If you’ve had a chance to check out the first two weeks of the new Top Chef season, then you know that the producers have chosen to bring back competitors from each of the first seven seasons who came *this* close to winning it all. This “All-Star” season, set in New York City, pits some fan favorites (and some favorite villains) against each other in a rematch to see who has grown the most since their initial Top Chef appearance.
Here in Washington, we’re lucky enough to have THREE local competitors vying for our slavish loyalty. In order of original appearance, they are:
- Spike Mendelsohn (Season 4 – Chicago), chef/owner of Good Stuff Eatery and We, the Pizza. In his first season, Spike came across as…arrogant. Has wisdom come with age?
- Carla Hall (Season 5 – New York), owner of Alchemy by Carla Hall. She’s transitioning from catering to gourmet sweets and savories. Hootie hoo!
- Mike Isabella (Season 6 – Vegas), who has moved on from his position at Zaytinya and is in the process of opening his own place, Graffiato. He had trouble with leeks last time around (what…that’s NOT what you remember about him?).
Over the past two weeks, we’ve had a chance to chat with each of them. We asked about what they’re doing professionally, the differences between their first appearances and this season, and what made them decide to subject themselves to the pressure cooker competition again. Sure, a victory would be big for any of them, but each brought a sense of perspective to the show that they may not have had at first.
Check out some of our conversations with the cheftestants – including big news from each about the directions their projects are heading – after the jump. (more…)