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"Top Boss: World All Stars" Season 20: Behind-the-scenes on quaint pub set

On a brisk August afternoon in London, Newsweek was invited to join the set of top boss: World All Stars to get a taste, quite literally, of what the returning bosses have to offer.

Sixteen past contestants have returned to the kitchen to give it their best shot in a bid to earn the “World All-Stars” title, though all of them are familiar with the territory as they have starred in 11 different versions of the show, collectively .

Newsweek attended the recording for the cooking competition show’s third episode, titled “Cheeky Pints ​​and Pub Bites” which was filmed in a quaint English pub named the Trafalgar Tavern.

Situated right by the River Thames and surrounded by Union Jack bunting, the location couldn’t be British anymore if it tried and it certainly seems fitting for Top bosses 20th season, which sees the chefs compete in challenges across the UK and celebrate the best of British food before the final in Paris.

Host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons told Newsweek what it was like to make the historic season, and even shared their thoughts on the dishes that the chefs cooked up.

Simmons said that top boss reaching a huge milestone meant they wanted to celebrate in a “big” way, by bringing the show to London: “It’s a big season, it’s an anniversary season, and so we wanted it to be somewhere big and different.

“Also, we’ve been talking about bringing in contestants from all over the world and, as you know, this is our World All Starsthey’re very good and what worked out well actually is that the UK doesn’t have a version of top boss, and so it’s, in a way, neutral ground, neutral territory for everybody.

“The Americans don’t have home field advantage, all the other people from around the world also aren’t used to being here either so it kind of lends itself well to that.”

The contestants on the current season are Samuel Albert, Ali Ghzawi, Sara Bradley, Charbel Hayek, Victoire Gouloubi, Dale MacKay, Sylwia Stachyra, Luciana Berry, May Phattanant Thongthong, Begoña Rodrigo, Buddha Lo, Tom Goetter, Gabriel Rodriguez, Dawn Burrell, Amar Santana and Nicole Gomes.

But, by the time Newsweek gets to see the show two bosses have already been eliminated from the series: Samuel and Dawn.

Colicchio spoke highly of the contestants and said that the chefs need a “certain marathon endurance” to get through the challenges they present. But he added that their past experiences with the competition meant they would be ready for it

“Certain people are very competitive, some people aren’t,” he said. “I think that if you’ve gotten that far, most likely you are very competitive and that means you’re going to think strategically. There’s two ways to play that, you can play not to lose and you can play to win, right ?

“I think that depending on the challenge and depending on where you are on the season that could change early on, you have to shoot your swing for the fences with every dish.”

The “Cheeky Pints ​​and Pub Bites” episode saw the remaining 14 contestants team up in pairs to create an elaborate dish that was a twist on a British pub classic, and they were free to interpret it in any way they saw fit.

The seven dishes ranged from a new take on fish and chips courtesy of Ali and Amar, to a re-imagined version of a Sunday roast by Nicole and Charbel.

There were those who preferred to do something different, like Sylwia and Victoire who presented a Polish-inspired take on the classic Toad in the Hole, a traditional English dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, while Tom and Sara cooked up “Shepherd’s Best ,” based on Shepherd’s pie, a dish of cooked minced meat topped with mashed potato. Their version put more emphasis on the ingredients than it did on trying to change them.

Some of the dishes even came as a surprise to those used to the cuisine the chefs were basing their dishes on. Gabri and Begoña, for example, put a twist on the British classic, bangers and mash, or sausages and mashed potato. Rather than present the normal version the pair approached it in an innovative way by swapping out the sausages for pork belly.

Other standouts included Buddha and Luciana’s cod dish, which was bursting with flavor thanks to the array of seafood it included. Dale and May’s Thai-inspired scotch egg used Asian flavors to elevate an otherwise simple dish to new heights in a surprising way.

Lakshmi reflected on the way in which the chefs could approach their dishes, and said “as long as they do it well” they were free to try new things.

The host told Newsweek: “I like that and I believe that anyone can cook anything as long as they work hard to understand what the essence of that dish is and think seriously about how, if you can’t improve the dish, it might be best to leave it alone , and therein lies the conundrum.”

The teams proved they were able to work effectively together to create delicious, innovative dishes. Each of the seven plates stood out in their own way, and showed the skills of the different chefs.

On a brisk August afternoon in London, Newsweek was invited to join the set of top boss: World All Stars to get a taste, quite literally, of what the returning bosses have to offer.

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