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Mile High Hockey Game Day: Top Chef All-Stars LA

It’s as close to sports as we’re going to get right now

Bravo’s “Top Chef” And “Project Runway” - A Night Of Food And Fashion FYC Red Carpet Event Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Unfortunately, the shutdown of the NHL means we no longer have Colorado Avalanche games to preview and recap. So why not make the most of it.

Top Chef is the single best reality competition show on television and this week it begins its 17th season with the most dominant group of All-Star the show has ever seen. For those of you who have watched previous season, some of the all-time greats will be familiar to you. For those who haven't, you’re in for a treat. These contestants are some of the most competitive and innovative culinary minds in the United States.

Filmed months ago, the show is not going to be disrupted by the near complete shutdown of North American society so we will have an entire season to sink out teeth into.

We here at MHH (really it will probably just be me) will be following along with this season and recapping every challenge and elimination. Episode 1 airs tonight and we will be here with a recap shortly thereafter.

When: Thursday - 8pm MT

Where to watch: Bravo

What you need to know: Unlike other cooking competition shows, these are not home cooks or celebrity chefs. The contestants on Top Chef are not necessarily names you will recognize - unless you’re a hardcore foodie - but they are all established, well respected figures in the American culinary world. They are the best at what they do and that shows throughout each episode.

Each episode will consist of one Quick Fire Challenge - where contestants can win advantages, including immunity - followed by an elimination challenge where the judges will chose the chef with the worst dish to go home.

The Judges

Padma Lakshni - the face of the show, Padma is one of the best hosts on TV. She is also one of the judges on the show. She is not a trained chef, though she has published three cook books and is known for her at-home Indian cuisine recipes. Those who have watched the new season of Ugly Delicious on Netflix will recognize Padma from the second episode.

Tom Colicchio - A Michelin star chef, Colicchio is the founder of Gramercy Tavern in New York City, as well as a number of high-end steak restaurants under the Craft banner. Drawing on decades of experience in the culinary world, Colicchio is the head judge and mentor to the contestants.

Gail Simmons - A Canadian food writer, Simmons has been a judge on the show since the first season, interrupted only by maternity leave. Known to show up on episodes mere days before giving birth, Simmons is seen as the more sensible, “practical palate” judge of the group.

The Contestants

Top Chef All-Stars Contestants

Chef Residence Previous Seasons
Chef Residence Previous Seasons
Eric Adjepong Washington, DC Season 16
Karen Akunowicz Boston, Massachusetts Season 13
Jennifer Carroll Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Washington, DC Season 6, 8, 15
Stephanie Cmar Boston, Massachusetts Season 10, 11
Lisa Fernandes Brooklyn, New York Season 4
Kevin Gillespie Atlanta, Georgia Season 6
Gregory Gourdet Portland, Oregon Season 12
Melissa King San Francisco, California Season 12
Jamie Lynch Charlotte, North Carolina Season 14
Brian Malarkey San Diego, California Season 3
Nini Nguyen New York, New York Season 16
Joe Sasto Los Angeles, California Season 15
Angelo Sosa San Diego, California Season 7, 8
Bryan Voltaggio Frederick, Maryland Season 6
Lee Anne Wong Maui, Hawaii Season 1, 15

The Favorite: The betting favorite - yes you can bet on reality TV - is Bryan Volaggio. A two-time James Beard Award nominee, Voltaggio has been both a contestant and a judge on previous seasons. Leaning on modern American cuisine, he is one of the most analytical thinkers you’ll see in the kitchen.

My Pick: Jen Carroll is my pick to win it all. Making her fourth appearance on the show (including the Denver season), Carroll has a lot to prove. After making it to the final four in Vegas, a mix of nerves and ego led to a few too many unforced errors. She has the drive and ruthless need to be the best that you want to see from a Top Chef contestant.

My Underdog Pick: Maybe it’s recency bias but Eric Adjepong (who was on the last season) is one of my favorite contestants to ever be on the show. He chose to stick to his heritage and spent the entire season making authentically African dishes with ingredients that most of the judges were not used to. He is one of the most technically sound chefs on the show and is unwilling to comprise his values for the sake of “traditional” American pallets.

In the absence of hockey, Top Chef can provide the community with a weekly dose of competition on television. Follow along with us at MHH as we breakdown discuss each week’s episode.