Top Chef delivers on guest returns worth getting excited about
Top Chef is 10 years old, and on Thursday, the show celebrated by bringing back some of its most notable winners and challenging the cheftestants to step into the way-back machine themselves.
Top Chef's 10th anniversary was almost a total disaster. I mean, it was a disaster for Jason, who was sent packing off to Last Chance Kitchen. Kwame, blessedly, was saved from elimination, thereby saving the episode and likely the entire show from the ire of Twitter followers, who threatened a melee upon the judges.
In addition to the nail-biting elimination, the show brought back three of its most accomplished alums to celebrate the 10th anniversary, reminisce and judge. The three returning: Mei Lin (winner of Top Chef: Season 12), Antonia Lofaso (celebrity chef, cookbook author, finalist in Season 4) and Michael Voltaggio (winner of Top Chef: Season 6 and deemed "the most talented chef" to come through the show by Tom Colicchio). Fans were thrilled to see the three returning chefs, but they got almost as worked up about Voltaggio as they did about the possibility of Kwame being sent packing.
It was Voltaggio, along with Tom Colicchio, who checked on the cheftestants in the elimination challenge and who, along with the assignment itself — create a dish based on who you were 10 years ago — made everyone super nervous and definitely threw them off. Can you imagine having to represent who you were a decade ago in food form? Yikes. While fans were excited to see folks like the visually appealing Voltaggio, the fact that this group of chefs is among the most accomplished Top Chef has ever seen didn't prevent them from getting sweaty and making basic mistakes like under-seasoning (what Jason was ultimately eliminated for). After 10 years of watching good chefs become great chefs who have $125,000 and a showcase at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, in addition to the attention of the culinary world, it's no wonder people got overwhelmed at seeing where successful alumni are now.
The nature of Top Chef isn't like America's Next Top Model (obviously), where you can vanish into obscurity very quickly, even after winning. Because it's a culinary competition, chefs can often return to a relatively quiet life while simultaneously crushing life by opening fabulous restaurants and getting attention from other esteemed chefs. Undoubtedly, though, Thursday's anniversary show had to make Season 13 cheftestants wonder about what's in store for them 10 years in the future.