Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef New York Episode One

Woo-hoo! Top Chef is back! And though it seems like we've just finished the last season, this is one show I don't mind watching frequently.

Let's meet some of the season five cheftestants, shall we?
Fabio. That name is forever tainted for me by that long-haired dude with the big boobs who used to be in the I Can't Believe It's Not Good For You spread commercials.
This is the Season of the Bald Man.
See what I mean?
Jeff is so pretty, the film got all wonky. (See the second shoulder on the right?)
Blushing young Patrick is still in culinary school, but he thinks he can be Top Chef.
Lauren is pretty confident. I "hope" she's not getting them up too high....
Except for the plethora of tattoos.
"Gagnon?" Whatcha "gagnon," Dan?
Shaddup, kid.
I'll tell you about that later.

Tom's got competition....

There are other cheftestants, but I'm getting bored. Onward!

The Cheftestants gather on a grassy knoll and meet up with Padma and Tom. Unbeknownst to them (but they should know by now, if they've watched the show in the past) they are going to participate in their first Quickfire challenge. There are seventeen chefs, but only sixteen chef's coats in the hallowed Top Chef kitchen. Either someone goes naked...or someone is going home. Now.

The Quickfire has three stages. First, the seventeen have to peel fifteen apples with a knife. The first nine to complete the task to Tom's approval are safe; the remaining eight move to stage two.

Richard takes a big slice of his thumb and ends up bleeding all over the apples.

After the first nine finish, the remaining eight have to make a brunoise of apples, enough to fill a 2-cup measure. The first four to finish to Tom's exacting standards are safe; the remaining four have one final challenge - to cook a dish using apples. Lauren was among the bottom four.
Despite my craptastic time at Red Maple (I said I'll tell you later!), I want to send some MinxEats love to Jill Snyder.

There were vicious rumors floating around the Interwebs that either she or Baltimore-born cheftestant Melissa was going to be eliminated in this first round, but I'm happy to report they were unfounded.

Instead, Lauren Hope got the boot. She and Rainbow Brite both made salads, and I'm surprised that Tom didn't say anything to the effect of "but they didn't *cook* anything...." C'mon - a salad? How uninteresting, particularly Lauren's spinach-heavy variation.
On the other hand, Superior European Stefan, because he finished peeling his apples first, gets immunity for the Elimination Challenge.

After the Quickfire, the cheftestants get to play with the knife block. The knives - two each - are marked with the names of areas in NY famous for their ethnic cuisine. The resulting pairs of chefs must do battle against each other, creating dishes of their designated ethnicity (Greek, Russian, Middle Eastern, Latin, Jamaican, Italian, Chinese, or Indian).

After the chefestants are paired, they are finally allowed to check out their apartment. Rainbow Brite, Jamie, and Richard recognize their mutual gayness and quickly form an alliance.

The chefs then go shopping for ingredients in their neighborhoods. Several chefs are very unfamiliar with the cuisine they have been assigned, but tough titties.

Back at the lavishly appointed (by GE) Top Chef kitchen, the cheftestants get cooking.

Tell me, Stefan, what does "douche" mean in Finnish?

Finally, cooking is done and we meet today's judges - Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the boobaceous Gail Simmons.

Each pair of chefs present their dishes together, and the judges pick one over the other. Don't you hate when Mom and Dad play favorites?

Eventually there are eight who are safe and eight who are not. Among the safe: Superior European, Leah, and Eugene. And the dishes deemed the worst come from the pots and pans of Rainbow Brite and Ariane. RB's take on Chinese food involves stereotypical bok choy and gummy rice noodles.

Ariane's Middle Eastern cuisine incorporates undercooked farro.
Funny, I'd have thought that was a position to which you'd be very accustomed....

The chefs pick Superior European's dish as the winner, and send the two losers back to the As-Yet-Not-Full-of- Glad-Products stew room to fret about their fates.
Maybe because it's an American show, on an American network, with American contestants? At least up until this season.

Finally, they get called out again and Padma delivers the fatal blow to Rainbow Brite.

Not bald enough, apparently. Farewell, Rainbow Brite! I had hoped you would stick around because you seem entertaining, but alas, that was not to be. The remaining two members of Team Rainbow will miss you!