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Top Chef Boston: Season Premiere

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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.

 

bravowatch.com

bravowatch.com

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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.

Hipsters bravotvcom

bravotv.com

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There are wayyyy too many of them to go through at this point.

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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.

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Elimination Challenge

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

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Random Thoughts

– 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.

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– 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

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Did you see the premiere? Any early favorites?

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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.

11 comments on “Top Chef Boston: Season Premiere

  1. momcloset
    October 16, 2014

    Haha, this song is so damn catchy. It’s been so long since I heard it, I had to log on to your blog to hear it again.
    Someone tried to teach me how to Dougie a few years ago….I’m an Irish, 37 year old mom…needless to say, I didn’t look as smooth as the people in this video.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 16, 2014

      Hilarious! Last weekend my niece and kids were on the floor laughing at my wife (a daughter of German immigrants) trying to twerk

      • momcloset
        October 16, 2014

        Ahhh yes, twerking is another move that just has to be experimented with in the privacy of one’s own home.

        Like, I bet even senior, C-level women try this in the mirror from time to time. Can you picture Hilary Clinton giving it a go? Bet she has!

        Bless the younger generations for keeping dancing so exciting and discovering new ways to move the body!

  2. A Famished Foodie
    October 16, 2014

    I appreciated the judges’ new instant feedback, but I think saying things along the lines of “olive oil snow is annoying” is a bit pointless at best and reductive at worst. Another problem I have with Top Chef, although this is a long standing one, is that all the judges know who cooks what. I think one of the reason’s why I prefer The Taste; the judges on that show don’t know who’s put up what, so it’s much more honest. I don’t care how “unbiased” you are- it’s better to do blind tastings. That being said, I will be watching this season with all its hipsters…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 16, 2014

      Good point on that feedback, and it’s tricky for the contestants. They don’t want to serve something the judges don’t like, but when they solely try to pander to the judges (rather than making a great meal) they often fall flat on their faces.

      Is the Taste still around? I caught the first season and I didn’t like it. Great concept, but something about the execution was off.

  3. a2sicilian
    October 17, 2014

    Some of my random thoughts:

    –What was up with Padma? Bitchy, weird facial expressions … in fact her face just looked different, more angular.

    –Sensed a wee bit of favoritism and perhaps some top chef pretension. Padma said Gregory’s dish was on the very edge of “love and hate”–and every time she took a taste her face contorted into unusual shapes as if she’d tasted something vile (see above)–but he,who has worked for Jean Georges V., still made top 3. Also, didn’t hear one attendee say they loved the porridge, but Mei, who works for their former Top Chef Michael Vollagio, took first place. My sense was even though the crowd preferred the fried chicken with watermelon and jalapeno, that was too pedestrian for Richard Blaise. Could be wrong on all this, but we’ll see…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 17, 2014

      Have seen a lot of online hate towards Blaise, but I didn’t think he was too bad. Some said that Padma grimaced in her interactions with him… I think Gregory, Mei, and that tall dude with the tattoos are looking good but it’s way too early. And it would be weird if they were positioned as front-runners already. I’m sure there’s going to be some long story arc like last year.

      And I don’t think they really give a rats ass about what attendees to these fests think. It’s all about the judges. Specifically, it’s all about Tom.

      • a2sicilian
        October 17, 2014

        Yep.

  4. elizabeth
    October 17, 2014

    You started watching the show at a really low moment for the series–while I was always really happy that Paul Qui won, I *hated* most of his competition. Seattle and NOLA were definitely better. That said, by starting at season nine you were spared two seasons of Richard Blais competing. He was fine during his first season but after winning TC All Stars he definitely took a turn for the pompous, and it seems like these days he’s less into being a chef and more into being a TV chef. (He is a judge sometimes on that Guy Fieri Supermarket Sweep show!) He also loved to use the various molecular gastronomy tricks when he’s competed on TC, so his comments about olive oil snow were a bit ridiculous if you ask me. He’s not my least favorite TC winner (that distinction goes to Hosea followed by the guy who won last year) but he’s definitely no Stephanie Izard.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      October 17, 2014

      Hosea sounded like the king of jerks! Thinking back, I didn’t like a lot of Paul’s competition, either. Especially that one in the finals. I did like Chris, that molecular gastonomist who couldn’t get out of his own way and Ed with the weird moving jaw.

      I’ve never heard of that Fieri show, but maybe it’s because I try to avoid looking at him.

  5. Pingback: Top Chef Boston Episode 2: Boston’s Bravest and Finest | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on October 16, 2014 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
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