As a big ol' food nerd, I love me some Top Chef. So, I was THRILLED that after seven seasons, Bravo decided to do a Top Chef All Stars featuring some of the best contestants from seasons 1-7.
I looked at the list of contestants, and was excited to see some of my favorite contestants coming back, including Richard Blais, Dale Talde, and Jennifer Caroll.
One of the other returning chef's is fan favorite and season 3 runner up, Dale Levitski. Now, I've never loved Dale the way other people love Dale, but I understand the appeal. In season 3, Dale auditioned because he had reached a low point in his career. He had lost faith in himself as a chef, and used Top Chef as a means to get back his culinary mojo, and he did, and you saw it all on screen. He went from sucking up the joint in the early part of the season, to getting some swagger and just killing it in the latter half and almost winning the whole shebang. And he's so likable. The guy wears his emotions on his sleeve in a good way. Oh, and he cooks food that looks like a high end version of something your mom might make, which is definitely appealing.
And I love food like that, so I should love the guy. And he's a local Chicago guy. Hell, when I used to live at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted, I used to see Dale wandering around at least once a week, and he was super nice to the people whom he saw along his way.
But in terms of Top Chef, he just wasn't my cup of tea. I thought he was a great, likable underdog, but I prefer badasses on Top Chef. I like Richard Blais. I like the Voltaggios. I like really confident, creative chefs. Plus, it was tough for me to get a bead on Dale. Sometimes he just totally knocks it out of the park, and other times he's the worst chef in the world.
He's the Gladiator of Top Chef.
Gladiator, for all of you comic book Muggles, is an alien superhero from the Marvel Universe. He's basically just as powerful as Superman, but only if he believes in himself. That's right, Gladiator has confidence based super powers. If Gladiator thinks he's the strongest, fastest, baddest motherhugger in the universe, he is. But the second he doubts himself? Anybody can take him down.
Dale's the same way. As long as he believes in himself, he belongs in the same category as Hung, Stephanie, and the Brothers Voltaggio, but the second he doubts himself? Forget it. Pack your knives and go home.
Also, as an interesting aside, Gladiator and Dale have the same haircut.