“Life After Top Chef” Recap, Episode One: The Week in Quotes

Light on plot, heavy on charisma—LATC could be a great guilty pleasure.

Jen Carroll and R.J. Cooper at Carroll's Rogue 24 service. Photograph courtesy of NBC Universal.

Here’s something Fabio Viviani says in the premiere of Life After Top Chef: “This is a very interesting assorted group. Richard: family-oriented, freaks out all the time. Spike is like a 14-year-old with a credit card. Jen: super chef—very, very intense. This could be really, really good or really, really bad.” That pretty much sums up the show itself. Having secured four of the most intriguing cheftestants ever to pack their knives and go, Bravo has set up the spinoff for success—these are people you can watch.

The challenge is—based on the first episode, anyway—that not a lot happens. Whereas Top Chef’s tight format creates an ironclad, highly formulaic story arc, this is more like a Real Housewives setup, with the plot artificially built around events that bring the cast together. The producers will have to work hard to gin up the drama, and its stars will have to work hard to keep us involved. That said, they’re pretty fun to watch—and quote. Below, our favorite verbal outtakes from episode one.

“It turns out I make better fish and chips than the people in London.”

This is how Spike Mendelsohn describes
the dish he makes at a kickoff event for the Aspen Food & Wine
Classic, where our four heroes converge in episode one. Either
Mendelsohn actually has a giant ego, or having a giant ego is his brand.
Either way, his cocky quotes are priceless—especially juxtaposed with
the scenes with his parents and sister, business partners in his
Washington businesses Good Stuff
, We, the
, and the forthcoming Bearnaise.
The Mendelsohn clan clearly has no time for Spike’s bloated self-image,
and we look forward to watching them take him down a notch.

“I am making frozen shrimp for the most powerful woman in the industry.”

Jen Carroll arrives
in Aspen to find that a shipment of scallops she planned to cook has
not been as lucky. As Richard Blais points out, it’s like an impromptu Top Chef challenge,
as she is forced to thaw frozen shrimp for 1,000 on the fly. Then she
has to feed these shameful crustaceans to the likes of Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin—as
lovely and elegant as ever in the episode. Full disclosure: We are big
fans of Jen Carroll, who was so unceremoniously robbed of her place at
the All-Stars table. Carroll is at a low point in LATC’s debut
episode, having parted ways with investors in her Philly restaurant.
But the fact is she can be her own worst enemy—as when she apologizes
for her food in Aspen, explaining to guests why it’s not good before
they even have a chance to try it. Own it, Jen! We love you anyway.

(Side note: A healthy amount of Jen time is spent at Rogue 24, where Carroll does a guest service alongside R.J. Cooper. This is big fun for Washington food fans, as cameos of our local foodie notables abound.)

“I’m Spike—I’m the new face of heartburn.”

This highly sarcastic line emerges from the mouth of All-Stars winner Richard,
whose near-pathological competitive streak is offset by his winning
earnestness and intensity. It’s clear that Blais still feels as
competitive with his fellow cheftestants—including Top Chef Texas winner Paul Qui, who
also appears in the episode. He wants good things for his friends, but
it also stings a little every time they have a success. Blais’s
storyline is set to revolve around the tension between spending time
with his family and opening his new restaurant the Spence, but watching
him contend with his own competitive nature is equally intriguing.

“Juicy, moist, sexy, and drunk. Sounds good to me.”

Fabio. Twitter addict, showman, Italian stallion. What is it about that
guy? The premiere has him teaching a cooking class to a roomful of
swooning women (the above quote describes a drunken chicken dish he just
demoed); bantering with his best friend and business partner—a
Viviani clone who talks less; and basically just Fabio-ing it up all
over the place. Maybe nothing needs to happen on this show, after all.
Just train the camera on Viviani, Bravo, and we’ll be back every
Wednesday night.

Did you tune in for last night’s Life After Top Chef? Let us know what you thought in the comments.