Saturday, June 19, 2010

Top Chef DC – I’m Rooting For The Local Guy

Quick! Who won the last season of Top Chef? If you’re reading this blog, you probably remember. Just in case, this was the winner. Sorry, just a little brain teaser before we start.

Hi Padma! How’s little Krishna? They’re in DC this season. What if they run into these folks? I already love the Thai/Burmese chef. He’s seems kind of Dale-like. Oh, Eric is a new judge. Good choice.

Why is Dial Nutriskin the supplier of the $125,000 prize? How is that in any way germane to Top Chef? Obviously chefs should wash their hands, but what happened to Glad? I betcha that, at least ONCE this season, we’ll see one of the cheftestants IN the shower with Dial Nutriskin. Oh wait, they’re donating lots of money to Padma’s endometriosis charity. That’s nice.

First impressions of the chefs as they arrive:

Timothy seems very enthusiastic. I like him.

Jacqueline – Cleavaged and gold-jewelried blonde.

Angelo thinks he’s hot, but not in a funny way like Fabio.

Amanda IS hot.

John – Seriously dreadlocked. He looks nice like Carla.

Tiffany – Fun.

Ed – Tries too hard. (Just kidding. How could I possibly know that after 2 seconds? He looks bland.)

Kenny – Big personality. (Remember they haven’t opened their mouths yet.)

Kelly – Witchy. It’s my blog and I can make instant (insane) assessments if I want.

Tamesha – SHE may be the Carla-like sweetie pie. (She blew a kiss to the camera.)

Alex – REALLY full of himself.

Lynne – A serious chef.

Goodness, there are a lot of them!

Kevin – Career chef, but these snap judgments are getting harder.

Tracey – A female Kevin from last season.

Stephen – Could be a lot of fun or really lame.

Seriously, did they just find people out of the phone book? ENOUGH!

Andrea – Fun. Cool hair.

Arnold – Oh, he’s the Thai/Burmese dude.

Great shots of DC. We actually meet the chefs. I’ll let you know if I was wrong about anyone.

Kenneth is alot more soft spoken than I thought. Alex looks like a completely different person. I was sooo right about Lynne. She’s a chef/instructor at the CIA and says she may not have any tattoos or be a crazy person, but her food tastes good. I like her!

To prepare for Top Chef, Arnold got a facial AND a wardrobe stylist. Okay, he’s NOTHING like Dale. He’s much more refined.

Kevin turns out to the chef at Rat’s, which is about 18 minutes from my house. Oh goodie, a local chef, I’m psyched. I’ve been there tons of times…BEFORE he became the chef, though. It is a beautiful place, which had pretty good food, but uneven…or worse service. BUT Kevin Sbraga is famous (around these parts). I have my new fav. Cool.

Angelo IS full of himself – big time, but he HAS worked with some great chefs. (So then WHY is he on Top Chef? Why doesn't he just get on with it?) He’s blathering on to Timothy about all these fancy chefs he knows and where he’s worked. Luckily, Timothy is keeping up in the name dropping department, but only in response to Angelo.

Padma and Tom come out. Hi Tom! Why couldn’t you speak up for Rick at the Top Chef Masters finale? They’re at the Newseum. Tom is wearing baggy jeans and huge sneakers. Darn, his soul patch is back. Padma is wearing REALLY high stilettos.

The first Quickfire will test their skills. It’s a mis en place tournament. This isn’t easy. They have to peel potatoes. Then the 12 fastest move on to brunoising (chopping onions into a perfect square dice) 10 cups of onions. That’s a lot. 8 chefs move on to breaking down 4 chickens. The 4 fastest chefs will make a dish from those ingredients which Tom and Padma will taste. THIS is not easy.

The winner of the best dish will receive $20,000 in cold (well, room temperature) cash. They begin. Amanda cuts her hand. Kenny’s the first to finish. Then Angelo. Darn! Then hippie-dippie John. They go so fast I don’t who these folks are. 5 chefs don’t move on. Kenny finishes first again with the onions! Angelo moves on too.

Kenny finishes first AGAIN cutting up the chickens! He’s awesome. My guy Kevin may not make it to final round. Thank goodness, HE DOES! There are four chefs left - Kenny, Kevin, Angelo and I don’t know who the last one is. Oh, Timothy. Good! I like him.

Here are the dishes. Angelo wins with his dish of Roasted Wing And Thigh, Curried Onion Jam, Potato Noodles. (Show off.) I like it when Kenny says he doesn’t see Angelo as a threat, he sees him as an obstacle.

The Elimination Challenge is to cook a dish that represents their regional cuisines. It’s kind of confusing how they’re dividing up. There will be 4 teams, with a winner and loser on each team. The Quickfire top four get to pick the teams.

Jacqueline describes it best when she says (to us), “Who…you think is the worst chef is the person who gets picked first.” (SHE gets picked almost at the end.)

Poor Ed is the last person chosen, but isn’t that good? Doesn’t that mean that the 4 captains don’t want to compete against him? Dunno. Ed feels the need to tell us that he’s a great chef, who has worked with lots of famous chefs - Todd English, Daniel Boulud and Laurent Tourondel.

They have 45 minutes to shop and $300. John is getting a bunch of frozen stuff from the freezer. I’m thinking that’s not a good idea. He also gets about 4 dozen eggs.

Alex was born in Russia. I THOUGHT he talked funny. Kevin is sous-viding his lamb. I hope that works out. Angelo feels like an orchestra with flavors. Huh? John is making a dessert, which he admits is tricky. He set the oven wrong and, oh, that was frozen puff pastry he bought.

They arrive at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, where they will be serving their dishes. Only one or two of the chefs is wearing gloves as they’re handling the food.

