The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef Seattle Episode 1: Season Premiere

Episode 2

Last night was the season premiere of Top Chef Seattle and I wasn’t really prepared.  I didn’t know until a couple days ago that it was starting already and, quite frankly, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to recaps this year.  Doing a post on every episode last year was pretty damn hard – and that was when I had the energy of a new blogger and the show itself was new to me.   But I’m not doing weekly football posts this year, so the load might be manageable.  And the recaps did bring in a lot of traffic to the blog, so I’m going to go for it again.   Just goes to show that it doesn’t have to be about money for me to be a complete ho.

In my season recap for Top Chef Texas, I made this observation:

…the show is not and never will be about the food.  I know this sounds a little counterintuitive, but let me clarify.  The competitions and the overall subject matter were definitely food-related.  It’s was the vehicle to keep the show going.  But when it comes to what gets ratings, what keeps us coming back, incites near riots on internet, and what we’ll always remember are the people.

Since then just about everything I read mentioned how the season was the worst ever because of that lack of focus on food and technical skills.  I also read that producers are going to try to get their foodie mojo back this time around.  I get it, they don’t want to further alienate their core viewers. But I still think that they’re bigger hoes than me and want to get as many viewers as possible.  So that means silly challenges, creative editing to make it look like there are major beefs, and HOT LOOKING contestants.

OK, I don’t know if that last one’s a priority for them.  But it is for me.  We’ll see if I’m right.

Culling the Herd

To get to the final list of contestants, each of the judges takes a small group and evaluates them based on challenges he designs. First off I want to say that, as the outspoken male lesbian I am, I’m disappointed that the four judges are all ugly males.  Couldn’t they get Giada?

Here’s the line-up with some brief initial thoughts.  I’m not going to get too involved because a bunch of them didn’t make it past the premiere.  If it sounds like I’m shallow with these quick summaries, I want you to know I really am that shallow.  But I do promise to get a little deeper when we find out more about them.

Judge Tom Colicchio – Perform various tasks in his kitchen

– John Tesar, Spoon Bar & Kitchen – some aging hipster who’s REALLY high on himself.  Will make for some good drama later.

– Lizzie Binder, Bar Bambino – Her comment that Tom is gorgeous shows the right kind of poor judgement that will entertain me later.

– Jorel Pierce, Euclid Hall –


OK, the ‘stache is pretty sweet.  But the fact that he shares the name of Superman’s biological father makes him a force to be reckoned with.

– Micah Fields, The Standard Hotel – Who knows what he said.  I was distracted by Superman’s dad’s moustache.

– Anthony Gray, Southern Art & Bourbon Bar – About as plain, southern, white-boy as you can get.

In: Tesar, Binder, Fields

Out: Superman’s dad, Gray

Judge Emeril Lagasse – Make soup

– Josh Valentine, Divine Swine – Another hipster ‘stache! Not as good as Superman’s dad’s, though.  Soup – Roasted corn & coconut with mussels

– Jeffrey Jew, Blackbyrd – Handsome guy.  But just HAD to mention the partner, eh?  Oh well, it’s Bravo.  Soup – chilled watermelon & tomoato gazpacho, peppers, ceviche.

– Kristen Kish, Stir – Former model, very cute.   Soup – English pea broth, lemon peel, apple & seared scallop

– Stephanie Cmar, also from Stir – Close friend and co-worker of Kristen’s.  Also cute.  But just HAD to mention that she and Kristen aren’t lesbians, eh?  Wait, it’s Bravo.  Soup – Cauliflower with corn, lobster, & pea tendril

– Tina Bourbeau, Freshdirect – Kinda harsh like Penishead last year.  She scares me.  Soup – Shellfish & chorizo

In – Jeffrey, Kristen, Josh

Out – Stephanie, Tina

Judge Wolfgang Puck – Make an Omelet

– Carla Pellegrino, Bacio – Very nice looking cougar.  I won’t say what I really think, because it may be inappropriate for even this blog.  Love that she’s dropping F-bombs like the Blitzkrieg.  Omelet – Mediterranean with arugula salad

– Eliza Gavin, 221 South Oak – Fairly non-descript. Omelet – NY strip & morel mushroom, asparagus, with fennel tomato reduction.

– Chrissy Camba, Bar Pastoral – She’s from Chicago and is Filipino.  Normally that would get me pumped, but I’m not.  So I’m either a) maturing or b) turned off by her ugliness.  You decide. Omelet – “Torta” omelet with lobster, bacon, caramelized onion, & fennel

– Tyler Wiard, Elway’s Restaurant Group – Older white guy. Talks a lot.  Omelet – bacon, shallot, asparagus, roasted red pepper

– Daniel O’Brien, Seasonal Pantry – Others talked about their awards, but he was pretty douchey about it. Omelet – wild forest mushroom with oyster, bacon & pea salad

– Kuniko Yagi, Comme Ca  – The C in “Ca” has that funky French tail at the bottom of it.  How the heck do I type that in? Omelet – chamomile milk, morel mushroom & ham

In – All but Daniel.  Presentation did him in.  No big loss.

