Top Chef Duels

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Top Chef has apparently abandoned the all-star concept and is instead going with a head-to-head competition involving former contestants. From reading the description, it sounds like this is going to be Top Chef Chopped with a twist, that being:

Rivalries will be intensified as “Top Chef Duels” ups the ante and allows the competing chefs to each pick one mini-duel based on the other’s perceived weaknesses in the kitchen.

I like that they are getting both regular and all-star contestants, but I would have liked to have seen all the matchups as regular vs. masters.

Here are the matchups:

Episode 101: Richard Blais (Top Chef Chicago runner- up and Top Chef All-Stars winner) vs. Marcel Vigneron (Top Chef Season 2 runner up) – I like this matchup with two molecular gastronomy guys going at it. I would have loved to see either Blais or Vigneron against Wylie Dufresne, but this one is going to be good. I think Blais wins it in a close battle.

Episode 102: Shirley Chung (Top Chef New Orleans finalist) vs. Brooke Williamson (Top Chef Seattle runner up) – Chung didn’t impress me on TS-NOLA and I thought that Williamson was going to win TS-Seattle, so I think it is pretty clear how I think this is going to end up. I would have loved to see Williamson against Naomi Pomeroy or Anita Lo here.

Episode 103: Mike Isabella (Top Chef All-Stars runner up) vs. Antonia Lofaso (Top Chef Chicago finalist) – both of these two are very underrated cooks and I think this is going to end up being a fun matchup and I think Isabella is going to prevail. Would love to see one of them against someone like Jon Waxman.

Episode 104: CJ Jacobson (Top Chef Miami contestant) vs. Stefan Richter (Top Chef Season 5 runner up) – there is going to be a ton of trash talk in this competition and I think that CJ takes this one with Stefan complaining the whole time.  Would be cool if this one had Jacobson or Richter against Tom Colicchio.

Episode 105: David Burke (Top Chef Masters Season 5) vs. Takashi Yagihashi (Top Chef Masters Season 4) – master vs. master here, I think that Yagihashi takes it. Would have liked to see one of them square off with one of the Voltaggios or Sheldon Simeon.

Episode 106: Tiffani Faison (Top Chef Season 1 runner up) vs. Dale Talde (Top Chef Chicago and Top Chef All-Star contestant) – another tough call with two great chefs, but I think Talde will squeak out a victory. How about a battle against Chris Cosentino here?

Episode 107: Nyesha Arrington (Top Chef Texas contestant) vs. Jen Carroll (Top Chef Las Vegas finalist) – Nyesha annoyed the crap out of me and doesn’t strike me a great chef but Jen Carroll is, so I don’t think this one will be close. Fun would be Carroll against Rick Moonen. Really fun would be Carroll against Eric Ripert, her mentor.

Episode 108: Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Chicago winner) vs. Kristen Kish (Top Chef Seattle winner) – another really great battle, although I think that Kish got an easier road to winning TS-Seattle by plowing through last chance kitchen. Izard is the better cook and I think she wins, but I would love to see either of them square off against Mary Sue Milliken or Tracy Desjardins.

Episode 109: Kevin Gillespie (Top Chef Las Vegas fan favorite) vs. Art Smith (Top Chef Masters Season 1) – the battle of the beards and finally a master vs. regular battle, and they definitely got the matchup right. Both of these guys do home-style southern so it should be fun and probably involve a ton of pork products. I think Gillespie wins though.

Episode 110: Championship Finale – has me wondering how this is going to work. You have 9 winners from the previous episodes. If I had to guess who takes the competition overall not knowing how this is going to be presented, I am putting my money on Stephanie Izard.

The show premiers on August 6th.

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