The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef California Episodes 1 and 2

Top Chef is back and this year they are exploring California. This is exciting news as the locations of other seasons I’ve watched – Texas, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston – don’t offer the same depth or wide variety of culinary possibilities.   I love New Orleans food, but I’m not sure it was enough to carry a whole season.    Boston didn’t have much besides seafood and beans, so they ended up doing the “create a dish that tells your history” thing a few times.

One big problem for me is that they moved the show from Wednesday to Thursday night.   That means that if I wanted to post on it right away, it’d have to be on Fridays which is reserved here for music posts. I haven’t posted many of those lately but I’d be damned if inspiration struck me and I wouldn’t be able to do a music post because of Top Chef.

So I’ll be posting about Top Chef on Mondays which is helpful because I’d be avoiding spoilers for any of you who DVR the show and watch it a day or so late.   And it’ll allow me a few extra days to get some high quality insight into my posts.

Haha, “high quality insight.” On this site. I make myself laugh.

For this first week, they actually had two episodes.


Episode 1: Stop The Presses

They went through a quick introduction of the chefs and four were notable.

Grayson, who made for great television in Top Chef Texas with her wit and often hilarious commentary. And she was cute –

TCC Grayson


Frances – the butchy Filipino who’s is so fresh off the boat she still smells like the sea. THere’s been a distinct lack of Filipinos on Top Chef the past couple of years. The problem is that she’s not an Executive Chef like all the others –

TCC Frances


Renee – whose first words spoken were “I’m THE super sassy chef from Kansas City”.   WHO THE HELL DESCRIBES THEMSELVES LIKE THAT?    Hey, I said “notable”, not “enjoyable”.

TCC Renee


Garret – the son of two academics

TCC Garret


Garret gave us TWO awesome quotes –

Cooking is but a continuation of Philosophy because it’s a study of aesthetics – gustatory aesthetics – but there’s nothing more connective with human existence than the cultural manifestation of cuisine.


…and regarding former Top Chef All-Star contestant Mike Isabella

…who’s in my humble opinion serving one of the worst bastardization of Italian food in the world”


Quickfire Challenge

They did one of those prepwork races where they broke down chickens, peeled asparagus, etc. The top 9 got to compete in teams of three with the top team gaining immunity.   Nothing really worth talking about here except for the return of the great Emeril Lagasse.

Elimination Challenge

All of the chefs had to prepare food for a gathering of food critics and bloggers, which has me hoping they’ll do a Top Chef Michigan so that I can get an invite like that. Which is pretty funny because a) Michigan has a culinary history equal to North Dakota, and b) as if I’d get an invite anyway.

Winner: Some guy named Jeremy who did a light raw fish crudo.

Gone: Garret.   Damn, so much for the guy who’d make terrific television with his quotes.    His dish sounded pretty good – a fusion of Vietnamese Pho and Italian Brodo – but he burnt the garlic chips in Tom’s serving.    I think he should have stuck around because Grayson’s meatball with red sauce and some other chef’s dish were way too amateur.


Episode 2: Pop-Up Pandemonium

We get a little intro to Renee – who kept on referring to herself as “The Super Sassy Chef”. SO FREAKING ANNOYING. But, apparently she lost a bunch of weight and is a healthy living fanatic.

TCC Renee 2


Hmmm, maybe I DO want to see her stick around.

No Quickfire this episode as they split into four teams, each responsible for creating their own pop-up restaurant. They went into existing restaurants and took over the menu for the day. The themes were –

Mexican – two of the guys on the team own Mexican restaurants, so they decided to do complete reinventions. They were the only team to not take any advice from the restaurant owner and it was near disastrous.

Persian – Isaac, a Cajun chef, knew nothing about Persian food but he made meatballs and ended up hitting it out of the park.   Marjorie’s dessert was a big hit.

Korean – Generally all very good. Only thing of note is one of the chefs never made fried chicken wings before. And they had her make chicken wings because…..?!?

Vegan – This was a general shitshow. Grayson, who was completely pissed off because she hates making anything without meat, made a very amateurish salad.


Winning Team: Persian

Winner: Marjorie, proving that dessert is no longer the kiss of death

Losing Team: Vegan

Loser : Renee, the “Super Sassy Chef”   She made a beet stuffed with ground cashews and something else that sounded horrendous.    So no more lingerie shots of her.



Random Thoughts

-The big sponsor this year is San Pellegrino, which I absolutely love.  I’m wondering if Healthy Choice dropped out because people are finally getting the word that “Low Fat” isn’t necessarily healthier.   You haven’t heard that?

-Grayson said she’s back – older, wiser, and fatter.   Thank you for sparing me the hateful comments that would’ve come if I said it myself.

-Fun Fact: We get most of our produce in the United States form California.

-Not-so-fun Fact:  The drought sucks.   Way too much water is being used on produce and, unless Del Monte and Earthbound Farms has a fleet of Priuses (Prii?), schlepping all that produce across the country is using a lot of fossil fuel.   BUY LOCAL!

-Guest judge Ludo Lefebvre has been in the US since the mid-90s. And his accent is still so thick they had to subtitle him.

-They already started up with Last Chance Kitchen – no waiting for a big group to form. Garret and Renee had to make dishes using the ingredients in the other’s losing dishes. Garret got shafted because he got tofu, but still managed to win.





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.

2 comments on “Top Chef California Episodes 1 and 2

  1. Next Stop: TBD
    December 16, 2015

    I’m glad your recaps are back! And Top Chef Michigan would be good!

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This entry was posted on December 7, 2015 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , .
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