait accompli.
As I try to wrest myself from the grasp of this Top Chef withdrawal, it’s therapeutic to reflect on the just-completed season. To be fair, there is so much more that I’ll miss from All Stars LA, but even this continuum of purpose has its space limitations.
So what will you miss about Top Chef All Stars LA? Better yet, what won’t you miss?! Do tell!