We launch into Duels with two really interesting chefs, who have a long history on Top Chef. Richard, the defending champion of Top Chef All-Stars, has everything to defend here and not much to gain versus Marcel. Marcel also competed in All-Stars without so much luck, so he's got everything to gain this time around. Marcel thinks he’s been a little misunderstood over the years on Top Chef, but in his own words, "Who cares, that gave me more air time." Hahaha, that’s Marcel for you!
I thought Marcel’s Fire and Ice Dessert (Round 1) was a really clever challenge, because the concept is something you can practice and master before heading into battle. Both chefs interpreted the challenge really differently. I thought Marcel’s dish was slightly better because of that beautiful coconut ice cream infused with Thai flavors, so it just won me over. Richard’s pineapple dish -- complete with a bunch of different foams, flavors, ice, and pop rocks -- just had too much on the plate for my liking. To me, it all melted into one and I didn’t get much distinction between the hot and cold. However, Richard ended up running away with the $10K for this challenge! This only put more fire under Marcel’s knife for Richard’s burger duel (Round 2). Again, I thought there wasn’t much in it -- Marcel and Richard both put up really good burgers, so I was happy to see them each bank 10 big ones.