The premiere of Top Chef: All-Stars is tonight, and naturally, everyone's very excited. Including the show's judges Anthony Bourdain and Tom Colicchio, who participated in a media call to promote the event, and spoke as candidly as the two of them are famous for. Bourdain in particular really let loose. Did you know that he's a Dora fan?
How do you stay slim as a foodie?
Anthony Bourdain: I went into a gym for 20 minutes once. My wife bought me some training sessions and I decided that there was nothing attractive about laying on the floor trying not to vomit in front of total strangers. I basically Google Keith Richards everyday. If he is still alive I figure there is hope for me.
Since you know all of these chefs very well, who would you say has changed the most since we saw them on Top Chef?
Tom Colicchio: Dale [Talde] comes to mind, he seems to have matured a lot since the Chicago season. Spike has obviously done a lot since his season aired. Professionally I think he's doing really well. They all seemed to have matured a bit.
Has it been challenging to judge people you know this time around?
TC: Right. I think we've all felt this. Doing the regular season we're not allowed to interact with the contestants at all. They are kept from us. We only talk to them when we're on camera. So it's a walkthrough when we're eating their food or at Judges Table.
And you know, after the season is over when we do the reunion the guard is let down, and we get to know them a little bit. And some of the chefs, I've seen them at festivals and things like that and gone out and hung out with them. So that made it very, very difficult to judge them. It's much easier to judge someone if you don't know them at all. But then you get to know them and you actually start to consider them your peers. It's very, very difficult.
AB: And weird.
A lot of people are particularly excited about Richard Blais being given a second chance...
TC: Yes, and here are the pros and cons. Richard had a great season, got to the finale, probably should have won. Stephanie, you know, stepped it up and took it that year. The downside of it is that he's been doing burgers for the last couple of years. And so he is kind of out of the fine dining game. So that could be a bit of a handicap.
Tony, while your friend Eric Ripert last season seemed really petulant and pouty, in your appearance as a judge you were positively perky by comparison. Did the aliens who kidnapped you return your snark? Or, will we see the return of nice Tony again this season?
AB: The most perverted thing I could do is to make Eric the bad guy on that show. I mean, I saw my opportunity -- he is always the good one, you know, he's a very good friend, he's always seen as the good guy, the nice guy, the loveable one. And he was being pretty harsh. So I saw my opportunity to make him Darth Vader.
Oh I don't know. I'm trying to be cuddlier. In fact right after this I'm putting on my jammies and watching Dora Meets Dora.
Are you guys seeing that Top Chef has had an impact in the food world in general? Are you seeing chefs trying new things, are you seeing patrons demanding new and more adventurous foods?
AB: Well I don't know. I don't cook anymore, it's been a long time. And I was never a creative genius or influential. I mean, that's really a question for Tom. I think Tom in a lot of ways has been more influential as a working chef to teach other working chefs than the show might be. But I don't know, what do you think?
TC: I think what it's really done is just made sort of the general public more in the creative process. This sort of how difficult it is to come up and create food, especially on the fly. So I think it's created a huge interest in food. And you know, the amount of children who watch the show that are really into food now and the same idea that people walk into a restaurant expecting the amuse-bouche.
I still think that for the most part Americans are still pretty conservative when it comes to food. But I think those barriers are being broken down because of things like Top Chef and just food TV in general.
Why go back to New York for this season? Why not go to a new city?
TC: I have no idea what the strategic thinking was but it seemed to me as an outsider there was a real attempt to get New York right this time. Most of the challenges are very and uniquely New York. And I think they really made an extra effort to really capture the uniquely and specialty New York things. You know, it's the big leagues and I think the show plays to that strength.
Leave your All-Stars anticipation in the comments, then see our refresher guide to who's who!
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