Utensils Down, Hands Up!
Posted by CJ Cregg on August 19, 2009
“I love to cook cuz I’m a fat kid.” –Eli, Top Chef Las Vegas
A Top Chef smorgasbord tonight!
Bravo kicked things off with the premiere of the newest season of Top Chef, set in Las Vegas. Top Chef fans will welcome the return of host Padma Lakshmi and head judge Chef Tom Colicchio. (Anyone else find Kelly Choi, host of Top Chef Masters a little bland?) This season, there are 17 very distinguished chefs, a lot more piercings and tattoos and a lot more thick accents. I won’t list all 17 chefs here, but you can find their names and bios here.
The competition kicked off with a quickfire challenge relay race. The chefs were divided up into teams with each person assigned a task such as shucking oysters. (It never fails to shock me that there is someone who thinks they can figure out how to shuck an oyster as they go along despite never having done it before. They always get what they have coming.) In an interesting twist, due to the odd number of chefs, one chef got lucky enough to draw a gold chip from the bag and get both a pass in the quickfire and immunity. (I’m not sure I’m wild about a random chef getting the free ride. What if she turns out to suck? What a waste.) The winning team had a cook off to determine the winner of the challenge. I won’t tell you who won the quickfire to avoid spoilers, but I like their chances in the competition. Even though someone needs to teach this chef how to pronounce “ceviche.”
The elimination challenge asked the chefs to make a dish based on a vice in honor of their locale. The chefs were divided up into teams of four to cook against each other. The challenge was an all around fun one. Who knew so many chefs were so fond of booze? (I for one was shocked. Shocked I tell you!) The judges (including guest judge Wolfgang Puck, who is a real firecracker and was fun to watch) picked a winner in each group of chefs. I won’t tell you who won to avoid spoilers, but there are some clear early front runners, including the one guy who is going to drive me crazy all season long. No surprises in terms of who was in the bottom four based on the judges’ reactions to the food. The chef that ended up getting eliminated was a bit of a surprise to me. I was definitely hoping someone else would get kicked off, and I think it was the wrong choice. The preview at the end of the episode for what will happen this season excites me very much. Look forward to visits from Penn and Teller and some pretty intense challenges.
My preliminary predictions for the season of Top Chef Las Vegas:
Winner of the season: Jennifer Carroll-she has a quiet confidence and seems uber competent
Next to be eliminated: Eve Aronoff-just because I don’t want to listen to her voice anymore
Most dramatic: Jesse Sandlin-tears? Already? Really?
Person that’s going to drive me crazy: Chef Misogyny-Mike Isabella from Washington D.C. Could he be any more of a tool?
What do you guys think?
When Bravo sticks to its original competition reality shows, there are often few things better.
After the premiere of Top Chef Las Vegas, Bravo aired the season finale of its summer version of Top Chef, Top Chef Masters in which famous chefs faced off to win money for the charity of their choice. The 6 finalists have been whittled down to 3 for the final challenge: Michael Chiarello, Hubert Keller, and Rick Bayless. (I was betting on Anito Lo to win, but she got eliminated in the episode before the final 3.)
Top Chef Masters was never as exciting to me as Top Chef because it lacked the cut throat drama. (With the exception of Michael Chiarello last week, there weren’t too many hot tempers.) Nonetheless, it is exciting to crown the first Top Chef Master. And frankly, facing a summer without my favorite shows, Top Chef Masters did give me something to look forward to during the week. It sufficed in a pinch so to speak.
Full disclosure: I didn’t get the chance to watch Top Chef Masters tonight because of a prior commitment. What did you guys think? Did the right chef win? I was hoping for Rick Bayless…