The judges arrive. Padma introduces them to Amanda. They are Tom, Gail and Eric, who should be a great addition - superb chef, deeply Frenssccchhh accent, hot…what’s not to like?

I like all the dishes they’re tasting, except Jacqueline’s. They’re tasting four at a time and picking a winner and loser from each group. I predict Jacqueline will lose and Kevin will win.

Next four - Stephen, Ed, Lynne, Tracey and Kenny. I love his dish - Black Bean Mole. Tom doesn’t seem to like anything. Kenny will win this group, I think.

Next up are Alex’s Borscht Short Ribs. Tamesha’s Jerked Chicken looks yum. Andrea’s dish sounds weird. Tim makes a fish dish. The judges think Andrea’s and Alex’s are good, but Tim left the skin on his fish. Bad news for him. Next!

Tiffany is friendly, Kelly’s strip steak looks good. Angelo does some frothy deconstructed something. John is freaky, so is his dessert. The judges aren't impressed with the frozen puff pastry. Tom likes Angelo’s. Gail isn’t so sure. Eric likes Kelly’s. Neither Gail nor Tom taste the maple in John’s dessert. I think it’s curtains for him.

Back in the stew room, all 17 chefs are crowded in. Kevin, Alex, Kenny and Angelo are called in. Obviously, they’re the winners of each group. I’m glad I’m rooting for a winner. Eric was pleased with Angelo’s bacon foam. And the big winner is…Angelo. Drat!

Next called in are Stephen, John, Tim and Jacqueline. Tim is shocked to be there. One of them is going home. Stephen’s ribeye was cut too thin, the judges say.

Jacqueline was already in trouble with the judges. They were surprised when she told them, as she was serving, that the chicken liver mousse had no added fat. Jacqueline says she’s SERVED it hundreds of times. Tom says you may have SERVED it, but have you MADE it hundreds of times? Yes, she says, but never without a recipe. Tom cannot believe that she still needed a recipe after making that dish so many times.

Jacqueline would definitely be gone, if John’s dish weren’t so awful. John says he was being stupid when they tell him the puff pastry was soggy. Tom seems to agree. I think it will be John.

Commercial. Good for Bravo viewers, who voted overwhelmingly that Angelo was too cocky for his own good.

Tom is particularly brutal to John saying that dish only showed who he was if he were a first year pastry student. John is gone. Go me! Poor John. He’s disappointed. Of course, he is. I feel bad for him. He seems like a cool cat. I would have liked to have gotten to know him better.

The previews of coming shows seem quite lively. Oh, wait, that’s their job.

Pretty good first show. I love that there’s a local guy. But I do prefer it when the ranks have been thinned a bit and I can remember everybody’s name.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm rooting for the local guy too, and I have trouble remembering their names too, until the ranks have thinned. I want to go back and have dinner at Rat's now.

Sue said...

Hi Linda,
Apparently as Top Chef was airing on Wednesday night, Kevin was back at Rat's cooking. That's kind of cool. We definitely have to send positive thoughts his way (even though, I think the show has basically wrapped already)...except for the finale, I guess.

Lys said...

I'm rooting for Kevin as well - always good to root for the hometown team, no? Will have to check out Rat's

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I am so happy that they moved TC to 9 so I can watch without sleeping through it. Yay!
I’m sort of glad dreadlocked guy went home. That hair seemed unhygienic – like Kevin’s beard from last season.
I was sure the sous-vide would fail because that seems like a surefire way to lose on TC. I was rather surprised to see it worked.
I did like it when the one woman said she likes to cook and doesn’t need to be a freak about it with the hair and the tats. Of course she’s in direct opposition to dreadlock guy.
I can’t stand Angelo’s attitude and I would love to see him crash and burn. I’m wondering if his bravado and over-confidence is being played up by the producers so we can all rejoice when he gets booted off halfway through – like that obnoxious guy from last season.
I also didn’t like that other chef who WOULD NOT SHUT UP about being one of the Best New Chefs in F&W magazine. Let me point out that I SUBSCRIBE to F&W and barely pay attention to the Best New Chefs issue. It’s not as if I ever eat in their restaurants. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I'm almost sorry I don't have cable -- part of the sport for us here in DC is making fun of reality shows that try to show what DC is like. So one of the Post's reviewers has done it for me. Hank Stuever is a good writer and is a perceptive TV critic too:

Sue said...

Hi Lys,
It is exciting. I wonder if they'll show any scenes of him in his restaurant. That would be neat.

I HATE that they moved it to 9. I'm not ready to settle down and watch it carefully that early. I also held my breath to see how the lamb turned out. Luckily, okay.

Yeah, I think you're right about Angelo. His cockiness has given them something to hang a story line onto and I can't see that changing.

That's funny about F & W's Best New Chef issues. I only like those issues if I know I'm going to those cities...and someone else is paying!

Hi Tom,
Interesting article. He was right about the first episode having nothing particularly DC-like in it. But remember when they were in NY? They might as well have been in Cleveland, there was so little about the city.

Also he dislikes what I specifically DO like about this season. He wants a wider range of cooks and doesn't like that they're all actually employed. I like that they're "real" chefs. After all, this isn't The Next Food Network Star.

Emily said...

I like Lynn, too. She definitely stood out. I have to cheer for your Kevin though! I didn't care for Anglelo but I have a feeling he's here to stay. John was pretty different. I kinda suspected he was going to get the boot.

I love Eric Ripert. Is he going to judge every show? I hope so.

I'm hoping this will be a fun season. I bet it will be.

Emily said...

Also, have you heard about Top Chef Just Desserts?