Judge Hugh “The Brow” Acheson – Create a beautiful salad

– Sheldon Simeon, Star Noodle – Young Hawaiian guy, up-and-coming chef. Salad – Fried Brussels sprouts with orange Thai vinaigrette

– Bart Vandaele, Belga Café – Knighted Chef by Prince of Belgium.  Whatever the heck that means. Salad – Spiny lobster with beets, asparagus, & potatoes

– Gina Keatley, Nourishing USA – Desperately in need of a fashion intervention.

The hair, necklace, and jacket/blouse combo is hideous.  Salad – sautéed & grilled zucchini with carrots, pea sprouts & balsamic reduction.

– Danyele McPherson, The Grape – Another hipster, minus the ‘stache of course. Salad – Grilled watermelon & tomato salad with charred tomato vinaigrette

– Brooke Williamson, Hudson House – Heyyyy!  We have eye candy.   Salad – Fried Kale with Brussels sprout leaves & lemon Vinaigrette.

In – All but Gina.  You can tell Acheson thought she was out of her league.  Loved the condescending “it looked nice.”

Random Thoughts

– There are some really cocky guys on the show and, based on the brief montage of what’s going to happen later this season, it looks like it’s going to be personality driven again. This episode was pretty focused on the food, but that’s probably because it’s really early in the narrative arc of the season.  Maybe they’ll find a balance.

– Those omelets sucked. If I were there, Wolfgang would’ve given me a foot massage.

– Brooke’s salad was a big pile of dark green leaves – very ugly.  It must’ve tasted really good for her to get immediately entered in the competition. Or Hugh thought she was good looking, too.

– Eliza’s omelet was ridiculously ugly.  Slapped the steak right on top of the omelet.

– So glad Gina got booted.  It was so annoying to hear her say “I’m a movement” a couple times.

– Hope there’s some kind of beer competition, because Bart is also a Knight of the Brewers’ Guild.   And I loovvveee Belgian beer.

– Speaking of Knighthood, I hereby dub him “Overgrown Van Damme.”  Which only gets me thinking of this clip that Yinzerella posted a few months back.  God I love this.

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

14 comments on “Top Chef Seattle Episode 1: Season Premiere

  1. Yinzerella
    November 8, 2012

    OK, I didn’t even watch the show. You got to Superman’s Dad–I was totally stoked–thought, “hm, maybe I’ll watch!” Only to learn that he was booted in the first episode. Sad face.
    But then I got happy again watching JCVD. Man, that is a good clip.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      November 14, 2012

      Update – I think I have the dance down! If the Belgian wins it, I’ll post a vid of me doing it.

  2. rachelocal
    November 8, 2012

    I feel like we share the same brain. My thoughts exactly regarding Top Chef, especially the Texas season. Excited to keep up with Seattle via your blog!

    That shot of Giada is just creepy. She freaks me out anyway.

  3. thefoodandwinehedonist
    November 8, 2012

    Thanks! Giada freaks you out?!?

  4. Letisha Jones
    November 8, 2012
    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      November 8, 2012

      That’s a great story, thanks for sharing. It sounds like she’s doing great work and it would’ve been good to see her advance from the standpoint of calling attention to her cause. That said, I still don’t condone her referring to herself that way. To me it kinda cheapens the actual movement and I’m sure she wasn’t alone.

  5. a2sicilian
    November 14, 2012

    Yeah, Top Chef is back! One of the only shows I watch on TV. Although, I’ve seen the cheesiness increase over the years to the point that much of the plot is swimming in a stinky pile of gruyere. Clearly, a lot of the people were moved on to Seattle because they had the personality or the looks. We even have a gorgeous, statuesque Asian model and an Italian broad who “gotta lotta work done” to her face. A few observations:

    –Those omelets sucked. I can make a much better omelet than that.
    –The 2012 hipster handlebar mustache has replaced the 2011 hipster Moses beard.
    –I almost wished Gina had moved on because I was looking for someone to hate. (Don’t make me cry! Don’t make me cry! — Loved the look Hugh gave her.) Guess I’ll have to find someone else.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      November 14, 2012

      Tesar is going to be the favorite to hate, but he has mega skills. I know I’m going to loathe Tyler wiard.

  6. a2sicilian
    November 14, 2012

    Okay, I just read the story about Gina’s work and now feel like an evil person. However, the way she came across on show 1 was a tad annoying.

  7. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 2: A Shock at the Space Needle « The Food and Wine Hedonist

  8. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 4: ’50s Food Flashback « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2012 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , .
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