Jen Carroll freaks out after Top Chef All-Stars’ first surprising decision

Top Chef All-Stars is off to a strong start, and had its first controversial elimination and first freak-out last night, during an episode that guest starred Joe Jonas and season one host Katie Lee Joel, who had an even more bland personality than she did seven seasons ago, if you can call doing nothing with a blank stare a personality. Jennifer Carroll, who was nearly a finalist on the Las Vegas season, was eliminated. And then she freaked the fuck out.

Jen was upset from the second her team walked into the room, standing in the line-up like she was either going to a) pee her pants any second or b) rush judges’ table and punch Tom Collichio in the spleen. “Jen, you seem really pissed off,” Padma finally said to her. When she was back in the stew room, Jen said, “I think I yelled at the judges more than they yelled at us,” and then added, “welcome to Jen all-stars.”

For those who imagine the judges eliminated her for yelling at them (“you guys are the judges; you’re smart enough,” she said at one point), Tom Colicchio told the other judges that they would only eliminate someone for their food, “not for talking back to us; I don’t mind that at all,” he said. Before she was eliminated, Jen made an interesting argument about basically kissing the judges’ asses via her food: “Do you want to win or do you want to make the 150 people happy that you’re never going to see again?” In this case, it didn’t matter, because the judges thought her eggs were underseasoned.

I liked Jen a lot in her season; she was by far my favorite to win, and I loved how much of a bad-ass she was, both cooking and in terms of her personality. She was just charming enough through her abrasiveness to be amusing rather than insufferable. It’s sad to see her go, and although her exit wasn’t the most classy ever, I think it’s just evidence of her extreme passion.

After being eliminated, she hugged goodbye rather calmly, but exited in a hail of bleeped swear words that began after she left the stew room. There was so much bleeping that the only phrases I could hear were “fucking bullshit” and “not even fucking close.”

Watch the whole dramatic judging scene again, or the whole episode, which is further evidence of the strength of this cast and season:

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.