Top Chef

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You know it's going to be a very special episode when Fabio walks down the stairs in his (?) house and introduces himself. Like we were all sitting in the foyer of his palatial home, while he was upstairs fixing his hair and deciding whether to wear the tan blazer or the gray one. And why does he introduce himself when we were in his house to begin with? Would we be there if we didn't know? And also, as the clip reminds us, he was the Fan Favorite, so if you're watching this, you probably already know. So Fabio reads rather woodenly off the prompter to tell us that Bravo has invited various cheftestants from previous seasons back for a dinner party, and the preview clips promise us juicy gossip and fights, the staple of any reality reunion. And typing the word "reunion" just made me grateful that this isn't hosted by Andy Cohen.

The various cheftestants arrive at the airport while Richard Blais tells us that he jumped at the chance to meet people from other seasons. Harold from Season One reminds us that he had no idea what he was getting into when he signed up for the show. I feel the same way about the people from Real World seasons one and two (NY and LA the first time around) -- no one else has any excuse for complaining about how they were "edited" or any such bullshit. Dale from Season Three says he was going to retire from being a chef before signing up for the show, but it reinvigorated him. Tiffani from Season One says that she has traveled and consulted since doing the show, and ultimately wants to open her own restaurant.

The various cheftestants arrive at Social, the restaurant where they will be gathering today. In addition to the cheftestants already mentioned, we see Ilan from Season Two (blech), who's still wearing the stupid hipster glasses. The music changes and Marcel approaches outside on the sidewalk. Because he loves attention (but will deny it until the day he dies), he has to do a big jump in the air before entering the restaurant. He still has the wolfman hair, too. Look at me! I'm Marcel! But don't talk shit about me, because my art is pure. Man, I hate that dude. Every time I start to feel a little bit bad for him, he goes and does something stupid and I hate him all over again. Anyway, he's running a restaurant in Vegas these days. He reflects back on his season (like when Frank threatened him with bodily harm) and decides that the others were just jealous, and that's why they treated him so badly. And look, they did treat him badly. They were immature little shits. But Marcel is a dick. And he needs to take some responsibility for being a dick, which is what got the group sort of rallied around treating him badly. I'm not trying to blame the victim here, but it's ridiculous if he thinks that the reason the others on his season didn't like him was because he's so talented. Flashback to when Ilan told Marcel to keep making his foams and go cry in a corner, and then cut to Fabio asking the two of them if they've hung out since their season ended. They have, and Marcel claims that they are "culinary brothers of other mothers" (what does that even mean?).

Casey and Dale show up from Season Three and Casey says that this is like a family reunion. Dale likens it more to group therapy. Dale says that he's in the process of opening a restaurant in Chicago and rooming with his best friend from the season, Sara. And then Hung shows up, so Season Three represent! He says that he's been busy since his season ended doing various things, and they flash back to how fast Hung was at cooking, and how he would just sprint around the kitchen. Hung interviews that he's calmed down a lot after seeing himself on the show. Harold interviews that he hopes Hung has calmed down a bit.

Time for Season Four. Richard Blais interviews that he and his wife had a baby, and he opened a high end burger restaurant. Fabio totally rips on him and asks if Richard copied his haircut from Jen on his season. Richard tries to get out of it but realizes he's been burned. And then Lisa walks in and she's smiling! She interviews that she's still with the same girlfriend she had during her season and she's working as a sous chef.

Lisa's boring, so let's move on to Season Five. Fabio's already there, obviously, but then Carla walks in! Yay, Carla! Her hair is straight now, and I liked it better curly. Now it makes sense why Casey was invited though -- to bring up the conflict where the show made it out like Casey's decision to use the sous vide technique when she worked with Carla led to Carla losing the whole thing. So you know that will come up.

And it's Stefan, who walks in like he owns the place, and demands a glass of wine immediately. So various groups of cheftestants stand around and chat. Ilan admits that he was thinking about opening a taco truck and Marcel is full of opinions on that one (mainly that it's a bad idea, though it would be profitable). Ilan tries to explain that he just wanted to do it for fun. He seems like the type that would enjoy telling people that he went to culinary school and now runs a taco truck. He's kitschy! And Marcel takes himself so seriously that he could never do something that would be such a waste of his prodigious (in his own mind) talent.

Fabio tells Lisa that she has a beautiful smile, but she never smiled on her season. Lisa laughs and says that she had the same scowl in every episode, and to prove her right, the editors patch together a bunch of footage of Lisa scowling and talking about what a bitch she is. And anyone who watched her season already knows that, so moving on.

Blais tells Ilan and Dale that he wishes they could cook something right now, because he misses the competition. Are we really supposed to believe that Blais doesn't know that (spoiler alert) they will be cooking something very shortly? Also, there is a whole lot of jeans with white sneakers going on in that shot. Did I wander onto an episode of Seinfeld all of a sudden?

In a totally unprompted by producers question, Fabio gathers up Marcel, Tiffani, and Hung, and says that they all had strong personalities on their seasons, and he wonders if they've gotten shit for it from the public. Tiffani basically says that people will talk shit anonymously (i.e. on the INTERNET!) but when they meet her in person, they're cool. Tiffani interviews that she got to see herself on television, and a lot of her attitude came from her own insecurities. WE get a clip package where she is bitchy, and then talks about owning the term bitch, and trots out the old saw about how when a man acts that way, he's a hardass and when a woman does it, she's a bitch. And look, that is one hundred percent true, and it's unfair and sexist. But maybe it's time that we start calling out both men and women for rude behavior, without the name-calling, because you can be a leader without being a jerk. This isn't Glengarry Glen Ross, for Christ's sake. Anyway, Tiffani seems a lot more mellow and mature. Tiffani tells Fabio that editing can only do so much and you have to take responsibility for your own actions and words. THANK YOU! Now please pass that message on to your fellow reality show participants.

Fabio asks Marcel to talk about the incident after his season ended, where he got hit with a bottle by some lunatic. Which, as you'll note, Marcel talked about with the media at the time, and it doesn't seem to be the result of a police report or anything, so he volunteered the information. Marcel acts all offended like, "Fabio, you're hosting me and you want to talk about this? What if I don't want to talk about it?" Okay, how about just saying it was a long time ago and

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Top Chef

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