leave your inhibitions at the door
Top Chef is back and this time I was ready for it! For each of the past couple of years I only found out about the season premiere that very same day. This time, I knew when it was weeks in advance. OK, so I STILL didn’t plan on how to approach this season but I knew when it was.
This is my fourth year of watching the show and I think I’ve got the hang of it. It’s like high school, minus the zits –
– Freshman year (Top Chef Texas) – I was completely new to the experience and it was a lot to process. And I was pretty much focused on boobs.
– Sophomore year (Top Chef Seattle) – Even though there was better eye candy, I started to focus a little bit more on the show.
– Junior year (Top Chef NOLA) – I thought I knew everything there was to know and then got thrown for a loop – the girl that I was really thinking had it all was a loser in the end. In Top Chef, the guy who everyone hated and thought didn’t belong in the final won. In retrospect, Nicholas Elmi deserved the win. But the producers were brilliant by creating this season-long story arc that had us hating him. Exactly where they wanted us.
– But not this time! I’m a Senior, dammit. I’m much more knowledgeable and aware to all their editing chicanery.
Of course, this also means that, by the end of the season, I’ll probably be on cruise control, ditching my responsibilities, and drinking a lot. In other words – what I do from Tuesday through Friday.
The show is in Boston this year, and I’m excited about it. I had the pleasure of going there several times on business and have some close friends there in the area. It’s known for its history and bad accents more than anything else, but it’s a seriously good food town.
Past winner Richard Blais is going to be more of a regular on the show, the first of what’s probably going to be a quite a few changes made to keep the show fresh. But you know what hasn’t changed? The contestants are the biggest bunch of tattooed, skinny-jeans-wearing, funky-haired, hipsters you’ll ever see on television.
There are wayyyy too many of them to go through at this point.
Sudden Death Quickfire
This is a new twist. Previously, Quickfire winners got some kind of prize or immunity from elimination. Now with the “Sudden Death,” the losers of these challenges face elimination. In this episode they worked in teams to complete four common prep tasks in a relay race. I’m not a fan of these group challenges that don’t show off a chef’s artistry or vision. But hell, there are sixteen of them to weed through.
Some Bostonian named George was the slowest, but he got to challenge another chef in a one-on-one competition for the chance to stay. He picked the guy standing next to him, Gregory the black hipster pictured above.
He picked a ringer. He lost. Adios, George.
They had to prepare a small dish for the first ever Top Chef Food Festival and the assignment was to make an updated version of the very first one they ever made. Those of you who have read my recaps in the past know that this is one of my biggest pet peeves – when they have these well-qualified chefs making dishes for a huge group of people. I call it “Top Caterer.”
This felt a little different, though. Unlike last year when they cooked in a college cafeteria, the attendees included chefs, journalists, and bloggers. And this time there were other chefs cooking for the festival who were legends, such as Todd English and Ming Tsai.
Top 3 – Doug (fried chicken), Mei (congee), Gregory (Haitian chicken stew)
Winner – Mei Lin, who served an updated version of congee (rice porridge) with caramelized pork, crispy shallots and black garlic.
Bottom 3 – Katie (pedestrian broccoli side dish), Katsuje (a shitshow taco), and Michael (just plain awful combo of sweet corn soup with salmon eggs)
Gone – Michael
– It was pretty refreshing to see the judges giving negative feedback to the contestants right after they tried the dishes. Usually, they’re polite and find something nice to say. I think it’ll elevate the level of the food. Or at least it’ll be fun seeing the contestants get into a major funk in the middle of the competition.
– Outside of the sweeping generalization of being loaded with hipsters, there were quite a few of the stereotypical Top Chef contestants. Stay tuned for next week and I’ll go through what those are.
– Doug, who placed in the top three, told Padma that she could call him “Dougie.” Which meant, of course, I had this song in my head the rest of the episode.
– I was a little excited to see that Michael was a little bit of a Molecular Gastronomist. I don’t recall having one of those since Ugly Chris from Top Chef Texas. I’m very much a fan of the techniques and was hoping that this was signaling that MG hasn’t totally died since El Bulli closed down. But since he lost badly, maybe it is. Bummer.
– There was an extended commercial for the new show “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce.” It looked like it’s right up my alley – extremely trashy with a heavy dose of cougars in lingerie. I love seeing all the ads for the new shows on Bravo. Which means a whole new world of shows I probably will not see.
– The winning dish is being featured on Blue Apron. www.blueapron.com It looks like if you sign up, they’ll send you the ingredients and the recipe for it. Heck with that! I’ll make it on my own and share the recipe with you.
– Unlesss, of course, Blue Apron wants to send me some freebies in exchange for some favorable mentions here. #noshame #stillaho
Did you see the premiere? Any early favorites?